Does Red Dead Redemption 2's "wild West" get the praise it deserves?

by crobek. Posted on Oct 17, 2020    0    44

I've been revisiting the game recently and I honestly can't think of a more impressive open world in gaming. It's vast, beautiful and absolutely chock full of life.

The attention to detail is absolutely staggering and, for me, nothing emphasizes that more than the way the animals live and act within the World.

I know wildlife in open world games isn't exactly a new thing, but I can't remember seeing another game in which the wildlife exists and interacts in such a lifelike way. I'm not particularly technical but I can't imagine the effort involved in animating and scripting all those different species.

Just as an example, look at the alligators. Not content on having just one model, you have Alligators of different sizes and colourations. Some are in the water, some are on the banks. Some are guarding nests. Some will attack if you get near, some will scuttle off into the water - the diversity is mindblowing.

As I play at a more relaxed pace to the first time around, I'm noticing new things all the time. Just this week I realised if you shoot into a bush all the insects will fly out, and then I saw a deer trying to rouse it's dead mate. .

Most discussions on the game I've seen seem to focus on the rather polarising gameplay, controls and pace elements, and whilst I agree there are a few issues, the actual World seems to be almost taken for granted.



It's a very beautiful and elaborate diorama, painstakingly built to hold a game that was just... so long. So, so long. I couldn't finish the campaign, but I still love just walking around and looking at things. It's an unparalleled nature walk simulator.


I think there's a difference between quality as an open world as in "open world game", and quality as in how realistic the world is.

The kind of detail Rockstar put in their worlds is incredibly impressive purely as an achievement of craftsmanship and technical skill, but for me personally it really doesn't do much. It's the sort of thing I look at once and say "Huh, that's really impressive on a technical level" and then forget about. I think it's because it doesn't feel like it's to a point other than "let's make really realistic virtual world". Like, you can go out and hunt or look at wildlife or whatever, and it's realistic. That's cool, if that's the sort of thing that ticks your boxes, but to me that makes the whole seem more like a great... 1800s America outdoors simulator than a great game. And because it didn't manage to be a great game, to me, I lost interest.

I didn't get the impression the game found itself wanting for praise, personally. But if it hasn't seemed to stand the test of time as much that may be precisely because a lot of people didn't get that much joy out of actually playing it. In a video game where all the elements come together as a thoroughly enjoyable, coherent whole, I'm going to pay that much more attention to and be more impressed by minute detail, than in a video game where it feels like the obsession with small details for the sake of realism was far more of a priority than making it enjoyable to actually play. And that's kind of how I felt with RDR2.

Thatsalotofnumbers 1

Not to start a fire but I think that RDR2 is way too overrated. You can feel however you like about this, everyone has their own tastes but I didn't really have fun in this game.

I've finished it at launch and never cared to go back. The quest design is pretty lackluster, story is very repetitive and was done much better in the 1st game, the world is OK with some nice hidden stuff here and there but the combat & slow pace of all the actions kind of dragged the game down for me.

I'm not saying the game isn't good, it just not something that I see myself coming back to or even giving it a 2nd thought. I found the first RDR and the zombie DLC it had much more entertaining and novel. RDR2 feels crowded but everything feels like a chore. I didn't have as much fun with it as I had with GTA V or RDR1.

Open world, quests and choices still feel much better and more memorable in The Witcher 3 or Batman Arkham games where every corner is filled with some crazy adventure you can't wait to do.

RDR2 feels more like an old school western where you have to appreciate the mood and atmosphere, which in that regard the game nails due to very lifelike graphics.

modsherearebattyboys 2

I would rather say that the Witcher 3 is overrated. I was absolutely blown away by RDR2. Everything about it is the closest it can get to a technical masterpiece, while I felt that the Witcher 3's world is extremely static. Of course, the Witcher 3 is an older game and had less resources to make, but that's a different story.

Don't get me wrong. Artistically the Witcher 3 is without a doubt beautiful, but technically the world is rather dead. There's not much you can interact with. There are plenty of monsters scattered here and there, NPC's with some dialogue like the early RPG games, a few mini games and that's about it... It just felt like after a few hours I had seen everything the game had to offer already, due to all the copy-paste stuff and limited interaction, while RDR2 kept surprising me through the end. Seeing the world and its inhabitants change around you was an experience like no other.

There's without a doubt a lot more work that went into creating RDR2. The tiny details is what makes it (close to) a masterpiece for me. I haven't felt that immersed in a game since Half-Life 2. It raised the bar for all games to come.

texantillidie 1

The world in RDR2 is amazing, but it still couldn't save how bad the gameplay was for me. I couldn't even bring myself to finish it. The shootouts were always the same and never once fun or interesting.


Game received like, universal praise at launch. The open world is basically just fancy set dressing, it hardly matters that much to the gameplay. Cool game but hardly groundbreaking mechanically


If it's not mechanically groundbreaking can you recommend any open worlds that are more impressive than that of RDR2. Not have a go, just genuinely curious


It's perfectly impressive for the reasons you talked about and was praised for that but it isn't utilized in a meaningful way to the game mechanically, that's all I mean. It's just a very pretty open level with some animals in it, you're only interacting with it in very prescriptive and limited ways (wandering around, shooting things, and triggering scripted sequences and cutscenes)

benpicko 6

It’s not really just fancy set dressing when you can walk around it and interact with so many people for hundreds of hours. I’ve never played another open world game that felt as alive as Red Dead 2.


But you can talk to people in all types of games, it didn't matter that it was open world - for the most part they were theme park hosts just standing there or waiting to be triggered

srslybr0 2

hard yes. the interactions and details in red dead redemption 2 are among the best in gaming as of 2020. the game gets a lot of criticism for how on-the-rails the missions are, or how "clunky" the game feels, but it is undisputably the king of immersion and detail.

i can't think of a single open world that is as detailed or meticulously crafted as red dead redemption 2's world is.

hyrule5 4

It's very impressive, for sure. But I think after the initial surprise, most people focus on the "meat" of the game (the actual gameplay) instead of the environmental details.

The amount of detail in their past couple games actually creates a weird sort of disconnect for me, especially in GTA V. The world of GTA V is also extremely detailed, but the only things you can actually do in it are drive cars and shoot people (or I guess animals too). There are more things you can do in RDR2, but the gameplay still feels a bit shallow compared to the amount of detail in the world.

datlinus 6

its one of the highest rated and best selling games of the generation. And it gets brought up all the time when discussing any open world game that has released since.

So yes, I am pretty sure it got the praise it deserved.

CombatMuffin 8

While most audiences tend to focus on the visual immersion, it's also worth noting that the game has some of the best sound design, if not the best, I've ever heard it a game.

Detail wise, sounds change depending on your environment: it's not just roads sounding wet during or after rain, it's the fact that shooting near valleys/mountains creates various echoes, making sound in the snow removes all reverb, etc.

The game also features a lot of ambient sounds, not just from wildlife, but things like the wind sound different depending on the biome.

Compare that to a game like the Witcher: excellent in storytelling and a beautiful open world, but sound is one of its weaker sides: the music is the same, action sounds are few and repetitive and the audio ambiance doesn't change too much.

Each Open World needs to focus on their strengths. The Witcher is focused strongest in quest narrative, RDR2 is focused on high fidelity and a game like Elder Scrolls is focused on persistency and openness. We just never had high fidelity to RDR2's level before in gaming.


Wut bro, I don't know about normal sounds and whatnot but the music in the Witcher is amazing, what the fuck are you talking about?


The quality of the music is good, but it isn't nearly as varied as in RDR2. It actually suffers from similar issues the early Marvel films had: it's not very "memorable." By this I don't mean it's bad or not recognizeable, but that if I asked you to hum a melody from The Witcher, most can't, whereas most people could hum the Dragonborn theme from Skyrim.

It's a different style of music design. Games like TES create music that sticks in the back lf your mind, while s game like Witcher creates music almost exclusively made to be in the background.

Wolfofdoom3 4

I think that's a matter of opinion really, you can argue the music gets repeated too much, but I personally find it more memorable than TES.

CombatMuffin 2

It's not about repetitiveness. Music thrives from repetition (especially motiffs) but the music in The Witcher is made purposely to be relegated to the background. It doesn't detract from the quality of the music, but few remember the actual music because of it.

Every Frame a Painting makes a wonderful video about this sort of thing, using film and the Marvel franchise, but the same principle applies:

Do you remember the theme song for The Witcher 3, for example?

Wolfofdoom3 2

It's the one when Yennefer fights the army isn't it? Ye I kinda remember it.

When I said repetition, I was referring to the music being used multiple times, not at how it's composed.

I always liked music that fit in to the themes of a story and the tone of a scene, rather than it working on it's own.

CombatMuffin 2

There is no theme song for The Witcher 3. It doesn't have one, specifically.

Whether you like music like that is obviously a matter of opinion, but the reality that people don't remember music like that, is a fact. The video I shared covers that trend.

Wolfofdoom3 1

Hmm, so was that a trick question then? It's a good thing I don't personally care about remembering music.

CombatMuffin 1

It's not a jab directed at you. I can't personally recall much of the game soundtrack either and it's not for lack of trying.

It's just The Witcher doesn't shine in the music department like other games do. The same could be said of many other great games, it's just The Witcher 3 is the same genre as the original conversation.

Wolfofdoom3 2

What?? I didn't even think it was a jab.

I seriously can't recall many games that are much better musically than the witcher. There's metal gear rising maybe, that pretty cool tune in Metal gear solid 5, some indie games like ori and hollow knight have some good tracks, but like witcher you won't remember them.

This is pretty much all I remember. Maybe you have better musical ear than me.

Coruscated 7

I find it weird that you're labeling Witcher 3's soundtrack like this. It has many themes with strong melody, even the area background themes tend to have distinct parts rather than some kind of swirling, low-key ambience. Kaer Morhen, the main theme (that's sometimes just referred to as Geralt's theme), the unnerving theme of the Crones, the two main battle themes and the ethereal Ard Skellig music are just a few examples that have stuck very strongly in my head, personally.

I think I understand the "trend" you're referencing, but I don't think The Witcher 3 is an example of it. The music isn't much different from something like Skyrim. I would say they're both great examples of how you can have open-world music that's atmospheric and reasonably non-intrusive without it just becoming indistinguishable ambience.

SasquatchPhD 6

Come on, you've got to admit that it can get pretty repetitive. I would rather avoid fighting than hearing that same yayaYAyayayaYAyayayayaHEYYYYYYYYYeeeeyyyyeyyyyy

Wolfofdoom3 6


Anyway, there's actually different tracks for combat and some have lyrics in polish. I think they depend on the region you fight enemies in. So if you're fighting enemies in the same region I can see why you could find it repetitive.

Still, the quality of the soundtrack is really good, or at least that's my opinion anyway.

jack_hof 2

ahhh oh man that got me good

Forestl 33

The game got a vast amount of praise for the world design.

Also, no game "deserves" praise or criticism. It's a fool's errand trying to figure out how much praise something gets and how much it should get.

Jagarippy 1

> Also, no game "deserves" praise or criticism. It's a fool's errand trying to figure out how much praise something gets and how much it should get.

You know how language works, right? And what that phrase means?

Or how discussion works?

We know how opinions work. Thanks, though.

Maybe avoid subjective discussions and criticism if you think this literally.

EatMyShortsPig 1

how dare you

engineeeeer7 10

It definitely got praise. It's also been 2 years since it launched so that may be why you're not hearing praise now.

mrthewhite 19

Yes, it definitely does. Not trying to downplay the game at all, but people praised the shit out of it.

Hudre 1

And I would say the open-world design is one of the things that is praised the most widely as well.