So it was with great anticipation that I loaded Rockstar Games latest opus, Red Dead Redemption II. Critic reviews have been overwhelming positive, but I was still a bit nervous if the game would rise above the original, and other games that have come out in the last couple of months.
It seems my fears were unfounded because Red Dead Redemption II is an absolute masterpiece, and probably one of the best open world games ever made. For me, it is looking likely to be GOTY.
Firstly, the graphics. Everything has been animated and looks absolutely gorgeous. The variety of outfits and costumes is amazing for decking out Arthur Morgan, the main protagonist (or antagonist, depending on your play style). Clothing is not just cosmetic, but stops you from freezing to death if you wear the appropriate attire. Arthur can also grow a beard, and you can shave it off anytime you like (I chose to have a beard). You also have to wash, and stay clean if you don’t want people to avoid you. Too much blood and gore and it you start to really stink.
I doubt you’ll find a better looking game on console. Just as in previous Rockstar titles, if you equip multiple weapons they are fully animated and appear on your horse and person. When the sun sets or rises, my jaw dropped. On the Xbox One X, Red Dead Redemption II runs in native 4K and HDR. Simply stunning.
The sound is equally amazing and with a proper surround sound setup (which you can tweak in the in game audio settings) it is completely realistic. My wife came out last night saying I should go check on our dog because he was barking, but the noise was actually a dog barking at my horse in-game. Similarly a gunshot echoing in a valley sounded so realistic I thought I better turn it down for fear of worrying the neighbours. Luckily I have a decent gaming headset as well for the evenings.
The open world is just so alive and so realistic. There hasn’t been a better game world in terms of random encounters and events. The fact that Rockstar Games has also allowed you to completely tweak the HUD as well is an absolute stroke of genius. I love playing with the HUD completely turned off, and certain prompts appear dynamically. You can even use a phone or tablet to bring up the in game map via the companion app, which is great.
It is very easy to get lost in this huge world once you get past the the introduction. I found myself playing poker for two hours, and it is even further refined from the original game. You can also play dominoes, which is also a lot of fun. Blackjack also makes a return as does Five Fingered Fillet. Your horse is a true companion, and you as you build a further bond with your trusty stead you’ll gain more skilled maneuvers, health and stamina for your horse. It is important to feed and care for your horse as well as yourself.
I am only about 12 hours into the game, but I know based on what I’ve seen so far the game could easily surpass the 100 hour mark. I don’t want to say too much more, for fear of spoiling something that you should experience yourself. This is one game you simply have to play and is true sandbox gaming at its absolute finest.
It might be a while but I’ll post up a full review in the coming weeks.