A big howdy to all of my buckaroos out there, it’s the spookiest time of the year and somehow cowboys are involved. But you knew that already, hell, the entire world knows it judging by the over 700 million dollars Red Dead Redemption 2 made in its opening weekend. While I agree with the vast majority of critics that the game is exceedingly well made, it feels weird heaping this amount of praise on it in lieu of the information around Rockstar Game’s labor practices.
I feel that it should be mentioned to remind players of what was given to make Red Dead Redemption 2 such a colossal game. While I wholeheartedly believe that people in the games industry need protections from abusive work environments, you can see the fruit of that labor in every inch of the game itself.
That’s why it’s so weird to talk about Read Dead Redemption 2 and highlight the incredible amount of detail that’s on display in it. We know what it took to get a game that big and diverse to exist. I guess if I wanted to put a neat little bow on this train of thought, I’d simply say this: I really like Red Dead Redemption 2 thus far, and I’m extremely grateful for the amount of work that went into it.
So with all that being said, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a phenomenal game that very occasionally drives me insane. There is so much to highlight that I won’t even try to cover it here, but the thing I’d most like to emphasize is the world Rockstar has created. Every nook and cranny of the map seems meticulously planned and constructed in a way to either set you up for an interesting encounter, or let you fill in the blanks and construct a narrative about what has happened.
An example of the latter would be the time I came across a run down shack in the woods. Inside were several bunks of beds lining the walls each with a long decomposed corpse lying in it. At the far end of the room was an ornate desk with empty potion bottles strewn about. There was another corpse sitting in a chair wearing what looked like some sort of religious garb. To me, it looked like I’d entered the final resting place of a cult that had “ascended” and passed on. I don’t know for sure that was the case, but in my mind this was the home of cowboy Heaven’s Gate.
It’s little details like this that fill the world of Red Dead Redemption 2 that make me so eager to spend more time with it. Everything else seems to take a backseat to just inhabiting this space for me. The world itself doesn’t seem to exist in service of my character, but rather it exists despite him. And that’s the aspect of Red Dead that I love so much, this feeling of not being the center of attention and that inserting yourself into every situation is a good way to get gunned down.
It took me some time to adjust to the overall pace that Red Dead Redemption 2 operates at, but I’m glad I did because this game is something truly special. Special in the way that the house that gives out full sized candy bars on Halloween is special. And that’s the Halloween tie in. We did it.