Is Red Dead Redemption 2 Worth Buying in 2023?

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Red Dead Redemption 2 Review: Should You Buy in 2023?’ by Respawned

Written by: Recapz Bot

Written by: Recapz Bot

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Red Dead Redemption 2 impresses with narrative, visuals, attention to detail, open world, optional content, but disappoints in DLC and Red Dead Online, with differing experiences for console and PC players.

Key Insights

  • Red Dead Redemption 2 demonstrates that consumers still have the patience for longer forms of media.
  • The game has a deep and evocative narrative, highlighting the decline of the Wild West.
  • The game's visuals are still impressive even though it is five years old.
  • Attention to detail is seen in various aspects of the game, such as horse mechanics and maintaining weapons.
  • The open world of Red Dead 2 is regarded as the greatest in gaming due to its random encounters and limited fast travel system.
  • Optional side content, such as hunting, fishing, and playing dominoes, adds depth to the game.
  • The lack of story-based DLC and underwhelming Red Dead Online are disappointing aspects.
  • Console players are limited to 30fps, while PC players had a rocky start but now have various graphical options.

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We live in a hyperactive shorts and TikTok world, with consumers having virtually non-existent attention spans, but back in 2018, the punctilious and evocative narrative of Red Dead Redemption 2 demonstrates that the average consumer still possesses the patience and the willingness to absorb longer forms of media.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a tale that moved me, it’s a tale that cements Arthur Morgan’s place as an iconic figure in Wild West folklore, and a tale that highlights as a society the majority of us still can persevere with a 40-50 hour long story that treks from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other without mindless violence being the only selling point to the plotline that can hold the consumer’s attention.

Make no mistake though, Red Dead Redemption 2 has a copious amount of violence, a lot of which is freely given to the player to experiment with outside of the plotline and other instances that are tightly tied to the narrative. The writers at Rockstar never hung their cowboy hats on the idea that violence will be an essential element to the story, with some genius intricacies found within certain character relationships, the overall pacing of the story, and a historical respect paid towards the late 1800s and the decline of the Wild West on the whole.

The means to survive and the hardship that everyone faces is portrayed impeccably as we follow the story of Arthur Morgan, who’s a valued member of the infamous Vanderlyn gang. The storyline gets going as the gang botches their attempted heist of a ferry and are forced into giving up their prize money, stashing it in the town of Blackwater before eventually heading south to avoid the law while robbing and fighting their way to a lucrative freedom.

Every member of the gang is afforded screen time at some point or another on their journey, with so many contrasting and harmonious personalities making for some of the most memorable quests in gaming and even the smaller, less consequential interactions are all impactful in their own way.

The dedication and attention to detail paid towards the narrative spills over into so many other aspects of Red Dead 2. I mean, just look at these visuals. We’re talking about a five-year-old game that still looks substantially better than the majority of AAA open world games today.

There’s very few games that’ll get me excited to just boot up with zero intentions like I must finish this quest or I must get that achievement. I boot up Red Dead 2 and just let the game take me where it takes me in the jaw-dropping visuals are a huge reason for that. The draw distance boasting their almost photorealistic landscapes, the finer details within the asset textures, the high fidelity surfaces from character models, the terrain, the tessellation it all looks so incredible that I still find myself just wading through the snow to cathartically appreciate the trail that Arthur leaves behind him or switching to first person to get an even closer look and admire the impressive level of detail showcased in that massive pile of shit I’ve just stepped in.

It’s not just the visuals that’ll engulf your mind’s eye when playing Red Dead 2 though, and again, sticking with the topic of attention to detail, from a gameplay perspective there are so many small processes that can often be found in other games but have little to no impact on your gameplay experience as you progress through the game.

In Red Dead 2 these small processes extend way beyond a simple attempt to immerse the player by giving them something to interact with. Processes like feeding and caring for my horse, keeping the horse clean, well-fed and groomed will maintain the horse’s health and stamina cores and by doing so will make Arthur’s life navigating the Wild West wilderness that much simpler.

You, the player, and Arthur will both develop a bond with your horse. You in the sense that you’ll likely have traveled miles and miles with your horse, caring for it as much as it cares for Arthur when bolting away from the steel barrel of the law. You’ll feel the responsibility to hitch your horse to a post so it doesn’t wander off to get pancaked by a nearby train.

Arthur also develops a bond with his horse that affects the gameplay side of things. Simply caring for it or giving it words of encouragement as you both soar through nature together will increase Arthur’s bond level, unlocking new moves for the horse to bust out, making you and your horse the envy of the west.

Mechanically as well, it’s just a joy to control the horses. It feels grounded and pragmatic, without losing the enjoyment but still forcing the player to respect the laws of physics, unlike the Assassin’s Creed or The Witcher 3 horse mechanics, for example, and considering the amount of time spent on horseback, it’s an essential mechanic that Rockstar have absolutely nailed.

These small processes don’t just stop with your horse though, maintaining your gun. It’s vital if you want each gun to operate at its maximum potential. Over time the gun will gather dirt, it’ll need cleaning and the barrel will need oiling, but if you let your weapons deteriorate, there’ll be a noticeable decline in their accuracy.

Physically seeing Arthur act the action out grounds the player in that scenario and viewers who watch my videos already will know that I love these types of methodical actions in games. Rockstar double down in every way possible in that regard, engrossing the player in actions that are typically the push of a button in some form of menu or some weird arm swiping the air animation in most other games.

You’ll see Arthur pulling out a cleaning rod to oil his gun before wiping it clean. You’ll see Arthur pierce his gamey meat roasting it on a fire before either eating it or stashing it away in his bag. You’ll see Arthur lift the body of someone who dared to cross him before he pats him down and checks his pockets for valuables. And you’ll see Arthur open every cupboard door or chest of drawers and reach out to grab whatever loot is hidden within.

Almost every action in Red Dead 2 has its own dedicated animation, it’s like I mentioned at the start with people’s attention spans and the industry feeding this attitude of wanting everything now, give it to me immediately, it’s just not true. And it doesn’t need to be the case if you produce top-tier quality content, people will enjoy it regardless of it being a slightly longer and meticulous process. I feel more engrossed in doing so and the experience is all the better because of that.

The cover-based shooting mechanics feel pretty good, but I certainly wouldn’t praise them as much as the other aspects of Red Dead Redemption 2. They’re the same as GTA V’s essentially, and while they’re still pretty solid, I’d definitely expect an upgrade on how they feel in GTA 6 or Red Dead 3. I really like the slow-motion Deadeye system, which is one of the three cores alongside your health and stamina all being maintained with the various consumables that you can find.

I feel like the Deadeye system masks the gunplay’s mediocrity on the whole

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Red Dead Redemption 2 Review: Should You Buy in 2023?’ by Respawned