Red Dead Redemption 2’s release is still about half a year away, however the time until launch is rapidly decreasing with still no new information coming from Rockstar.
Knowing so little of the game, fans can really only base their speculation on previous titles developed by the company, as well as current gaming trends, which has led rise to one of the most common concerns among those waiting for the title.
If you look at any discussion platform where Red Dead fans are talking about the upcoming prequel to 2010’s Red Dead Redemption, one of the most frequent fears players have is that the single-player mode and the game’s storyline will be less developed and rounded out than what we’re expecting, because the budget will be focused on Red Dead Online, the game’s multiplayer mode.
These concerns are based on a number of factors.
Rockstar’s most recent title, Grand Theft Auto 5, was expanded with an Online mode soon after launch, and that Online mode eventually outgrew the story mode both in terms of sheer content and in terms of popularity. GTA 5 was set to receive story DLC at one point, but that never materialized. Instead, Online is getting a steady stream of free DLC to this day.
Additionally, Rockstar and Take-Two are known to go where the money is. Usually, due to the skill and dedication of the developers, that approach didn’t detract from the quality of their games – just look at Red Dead Redemption and the previous GTA titles – however after GTA Online became favored over story mode, largely due to the huge amount revenue being brought in by microtransactions, fans are concerned.
Some longtime fans of the GTA franchise, who have been playing for years, and across multiple console generations, feel somewhat betrayed by the lack of single-player DLC and story content in GTA 5 in spite of the franchise being primarily a narratively driven experience. Online DLC seems to cater to the masses who adopted the series with GTA 5 and are in it for the multiplayer, while dedicated fans who prefer traditional GTA are left with nothing new.
Looking at the mainstream gaming scene today, we see an industry dominated by multiplayer games priced significantly below the standard $60 AAA price or that are free-to-play with microtransaction economies.
The explosive growth of trend-games which hop onto whatever the hot genre is at the moment – this being battle royale currently – and how Streamer culture is so thoroughly entwined with the industry that games have specific features, or are designed in a way, to be streamed and watched, puts non-narrative multiplayer titles at an advantage.
The huge Red Dead Redemption 2 leak that was published recently suggests that the game will have a battle royale mode. While the legitimacy of the leak is in question, it wouldn’t be surprising if that prediction turned out to be true. As saturated as the battle royale genre is, a game at the level of quality that Rockstar produces in a Wild West setting would still be fairly novel.
These factors together may make it seem easy to assume that Red Dead Redemption 2 will put the emphasis on the Online mode, slap bail bonds or buffalo cards or whatever in it and leave the campaign short and under-cooked. However, several signs also indicate that we needn’t worry and that Rockstar will produce a fantastic story mode for Red Dead Redemption 2.
Firstly, even though we’ve been provided very little material on what the game will be like – we’ve only two trailers and two batches of screenshots to show for over a year of waiting – all of that material has been focused on the game’s storyline and single-player content. The first, semi-prerendered cinematic trailer introduced the world and tone, while the second showed a number of clips from in-game screenshots, depicting characters, locations and story hints.
Most of the screenshots Rockstar has shown us are also of the single player campaign, at least as far as we can confirm – for all we know, all of the screenshots are from the single player. Then there’s that recent official statement from Rockstar that they remain dedicated to narrative and single player experiences as per their legacy.
Let’s not forget, that even though GTA Online got all the DLC, GTA 5’s story was still extensive and filled with content.
And while it’s easy to point at the breakaway success of battle royale games and your typical streamer-bait titles, there are plenty of examples in the industry for high-quality, AAA story-focused titles which still achieved success, meaning Red Dead Redemption 2 focusing on story and solo play is still fitting the “trends”.
Just look at the recent release of
Dad God of War – the game is single player-only and has a huge focus on storyline and inter-personal relations. It’s a character-driven AAA title that is also a massive hit. Who said only multiplayer brings in cash?
Of course, we’ll have to wait for release to render final judgment, but in spite of the seemingly “obvious” signs that the single player portion of Red Dead Redemption 2 will be neglected, we’re fairly certain that fans can rest easy – it’s story is going to hit harder than a horse kick.