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‘Red Dead Redemption 2’: Everything you need to know

Everything you need to know about RDR2, including 'Red Dead Online' launch date

Red Dead Redemption 2: Official Gameplay Video

Red Dead Redemption 2, the long-awaited sequel to Rockstar Games’ beloved 2010 Western is here. As the successor to one of the most acclaimed games of its generation, it’s safe to say that many fans have a lot of questions about it.

We recently talked about Red Dead Redemption 2 in length in our review, and we’ve compiled everything we know about the game so far, from official, concrete information, to fan theories and rumors found scattered around the web.

It stars Arthur Morgan

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Rockstar released the first trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2 on October 20, 2016, and an unclear view of the protagonist led some to believe he was a member of the Marston family. However, the game’s second trailer, viewable above, revealed the main character as an outlaw named Arthur Morgan. He’s a member of the Van der Linde gang and appears to have more questionable morals than most of Rockstar’s previous protagonists, threatening to kill a boy who recently lost his father, and shaking down another traveler on behalf of the gang. In the trailer, Morgan says that his gang has traveled all over the western frontier and is wanted in three states.

Red Dead Redemption 2 wants to make Arthur Morgan feel like a real person. According to USGamer, this means his hair and beard will grow in real-time, and you’ll even need to take a bath on occasion if you’ve been out hunting for too long. This extends to your choice of clothing, with heavier outfits affecting your performance if you choose to wear them during the hottest days. Remember eating too much and getting fat in older Grand Theft Auto games? That returns as well, so you can’t pig out if you want to perform at your best.

Rockstar has detailed several members of the Van der Linde gang, as well, including right-hand man Hosea Matthews, who is noted for his communication skills. Others include the “high-strung” Molly O’Shea, the “arbiter of justice” Susan Grimshaw, butcher and cook Pearson, hitman Micah Bell, new recruit Charles Smith, and ex-soldier Bill Williamson.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel to the 2010 game, taking place in 1899, and though Marston isn’t a playable character, he will be featured in the story in some capacity.

Marston’s family is also featured in the story. Abigail and John attempt to shield Jack Marston from the true nature of the group, though anyone who played the original game knows that Jack grows up to be quite the gunslinger himself. At this point, he’s just a small child, however, so he’ll play a much different role than he did in Red Dead Redemption.

Interaction is key

Red Dead Redemption 2 will give players more control and choice than anything we’ve seen from Rockstar Games to date. In the first official gameplay video, which you can view at the top of this post, we learn the studio has worked to make the game’s world feel like it’s alive, and choices you make with its characters can have long-term consequences.

Random pedestrians you come across can be interacted with, and you can choose to be either friendly or antagonistic. If someone happens to witness one of your crimes, you can intimidate them into keeping their mouth shut, and you can talk down a sheriff and convince him to let you go, as well.

If you prefer to “go loud,” that’s an option as well, as you can pester people into attacking you. In the gameplay video, we get a glimpse of Red Dead Redemption 2‘s snappy gunplay and the return of the “Dead Eye” targeting system, as well as hand-to-hand combat. You don’t even have to kill them, either, with IGN confirming that you can shoot someone’s hat off their head without damaging them.

The trailer also showed off some base management systems. When the Van der Linde gang enters a new region, they’ll set up a camp, and it’s up to Arthur to gather supplies and keep morale high. He can hunt for the gang by venturing out into the wild with his horse, which can hold animal corpses as well as extra weapons.

Just like in the current-gen and PC versions of Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption 2 lets you play through the entire game in either first-person or third-person perspective. You can also completely eliminate your heads-up display to make the experience more immersive.

Open world activities and side missions

Red Dead Redemption 2: Official Gameplay Video Part 2

Rockstar certainly puts a lot of time and effort into the stories for its games, but if you just want to explore Red Dead Redemption 2‘s open world and engage in side missions and superfluous activities, that’s totally an option as well. In an interview with Vulture, co-found of Rockstar Games Dan Houser revealed that players can expect a 60-hour long campaign — and that’s with the superfluous content removed.

When it comes to the kinds of activities and side missions you’ll find in Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar detailed the variety of ways you can interact with the open world, including both legal and very illegal options.

Related Red Dead Redemption 2: A beginner’s guide to being a great cowboy, baby

Morgan and the Van der Linde gang have a ton of different options for stealing things that don’t belong to them. You can rob trains and stagecoaches, hold up random passersby or shop owners, or just walk into a house you like and take whatever you want. If you find yourself wanted by the law, bounty hunters can come after you or you can become a bounty hunter yourself, as well as take on the role of a loan shark and shakedown local citizens who find themselves in debt.

Not all of the things you do in the open world will be so violent, as multiple types of gambling, fishing, and dancing are also available, though we don’t anticipate you’ll always be able to do these without a gunfight breaking out.  It appears you’ll be able to “talk” with local courtesans as well, suggesting Morgan isn’t as tied down as John Marston.

Map, location, and environment

Red Dead Redemption 2’s map is said to be just east of the map from the previous game, and the two appear to overlap just slightly. The Great Plains in the northeast area of Red Dead Redemption’s map is the very southwest corner of Red Dead Redemption 2’s map. It was rumored that the game would take place before the invention of the locomotive, but the second trailer proved this to be false. Not only are there trains in the game, but Morgan can rob them.

Rockstar has shared some of the towns and locations we’ll be visiting in the game. They include Valentine, located in The Heartlands, which looks to be a traditional Old West-style area with a saloon and plenty of outlaws. We’ll also head into the bayou of Lemoyne, as well as the snowy mountains of  Ambarino. Perhaps the most interesting location is Saint Denis, located within Lemoyne. It’s described as a melting pot with people from all walks of life, and as a gateway, we can expect to see some train robberies take place there. Red Dead Redemption 2 certainly won’t all be tumbleweeds and open plains this time around.

The game will feature both bears and alligators, as well as snow. The Alligator National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina features both animals, so it’s possible that Morgan could have moved back to the eastern United States, but the locations are modeled after states rather than recreating them. In fact, Rockstar said the game will include around 200 different species of animals, including birds and fish, “all of which behave and respond to their environment in a unique way.” If you must know, the testicles on horses will even shrink and expand depending on the weather.

Red Dead map leak
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Perhaps the strangest bit of information revealed in the leaked map, however, is that Red Dead Redemption 2 may actually be a prequel of sorts to 2K Games’ Mafia series. Though the region doesn’t really resemble Louisiana, the city of New Bordeaux is listed in the southeast area of the game, close to a river and the Sisika Penitentiary complex located on an island just off the coast. This region’s bayous would certainly fit the wildlife seen in the trailer, as well.

While it’s possible that this is just a coincidence of Rockstar and Mafia III developer Hangar 13 having the same idea, it would be interesting to see Take-Two’s properties connected this way.

Western-style combat

When it comes to combat in the western setting of Red Dead Redemption 2, you’ll be packing long rifles and revolvers instead of fully-automatic weapons, but Rockstar says it’s doing all it can to make each gun look and feel unique. What that means in practice, though, remains unclear.

We can say the same about fisticuffs. Arthur Morgan spent a surprising amount of time brawling with NPCs in the gameplay trailer. That might mean non-lethal combat is a more important element than in past Rockstar games. The trailer also said hand-to-hand combat has been improved from the original though, again, we don’t know the specifics.

While we can’t say how the combat feels to play, it looked great in the gameplay trailer. Animations were smooth, gunshots rang out with an authentic crack, and the overall flow of fighting looked fluid.

The Deadeye system also makes a return, letting you slow time to make the best shot possible, and it will again play a central role in combat. This time around, however, an upgrade to the ability will let your target vital organs in an X-ray mode like you’re playing a Sniper Elite game.

Your combat choices will change depending on where you happen to be in a firefight. Typically, Arthur will have access to two long weapons and two sidearms at any one time, but if he’s on or near a horse, he’ll be able to access all of his weapons at once.

In total, Red Dead Redemption 2 will include more than 50 usable weapons. Multiple handguns are in the game, including the “Cattleman” revolver and the “Volcanic” pistol, alongside better-known weapons such as the Springfield rifle and a sawed-off shotgun. Depending on the weapon you’re using, you can also carry an item in your other hand, such as a lantern, and certain weapons will do less damage to the valuable skin of the animal you’re hunting.

Different ammunition will also be for sale, including “split point” and “high velocity,” rounds, as well as explosive ammunition. Depending on the task at hand, these could be very useful.

For the first time, weapons will also feature elements of degradation depending on how they’re treated. According to Kotaku, a wet gun will have its statistics affected until it’s given a proper cleaning, and they can even jam if not properly maintained. They’ll also require manual reloading accomplished with a second button-press to really nail home the idea that the weapons were more primitive in the late 19th century.

If you don’t like the way your gun looks, you also have the option to swap out its handle or even give it a new engraving.

Online multiplayer

Following in the footsteps of Grand Theft Auto V’s enormous Grand Theft Auto Online component, Red Dead Redemption 2 will follow suit. Along with the official announcement of the game, Rockstar revealed that it would also feature a brand new online multiplayer experience. This would seem to be a natural progression of the multiplayer mode present in Red Dead Redemption, which allowed players to freely explore the area should they not want to engage in gunfights with other players.

Called Red Dead Online, the multiplayer component of Red Dead Redemption 2 was not available at launch. Instead, it will enter a beta stage on November 27 at 8:30 am ET for anyone who purchased the game’s Ultimate Edition. The online component will then be accessible to those who played the game on launch day on November 28, followed the next day by those who played it within the first three days of release. On November 30, it will be available to anyone who has the game. According to an announcement given to Polygon, you will be able to able to start a gang with seven other players, customize your character, hunt, fish, and battle other gangs.

More on PlayStation 4

Along with the game’s first official trailer on October 20, Rockstar Games and Sony revealed a partnership between the two companies that will bring “select online content in the vast open world of Red Dead Redemption 2” to PlayStation 4 first. The original Red Dead Redemption is currently available on PlayStation Now.

A special bundle will also be available for new PlayStation 4 owners. The bundle includes a 1TB PlayStation 4 Pro system along with a copy of the game for $400, so those picking up the console for the first time won’t have to spend any extra cash to get the game, as well.

And Xbox One X?

On Xbox One X, Red Dead Redemption 2 will run at 4K resolution with high-dynamic range.

What about the PC?

It is unclear whether the game will be released on PC at a later date. During Take-Two’s August 2017 investor call, Zelnick was asked whether the game would be released on PC. His response did not give any indication one way or the other.

When can we play it?

Red Dead Redemption 2 is out now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One .

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Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
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