BENGALURU: It starts at the idyllic point where movies normally end — a silhouette staring into the sunset, overlooking avast expanse of land. It is quiet. A squirrel scurries past, the grass crackles. Your horse snorts and kicks the ground. Through Red Dead Online, Rockstar offers us another idyllic start at the beginning of the year — with an Honor Reset.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2) is further validated by being crowned as Steam’s Game of the Year 2020. I also had not uninstalled this ridiculously huge game from my PS4, and all these compelling factors are reason enough to make RDR2 our first replay of this year. Although I played RDR2 just after a run-through of the ‘latest-gen’ Assassins Creed Valhalla, the contrast was stark; like before and after you moisturise your feet in December. Valhalla was expansive without purpose.
RDR2 focused on the details and peppered it with ample sunset photo opportunities. Perhaps this explains why I enjoyed allowing my horse to trot at a leisurely pace in the meadows of Valentine (RDR2), while stretching the steed’s speed limits in the plains of Oxenfordshire (Valhalla), hating every bit of the mindless travel. The details also explained why world exploration works in RDR2.
It was driven by curiosity, and not because I wanted to check a viewpoint off the list and get a trophy outside the game. I wanted Arthur to make his little notes in his diary when he found something new. I wanted Arthur to reflect in the game the person I wanted him to be — the perfect ‘honourable’ outlaw. Valhalla also helped me realise why I do not skip cutscenes in RDR2 even a second time around.
While the mystery missions in Valhalla were standalone stories (with a funny easter egg or two), the NPC interactions in RDR2 mattered more. Will snake-bite man rob me? Will I meet the chap I saved from wolves in Strawberry when I visit next? In RDR2, I couldn’t just wipe my hands off the robbery I just pulled off by throwing axes at the onlookers.
It felt like there was life happening around Arthur, more than the random enemy spawns to which I was accustomed. The characters were discernible, they commanded attention during gameplay, your actions truly mattered. While I lack the space here to wax eloquent, I’ve allocated enough in disc for photo moments in game. This game gets a whole 5 wanted stars out of a total rating of “they don’t make games like this anymore”.
(This economics graduate spends her leisure time preparing for the zombie apocalypse)