If the Red Dead Redemption 2 news has been a bit thin around here, well, that's because I've been playing it a lot more than I've been writing about it. To Red Dead's credit, that's the highest compliment I can pay any game. It's the rare experience that leaves me, often, completely speechless. I don't have the words. So, for the sake of finding the words, I wanted to write about the times I've died as Arthur Morgan. Deaths are few and far between. That's not a brag; that's just how much time I've put into every aspect of the gameplay that doesn't necessarily involve gunplay. If you go slow, keeping your eyes and ears open, Red Dead Redemption 2 often telegraphs danger long before you encounter it.
The game exists on a slow, meandering map at a slow, meandering pace. It’s a land that begs me to take a look and take my time. Yet the environment is raw and uncut, exacting its price from me at every turn. Many times have I died in the “Wagons East!” lands that Arthur Morgan now inhabits. But since I may do so without spoiling too many story details in the game, I would like to pull a box crate up to the campfire and invite you to sit down to The Many Cowardly Deaths of Arthur Morgan. Many of these are mundane. None are spectacular. Can’t think of a single one that would garner any Reddit Gold. But they happened, nonetheless. Additionally, the gameplay video above doesn't show Arthur Morgan dying, but the death of my first horse. The story on that one is after the jump, below. Here's how it's gone for me, though. I apparently need to put more thought into my interactions with the O'Driscoll gang, because they've gotten the drop on me more than anything else.
Heading back to camp at Horseshoe Overlook. Want to bring home some critters for the stew pot. A couple rabbits. Maybe a turkey. Pull out my hunting bow so as to not annihilate the critters with my rifle. A stagecoach drives straight out of the trees and blocks my path. Irish accents start yelling at me. It’s the O’Driscoll gang. They’ve got guns out. I’m too startled to switch to my guns. Whipping my horse up to speed, I ride in circles around the stagecoach, trying to puncture my attackers with small-game arrows. I take down one or two O’Driscolls, maybe, but the other three or four pump me full of lead. My horse slows to a stop. I slow-motion topple off my saddle to the ground. Dead.
Took a hot bath at the new, white hotel at the end of the lane in Valentine. Wasn’t up for much small talk. Rode out to Twin Stacks. Overheard a shootout. The shooting stopped and I heard voices cussing out some O’Driscolls. Figured that any enemy of my enemy is my friend. Put up my bandana anyway, in case things went south. I thought (thought) some gunslingers had rounded up some O’Driscolls and were putting them into a prison wagon. The gunslingers turned out to be O’Driscolls breaking another O’Driscoll out of the prison wagon. Things did indeed go south. I took five or six shots from various rifles before I even had my six-shooter out. Dead.
Had a two-star White Tail Buck strapped onto the back of my war horse. Came upon a ridge overlooking an O’Driscoll camp. Saw two horses and three O’Driscolls through my binoculars. Pulled out my repeater rifle, went into Deadeye, and put three red X’s on each and every one of those O’Driscolls. They don’t die. Also, a fourth O’Driscoll shows up out of nowhere. They take cover behind some large boulders. I keep firing, but auto-aim isn’t doing me anymore favors. I’m a sitting duck up on my horse at the top of this short ridge. I take six bullets, the last one to the head. Dead.
* * *
And now onto the story of The One Cowardly Death of My First Horse. Hopped on my horse, Blackfoot, with the intent of breaking a fellow gang member out of prison that day. Took a route I'd never taken. Ended up doing a slow stroll through a burned down ghost town. Found a bar of gold in a lockbox under the old sheriff's desk. Got the itch for more gold.
Found a gold panner, panning for gold, at a river crossing. "Any luck?" I ask. "I hope you ain't looking for gold, partner. I ain't seen so much as a fleck around here," he says. I slowly ride past him. But then I hear him hooting and hollering about actually finding a gold nugget. He's all, "Wait till Tex sees this!" and he gets on his horse. I holler back, "Well look at that. You found yourself a shiny little rock." I pull out my lasso, uncharacteristically willing to hogtie the guy and take his gold. I told you, I'd gotten the itch by now. "You're welcome to look around," he says, and he kicks his horse into high gear, heading for the hills. I give chase. My old starter horse can't keep up. She's huffin' and puffin' up the hills and I can barely keep this other guy in sight. I imagine there's some rubberbanding AI at work here, just to keep the chase interesting, but the result is that seemingly this fella is just going to get away and that's it.
I keep heading up into the hills. I haven't seen hide nor hair of this guy for a half a mile, and trails have been branching off left and right. Could be anywhere by now.
But then I come up to a lone, saddled horse standing near some train tracks. The owner is nowhere to be seen. I hop off my horse and this other horse is saddled with a bunch of gold panning equipment. I calm the other horse down. "Whoa, horse, it's okay." I calm the horse and search through its saddlebags. And there it is: I pull out a shiny gold nugget.
I turn around just in time to see the train engine miss my horse, but an extra wide train car catches her. Choo-choo, the train says. I'm dead, my horse says. I pull out my gun, just in case it ain't dead, but it's dead. After that sad chase, though, I was already figuring I was in the market for a new horse, a race horse. RIP, Blackfoot, my first horse.