By Patrick Hawes-DeFrias
RockStar just revealed the trailer for the newest game in the Red Dead franchise. Now that I've gone through it, I'll share my thoughts on what I've seen.
Right off the bat, we see some amazing visuals, especially in terms of lighting. It's hard to tell if this is all in-engine, but I'm inclined to say that it is mostly due to the fact that they show so little in terms of scripted segments, or characters in general for that matter. The game world of Red Dead Redemption 2 basically looks like an even more polished and flora-filled version of the woodland areas in GTA 5, which isn't surprising. In terms of actual locations seen, there are of course grand, dense forests, bustling western towns, a ranch... places anyone familiar with Red Dead, or just the western genre in general, would expect. But, never before has it looked this detailed.
Now, beyond game areas I noticed a few interesting things about the handful of characters RockStar decided to show in the trailer, the first of which being a cowboy walking along what looked like ranch property, with a dead deer tied onto the back of his horse. Anyone who played Red Dead Redemption will remember that you could kill various animals and skin them in order to collect various materials to sell. If the deer on the horse is indicative of actual gameplay mechanics, and isn't just an NPC event, then that could mean that it's now possible to sell entire carcasses, rather than just the meat and pelts.
One of the only details about RDR 2 is that it will “provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience”. The fact that the cowboy in this part of the trailer didn't seem to be a recognizable character from RDR could mean that he was an online multiplayer character, and that tying up an animal to your horse is a way to facilitate online skirmishes. In GTA online, if your character is holding some money on them and is killed, some of that money is dropped and can be stolen by other players. Perhaps this is similar- you go out and hunt a particularly valuable animal, then as you head to town to sell it other players try to steal it from you to reap the reward. The second noteworthy character action I noticed was a few people traveling a river or lake by canoe. This could be fairly significant actually- in RDR 1, you couldn't swim. If you went into deep water, you died. If boats are a feature in RDR 2, then being able to go out into the water could open up tons of places to go. There was a scene where a train drove past a huge herd of bison, which to me could indicate that this game takes place BEFORE RDR 1, as while bison were in the first game they were in very small number, probably as a reference to the mass-slaughter of bison during that timeframe. A minor detail, but with such a small trailer, every bit counts. Lastly, we see some vultures fighting over a carcass in the middle of a street while a man and a dog look on. This tells me that, at least under certain circumstances, wild animals can wind up in town. Nothing too significant, but if certain predators make their way to town, you may have to watch out. This is all speculation of course, but since details are so few right now speculation is all we have at the moment.
Lastly, I want to talk about the segment that had a voiceover. Here's a transcript:
“Listen to me- when the time comes, you gotta run and don't look back. This is over.”
As the voice said this, we saw someone who looked like John Marston riding out of a barn, then a fire on a farm. Lastly, we saw a group of outlaws riding in formation past the camera into the distance, concluding with a fall 2017 release window.
Now, I won't lie, it's been a while since I played RDR. I don't know who the person talking in the trailer is supposed to be. But, if I had to guess, I think it's supposed to be one of the members of John Marston's gang from just before they disbanded. When we first saw the trailer announcement (see the image above) my friends and I developed 2 theories about what the game would entail: 1) For reasons I won't spoil here since Red Dead Redemption is a game I recommend everyone play (and is backwards-compatible with Xbox One), by the end of the game you play as Jack Marston, John's son. So, I thought from the announcement poster that it might be Jack starting up his own gang. And 2) The game will be a prequel to RDR and detail the rise and fall of John's gang. Having seen the trailer, I'm now fully expecting the latter based on the voice over, as well as the aforementioned bison scene. It should be noted that while we do see the whole gang at one point, they're all wearing bandannas over their faces, so this still might not be conclusive.
That's it! Not much to go on right now, but for the game's first trailer that should be expected. We'll try to keep you updated as we hear more!