Update: The image is from a newly announced game, “Wild West Online”, that is launching later this year on PC.
An image making the rounds after being posted on GTAForums is alleged to be the very first screenshot from Red Dead Redemption 2.
However it’s instantly drawn skepticism and fans have been analyzing the hell out of every pixel since. It still isn’t clear whether the image is fake or real, and the fact that the original poster then shared a random collage of Red Dead Redemption images under different branding surely didn’t help things.
The first “leaked” image, seen above, is a shot seemingly taken from first person as the player looks out from a door to a Western town. Fans will likely recognize that the town itself looks a lot like Armadillo did in 2010’s Red Dead Redemption. It has all the trappings of what Red Dead Redemption 2 should be like though – horses, typical Wild West architecture and outfits, rolling hills in the distance and a church tower rising above the roofs.
Those players thinking this is an elaborate fake noted that the layout of the town is almost identical to that of the previous rendition of Armadillo, that the graphical fidelity isn’t on par with the trailer, the church tower itself looks photoshopped and that theoretically, it could have been set up in Grand Theft Auto 5 using mods.
Nonetheless, even those who believe it’s fake admit that it’s a really good fake.
On the other side of the debate, advocates of the theory that this image is real point out how the leaning man in the center of the image uses the same pose as seen in the trailer, and that the details on the horse model are also identical to the ones seen in the trailer.
In response to the arguments of those claiming it is a fake, they argue that almost all AAA games, including GTA 5, took noticeable graphical downgrades compared to trailers – not to mention that the reveal trailer only contained traces of in-engine footage, mostly being cinematic.
Similarly, screenshots are often used a “bullshots”, thus explaining the lack of a HUD and the possibly altered church tower.
What complicates matters is an odd image posted by the “leaker” who shared the original. Four screenshots from the previous installment in the franchise appear together as a collage, laid over a piece of what looks like fan-art with “Wild West Online” written above it.
This second image is quite obviously a fake, further strengthening the argument of those who claim the original is too. However, the whole situation doesn’t add up: the second image if obviously a fake, so why would the original poster discredit their otherwise very believable post?
A quick search will show anyone that “Wild West Online” is an actual game – an MMO with a Wild West setting. It’s also been more or less confirmed that the multiplayer online component of Red Dead Redemption 2 will be called Red Dead Online.
If the “actual” leaked shot is a fake, it’s an extremely elaborate fake that someone clearly put a lot of effort into. If it’s a real leak, it’s the first look at actual Red Dead Redemption 2 gameplay we’ve seen so far.
We’ll be posting our own full analysis of the image shortly. In the meantime, join the debate raging in our forums about whether this is real or not.