Before we get stuck in, I haven’t finished the game yet. This is my first impression of the game. I have played perhaps 15-20 hours and have around 20% story completion. I will do my best to not spoil any plot points or game details and only touch on my opinions. Hope you enjoy!
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! This game is absolutely stunning. Some of the prettiest games to date (Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Witcher 3, God of War to name a few) pale compared to RDR2. The vistas, the ridiculous attention to detail, the cinematic camera shots, the lighting….oh wow, the lighting!!
To say this is a gorgeous game doesn’t do it justice! I am only playing on a stock Ps4 and the graphics are absolutely amazing. On many occasions I find myself stopping just to admire the views and every time I venture to a new area I’m awe struck with the amazing detail that’s on display. Rockstar have made a beautiful lived in world that looks like nothing else out at the moment. It’s just that good!
Speaking of detail, this goes beyond just graphics. The game world is absolutely stuffed with realism going beyond anything we’ve seen before. This can feel intimidating to start with but the more you play, the more you appreciate the sheer amount of things you can do in this game. If you want to fish, hunt, talk to characters, play poker, clean your guns, cut your hair, clean your horse, rob a train, chase down bountys, rob a house, go on a treasure hunt, drink & fight in bars…..you can! And that’s barely scratching the surface. Rockstar have layered so much detail on every aspect of the game that you can do all the things mentioned and the world/NPCs will react in a realistic manner. To put it simply, whatever you can think of….you can almost guarantee Rockstar have also thought of it and have you covered! Many games before have boasted of their attention to detail and open world player choice but for me this is the first game that truly impresses and surpasses my expectations.
Pacing! This game has a very deliberate slow pace and wants you to invest a lot of time in it. This is not a game you can pick up and play in small bursts. You are expected to play for hours at a time to experience the world properly. The start of the game in particular is almost painfully slow and isn’t much fun. It feels like a bit of a chore as they teach you game mechanics and introduce new characters. To be honest, it’s a bit of a hurdle and you need to struggle through the first couple of hours before you’ll even feel like you’re playing (longer still before you’ll feel like you’re having fun)
Cores : This is off-putting in the beginning. The game introduces your different cores (health, stamina & dead-eye) and also your horses cores. Add to that your appearance and gun maintenance and you’d be forgiven for thinking you are playing a fallout game. When these were introduced I felt almost immediate stress as it makes you feel like you’ve too many things to worry about. The more I’ve played though, the more I came to realize that these only add advantages to you and don’t really affect your game play that much. You can pretty much ignore most of them as long as you eat from time to time which isn’t so bad. However that initial introduction was very off-putting.
Pacing Again : As I mentioned above….the pacing is deliberate. Rockstar want you to savour and explore everything they have on offer in this world and the payoff once you settle in is worth it. Fast travel isn’t available from the get-go and even when you unlock it, it’s only a one-way system. They want you to travel as much as possible and discover hundreds of distractions on your way. This at first, felt like an obstacle to me as I was keen to get into the story but the more I played, the more I appreciated that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
I’m not sure that the pacing won’t put some people off, especially if you only get small windows of time to play games. Like I said, Rockstar want you to slow down and experience all they have worked hard on. I imagine you need to sink 100s of hours in to truly experience the game they intended and that time investment might be too much for some. This is not a pick up and play sandbox where you can jump straight in and have fun. It’s a mature, slow paced adventure built to immerse the player in a hugely detailed world
Unfortunately the main protagonist just isn’t very likable. Definitely lacking the charm of John Marston from the first game. It’s also apparent that Rockstar have a deliberate and linear story to tell. Arthur is a bad man who does bad things. This is evident in a lot of story missions where you’re forced to do bad things sometimes to innocent people. I am not opposed to this however, outside of the story missions, you have a morality meter. This lets you play as a good guy or a bad guy and your actions sway your meter one way or the other. The problem here is….if you play as a good guy (helping others, only shooting bad guys etc) it becomes completely jarring when you play a story mission. Suddenly your hero becomes an asshole and it feels strange. The hero you play as outside of story missions is clearly not the character Rockstar want you to be…..so why give you the choice in the first place?
Mostly excellent. But when in small confined spaces like cabins etc. the controls feel clunky. You’ll find yourself struggling to step in front of a drawer to get the prompt to search it. The shooting and cover system feel dated too and hasn’t evolved much from their previous games. GTA is over five years old and shooting feels the same. Considering how much detail they put into everything else….it seems a shame to use such dated game play mechanics.
Menus & Horse Weapons
This is a stinker and hopefully something Rockstar will consider patching. The menus are hard to navigate and you’ll struggle to go through your inventory. Worse again, you have weapons stored on your horse which you can equip, however, once you start to move off on the horse, there’s a chance your weapon will unequip and you’ll have to go back into the horse weapon wheel and select again. It’s an annoyance and hopefully it will get fixed.
I have said quite a few negative points but I have to stress that they are small nit picks when looking at the game on a whole. The hard work that went into making this is evident and I’ve never experienced such a rich and vibrant game world before. This is a masterpiece with some flaws which deserves praise for taking chances and pushing the gaming standard bar ever higher. You haven’t experienced anything like this before and although I don’t think it’s for everyone, I do believe we can appreciate it for what it is…..art!
So what did you think? Is Arthur a better protagonist than John? Will online be grounded or as insane as GTA online? Do you agree with my observations or have a different take?
Comments below please