Rockstar Games released a new trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2 yesterday, breaking a long spell of radio silence and giving us the first sliver of official information about the game in what feels like ages - and oh boy, was it worth the wait.
The trailer dropped some major bombs that the community has been buzzing about ever since. Let's look at what the trailer confirmed, and what can be deduced from it.
The first and possibly most important thing about the trailer is that it wasn't paired with the sour news of yet another delay. After the game got pushed back twice, with the announcements prettied up with screenshots, players have learned to be wary of official Rockstar announcements, lest the release date get pushed back again. Thankfully it seems October 26th really is locked in.
When Red Dead Redemption 2's second trailer revealed not only that Dutch will make an appearance, but he will be a central character (since the protagonist Arthur Morgan will be a member of his gang) players immediately started looking for other returning characters. One of the most hotly and fervently debated topics was whether the game will include the protagonist of Red Dead Redemption 2, John Marston, and if this would even be a good thing.
Now, the new trailer revealed that several main characters from Red Dead Redemption will be making a return, including Marston. Players caught glimpses of Javier Escuela and Bill Williamson in the trailer as well, and a woman who looks somewhat like Abigail, but redesigned. IGN, having published their impressions from a 45-minute hands-on demo they played during an event in Edinburgh, confirm all these characters will appear.
Note: In our initial post covering the third trailer, we speculated that it might include John's origin story, or even how he was recruited. Since then we've realized this isn't possible, as John has been a member of the gang since he was 17 years old, and in 1899 when Red Dead Redemption 2 is set, he's 26.
IGN also revealed the names of some other members of Dutch's Gang. These include Sadie Adler, Sean McGuire, Lenny, Karen, Charles Smith, Micah Bell and Pearson. It isn't clear if this is the full roster, or if there are other unannounced member .But either way, we hope the game gives ample reason why none of them, or even their past existence, is mentioned in Red Dead Redemption.
The trailer has revealed some details about the location and setting of the game.
We know that the game begins in the city of Blackwater, a location that played a central role in Red Dead Redemption as well. It will be joined by an area called New Hanover, which includes the town of Valentine, which contains a bank that the players can rob in a mission with Bill Willamson.
While these pieces of information were apparent from previous trailers as well, the new video further hammers home the point that Red Dead Redemption 2 won't have your typical Wild West setting, with desert barrens, rocky bluffs and sun-scorched plains dominating the scenery.
The game will have forests, lush fields, snowy mountains, swamps and wetlands in large quantities, which is something addressed in the story - Dutch moved to the gang to non-typical Wild West locations to escape from lawmen while making a quick buck, returning to the west only when the gang is rich.
Hunting, Shooting, Riding, Scuffling
Some of the side activities the game may offer were hinted at in the trailer, while others were confirmed by the demo.
Yes, much of the trailer looked scripted, but in many cases the footage looked rather like it was recorded during live gameplay, and edited to be shown from different angles without a HUD (according to IGN, the game's HUD is minimal, unobtrusive, and automatically hides itself in certain situations anyway).
These include a brawl, a scene where Morgan does a quick-draw on an unseen duel opponent and hunting. Red Dead Redemption 2 will feature a dynamic gang hideout camp which changes location as you progress in the game and needs to be maintained. Morgan will act as Dutch's right-hand man, meaning you'll be responsible for a lot of what goes into keeping a gang running.
Such duties will include the acquisition of supplies. While Rockstar doesn't want chores to get into the way of fun, meaning if you neglect your obligations as Gang Enforcer someone else will get tired of your shit and do the job themselves. However, if you dutifully hunt, keep your fellow outlaws well fed, bring in loot and help them on their capers, they will respect and like you more, leading to more character interaction.
There is also a vast amount of detail and realism in the game. If you shoot a deer for food, you can't just place it into an invisible inventory (like Morgan has a magical pocket that is bigger on the inside). Rather, you need to carry it back to your horse, then ride back to the camp - and do it before the carcass starts to rot, thus becoming inedible.
Rockstar has also put a great deal of effort into the NPC AI. Random characters in Red Dead Redemption 2 will have their own personalities, changing how they react to your actions. So much as walking around with pistol in hand will make some be afraid of you, some might ask you to mind your manners and stash the gun, while others pull theirs and give you a very stern warning.
Red Dead Redemption 2 will also feature some RPG elements in terms of how you interact with the world. Morgan will be able to select from a number of contextual interaction options with every single NPC in the game, making roadside encounters more varied. You can greet someone politely, react aggressively, be rude, be kind, or just ignore them. Based on their personality, they will react to different interactions in different ways.
It also seems that we weren't too far off the mark when we detailed all the different approaches to potential horse customization - IGN's report indicates that the Red Dead development team did their equine research, with various breeds looking the part, acting like they would in real life, and reacting to situations dynamically depending on their relationship with Morgan.
Your mount will be more of a character than just another tool - whistling for your horse only works within earshot, the longer you use the game horse the more it will trust you, provided you feed and groom it properly, and the horse will also act as an inventory expansion, allowing you to store supplies in its saddlebags.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is shaping up to be most definitely a game as good as our expectations are, if not better. Widespread concern among the fans regarding the dominance of multiplayer and microtransactions have tempered hype, but it seems like Rockstar is right on track to release one of the defining single-player experiences of this generation.