It feels like we have been waiting for Red Dead Redemption 2 longer than the South has waited to rise again, but we still have until the far distant future of October before we can saddle up, shoot varmints, and tie women to train tracks. Thankfully, Rockstar has had the good graces to reveal story details to tide us over.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is the aptly named follow up to Red Dead Redemption, the incredibly popular Wild West sandbox title that let you live your dreams of being a cowboy without having to endure the saddle sores. One of the things that made Red Dead Redemption so great was a story that was so good that it made the hours of riding through empty countryside worth it. You played as John Marston, a retired criminal gunslinger who was being blackmailed into hunting down his former comrades. The game had a cast of intriguing characters, perhaps none more so than the enigmatic leader of Marston’s old gang, Dutch Van Der Linde.
Rockstar has decided to follow this up by going down the prequel route, exploring Marston’s former gang while it was still active. Rockstar San Diego Art Director Josh Bass explains to The Hollywood Reporter, “In Red Dead Redemption 2 you get to see that gang, including Marston, at the peak of their notoriety and at the very moment things begin to fall apart.”
The game is going to be set just before the turn of the twentieth century, an interesting time of change for the Old West. “We’ve aimed to capture a wide slice of American life in 1899, a rapidly industrializing nation that would soon have its sights on the world stage — and would do whatever possible to ‘modernize'”.
This does sound rather familiar to anyone who played the original Red Dead Redemption, which also dealt with themes of modernization and the end of the Wild West. It is why myself and other fans have been rather lukewarm to the idea of a prequel. Red Dead Redemption was the sequel to the almost forgotten Red Dead Revolver, but they had little continuity besides both being video games set in the Wild West. This allowed them both to be distinct and explore different aspects of the old West, whereas Red Dead Redemption 2 sounds like it may retread old ground.
However, Rockstar seems determined to deliver another compelling narrative with Red Dead Redemption 2. Players will be stepping into the shoes of Arthur Morgan, Dutch’s right-hand man, at the height of the gang’s infamy. Bass explained that “Arthur lives with and fights alongside the other members of the Van der Linde gang, and they are a group of fully realized characters with relationships to each other and to Arthur”. No doubt these relationships will become strained as the gang starts to fall apart, and it sounds as though it could be a worthy follow-up to the gritty narrative of the original.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is set for release on October 26 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.