The Line Between The Story And Side m\Missions Is Very Blurry
One time, I found a man by the side of the road who had been bitten by a venomous snake, and I agreed to suck the venom out of his leg. Later, I found him sitting outside of a general store in town, and he offered to buy me anything I wanted. These interactions can also go very badly. Someone asking for water or money out on the road might just be a ruse to try to rob you. RDR2 takes place in a cynical time, and it forces you to become a cynic when deciding if you want to help people.
As natural as all of this can feel, the skeleton of the game will be familiar to anyone who has played a Rockstar game before. Structurally, the game is very reminiscent of GTAV. Most missions involve sneaking in somewhere to steal something or kill someone, and eventually, they devolve into a shootout. RDR2 has a very heavy feel to it that fits with the setting. The guns have a real weight to them and take time to reload, while fistfights can be brutal, violent slogs that seem ripped out of Netflix’s Daredevil.
The violence can also get tiring. Big shootouts all involve an improbable number of enemies coming at you in waves, and sitting behind cover shooting cops eventually gets old. Much like in Fallout 4, RDR2 also loves to show particularly gruesome kills; if you get a nice headshot, time will slow and the camera will zoom in on the bloody spectacle. It’s kind of cool the first time you see it, but not so much the 100th.
Perhaps not surprisingly for a Western, a huge portion of the game is spent on horseback. The horses are, in some ways, analogous to cars in GTA. They’re your main form of transportation, necessary for getting around the huge world of RDR2. You can steal one if you’re in need, and there are different breeds with different attributes. You can even “upgrade” a horse by giving it better shoes or a new haircut.
Large swaths of the story unfold this way. While you go on long rides across the country, characters will talk about virtually everything: the struggles of the gang, personal relationships, future dreams, the constant encroachment of civilization. These moments would seem tedious if they weren’t so well-done. I never got bored of getting to know these characters while taking in the gorgeous scenery: snowy white fields or wide open plains, clear blue skies or dark ones lighting up with crackles of lighting.
Horses are more than transportation, though, as they help form a personal connection to the world. You can bond with a specific horse over time, and its abilities will increase if you look after it and give it attention. I found it soothing to brush down a steed after a stressful battle. They can get spooked in battle and even die if you’re not careful. There are stables so that you can keep multiple horses, though I stuck with only one for most of my time with the game. It felt weird to just trade her in after experiencing so much together. In RDR2, the world is changing, and you’re constantly on the move, so your horse can be the one constant in your life.