When HBO’s Westworld took off, people started falling in love with the idea of futuristic parks where they could interact with Hosts that would give them endless quests, would be invincible and the most important characters, and have the chance to be good or evil. We got a Westworld game, but it was a mobile park management simulation that didn’t really give us the chance to do what we wanted. Now that Red Dead Online is here, we have both the online Red Dead Redemption experience most people probably expected, but also a game that makes me think a lot of what people might have wanted from a Westworld experience.
Red Dead Online starts off with an idealized situation that gives us the allure of being an outlaw, but also gives us a sense of security and financial freedom. We were falsely accused of a murder, along with presumably the 31 other players present on our game server. We have Jessica LeClark, a woman who knows we did not kill her husband and would like if we would help her, but is fine with helping to finance our escapades as we do whatever else we would like. Our camps could come under attack, but we can also set them as safe zones to protect us from other players. It feels a lot like we’re chosen ones, doesn’t it? Especially considering the rough start Arthur has in Red Dead Redemption 2.
Someone could almost consider it as being similar to a patron visiting Westworld. After all, they come in with what they need. They have weapons, a horse, and clothing. They are treated well and trusted with tasks. While some people are going to be ornery and distrust you, there will also be people who are ready to immediately trust you with tasks. I didn’t find it all that difficult to start associating the Stranger NPCs I would see, even ones who were present in Red Dead Redemption 2’s campaign, as Hosts. Especially since I started out around Valentine and saw many familiar faces as a result.
The idea of Honor plays a major part too. The Stranger missions you can take on alone can help determine if you are going for a noble or outlaw life path, which can actually impact which tasks you take. I was trying to do good in the world, which meant I ended up handling an escort quest to protect postal employees. I did not encounter anyone else in my own little world, but once more people join in and start playing, you could team up with some of the friendly faces on your server to gather around a camp and work together. I have not had a chance to play through any of the A Land of Opportunities multi-part missions for groups as of writing this, but the idea that there will be these stories (or maybe I should say Narratives, since I am trying to call attention to how much this resembles the Westworld game experience I would have wanted) that can change is great. It gives us options and lives that we couldn’t leave in Red Dead Redemption 2 proper.
Then, there are also the Red Dead Online Showdown Series Markers that take us into specific sorts of matches that are not unlike the sorts of special Adversary Modes and Deathmatches present in GTA Online. (Which, again, offer the kind of competitive nature we have seen in the Westworld show between characters who are on different sides, like the Man in Black versus almost everyone who is not the Man in Black.) It has a battle royale style mode like GTA Online before it, but where the older game has Trap Door with some twists involving drops into the ocean, Red Dead Online has you relying on only knives and bows with arrows in Make it Count. Hostile Territory lets you capture land with your team and try to conquer everything, where modes like Name Your Weapon and Most Wanted have you trying to off players to make yourself or your team place highest in the rankings.
I think that I was able to see Red Dead Online as offering a Westworld sort of experience speaks to the online mode’s versatility, even in this beta phase. With Red Dead Redemption 2, people are going to all have the same sort of experience as Arthur Morgan. There’s freedom there, but even being honorable or dishonorable won’t change things too drastically. With Red Dead Online 2, there’s more of an opportunity to live the life you want, which might give people all sorts of chances. For me, I saw a Westworld experience, but someone else might liken it to Red River, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, or The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. There are possibilities here, even in its beta phase, that