Review: One Week in with Red Dead Redemption 2 – Non “Gamer” Perspective

As mentioned in my recent post about Red Dead Redemption 2 I was beyond excited for the game’s release. Now, a week later, my excitement is still there. I have moved away from games as a primary entertainment source and it has been this way for quite a while, but this game has me committed. During the Friday it came launched I could barely stay focused at work knowing that it was finally available and waiting for me at home that Friday. Now, a week later I am just as excited to play this at every opportunity I can and am conflicted when there are other things I want to see and do. During yesterday’s late NFL games I was debating – Do I want to watch the Saints and Rams, or play Red Dead. Eventually I had myself streaming the football game and playing Red Dead.

One thing about my job is that it requires a week with an emergency phone on a rotational basis. The phone is used in case an issue arises after hours and this past week was my time with the phone. Even though I am locked down on what I am able to go out and do it was almost a blessing in disguise as I wanted to play Red Dead. “Oh no, I guess I will play some more Red Dead Redemption 2…”

Screenshot of Arthur early in the story in Red Dead Redemption 2.

After a about a week of playing but not aggressively pursuing the story, my progress appears to be about 25% based on the save game status. I am not sure what specifically that measures, but the game is thoroughly entertaining me. The story doesn’t have me as engaged as I had expected, but even so, I am still enjoying the vast options that can come up by just going out and doing whatever in the open world. Going out on a random hunt, playing through side missions, seeing the vast landscapes, or of course continuing the story.

Looking out at the world in Red Dead Redemption 2.

One thing that was amazing to me with the previous title and is still true with this one is the sheer volume of areas that can be explored. To me, when Red Dead Redemption came out the vast open world was unprecedented with how you could find yourself in the Mountains one moment and in the next moment be in Mexico. Just like before I find myself riding around and exploring and seeing what kind of events pop up just to explore and that alone has had me gripped. While hanging out with a friend who was over one day this weekend he suggested I go down to St. Denis and check things out, and when I arrived I was absolutely floored. I was impressed with the small city of Blackwater in Red Dead Redemption, but man, you can go around for hours in this city and not see nearly as much as is there. Everything about this game is absolutely huge and thoroughly deep.

Riding through the Rhodes region in Red Dead Redemption 2.

The irony to me with reviews of this game is the negative commentary. “Skinning Animals shouldn’t exist/shouldn’t have to be watched,” “There is too much riding around.” I am not sure what those folks expected, it was the west in the 1800s. You hunt, you rode horses. There are negatives that I have with the game, don’t get me wrong, but idiotic commentary about hunting and traveling is not something I complain about. The controls are clunky at times, and interactions with NPCs can be pretty finicky, and there has to be a better way to manage items, but on the whole there is almost nothing I would want different. The game is definitely well executed. Even when a situation has an outcome that is going to happen, it is still well executed.

Riding through the Bayou region in Red Dead Redemption 2.

An example of the how well the game is executed is the first hunting mission where Arthur goes bear hunting. A coworker, a friend, and I were each playing the game when it came out and each of us had completely different outcomes, but each thought it was supposed to happen that way. One killed the bear immediately, one didn’t, but went back and was able to do it, and well, the other died and went back to camp after re-spawning. While it has different ways of allowing progression, you feel it was meant to be and keep going. Also, I am very pleased with my bear hat that I got from that hunt.

The game is absolutely breathtaking in its world. Every interaction can go its own way and it leads to a different level of immersion than I could have imagined and I am certainly impressed. Even though I am only a quarter of the way through the game, I am thoroughly pleased and not at all let down by the hype I had in this game. I was definitely nervous because I got my hopes up, and they are so often let down, but not this time. I highly recommend this game.

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