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February 29, 2020
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The Alternate Reality of Red Dead Redemption 2

by Nate Smiley on 10/31/18 10:11:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Red Dead Redemption 2 as a video game in 2018 is a glitch in the timeline.  It shouldn’t exist here. 


When the original Red Dead launched in Spring of 2010, the world was a different place.  As hard is it is to believe, it was a slower time.  Information moved fast, yes, but not at the speeds we see today with the evolution of social media and hot take opinions.  Facebook was still a young new-ish platform to stay in touch with friends and Twitter was 99% less toxic than it is today.  The likes of Instagram and Snapchat were still twinkles in their creators’ eyes. 


RDR2 is proving to be a divisive game in the week following it’s highly anticipated launch.  It took in over $725 million in it’s opening weekend making it the most profitable entertainment launch – ever.  And that comes with lofty expectations that, if we’re being honest, couldn’t possibly be met.  Games like RDR2, before they launch, are perfect.  They have no flaws because we refuse to think that a developer like Rockstar could possibly make a bad game, especially with 8 and a half years under the microscope. 


It’s a miraculous game, though.  Impossibly beautiful, intricate, detailed, nuanced, and realized.  It demands your attention and similarly demands your patience.  You can’t conquer this world.  You have to survive it.  It takes time that many of the original RDR fans, now nearly a decade later, may not have available in their lives.  I for one have 2 kids and approximately 2 hours a night – maybe – to play.  I rarely do more than a main mission and a side quest.  Maybe hunting and exploration.  But never all of it all in one sitting. That can be frustrating.  When I play something like God of War, I’m slashing and fighting for most of my time with the game, while with RDR2, gun fights or intense action sequences come much less often.  In a 2018 world where we need to be satisfied immediately and fully, RDR2 refuses to comply.  And I’m perfectly fine with that. 


I play RDR2 to live a world I can’t ever know.  A time I can’t ever touch.  A way of life that can’t be replicated in the modern world.  Like it or hate it, Rockstar has managed to slow time to a halt and put players in a very uncomfortable place.  A place where the impulse to fast travel, see players through walls, get a birds eye views, or chain attacks together cannot be satisfied.  We can’t have it our modern way and that leaves some feeling discontent. 


Once I took a step back, slowed my pace and expectations, and simply lived in the world of RDR2, it quickly became a perfect place to forget the stresses of the day and remember a time that can’t really be remembered. 


But damn if it doesn’t feel good for those 2 hours.

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