WARNING: This article includes SPOILERS for Red Dead Redemption
Alas, the second trailer for the much-anticipated Red Dead Redemption II, developed by Rockstar Games, is finally here and we can’t help but get even more excited.
Probably the first thing you’ll notice is that the game has been delayed till Spring of 2018 after it was originally meant to be released…around about now, in fact. However, with being a long time fan of Rockstar and knowing the modern gaming industry – like a lot of you do – delays were to be expected and when I first heard that it was being released in the Fall of 2017, I was not confident about that at all but nevertheless, Rockstar knows we’ve been craving for a little more especially since the first trailer teased us like it was the unveiling of Half-Life 3.
Yes, I’m still optimistic and so are you.
What do we know?
The first moment of the trailer introduces us to our lead character, Arthur Morgan. I refrain from saying our main “protagonist” because from what the trailer shows and in traditional Rockstar fashion, we aren’t playing a good guy at all. With all Rockstar Games, there has mostly always been a criminal main character that maybe has some family or respectable morals about that leads us to the conclusion that he isn’t such a bad guy after all but Mr Morgan does not give off that vibe at all. He seems relentless, unforgiving and often terrifying in how honest with his words he sounds. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with his character to make us not only cheer for him but emotional attach to him also.
From what the trailer shows us, all we know is that Arthur is a wanted outlaw and member of the Van der Linde gang. If you’ve played the original Red Dead Redemption, that gang name might ring a bell as it is the gang that is lead by the infamous Dutch Van der Linde who’s character is making a return in this upcoming prequel.
The trailer features a lot of action set pieces taking place on moving trains and heavily fortified bank vaults which seems to show off what your main criminal activities are going to be with Arthur. This was to be expected from the developers but it’s awesome to see what it looks like in motion and how it’s all going to unfold.
What I loved about it was the spectrum of environments that the game offers. There’s mountains, forests, the wilderness, small towns, deserts, swamps, lakes, everything that a typical Sandbox game should deliver. However, Arthur mentions how there’s lawmen in 3 different states after him which not only teases the vibrant and dynamic areas we might come across but it can elude to the size of the map. Now, there was a leak a while back which was supposedly what the new Red Dead Redemption II map was going to look like. This is still an unconfirmed leak but there are some similarities from what you see in-game and in the leak but it’s only speculation at this point.
In terms of gameplay, we see a bow and arrow being used by Arthur Morgan which confirms that they’re going to be in the game and it also possibly confirms hunting as he is using the weapon to hunt down animals so it’s cool that they added that activity in there and I hope it’s used as a more vital aspect of the game. In Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar’s last game, hunting was fun but it was a necessity or at least, it didn’t feel like it to me so I’m hoping for a much broader and involved experience of hunting in this upcoming game.
We also saw the Lasso being used so we know that’s making an appearance and the animation looks really awesome for it. I hope that the Lasso motion is in the core gameplay mechanics because it’ll be that little detail that immerses you into the world.
Not much in terms of shooting gameplay was shown but we did see a lot of it in cutscenes and it’s what you’d expect. A cool little attention to detail that I just loved to have seen was a moment when Arthur was shooting a pair of guns, akimbo style, and just before it cuts to another shot, you see that Arthur’s eye flinches when he fires the gun. I don’t know if this was a cinematic or whether it was gameplay but nevertheless, I think this a pretty awesome mechanic! Even in real life, the most experienced gunslingers flinch when they shoot a gun and seeing that minor detail being a part of the character and the game just makes the game as a whole feel so much more authentic and abrasive.
The trailer ends with game footage of Dutch which I was super excited to see. What a few people might not have noticed about the title is that they changed it. In the first trailer, it was titled “Red Dead Redemption 2” but in this new trailer, it is now “Red Dead Redemption II” which I prefer a whole lot more. It makes it feel classic, nostalgic and more periodic. It’s not like a game-changing feature or anything but it’s just a subtle change which I appreciate.
What can we speculate?
With every new Rockstar game trailer comes the room for minor teases and speculation and the first thing that popped into fans minds when they heard about a Red Dead Redemption prequel is; Is John Marston making an appearance?
We still don’t know and I’m glad that we don’t. I think it would be crazy of the writers not to include at least a cameo of John Marston because he’s not only a beloved character of the game but he’s a gaming icon and also, Dutch took John Marston into his gang as a kid. They have to put him in somewhere which is making people scour the trailer looking for him. Many have speculated that if you pause at 1:03, you can see John Marston in the cinematic. There’s also a theory that the central, mystery character in one of the last shots of the game is John considering that the two characters either side of him are Arthur Morgan and Bill Williamson – who is also returning – so fans are digging into this guy making similarities with the hat and his face shape but I don’t think it’s him. I don’t know, I don’t feel like Rockstar would potentially leak and spoil anything to do with John Marston being in this game because they know how much we’re hungering for him.
Also, there’s two characters that were introduced which are the blonde girl and the Native American guy which is even drawing some conclusions that they are playable characters but they just aren’t making it obvious. It would be cool but I think that they’re just keeping it with Arthur Morgan. It doesn’t mean that these guys won’t be playable in the future, I would love to see some story DLC based on these characters if they’re interesting enough. Grand Theft Auto V really missed a great opportunity with story DLC so maybe they can pay us back with Red Dead Redemption II.
In terms of the location, fans are so mixed as to where the game takes place. We have 3 states that were mentioned and also the “Heart of America” was mentioned which doesn’t scale things down but there’s nothing really given away. We have some towns that pay homage to the original, I saw one that reminded me of Deadwood and some cool looking mining towns so I’m excited to see what they look like.
The Pro and the Con
There’s one aspect about this whole trailer that has me completed divided which is graphics. Firstly, let’s talk about when they shined.
I got to say that I love the facial expressions and animations, especially with Arthur. Like I mentioned with the gun flinch, it’s the minor subtleties on his face that really blow my mind and my favourite moment of the trailer is when he says the line;
“Maybe when your mother’s finished mourning your father, I’ll keep her in black on your behalf.”
Not only is it a menacing thing to say but it’s also the sudden boulding of his eyes, the iery cleanliness of his beard, the drawl of his voice and the way it matches his face. The face is captured in a pristine fashion that I just love.
In terms of environmental graphics, this game really pops in the night light. Usually, with most video games, night time is the Achilles heel in terms of graphics and mechanics but it’s the best part of the game’s visuals so far.
However, in the daytime, it seems to feel a little flat to me. The Art Direction and Set Designs are spectacular but in terms of graphics, you notice a lot how certain objects and pieces of clothing look so tacky and artificial in the daytime and I don’t know if it’s just because it’s still in development or if Rockstar are telling us something but I’m really hoping that they really turn it on the graphical capabilities in the daytime for the final release because it’s weird how the nighttime and daytime look so different in terms of their visual strength.
Overall, I really love this trailer. It’s the perfect blend of that atmospheric, aesthetically pleasing feel and the brutal, ruthless power punch that Rockstar always tend to deliver. I’m really excited and eager to find out more about Arthur Morgan and I can’t wait to go on this journey with and his gang and to create some cool and awesome moments with them.
What this trailer and the whole game leaves me wanting is that I really want to know the story of what happened at the Blackwater Massacre! For those who didn’t play the original, it was a massacre that took place a few years before the first game and it was always talked about and referenced. It’s been killing me ever since so I hope, I beg that it’s shown in this game and it’ll be amazing fan service if we even get to experience it too.
With a few minor concerns, I’m still just really excited and ready to get started on this adventure and I want to leave this game a changed man like I did with the original.
Red Dead Redemption II will be available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One from Spring 2018* Watch the new trailer below.