Red Dead Redemption is a game that I consider to be perfect. I don’t mean that it doesn’t have flaws; I mean that everything about it is so carefully calculated and so delicately balanced that the end result is an experience that I believe is unparalleled. It’s so well made that if they were to add or remove just one thing, it would bring the experience down. So, yeah. I like Red Dead Redemption a lot. And you can bet I’m excited for the sequel, which was announced this past October. While we’ve only seen a small teaser trailer so far, a lot of people are really hyped for what Rockstar’s going to give us for the next iteration. Everybody’s wondering what sort of features are going to be added that will differentiate RDR2 from its predecessor. Here’s some things that I’d like to see.
More diverse environments
This is something we already know Rockstar is going to give us as we see a variety of different biomes in the trailer, but I figured I’d still include it. RDR had a beautiful environment, but let’s face it – most of it was sand and desert. Wonderfully bleak sand and desert, mind you, but sand and desert nonetheless. Maybe this is just me, but the desert isn’t exactly my favorite setting – it’s just not exactly the most interesting place. It worked in RDR, but it could have been so much more. In the RDR2 trailer, we see forests, plains and open fields, amongst other environments. They also seem to be populated with critters, like birds and deer, so you won’t be totally alone while exploring what’s sure to be a vast overworld. Rockstar seems to be aiming for a more diverse setting than before, and I hope they can deliver an expansive, but not totally empty, world that feels just as engaging (and maybe even more so) than the world they gave us six years ago.
Activities, both old and new
It’s common in sandbox games now, especially those released by Rockstar, to have side activities you can do when you don’t feel like doing any missions. RDR had quite a number of these, like gambling games, drinking, and interacting with (that is to say, killing) wildlife. It’s probably not too farfetched to say that some of these activities will make a return – and I believe they’ll be accompanied by some new ones. A crafting system to put those leather pelts to good use, maybe? Perhaps the ability to purchase land/property and start a farm as well? It’s all conjecture at this point, and I’m sure we’ll see more of what you can do in the game once more information on the game gets released, potentially at E3 next year. But I really hope Rockstar allows me to experience the joys of backbreaking toil on a filthy farmstead – it’s what I’ve always wanted.
Make money more important (but hard to get)
Grand Theft Auto V was all about making money. By the end of the game, the three main protagonists end up so rich that it’s a wonder they don’t spend their time diving into a cash-filled vault Scrooge McDuck-style. RDR was not about making money – it was a story of revenge and retribution, where the main protagonist spends most of the game just trying to absolve his debts. The Old West was definitely a hard time for just about everybody, but that doesn’t mean Rockstar can’t still make wealth something important. By the end of RDR, I wasn’t sure what I could do with the little money I had besides gamble it away. I don’t want the player to become the wealthiest man in the West, but I’d like some more stuff to spend money on in RDR2 so that obtaining it feels like more of an achievement.
Better online without sacrificing singleplayer
Do you remember that RDR had online multiplayer? No? You aren’t alone. RDR‘s multiplayer was underwhelming at best, and completely unnecessary at worst. The focus was always on the main campaign, which was definitely the smart move. Still, I’d really like a Grand Theft Auto Online-type multiplayer for RDR2. Imagine players having duels with each other in the city streets, or racing against each other on horseback, or competing to claim the same bounty, or playing a friendly game of blackjack that ends in guns waved around and accusations of cheating. I think it has the potential to be amazing – but I’ll only stick by this if Rockstar doesn’t neglect the singleplayer campaign in favor of a strict focus on online play, like they did with GTA V. Their focus should be on both the main story and the online mode together – not one over the other.
More customization options
This applies to online, of course, but also for the singleplayer campaign. GTA V really allowed you to customize your character and make him look how you wanted to look (in terms of clothes, anyway). And yes, RDR2 obviously has the disadvantage of taking place in a time way before there were so many fashion options available, but still, a wider selection of outfits than we had in RDR couldn’t hurt. One of the key features of sandbox games is that they allow you to really create the fine details of your character – what he/she does, how good or bad he/she is, and of course, what he/she wears. Allowing the player to tailor their character to what they want would make RDR2 much more immersive, even if they have to be restricted to period-accurate pieces (I sense a wide variety of hats in the future).
Maybe John Marston just didn’t know how to swim, but it was pretty silly that a screen would pop up with the word “DEAD” every time you went into knee deep water in RDR. Rockstar adopted the “classic GTA” model of water interaction for John Marston (that is, water = death), but I think swimming should be brought back for the sequel. I understand this is really a minor thing, but think about the trailer where you see people traveling across water in a canoe. It’d make sense that you’d be able to swim in the water in RDR2 if you can charter through it. Rockstar doesn’t have to go all-out and create a fully explorable ocean like they did for GTA V, but having the ability to swim would make the game feel more modern, rather than tied down to the limitations of the past.
Maybe a heist or two?
Yet another feature from GTA V that I think would work well in the world of RDR, heists are something I think should return – but not on the same scale. I thought the heists in GTA were cool in concept, but they felt more like missions that only seem a wee bit more important because you get a big haul. That said, I think maybe one or two big heists would be cool in RDR2. Maybe you can finally fulfill that boyhood dream of yours to rob a bank in the Old West, or stage a revolution in a small Western town to bring down the law. Whatever the case ends up being, heists would fit right in with the Old West setting, and if they also brought back the setup elements (or at least, the ability to choose how you want to approach the heist), it could very well end up being the highlight of the whole game. Just so long as they make them feel more important than they were in GTA.