Red Dead Redemption 2 is on the horizon and I am still going back and forth about picking it up. On one hand, it is the long-awaited (very long) sequel to one of last generation's greatest titles but, on the other hand, I am not sure if I really want to deal with all the finicky details it entails.
The first thing that comes to mind is the weapon degradation system. While I appreciate the realism, and the minute details that Rockstar has paid attention to, is that really what RDR should be about? Realism? I can’t speak for everyone out there, but I certainly did not expect it from an action-adventure title in which you can use cowboy bullet-time to pick off enemies. I love RPG elements but weapon degradation has got to be one of the worst mechanics (for me, personally) out there. It’s an effort to enhance the immersion but it ends up just being a nuisance (ed - I think you'd love The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, then).
My biggest example of this is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I am all geared up, I have potions and oils, bread and water hotkeyed, and off I go to tackle a Witcher contract. But wait, halfway through the battle my sword breaks and I have no Master Repair Kit. Well, there goes a good two hours of preparation. Again, I understand that some may like it, but I just don’t enjoy the idea of having some unnecessary real-world elements intruding on my digital landscape. Just picture it: you trigger your dead-eye skill, you pick your targets, and then your gun jams, and you are shot to hell. No thanks.
Rant aside, I can’t help but feel it is an unnecessary element to include. Another element is the inclusion of animal hides retaining better value if the animal is killed with a clean shot to a non-valuable area. Again, this is how modern-day hunters need to think and a modern-day hunter I am not. The last thing I want to worry about when I get attacked by a grizzly bear is: “Oh gosh, what if I damage the pelt? Better plan my life-saving shots carefully”. As I have said, there will be those that enjoy this, and it's not a terrible feature to include, it just seems a little, well, unnecessary, considering a) this is an action adventure, and b) this kind of programming takes a ton of resources (ed - 100-hour work weeks apparently).
Another concept I feel was taken too far, is the idea that when you kill NPCs, their family members might come after you. Now, not only will you be chased by the law when you commit your crimes, but you will be chased by bounty hunters as well. This sounds super cool in theory, and it might be fun the first few times, but when you can’t even complete a simple fetch quest without some random hunter shooting at you, after which you need to restock on ammo and possibly repair your weapons, what's the point other than frustration? Do you see the snowball effect here?
Also, the lawmen will now investigate crime scenes to track you down. So, in total, that makes bounty hunters, the law, and NPC family members (as yet unsure how this will happen), as well as the normal enemies you will come across exploring, all shooting at you. Another interesting feature that I feel was taken too far. Lawmen investigating crimes to find you? Awesome. Bounty hunters and NPC families hunting you down? Well, that’s going to be an expensive gunsmith bill and more potential mid-mission interruptions (ed - You should hear Rob go on about his experiences with mercenaries in Assassin's Creed Odyssey).
Personal grooming is an interesting thing. At this point, I am not sure if this will have any impact on actual gameplay, and it will be interesting to see how it gets implemented. It’s not something I am inherently against, but again, is this something that needed to be included? Although, I am super excited to see how long I can get Arthur’s beard to grow, because, canon. I guess the surreal horse testicles physics falls in this section as well, because who on Earth was wondering if their horse’s genitalia reacted to cold in the previous title?
My final point is regarding exploration. Obviously, exploration was critical in the first RDR, otherwise how else would we have met the unnerving Strange Man? Since then, graphic textures and detailing have come a long way, and there is a growing trend (it’s almost like a competition) around making the biggest map to explore. The map in the first title was pretty sizeable, taking a good 5+ minutes to on horseback to get from Blackwater into Mexico, and - having recently played Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey, I am afraid to see how big of a map we get. Not just the map size, though, but the scale of exploration as well. The problem with massive maps is that they are far too often littered with places and people to see, encounters that don’t always yield bountiful loot or any meaningful dialogue. However, if Rockstar were to create their world in the same way as Ubisoft has done with Odyssey, then it should be a world worth exploring.
Overall, there are so many features coming to Read Dead Redemption 2 that it actually feels a little overwhelming. Massive exploration, personal grooming, and customising outfits are things I am interested in, however, I feel that bounty hunters, weapon degradation, and the idea of ‘cleaner’ animal hide are elements that were taken too far and might serve to frustrate rather than immerse.
Red Dead Redemption 2 launches on the 26th of October on PS4 and Xbox One, which you can pre-order here.
Loves games with deep character development and a rich storyline. Also, shooty-shooties. Loathes microtransactions. Likes to use sarcasm and metaphors.
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