That Red Dead Redemption 2 August 9, 2018 trailer was something else. Think of it. This was a first, major look at gameplay for the world. This game won’t come close to matching Grand Theft Auto V’s mythical status, but nobody expects it to. That said, the game is certainly a guaranteed critical and financial hit.. Last generation’s game was revelatory in terms of storytelling ambitions and molding the Rockstar sandbox gameplay style into something different. This one evolved the genre and brought it to a new level of complexity, with new systems introduced left and right.
The trailer’s narrator started things off by further setting up the story we’ve already been introduced to in the past. Red Dead Redemption 2 is set in the late 1800's, when frontier-era America was transitioning into a super power. We’re talking about outposts morphing into towns, and people establishing more and more territory as immigrants and more settlers moved in. Compared to the more desert-like world of the first game, Rockstar’s aim with the sequel is to create more of a living world, with several different kinds of terrain, and ecosystems of wildlife.
Beyond the wildlife, Rockstar’s other big goal with the game is expanded depth in interactivity. This is part of how players will confront NPCs, with much more than the usual “Grand Theft Auto” NPC loops. There are conversations, confrontations, and more at play. There are multiple situations in the trailer that have the main character, Arthur Morgan, standing off with people in various situations. These characters can be incidental, involved with missions, so on and so forth. Players will have options to try to de-escalate the situation, or of course attempt to get their way via intimidation or outright violence. And, of course, this will have a lasting effect on Morgan’s reputation. Ultimately it’s the ongoing narrative of video games making players aware that actions have consequence, and Rockstar aims to make that ever more realistic.
Speaking of that reputation, a huge part of Red Dead Redemption 2 is showing Morgan’s alignment with the Van der Linde gang. The gang is presented as a family, which lives together in camps that are erected each time the gang is “forced” to move. Once the camp is established, part of Morgan’s responsibilities include taking care of the gang, keeping relationships and morale healthy, and of course providing supplies. At these camps, you’ll be able to access minigames like poker, additional story scenes, and it also seems like there’s an element of assigning tasks to other members of the camp. That last part isn’t explicitly confirmed, but there is some degree of task management noted by the narration. Additional missions can also be discovered in maintaining relationships.
A big part of keeping the gang happy is through the hunting systems. There’s tons of wildlife in the game, thanks to various locations such as swamps and forests, which house way more kinds of animals than the mountain-friendly ones found in the original game. While we still see the usual wolves and bears in the trailer, we also see new creatures such as gators (or crocodiles?) hanging out in the swamps and facing off with Morgan. From there, animals can either be made into food for the camp, or traded at various shops in towns for money. And money, of course, leads to weapons.
Despite the Dead Eye mechanic that allows players to slow down time and do marksman stop, the intent with Read Dead Redemption 2 is to make gunplay more grounded and realistic. Guns are designed to function more realistically this time around, and each gun is even programmed with realistic reload time and animations. Somehow this train of thought segues into horse care, which has been hugely expanded from the first game. Now, forming bonds with horses is paramount to greater success in the game’s world, as different kinds of horses are well-suited to different kinds of tasks. Morgan is seen taking care of horses in various stables, training them, using them for various tasks, and even taking the time to groom them. Of course, horses also allow for greater storage of supplies and resources.
This trailer was really something. While subsequent Red Dead Redemption 2 videos covered other important gameplay elements, this one started it all. It looked at the world and made us fall in love. It kicked off a drip-feed of hype, which is always a good thing. Always remember to appreciate these kinds of footage releases.