Everything we learned from the Red Dead 2 Gameplay trailer

Alex LaFreniere


It’s finally here. The first gameplay trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2 has been released. The six minutes of footage is jam-packed with new information about Rockstar’s hit Wild West adventure game. It’s a lot to digest, so if you haven’t yet, check out the trailer below and read on for a look at all of the key takeaways and everything else that Rockstar has just revealed.

The world is much richer

One of the first things that becomes apparent from watching the new trailer is that the game world in RDR 2 is going to be massive. The trailer promises a sprawling variety of environments, from windswept mountain peaks to harsh deserts and murky swamps. Towns and cities are also going to play a key role. Since the game is set on the cusp of the modernization of America, players will be able to explore more rural backwater towns and teeming industrial cities. The contrast between the old world and the modern world is going to be a big theme in this game, and it’ll be up to the player to find out where Arthur fits in.

The world isn’t just large, though: Rockstar has gone to great lengths to emphasize that it’s a living, breathing ecosystem. Hunting seems to be taking a larger role than in the first game, and to that end, Rockstar has added far more in the way of wildlife. Like the first game, animals are just as much of a threat as people. In the trailer, we can see wolves and grizzlies, like in the first game, but also some more exotic creatures like alligators. These animals can be encountered at any time, and predators and prey will hunt each other just as much as the player will.

The human element has also been improved. Whereas the random encounters in the first game felt a bit more stilted, RDR seems to have made them more fluid and integrated into the world. Whether it be in towns or out in the wilderness, your interactions with NPCs will be interesting and varied. The Honor system plays into this: at one point we see Arthur rescuing a man from a bear trap and gaining his gratitude, but we later see a woman on the roadside screaming at him for killing her cousin. Your actions will have repercussions and will inform the way the world around you responds to your presence.

You can bond with your gang

We already know that main character Arthur Morgan is a trusted enforcer in the infamous van der Linde gang. The gang is helmed by Dutch van der Linde, who returning players will recognize as one of the main antagonists from the first Red Dead game. It’s obvious that this time around, the gang itself is going to play a huge role in the game. The trailer details that the gang is a group of roaming outcasts and misfits. With each new location that the gang makes their home, they’ll set up a wilderness camp as a sort of safehouse. Gang members can be interacted with at this camp, and you can hunt and gather supplies to improve the gang’s opinion of you. Doing so is going to be a huge part of your game experience.

Players can interact with each member of the gang, helping them do chores around camp or listening to them tell tales of their pasts. You can also join them for other activities, like drinking and playing cards, or more high-stakes missions. Rockstar has teased that interacting with your gang will earn you access to unique secrets, so it’s certainly in your best interests to get to know the people you’re working with.

Overall, the system seems reminiscent of the activities present in other Rockstar games like Grand Theft Auto 5. You could use your cell phone to call your friends and engage in various activities like bowling or shooting competitions. It seems like Rockstar has taken that system a step up for Red Dead 2. It also seems reminiscent of the Mass Effect series. Though a very different game, Mass Effect placed a huge amount of emphasis on getting to know your squadmates by taking them on loyalty quests or talking to them between missions.

We’re also looking forward to seeing some returning characters in the gang. John Marston, Javier Esceulla, and Bill Williamson are all returning from the first Red Dead, and we’ll doubtless get to see and interact with them in a much deeper way this time around.

Combat is improved

The final major aspect Rockstar emphasizes in the new trailer is a revamped combat system. Don’t worry, it’s not a total overhaul: Dead Eye is back and looks better than ever, and the game promises a huge variety of weapons to use in combat, from snipers to six shooters and shotguns. The game seems to hint at a different weapons system, though: at one point we see Arthur carrying a long gun and a pistol in both hands, switching rapidly between them. Rockstar used this exact dual-wield system in Max Payne 3, where the player was only able to carry a single long gun and a single pistol at a time. The trailer also mentions that your horse will have room for extra weapons. All this seems to indicate that the weapon wheel from the first game is gone, replaced with a much more bare-bones system where players will have to be more conscious of what they’re carrying.

Aside from gunplay, Rockstar has confirmed in this trailer that hand-to-hand combat is also getting a major overhaul. Where the first game limited you to simply throwing punches, we see Arthur grappling opponents, tackling them to the ground, countering blows, and using the environment around him to get the upper hand in fistfights. Like the rest of the game, it seems like a much more fluid system than that of the first game.

It also seems like your words are going to be just as much of a weapon as your guns or your fists. Arthur will have a variety of verbal options at his disposal in conflicts. Several times in the trailer, we see a mini-menu appear on the bottom right side of the screen when Arthur gets involved in an encounter, with each button mapped to a different response. Arthur can greet, defuse, or antagonize the people he’s interacting with. We see him use this to talk his way out of a gunfight with the local sheriff, and talk his way into a fistfight with a local tough guy. He can also avoid conflicts entirely by simply stating he’s going to mind his own business.

In addition, we can see a few other options at the player’s disposal. Arthur can fire his gun in the air to threaten witnesses, or he can beat and intimidate them to ensure their silence. Both are non-lethal ways to deal with the witnesses to your crimes and ensure the law doesn’t pursue you.

The trailer is full of new information, but from these key takeaways, it’s clear that Rockstar has been working hard to improve everything that made the first Red Dead Redemption so great. If the trailer is any indication, this might just be the best Rockstar to date. The game is slated for an October 26th release, and it can’t come fast enough.

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