Today marks the fourth official trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2, but officially the first gameplay trailer to feast our eyes on. Rockstar is aiming to make this world not just open, but deep, ranging from the heartland to the frontier of the Great American Experiment.
Red Dead Redemption 2 rides into town when the age of outlaws was ending and the modern age was emerging in 1800's United States.
Rocky mountain trails, thick and varied forests, knee-deep swamplands, and sun-baked deserts paint themselves across the different biomes. The map is further dotted with gathering humanity: from rough-and-tumble little livestock towns to the bright city lights of urbanized areas like the city of Blackwater—a location you'll no doubt remember from the first Red Dead Redemption.
A diverse cast of characters, from the rock steady to the foolhardy, likewise dot the landscape. You play as Arthur Morgan, a senior gun in Dutch van der Linde's gang.
Each time they're forced to flee an area (it's unclear if this will be a recurring element of gameplay or just a one-time setup), the gang pitches camp. And if home is where you hang your hat, well, then this is home. It's a place for the gang to gather, eat, do chores, tell stories, and get to know each other. You'll help gather food and supplies to maintain the camp's morale. And there will be ample opportunities for mischief, of course. We're about to experience that brutal life John Marston intentionally left behind in the previous Red Dead. There are women and children hanging around camp, too; this is family.
Despite guns being one way to solve problems, they're not the only way. You can just say howdy to passersby. You can antagonize folks or defuse escalating situations. Intimidation might work where outright murder won't suffice. Talk yourself into and out of trouble when that Wanted rating starts flashing too many stars. Form friendships and make enemies as you choose. You decide when Arthur Morgan goes high or goes low.
Got to admit: melee combat looks good. These aren't big, flashy moves, but it feels like every punch and kick connects, and these character models grapple solidly with one another when it's time to take it to the mat. But this is America, so America's love affair with guns is well-represented. If fisticuffs don't get the job done, certainly bullets will, one way or the other. When it's time to pull the trigger, the reload and recoil from each weapon animates crisply and uniquely.
Bonding with your horse is crucial, improving or degrading based on your treatment of the animal. Which is good to hear. I thought OG Red Dead Redemption gave you the best horse too soon, and any relationship between you and your horse never extended beyond a good high whistle. Here, though, there isn't one sliding scale of quality when it comes to your horse. Some breeds are better for certain tasks. Over time, your bond makes it easier or more difficult to keep your horse from spooking in tense situations.
Predators and prey are deadly and unpredictable. We've got all manner of North American fauna to deal with: moose, buzzards, wolves, grizzlies, and so on. Looks like you'll pull out tracking skills for hunting, which, of course, is also the part where run-and-gun gameplay gets stealthy. No one will accuse Red Dead Redemption 2 of relying too heavily on stealth-based mechanics, but me? I'll be out there, strapping animal carcass after animal carcass onto the back of my horse. The pelts you sell for money or trade for goods is just the icing on a hunter's cake.
Upcoming gameplay videos will focus on missions (like train heists), activities (like fishing), enemy gangs (Van der Linde ain't the only show in town), and the evolution of Dead Eye Targeting (which looks sped up into something a little more real-time).
Red Dead Redemption II is coming to PS4 and Xbox One on October 26.