Among a plethora of open-world games we have today, Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 stands out as my favorite open-world game to date, challenged only by the likes of Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City.
Amidst a gaming landscape filled with vast open-world experiences, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by complicated maps and many missions. This game, however, transforms this fatigue into pure fascination.
Why it matters: Five years since its launch, this open world continues to set the benchmark for upcoming titles. The incredible attention to detail in the game makes it the undisputed king of the open-world genre.
A Living, Breathing World
What sets Red Dead Redemption 2 apart from other games is its incredible attention to detail, creating an unscripted setting that reacts dynamically to player actions and choices.
The game’s big world has lots of towns, different climates, and a varied ecosystem. Whether exploring the wild or a busy town, players come across various wildlife, and horses steal the show.
NPC interactions also stand out due to the varied responses. Every choice, from what you wear to your moral decisions, affects how NPCs respond. The carefully designed daily lives of NPCs, combined with a physics-driven engine, form a genuine world where players truly lose themselves.
Red Dead Redemption 2 shines in its quietest moments. Whether riding through town or the wilderness, doing everyday things like hunting or buying a new hat becomes a magical experience. It’s in these times that conversations with other characters illustrate the rich dialogue and the realism of NPCs.
From funny moments to intense showdowns, the whole world is alive with activity, making sure players stay entertained long after the main story is done. The world is also among the most aesthetically pleasing of any game I have ever played.
An Open World Full of Secrets
After finishing the main story, the game appears to be limited to just shop icons and fast travel spots. It tricks players into believing they’ve experienced everything. Little do they realize the true adventure is only starting.
I felt a sense of invitation while playing Red Dead Redemption 2. It invited me to an exciting scavenger hunt, ditching the usual checklist for a more exploratory and discoverable experience.
Instead of leading me with many icons, the title prompted me to ride through the world, find mind-blowing secrets, and uncover interesting storylines on my own. These secrets can also lean towards the supernatural, setting it apart from the usual sandbox experiences.
While I was exploring the post-game world of Red Dead Redemption 2, it revealed a web of mysteries—ghosts in the swamps, UFOs in the sky, experiments gone wrong, massive bones, and mysterious cabins.
Unlike open worlds that overwhelm with markers, Rockstar Games took a more measured approach with this release. Encounters, such as the one with the questionable thieves at the Aberdeen Pig Farm, are spread across the world, ready to be discovered by players.
While the in-game tracker gives hints, the real delight comes from uncovering these moments independently.
Outstanding Story Adds To The Open World
Rockstar Games, known for Grand Theft Auto, brought Red Dead Redemption 2 as a step forward in open-world storytelling. Unlike earlier releases, it features a more personalized narrative shaped by the player’s choices, exploration, and side missions.
Although the final outcome stays the same, the journey itself varies based on the player’s actions, breaking away from typical open-world structures. The story is also incredibly engaging and evocative.
I wouldn’t be lying if I told you I shed a few tears at the end of the story or when Arthur lost an important companion. Besides a heartfelt character journey, the game delivers a powerful message.
Taking place in 1899, Red Dead Redemption 2 exposed me to the tough truths of a past time, addressing topics like racism, slavery, and societal gaps. Such themes elevate the open world, making each encounter and conversation more meaningful.
Despite its 57 million sales, the gaming industry has hesitated to follow Red Dead Redemption 2. I find it disappointing that there is a lack of titles trying to innovate using similar game design.
Many current open-world games stick to checklist-style gameplay, leaving players longing for the authentic experience this entry from Rockstar Games introduced. This is also why I’m left scratching my head at its failure to secure the Game of the Year award.
However, this may be more of a testament to Rockstar Games’ brilliance as a developer, making it difficult for other studios to emulate their approach.
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Passionate gamer and content creator with vast knowledge of video games, and I enjoy writing content about them. My creativity and ability to think outside the box allow me to approach gaming uniquely. With my dedication to gaming and content creation, I’m constantly exploring new ways to share my passion with others.