Hitting the Panic Button: Red Dead Redemption 2

Well, Red Dead Redemption 2 has had quite the week, hasn’t it?

For a game that has (so far) received such little marketing and trailers, many outlets finally got actual hands-on time with the game. Naturally, most of what I read and saw was outrageously positive. This shouldn’t be too surprising considering it’s Rockstar Games, a developer who typically tries to cover all of their bases and go into extreme detail with their games. Red Dead Redemption 2 definitely seems to be going in that direction as well.

As someone who absolutely loved the first game and still considers it to be one of the best games I’ve ever played, I find myself in an odd position. I can’t seem to get hyped or at all excited for Red Dead Redemption 2.

What’s wrong with me, right? Let’s try to sort this out…

It’s not normal for me to go against the majority especially with such a massive game like this, but I think that part of the problem has the way the game has been marketed. It really hasn’t. Sure, we’ve gotten a couple of trailers, but not much else since it was officially announced in 2016. I get that this IP is massive and beloved, but I don’t understand the lack of promotional materials for it.

Not only is it going up against some pretty big franchises (Call of Duty, Fallout, Battlefield, Assassin’s Creed), but you’d think Rockstar/Take-Two would want to get the fanbase frothing with excitement. My initial thought would be that they feel they don’t have to considering how big that the first game became. Still, I can’t imagine a company being that arrogant, that they felt like they didn’t have to promote a game because of how well their games do like GTA V becoming basically the biggest money generating title of all time.

red dead redemption 2 Arthur vista

Sure, we have a few weeks left before it releases, so there’s still time for a marketing blitz, but it’s kind of shocking at how little we’ve seen of the game in terms of actual gameplay as well as how little we know about the complete package.

The other thing that doesn’t sit well with me is the new direction that the gameplay has seemingly taken. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love when developers put in all these little details to help make the world feel more real. RDR2 looks insane and you can tell they put the effort in by the little etchings on guns, the fur on clothing, etc. Look at Spider-Man for example. When you’re around normal civilians, pressing the “attack” button doesn’t throw a punch, instead causing Spider-Man to greet these people, give a high five, or more. It adds nothing to the game overall, but it’s a small touch that I absolutely appreciate.

For Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar has seemingly raised the realism and survival factors 10 fold as players now need to manage Arther Morgan as well as the gang. Gang members all have specific needs and wants so Arthur needs to make sure to bring back food to keep the members happy. In addition, weapons degrade over time so players will need to clean them to keep them in top shape and even horses need to be cared for and cleaned.

red dead redemption 2 bandits

What really struck me is that players need to seemingly care for Arthur as well. Survival mechanics have been added so players will need to ensure that Arthur gets to sleep, drinks enough water, and doesn’t over eat which results in him gaining weight. His hair and beard grow in real time as well, so players will need to visit a barber to get a cut and make sure his clothes are washed or people might get the wrong idea of him if he smells or is covered in blood. Oh, are you visiting a cold region? You better be dressed for it.

Some of these mechanics just don’t sound fun and I feel like the game knows it and just doesn’t care. It’s not going to make any concessions to fun for these new survival mechanics.

While none of these things can kill you, I’m just not a fan of this micromanaging element. I manage enough people, including myself, on a daily basis that I don’t want to have to do it for a virtual character as well. Red Dead Redemption became the gold standard for making you feel like an old west gunslinger. Sure, John Marston didn’t have these sort of needs, but I didn’t mind. I was able to go where I wanted and do what I wanted without being forced to check in or do things I didn’t want to do. I felt free and it was wonderful.

red dead redemption campfire

My fear is that these mechanics will get in the way of the gameplay. Say I’m on a mission somewhere and suddenly I get a message that the gang is unhappy because they don’t have food. Granted, I have no idea if this is how it works, but I’m going to feel compelled to stop what I’m doing or wanted to do and go hunt in order to bring back enough food for the camp. Instead of roaming the plains, I have to go take a bath, clean my horse, and scavenge for food for a bunch of people.

I love little details in games, but I feel like Rockstar took things a bit too far. Now, I could absolutely be wrong about all of this and simply overreacting to how invasive it could be to the gameplay. In fact, I hope I’m wrong about it. I want to love RDR2, but hearing about all these things and seeing the lack of gameplay has me worried. I want to love this game, I’m just having a hard time finding it right now.

Prove me wrong, Rockstar. Please.

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4 Responses to Hitting the Panic Button: Red Dead Redemption 2

  1. geelw says:

    Oh, you’re worrying too much on one front. The marketing is coming. I think game companies are relying less on TV ads and more on online, social and other means (early gameplay impressions as you noted – I’m skipping ALL of them so I go in totally cold) where they’ll get more response immediately.

    Still, my money says you’ll see those commercials drop and then say there are too many or they’re run too many times a day, lol. I’ve noticed that game ads in general seem lesser in quantity than a few years back, but I can’t recall any major ads for some games that did well while other games get ads non-stop even post release. Of course, I watch less TV because of my backlog, but I tend to not rely on watching ads to choose the games I play these days.

    • All totally true. Wouldn’t surprise me at all. I guess I’m just a bit surprised that Rockstar hasn’t front loaded their marketing. Granted the game was delayed, but still, you’d think they’d drop a couple more trailers in that long space between. Rockstar really is different from most companies, though at this point, that isn’t much of a surprise.

  2. Hatm0nster says:

    There seems to be this idea floating around lately that immersion=realism, and that couldn’t be further from the reality of things. Immersion is creating a world (or even just a story) that the player can get lost in. It’s about being *compelling* more than it is about being *believable*. Anything that takes a player out of the experience (like say, having to manage your gang’s supplies) is a detriment to immersion. It’s believable, but it’s still an interruption.

    Another element to this lack off excitement could have something to do with the kind of gamer you are at the moment. It’s very possible to acknowledge a game as being good or looking good while still feeling no real compulsion to play it. Its all a matter of ones tastes. Perhaps you’re just not in a headspace that makes the idea of Red Dead Redemption 2 exciting. Maybe that will change by launch, maybe it won’t. Maybe it won’t click until you’re halfway through it. It’s been 8 years since the first game came out. A lot can change in that amount of time.

    • Yeah, I agree. As someone who can’t spend countless hours playing on a daily basis, a lot of this stuff doesn’t sound fun. I can really only spend hour to an hour and a half playing each day, so having to manage all this little stuff feels like it’s going to take up my entire time.

      Either way, I’m hoping for the best, but we’ll see.

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