Red Dead Redemption 2‘s trailer was released last week, already racking up over 8 million views on Rockstar’s official YouTube page. Despite not giving us any gameplay footage, mechanics or even story points, the reception has been overwhelmingly positive. So let’s break down what’s actually in the trailer.
- Varied Locations
From the vast landscape shots, we seem to be getting a much more diverse map to ride horses through. RDR was mainly desert, followed by more desert, with only the top right corner of the screen giving us a break from the sandy landscape; forests, snow-capped mountains and the encroaching civilisation squashed into one small area. RDR2 boasts lots of desert but also river basins (reminiscent of The Revenant), dense forests and even some oil fields. Let’s hope the landscape has a gradual change from one to the other, instead of the awkward transitions between “outlaws country” to small towns in the previous game. Another shot shows two people using a canoe in a lake. This is obviously an update to RDR‘s approach to water (step into anything bigger than a puddle and it was automatic death), so we might be using craft other than our horses to get around the beautiful countryside.
- Characters. Lots of ’em.
The final shot of the trailer gives us seven riders, with one of them almost certainly going to be our player character. Further breakdown gives indications of a possible female rider on the far right. Rockstar obviously want to reuse GTAV‘s multiple characters, so could we be in for more than one tough-talking rustler, and possibly a cowgirl? Rockstar received several complaints after GTA V‘s lack of female protagonists, and after the greatly received Assassin’s Creed Syndicate had a male and female character, Rockstar could be planning a bold new step for the series. Hopefully using the strong female characters from the first game as a template, RDR2 could provide a bold new take on the game’s praised use of multiple lead characters.
- The Name and its Implications
Red Dead Redemption 2 makes it clear that we are returning to the world and characters followed in 2010. RDR was set in the dying days of the Old West leading many to speculate that we are in fact getting a prequel. This makes sense, with RDR protagonist John Marston once being part of a gang, filled with a colourful cast of rogues and thieves. Marston also meets his future wife, Abigail, in the gang, so we could be in for a mature, blossoming relationship as well as several gunfights and horse chases. RDR was a place full of history, from the wrecked steamboat Serendipity, to Native Americans trading to reclaim their homeland and burial places after fighting for many years. Maybe RDR2 will answer how some of these events came to be, as we the player experience an interesting part of American history.
- The Story
While we have no official story points, I have a couple of thoughts based on the above material. We play as John Marston again, but also as his wife Abigail. This would make use of the multiple character feature from GTA V. After a series of bank robberies with the gang (again, much like GTA V) John and Abigail must flee an increasingly volatile situation, as Abigail is newly pregnant with their son (who was a playable character in the previous game). This would give context to the line in the trailer, “When the time comes, you gotta run and don’t look back. This is over.” John and Abigail have to try and survive in a dangerous world and care for their new child, all the while being hunted by their old gang (save for the few that appear in RDR). Right there we have a template for several tense standoffs, a relationship that players can get invested in (as well as the return of one Rockstar’s most beloved characters) and a reason to keep moving through the landscape- just in case a outlaw is on your tail. So when Rockstar finally releases gameplay of a female character, remember where you heard it first.