With Red Dead Redemption 2 out in 2018, all sorts of rumors trickle in about what could be in it and how the game will play. Assumptions will always be made, after all. One of the most recent ones regards the game’s multiplayer. We have long heard Rockstar Games is going to have a multiplayer component in this game, and the latest rumor says this will consist of a battle royale mode, one where you are trying to be on the team that grabs the most money, and a third where you need to revive your allies and keep your team from being wiped out. Sounds plausible enough. But, even if these modes sound typical and unobtrusive enough, is the fact that they are going to even be there a bad idea?
Companies have long been searching for ways to keep money rolling in with their games. Rockstar hit the lottery with Grand Theft Auto V by including Grand Theft Auto Online. Back in 2016, Rockstar confirmed that this mode generated half a billion dollars in revenue via its microtransactions. While this is certainly good for them, could having this desperate need to include a multiplayer mode and cash in be hurting its games? Perhaps it is time to cut off cords and focus on what matters.
There is nothing wrong with multiplayer in general. Red Dead Redemption had it. People could form posses and cooperate on certain missions or compete. The element worked. But my fear here is that the Red Dead Redemption 2 multiplayer could be more like Grand Theft Auto Online. It could be a detrimental affair that pushes for microtransactions, tries to capitalize on fads and detract from the actual story.
The original Red Dead Redemption had an array of DLC. Some of it, like Legends and Killers, was multiplayer focused. It meant new maps, characters, and equipment. There were also add-ons that included a warhorse. You pay a flat fee, and you got all of it. Now, in the current era Rockstar Games, my fear is that these would be items that are significantly better and would be sold as microtransactions. Instead of things that would be nice to have, they might be closer to essentials. We do not need that.
Capitalizing on fads is an even more concerning issue. One of the Red Dead Redemption 2 rumors is that a battle royale mode is on the way. While there is nothing wrong with that sort of gameplay, it seems more like it could be an opportunity to capitalize on PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite than an attempt to stay true to the source material. The original Red Dead Redemption multiplayer stayed true to the theme. The series has always had a strong emphasis on posses, and playing with others meant working as a team either against other players or on specific missions. A possible transition away from that may not feel true to the intent of the game.
Finally, there is the issue of quality. Red Dead Redemption received some pretty great DLC. Undead Nightmare was an iconic expansion involving zombies and had its own storyline. Even packs like Liars and Cheats or Outlaws to the End were great, due to the amount of missions and additional hideouts, hunting grounds, and modes added. We already know Rockstar Games decided not to bother with Grand Theft Auto V single-player expansions. It claimed it was because the main game was big enough, but a data miner named Tez Funz found evidence of he Doomsday Heist back in 2015 that also referenced Trevor, before it eventually showed up in 2017 as Grand Theft Auto Online DLC. My concern is, Rockstar would abandon Red Dead Redemption 2 story-based add-ons in favor of online options that can continue to keep it profitable.
Multiplayer can be a great asset in games. It can help improve replay value and even fit with the tone of the piece. But Rockstar proved with Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online that we can not trust them anymore. We do not need a game that attempts to capitalize on multiplayer fads and only ends up having online add-ons.