Gaming

We Played An Hour Of ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ And This Is What We Saw

Red Dead Redemption 2

I just spent an hour on horseback in Red Dead Redemption 2 — beautifully animated, responsive, intelligent horseback. I saw the milky way light up the inky night sky. I saw birds of prey dive in on abandoned deer carcasses. I saw a mountain.

“Can I get my horse up there?”, I asked

“Well you might, but if it falls, it dies. If you just go in to town instead…”, said the PR rep from Rockstar games, who was desperately trying to get me back on track.

I climbed that mountain. I climbed the mountain on my horse and I viewed a stunning vista the likes of which I’ve only encountered on Instagram. As I looked around in the cinematic mode, switching between third and first-person cameras, generally feeling quite smug about my predictions of how gorgeous this game would be, my noble steed took a dump.

The horse turd piled on to the mountain’s peak, evidence of our journey to where — and I quote — “no one has been up there before, oh that’s… different”.

I patted my horse’s neck, verbally and physically reassuring him that he was indeed, a good boy. His trust in me grew.

It’s Not Just The Horses

Take a seat folks, I’m about to deliver some news you may not see coming. Red Dead Redemption 2 isn’t a game about horses. Sure, your horse can do wonderful things. It can be your best friend. You can have multiple horses in multiple places across the game, each believing they are your best friend. It can do dressage, I shit you not. I saw it with my own eyes.

But Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game about a somewhat grizzled man called Arthur, along with his gang of grizzled men called other man names that for now, we’ll say are Steve, Dave, Tom, Bob and Greg, like it matters.

Arty and his boys are in a bit of a pickle. It’s the start of the Wild West era, and after they royally stuffed up a robbery the Van der Linde gang are hot property. On the run from the law and bounty hunters, they’ve gone and hid in the aptly named Grizzly Mountain, where I assume grizzly men go to hide. There’s also bears.

And folks, let me tell you, Grizzly Mountain is a sight to behold. The snow is thick and falls naturally on every surface. The trees delicately sway in the wind. Blades of grass move as you walk on them and bushes spring back in to place as you push past them.

In a single hour of gameplay, I punched and kicked an abusive man until he lay unconscious. I stole his hat. I picked fights with and shot numerous people with both my rifle and my handgun, creating a morbidly decorative pile of bodies by the roadside. I was spotted by a citizen engaging in animal cruelty (I accidentally shot someone’s horse and I still feel bad).

I suffered the full consequences of my actions like only a white man in 1890s America can — hiding from the law in the bushes until they forgot about me, and paying a $5 bounty to clear my name.

I also made it into town, mainly just to pay that bounty. I passed a building under construction. After a few weeks, that building will be completed. As I entered the General Store and flicked through a catalogue full of historically-accurate menswear, hair pomade, survival gear and ads for dog wash, I was overcome with the detail. And still, I felt myself longing to see a woman — any woman — that wasn’t an elderly non-playable character on her porch, or the victim of an assault.

Lady Outlaws

Wandering into a makeshift Saloon (the legit one is boarded up, riddled with bullet holes), there’s a man pretty much passed out drunk at the bar, while another twirly-moustached man attempts to get him to talk. Turns out Drinky McDrinkface was once the fasted left-handed shooter in the west, and the facial hair connoisseur is his biographer. I’m made an offer that no one should ever take — a cut of the proceeds of the book sale, in return for some super-violent fact checking.

Looking at photos of witnesses to the Whiskey Fan’s gun-wielding prowess, whom I am required to question and shoot if they disagree, my heart skips a beat. It’s a woman. Not a woman in trouble, not a woman who needs saving, not a woman with nothing much to say. A woman named Black Belle, a gunslinger herself. And yes, Lady Outlaws were definitely a thing.

As my excitement levels peaked and I hurried out of the saloon in search of this certified legend, my time with the game was up. I never thought I’d regret chilling out on top of a mountain I was never meant to climb, and yet here we are.

Luckily, we only have to wait one more week to find out more about Black Belle. I think I might just spend my time hanging out with her. Maybe on horseback. I wonder if she likes mountains?

Red Dead Redemption 2, an epic tale of life in America at the dawn of the modern age, arrives for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on October 26th.