The Western Adventure from Rockstar Games has been available since October 26th. With all the advance praise received by the successor to the terrific game Red Dead Redemption, we couldn't resist the ride into the prairie either. Red Dead Redemption 2 already set record values ​​on the first weekend of sales - so there has to be quality in it somewhere. Or is Red Dead Redemption 2 just one of those hypes and you as a player are brought back to reality after a few hours? How good Red Dead Redemption 2 from Rockstar Games really is and whether the purchase is actually worthwhile, we reveal in our detailed game test.


Hard. Harder. Arthur Morgan.

A real cowboy only needs his hat and a revolver, they say. Not so Arthur Morgan, protagonist of Red Dead Redemption 2. The outlaw with the rough voice (brilliantly spoken by Roger Clark) has stowed a whole arsenal of weapons in his horse's saddlebags. And of all things a bow has to be used for hunting.

The game starts like a classic western while the player is taught the basic controls. And then, after a few minutes of play, the hunting scene follows, which hits the player like a bullet fired from a Winchester.

It's bitterly cold in the mountains, supplies are scarce, meat would be nice. It is no coincidence that Arthur Morgan of all people is sent on the hunt. The Gunslinger takes on every task that is assigned to him. Together with a companion, the player goes in search of prey. The player has to fire the bow, the AI ​​escort injured their hand in a previous firefight.

Arthur Morgan is a tough dog. Image: Rockstar

Arthur Morgan is a tough dog. Image: Rockstar

A young deer is found quickly. And one more thing. The first arrow is a direct hit, the prey is killed. The second deer was less lucky: a graze only injured the animal. "Kill it with your knife," echoes from the background. Arthur Morgan wouldn't hesitate, the player would. At the end of the blood trail, the injured animal lies in the snow. Helpless. It screams heartbreakingly. The mission is clear: kill the animal with your knife.

The hunting scenes in Red Dead Redemption 2 are tough, maybe even unbearable. But that's exactly what fits in perfectly with the dense atmosphere of this western adventure that aims to be more than just a game. The title from Rockstar Games is a mixture of game and film: classically staged, with excitingly narrated episodes in the style of a Tarantino classic and a graphic presentation that is photo-realistic down to the last lump of earth.

Photo-realism down to the last lump of earth

Red Dead Redemption 2 is the prequel to the predecessor. And it's also the most complex video game from Rockstar Games to date. You can tell from the title on every corner: the game world is gigantic, varied and packed with - more or less - important tasks. 

Depending on the environment that the player walks through as Arthur Morgan, the adaptation of clothing is required. Through the desert in a winter coat? That saps the strength of the virtual alter ego. Even the hairstyle and beard cut can be adapted, if desired stuck to the scalp with pomade in proper style. Of course, only if Arthur Morgan bought the “styling gel” from a dealer beforehand - or looted it from one of the corpses. And you already suspect it: corpses pave his way.

Even the ride through the open game world is entertaining for many hours. And as a player you spend a lot of time on the back of your horse. The latter is of course mortal, which is particularly noticeable when you have invested a lot of time in the relationship with your horse. 

The western world is not only pretty, but also atmospheric. Image: Rockstar

The western world is not only pretty, but also atmospheric. Image: Rockstar

The game world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is bigger than the one in Grand Theft Auto 5 (GTA V), and it's far prettier. From the carriage track in the damp earth to the cloud formations, the western adventure is a graphic work of art: breathtakingly beautiful and at least as atmospheric as a western by Sergio Leone (including play me the song of death). The player can interact with almost any object or character in the world. And every interaction affects the attitude of the player: greet the passing farmer or ambush him, both are possible, and much more.

How much attention to detail the hundred of Rockstar programmers must have been is shown by the fact that various framework conditions have a direct effect on the character's performance. Arthur Morgan must eat regularly in order to perform at his best with a pistol, throwing knife, or rifle. Alcohol and tobacco can also be consumed at any time, but they also have short-term adverse effects - and that at a time when whiskey was drunk, like medicinal water today.

You don't know anything, John Wayne

Anyone who previously thought John Wayne was a style icon of the late west has not yet met Arthur Morgan. The main character exudes a charm like a rusty bear trap. And every single one of its companions was thought through by the developers right down to the tips of their hair. There are many archetypes that we already know from the westerns of the 60s: the cheeky young lady, the flogging drunkard, an elegant gang leader and the lovable colored cowboy with Indian roots. Rockstar Games has hardly left out a cliché in order to Red Dead Redemption 2 to give the right atmosphere.

Thanks to motion capture recordings, the characters move extremely smoothly. Posture, movement sequences: every important figure has its own style. The western scenery is accompanied by atmospheric musical interludes that are in no way inferior to “real westerns”. Sometimes the player remains motionless in the saloon to listen to the piano. 

There are often moments like this, you are literally waiting for surprises: whether in the form of a solid shootout or a humorous side mission. The pace of Red Dead Redemption 2 is generally leisurely. The background story unfolds chapter by chapter, episode by episode, slowly - and sometimes drains the player's patience. Rockstar Games was apparently in no hurry to build up the tension curve - and then let everything end in a huge explosion within seconds. The stamina is rewarded with unexpected story twists, the further development of one of the most ingenious main characters in video game history and lots of western action. 

The camera recordings in Red Dead Redemption 2 are terrific and perfectly stage important events. The video game is often like an interactive film that condemns the player to watch. Image: Rockstar

The camera recordings in Red Dead Redemption 2 are terrific and perfectly stage important events. The video game is often like an interactive film that condemns the player to watch. Image: Rockstar

There is a lot of shooting and beating in Red Dead Redemption 2: on foot, at a gallop, on a moving train. Arthur Morgan always has his gun ready and he doesn't hesitate for a second when it comes to pumping lead into the ribs of his opponents. Everything captured nicely by a “kill cam” that repeats the most impressive hits in slow motion. 1899 just wasn't a time for gentle kills. 

In any case, the entire camera work is more reminiscent of a film than a video game. The tracking shots pull the player right into the middle of the western adventure with a force of primordial force. Red Dead Redemption 2 Develops a stronger attraction with every additional minute of play. Even repetitive actions motivate for a certain period of time thanks to the successful staging, but constantly recurring actions wear out. Even if Red Dead Redemption 2 is full of surprising moments, the variety of a two-hour late western does not reach the game apart from the main plot. You get to know the characters - and love them - episode by episode. You literally build a relationship with them, also because Rockstar Games manages to give depth to all characters. 

At the end of the day, it is above all the grandiose cutscenes that rob the player of his freedom in an open world game. The sometimes exaggerated long cutscenes condemn the player to passivity. Cinematically, what is offered is convincing down to the smallest detail, but Red Dead Redemption 2 primarily wants to be a game, not a movie. Until the furious finale, you will be entertained as a player as well as seldom before in a video game. And when the story ends, the online multiplayer mode follows.

Infobox

Number of players: 1 players
Age: from 18 years
Playing time: 60+ hours
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: high

Publisher: Rockstar Games  
Developer: Rockstar Games   
Year of publication: 2018 
Platforms: Xbox One, Playstation 4
Language: English voice output, German texts
Cost: 54,95 Euro

Summary

Rockstar Games has come up with the prequel too Red Dead Redemption raised the bar for the playable narrative. The legendary development studio proves why it can sometimes be worthwhile to wait a long time for a video game to be released, eight years to be exact. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a tremendous work. And it's violent; but so were westerns in the 60s. 

Despite the gigantic mountains of corpses that Arthur Morgan piles up in the course of the chapters, this title exudes a liveliness that is seldom found in a video game. Each character is drawn down to the smallest detail and invites players to interact. How to shape your life as an outlaw, the player decides for the most part, unless it has to be part of the sometimes overly long cutscenes, which technically reach the level of a film stiff. Anyone who wants to play the “good guy” as an outlaw can do so. If, on the other hand, you prefer to make your pistol barrel glow, you do just that. Red Dead Redemption 2 often conveys the feeling of freedom, which, however, has to be hard earned through extremely long rides.

Rockstar Games has packed this game full of details, but at the same time fails in the design of some too narrowly defined game tasks. Only if you have invested countless hours in the title will you feel the uniformity with which the developers wanted to stretch the game: forever the same merchant goods, furious but simple battles, overly long animations for standard actions. All of this is not bad in itself, but requires patience from the player. 

On the other hand, Rockstar Games does everything right with the visual and acoustic presentation and the historical elaboration. The graphic of Red Dead Redemption 2 shines like a polished revolver, the sound recordings are outstanding. Contemporary history is always present: on a large and small scale. From typical family conflicts of that era to the crimes against the Indians, Rockstar takes up the historical facts of the 19th century - and throws the player right into a dirty world, the most beautiful moments of which cause discomfort. Red Dead Redemption 2 often overwhelms the player - sometimes through grace, sometimes through sheer malice.

Much playful is reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto 5. That is not a flaw, but when riding a horse feels like driving a racing car, it sounds strange. But somehow you have to be able to traverse the huge game world as a player. Rockstar Games compromises when it comes to combining games and movies, when content needs to be playable. In the end is Red Dead Redemption 2 exactly the video game you've been waiting for for eight years. Even if one would have wished for even more freedom and a lot more character development.

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