At a recent press event at Edinburgh a number of gaming outlets were shown a demo of Red Dead Redemption 2, revealing gameplay elements to which the general public hasn’t been privy to. Alongside the details already revealed by the new trailer and the various impressions posted by English language publications, a French outlet has posted an interview with additional details.
JeuxActu spoke with Rob Nelson on-site, who is the Co-President of Rockstar North. Rockstar San Diego is the primary studio working on Red Dead Redemption 2, however Rockstar North is also in on the project, and is the main studio of the company. While there is a clearly limits on what Rockstar wants to reveal about the game and when, meaning nothing groundbreaking has been said, there were a few new slivers of useful information.
In the interview, which can be read in full here, Nelson confirmed that work on Red Dead Redemption 2 started basically the moment that Red Dead Redemption went gold. This means that for a full eight years now, Rockstar has been working on this game. Now, I don’t say it’s been in development for eight years for a reason, because technically the concepting and prototyping phases aren’t part of development as we understand it.
Nelson said that while work started in earnest once Red Dead Redemption was released, some of the folk over at Rockstar San Diego already began concepting a sequel for the game before development on the original even finished. He also stressed that the company made the most of those eight years – which brings up the question of why the game needed to be delayed for “polish”, but then Rockstar has a reputation to uphold.
The influence of Grand Theft Auto 5 was often brought up in the interview. Even though GTA 5 is the first Rockstar title ever to be released on the current generation of consoles, that was a port of a seventh-gen game. Red Dead Redemption 2 is the first game developed specifically for the then-next now-current generation of consoles.
This, according to Nelson, allowed the team to implement the lessons learned during the development of GTA 5 without restrictions. Due to the hardware limitations, a lot of the ideas that went into GTA 5 were reeled in and multiple elements of Red Dead Redemption 2 will be what the company wanted to pack into GTA 5, but couldn’t because of inadequate hardware.
This is most apparent in the interactivity of the game world.
GTA 5 is notable for how proactive and alive the game world feels, and how it is content on continuing to exist and thrive even if the player doesn’t affect it. Many game world are just there to react to the player’s actions, but Los Santos keeps things interesting on its own.
It has been used for simulations, for driving AI development, and one experiment even tagged camera angles to NPCs to show how much goes on without player input. Red Dead Redemption 2 is going to go even further, with the frontier being the closest thing to a real world and ecosystem as games have ever gotten.
Naturally, Rockstar is super secretive about story details, and Nelson made sure not to slip up any crucial information – but we did learn an interesting element about protagonist Arthur Morgan’s past.
The personal bodyguard and right hand man of gang leader Dutch was compared to John Marston and Nelson expanded on how different the two characters are. In doing so, he revealed that Morgan has been running with Dutch since he was a small child and is this utterly loyal to him.
Now, we don’t quite know how old Dutch and Morgan are, but based on appearances alone they can’t be too far in age. I’d say they are just about the same, but then Dutch is very well kept and regal-looking, which might make him seem younger than he is, while Morgan’s rugged and rough look might make him seem older. But even then, only a couple of years should separate them.
Thus, if Morgan was with Dutch as a kid, then they very well may be childhood friends, and Morgan may be a founding member of the gang. Nelson didn’t go into further detail on purpose.
He did reveal two gameplay elements though – Arthur’s hair will grow dynamically over time and he confirmed with concrete words that there will be no other protagonists in the game. This is Arthur’s story and he’s who we all will control, no one else.
Red Dead Redemption 2 launches on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on the 26th of October.