Red Dead Redemption 2, like any good open-world game title, will probably be filled to the brim with activities to spend time with while progressing with the main storyline. Some games go about populating their sandboxes with things to do better than others and based on what Rockstar Games achieved with Grand Theft Auto 5, it's easy to assume which way things will go this time.
We've had a few batches of screenshots and a pair of trailers, but not a lot of details regarding gameplay, or the map, or plot, or anything really beyond the setting - that Dutch will come back and that the protagonist is called Arthur Morgan.
Beyond these scraps of info, we're in the dark - save for a leak, the legitimacy of which is highly questionable at this point.
That leaves us with ideas drawn from the previous titles in the series, as well as speculation, the latter of which is often employed by the fanbase. Various discussion platforms focusing on the upcoming title are filled with what fans want in the game, and what they think will be in the game. With regards to side activities, there are a few frequently mentioned concepts.
It seems that after Rockstar put that particularly picturesque scene of the locomotive puffing along in the game's announcement trailer, players are constantly banging along about train robberies, and we can't blame them. It's one of those quintessential things that bandits in Westerns do and was missing from Red Dead Redemption in a proper, structured manner outside of specific missions.
Should Red Dead Redemption 2's world have a system of train tracks crisscrossing the map, based on player proximity the trains could occasionally be spawned nearby (obviously they wouldn't be constantly running all over the unrendered portions of the map, that would be a waste of resources) with a prompt to rob them.
These prompts would always spawn when the train is near to reaching a station, giving the player limited time to complete the robbery because lawmen would attack you if you're still on board when the train reaches the mentioned station.
While heists may be GTA 5's turf, there's nothing to prevent some good old bank robberies to be present in Red Dead Redemption 2.
One scene in the game's second trailer showed safes being blown open as Morgan walks stoically towards the camera. While this likely is a scripted event in a story mission, it leaves open the possibility that the game will feature a number of banks which will offer players a way to make a quick buck.
The mechanics of an activity like this would be rather easy to implement. Simply clear out the guards, grab the loot - maybe implement some lock-picking or safe-cracking system that would take more time but yield greater rewards than blowing the safes open which might damage the goods inside - and get out, shacking whatever kind of wanted system the game will have.
While hunting was present in Red Dead Redemption, fishing wasn't, however both of these side-activities have been present in a number of open-world games in the past few years.
The thing about these activities is that they can be quite divisive - who would bother with fishing in a Wild West bandit power fantasy like Red Dead Redemption 2? Thing is, when it comes to open world games, if the world itself is of quality - and we are speaking about a Rockstar title here - you can't really enjoy that vast world with bullets flying about constantly.
Basically, every open world game out there has at least one kind of side-activity which isn't as action-packed as everything else, giving players a chance to explore and enjoy the world which the developers put so much effort into building up and filling with detail that you're bound to miss during the main missions.
Getting into a scuffle when you're trying to have a drink isn't something that necessarily needs to be institutionalized in an open world game, but then if given some kind of structure, visiting every saloon and beating the local champ to earn the rep of being the top brawler in the region, players will be motivated to beat in a few faces in an... organized manner.
Duels were an integral boss-fight mechanic in Red Dead Revolver, and were used sparingly to great dramatic effect in Red Dead Redemption while also forming the conceptual basis on the dead eye mechanic.
Similar to the brawler concept, in each settlement, there could be some kind of badass undefeated (clearly, because they're alive) duelist who you need out-badass and leave in the dust with a quick trigger finger.
What little we know of Red Dead Redemption 2's story is that instead of being an ex-outlaw like Marston was in the previous game, Morgan will be an outlaw during the game's events, at least for a while.
While bandits are stereotypically shown to battle lawmen, often times bandits also fought one another for territory and loot. As Morgan will be a member of the Van Der Linde gang, it's possible that the game would be divided up into zones of influence, and at the beginning, only one will belong to Dutch.
As the game progresses, players may need to take control over zones by pushing out the local reigning gang and taking over their operation, thus unlocking a string of other missions and activities in that zone. First, you'd need to disrupt their dealings, find out where their hideout is, then wipe them out.
I know that every Red Dead fan would be disappointed if these wouldn't make a return in the upcoming game. Strangers missions were odd requests from various NPCs living across the frontier. These tasks were varied, sometimes simple, sometimes weird, and instead of driving the main story forward they gave the world more character. Rockstar implemented a similar set of missions in GTA 5 called Strangers and Freaks.
Strangers missions also gave us the mystery of the enigmatic "Strange Man", a dapper fellow dressed impeccably who seems to know a whole lot about John. Mysteries are always the most intriguing when they are left unsolved, so I hope Red Dead Redemption 2 won't give us a straight answer to what he's on about, but a reappearance would be most welcome.
Of course, for every fan, there are at least five ideas for side activities, so you're all welcome to flood the comments with your own input regarding what activities you'd want to spend time with when not progressing with the main plot.