Now that the second trailer for Red Dead Redemption II has been burned into everyone’s eyes, taking a step back after the dust settles can help to see the bigger picture. The most prominent thing being the centerpiece of who the main anti-hero is, along with other outlaws from the Van der Linde gang. Even with the trailer showcasing other features such as what looked to be gameplay (not much) and cutscenes, one game popped into mind watching as the visuals went from sweeping vistas to bogged down swamps filled with predators. As each environment kept hitting and having watched the trailer numerous times now, RDRII seems to be mimicking another exceptional game — The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
I will immediately state that I’m not pointing a finger at Rockstar saying they copied another game. In this industry, like any art, learning from others goes a long way. Rockstar has always been able to craft exceptional games — just look at the most recent years of success with GTAV Online or any of the GTAs. What has Rockstar learned? From the looks of it, that it’s possible to create epic playscapes representative of our real world that will be fun to play in without fantasy or sci-fi. It has gotten a bit tedious that every game that’s willing to put out these massive sandboxes restricts it to stories of fiction, except Rockstar of course. Covering a bit more ground, the upcoming Assassin’s Creed is also helping fill this much-needed role for games.
Red Dead Redemption II’s landscapes seem representative of the feelings pulled up from a game like The Witcher 3 by how one plays in them. The Witcher 3 presented a blend of main storyline with endless possibilities of getting sidetracked in an open world out of curiosity. The opening shot during the credits followed up by the mountain side view says it all. As Breath of the Wild did when it showcased its open world, RDRII is showing these places to say ‘go there!’ Don’t worry RDRII, we will. When people think of the West/Frontier, it’s usually the setting of the first Red Dead Redemption. RDRII is presenting a landscape that will be exciting to explore. North America has a landscape that is gorgeous giving to views that are cause to stop and soak it in. It’ll be refreshing to visit something familiar even if alien to the present timeline. Anyone who has hiked into North American wilderness will know this feeling immediately.
Red Dead Redemption II looks to be telling a true Western Americana tale, although that could be completely wrong knowing Rockstar. The trailer is only filled with Rockstar’s famous one-liners mixed with bouts of violence. While that is the very surface level, Rockstar has most-likely crafted a tail as dynamic as the landscapes in RDRII. Again, bringing it back to The Witcher 3. One of the reasons exploring the Northern Kingdoms in the Witcher is fun is because of its diversity encountered throughout the landmass and that’s just one map. More environment means a more fleshed out world; it gives reason to exploration these game worlds are rich in secrets and who knows what secretes RDRII is hiding. RDRII looks to not only be telling its own tale, but the many tales (sidequests) that can be found throughout.
This is where it will be interesting to see if Rockstar has learned from games like The Witcher. RDRII could showcase mature tales that not only make for interesting stories but also allow the player to forget they are doing a side-quest, instead getting lost in the game’s world. This doesn’t look to be a problem though, with heavy emphasis on the wide range of a cast seen throughout the trailer even if just the tip of the iceberg. Like GTAV, RDRII is giving its audience a living breathing world, that famous — when this is off the world keeps going — mentality.
Red Dead Redemption II is one of those hype games, but with trailers like this and Rockstar’s history, it’s obvious why. As more information comes out, it will become clear exactly what RDRII has learned with ideas new and old. The fact that it already brings up feelings of getting lost in a rich open world are almost enough. Now if we could just play the dang thing.