If you've already read our extensive preview from just a few short weeks ago, you already know exactly what Red Dead Redemption 2 is all about, and more importantly, you know how it feels. You know how tactile it is, how each animation is heavy and provides the player with realistic feedback, you know that this is the largest and deepest open-world Rockstar has ever built, and you know the entire thing can be played in first-person. You know about the improved gunplay, you know your horse is a companion and not a vehicle, you know how it looks, and how it sounds.
You also know how impressive it all was, and how we (in rosy language we might add) described in detail how awe-inspiring our limited time with the game was in Copenhagen when we played it last month. We were impressed, that much can't be mistaken at this point, but most of all we were relieved, relieved to see Rockstar continuously focus on the detail, on the small things that make a world like this tick. And tick it did.
Recently we were invited to London for an extended session with the game ahead of launch, and these are our final impressions before it's time to finally review the next open-world opus from Rockstar.
This time we got to spend a total of six hours with Red Dead Redemption 2, from the very beginning, adventuring as we saw fit in the time allotted to us. We were able to travel as far as the eye could see, and engage with every character we met. During this time we've become even firmer in our belief that we're dealing with something rather special, and more than that, something truly important.
This time Rockstar was finally ready to let us see it all, to let the game speak for itself, and let us start from the very beginning. We begin our journey where we began in our original text - the wild west is a dying concept as lawmen swarm the land, big business replaces outlaws, and industry replaces the untamed. Our merry band of bandits has been driven from Blackwater after a botched heist and has sought out refuge in the snowy mountains. Things look bleak, and it's here that we take control of main character Arthur Morgan - the man responsible for these starry-eyed outlaws as they long for a life outside of government control.
From here, our six-hour stint extended out from that jaw-dropping first couple of opening missions, where you as Morgan trudge through blizzards and thick snow to secure food, shelter, and warmth for your people, before discovering the game's largest, bustling metropolis - Saint Denis - something every gamer should be looking forward to.
Once more we robbed the train, and once more we secured the necessary funds to lead our party out of absolute poverty and most assured death. This time, after having been properly introduced to the mechanics beforehand, we were able to draw weapons more convincingly, easily taking down one enemy after another by mixing cover-based shooting with the repeater, and then changing to rapid hip fire with the revolver. Once again we were able to decide the fate of the remaining surrendering enemies; this time choosing to force them into the train, only to let it roar off into the distance without a driver (this impacted our honour, but felt pretty satisfying). In addition, this time we were allowed to see the actual migration of the camp, taking the reins of one of the massive transport carts as we descended through the mountains to Horsetooth Ridge, which then became the first proper camp in the game.
And once more it's worth pointing out the very same core concepts which we immediately noticed during our original experience. This is a gigantic, yet utterly hand-crafted world, where every rock formation is purposefully placed, where every stranger has a story to tell.