‘Red Dead Redemption 2’: an $8 million masterpiece


The cold wind whistles across the face of a middle-aged cowboy as he rides up a snowy mountain. Behind him are carriages, not a lot of them, but carriages that contain sickly children, the elderly, and women. At his side are three other cowboys, all of them alert and on guard as they just narrowly escaped from a bank heist that went wrong. Through this opening scene, we are thrown into the revolutionary game, “Red Dead Redemption 2 (RD2D).” It is an open-world game developed by Rockstar Studios, costing $8 million dollars to create, and has received critical accolades from the industry and positive reviews from gamers. 

Set in the Wild West of 1899, the main plot surrounds protagonist Arthur Morgan and his struggles with the decline of the Wild West, rival gangs and his inner conflicts with his duties to the gang, his sense of justice, and the threat of being killed. “RDR2” has sold over 43 million copies worldwide and it is often considered one of the best games in the industry. As a gamer who has spent over 60 hours playing this game, I’m convinced “RDR2” is the best open-world game the industry has created: with multi-leveled characters who are complex and enthralling, realistic graphics that make me forget that this is a game, not a movie, and creative opportunities of play such as the moral system that add to the realism of the world it depicts, “RDR2” stands out among the competition. 

Games are often considered to be recreational activities that have absolutely no artistic value. However, there are many games that focus on the plot and characters just like a TV series. “RDR2” is such a game. It revolves around Arthur Morgan, the main character, on his journey in an imaginary part of the Wild West. 

In the game, you go on dangerous adventures with your gang and spend a lot of time exploring the world. After the failed bank heist at the start of the game, you become more connected to Arthur Morgan as the plot develops. There are a lot of twists and turns in the story. I was surprised by a member of the gang who double-crossed them but after playing the game for a second time, I realized that there were a lot of hints of his betrayal in the scenes before. 

A memorable conflict was when Arthur was ordered by his gang’s loan shark to collect money from the people that he loaned. A few of the people he loaned were really poor and refused to give him the money. He threatened to beat them up at first but when he saw the family’s sick son, the game went into a flashback scene where Arthur relives his past. You were then given the choice to kill them to get the money or not. Rockstar studios spent  a lot of time crafting the characters, giving them believable background stories. As the game progresses, you experience joy, heartbreak, sadness, and surprise. “RDR2”  uses flashbacks and montages to show Arthur’s previous love life and heists, showing that Arthur is not just a thug but a living human being. You feel a connection with Arthur and witness how his world got turned upside down which will move you even more. The game even includes a surprising twist ending. Compared to multiple Ubisoft games where the characters just perform missions that are similar over and over again and have a weak plot that does not stand up to scrutiny, players would enjoy a game like “RDR2” more.

Games not only need a plot that captures the audience, but also great graphics and details which are essential to the experience. As you ride your horse through the prairie, the blades of grass slide smoothly off the horse’s legs just like in real life, and when the main character you control doesn’t shave for a long time, his facial hair grows longer. Realistic details convince people that it’s more than a game; it’s an interactive movie. As Andy Kelly said in his article, “It’s Time For Grand Theft Auto To Grow Up And Be More Like Red Dead Redemption 2”: “As you move northwards, you’ll see plumes of breath start to escape from Arthur’s mouth. Snow will appear in patches, then eventually blanket the ground. The feeling of transitioning from the relatively temperate climes of New Hanover to the frigid Grizzlies is palpable and happens so gradually that you barely notice it happening. One minute you’re surrounded by forests and winding rivers, the next glaciers, and snow-whipped mountain peaks. It’s a big map, but these subtle climate transitions make it feel even bigger. You get a real sense of being on a journey when you explore this world.” 

In comparison to another impressive open-world game, “Zelda: Breath of the Wild”, “RDR2” has more detail and makes much  more of an effort to convince  the players that they’re in a real-world, while the other game takes place in a cartoonish setting and  has horrible graphics which fail to connect the player to the game. With this disconnect, many players can’t relate to the plot since players just think the game is unrealistic. However, “RDR2” with its amazing graphics successfully convinces the players that the decisions they make will have a substantial impact on the characters, making them become more enthralled in the plot. “RDR2” is a masterpiece of a game. It has far surpassed people’s normal concepts of a game. It’s almost an interactive movie because of its unbelievable graphics and complex plot. It’s a safe conclusion that the $8 million they invested was well-spent.