There are few games as masterfully ambitious as Red Dead Redemption II. In many respects, it goes beyond being "just a video game," embracing the inherent interactivity of the medium in order to push a more immersive and flesh out world. While this inevitably leads to an experience that is often slow, a slowly pace is by no means bad.
If anything, Red Dead Redemption II's approach to pacing makes it feel all the more real. Not only are characters more fleshed out on a whole, RDR2 is able to emulate the finer details of life. It's a poignant game, not because of its pathos, but because of its humor. RDR2 time and time again humanizes its world through humor. Naturally, fans have latched on, creating memes to truly express the core of Red Dead Redemption II.
10 Death Comes For Us All
Life is impermanent. A baby is born only to die a man. The passage of time is something humanity perceives, but struggles to grasp. In a single instance, the shelter that one calls life can come crashing down. A ember extinguished before it can burst into a beautiful bonfire.
Any fool of an NPC who dares witness one of Arthur's many crimes may as well pull the pistol to their own head because they aren't getting out at that encounter alive. RDR2's Wanted system is so demanding, that players would be fools not to snuff any miserable buffoon who has the audacity to watch them kill another man in cold blood. It's simply the circle of life.
9 No One's Beating A 50 Hour Game Without Some Sacrifices
They say that those on their deathbed often with that they spent more time with their family. Unfortunately, for those looking to play Red Dead Redemption II in full, "family" is yet another demon that must be destroyed in order to fully appreciate the game. With such an obscenely long play time, it's simply unreasonable for anyone to expect that they can maintain a social life while playing Red Dead Redemption II.
At the same time, though, isn't RDR2 family enough? Thematically, family is ultimately its core theme. Family is what unites Arthur and John together. Family is what keeps the Marstons alive. Family is the legacy Arthur imparts onto John. People come and go, but Red Dead Redemption II will always be family. Friends and religion need not apply.
8 "Game Of The Year" Means Nothing
Over the years, the "Game of the Year" moniker has lost virtually all of its meaning. In the early days of the medium, it was a title publications bestowed upon their favorite games of the year. When gaming discourse was rarer, it served as a quick means of letting readers know which games were worth looking out for. Nowadays, virtually every single video game has some "Game of the Year" edition.
Naturally, this results in several games "earning" the title without really earning them. In a year where both God of War and Red Dead Redemption II took the medium by storm, it seems foolish to place Fortnite on a higher pedestal. As a multiplayer battle royale, it's unlikely Fortnite's legacy will lead to anything meaningfully impactful whereas RDR2 helped widen the medium's narrative scope in a rather impressive manner.
7 "Werk, Ya Damn Nag."
It's not scientifically proven, but there's nothing out there that explicitly says horses aren't cowards. Considering Red Dead Redemption II hails itself as one of the more realistic video games out there (horse balls and all,) it's only natural to take everything that happens in a Western video game at face value.
Horses are prone to scares, to the point where they'll abandon Arthur Morgan at the drop of a hat. While this is frustrating, isn't is also for the best? After all, the bond between a man and a horse is sacred. Nobody wants to have to deal with a dead horse. It's better to ride a cowardly horse that'll flee at the first hint of danger than a brave horse who'll rush into enemy fire, taking their rider with them.
6 John Who?
Anyone who played the original Red Dead Redemption likely guessed going into the sequel that Arthur Morgan would inevitably die, passing the role of protagonist over to John Marston. For some fans, it was what they were looking forward to most. What they didn't expect was for Arthur to be a nuanced, emotional, and introspective character suffering from depression.
Arthur compelled players to him, arguably becoming more popular than John himself. While John didn't garner nearly as much backlash as Jack, it's hard to get to the Epilogue and not immediately feel Arthur's intense absence. If nothing else, his spirit lingers on in John Marston.
5 Do It For The Gang
Friendship is a beautiful thing, isn't it? Especially friendship between the boys. There's nothing like getting together with some pals, dusting off the PlayStation 4, and getting nice and cozy to play some Red Dead Redemption II together. In the build-up to the game's release, so many boys could barely contain their excitement! Bursting from the seems ready to play 2018's greatest video game.
Even now, Red Dead Online keeps the essence of friendship alive and healthy. All this said, it's worth mentioning that while Red Dead Redemption II might be catered to the boys in some regard, it's a title that can be heartily enjoyed by anyone of any gender or sex. Arthur himself is even fairly progressive, bringing down the smack down on bigots. That's a fella worth looking up to.
4 Life Comes At You Fast. Death, Even Faster
In the blink of an eye, life can vanish like a flash of life. For some, death isn't even something they feel. They simply blink and they're gone. For others, it's a grueling cycle of agony, their pain drawn out until the last inch of their life is sapped out of them. Either way, that's what they get for bumping into Arthur Morgan. Shoving has always been, and will always be, impolite. It's only natural the punishment be severe.
That said, it's not particularly difficult for Arthur to silence a few troublemakers even if he's technically the one causing the trouble. Sometimes a man just needs to walk his walk undisturbed. Sometimes being undisturbed means bumping into folks no matter the cost. If that means piling up a few bodies, so be it.
3 Mangoes, Waifus, Paradise
Fans are eagerly awaiting Red Dead Redemption II's first burst of DLC, and why shouldn't they? Undead Nightmare still stands out as one of the finest pieces of single player DLC the medium has ever seen. It's only natural Rockstar inevitably one-up themselves yet again. And what's better the zombies? Waifus.
Dutch van der Linde said it best himself "Waifus, Arthur. That's what this is all about! Sweet, beautiful waifus. Waifus you can hold. Waifus you can talk to. Ain't that what this is has been all about?" The poignancy of Dutch's quote is really only underlined by Arthur's equally elegant response "Guess so, Dutch."
2 "We're Toys, In A World That Don't Want Us No More."
Red Dead Redemption II and Toy Story 4 legitimately have more in common than one might expect. This isn't a tongue in cheek joke, either. Both the game and the film deal with themes of abandonment, being forgotten by time, and finding a "real" family. Not just that, Arthur, John, and Woody are all cowpokes tied together by their own pursuit of identity. All three characters are lost and in need of purpose.
Woody would feel right at home in Red Dead Redemption II. The world has forgotten him in the way that the world is slowly forgetting Arthur's way of life. To be abandoned by time is to lose one's place in the world. Never forget that.
1 Beggars Can't Be Choosers
Sometimes in life, it's important to quit before things turn too far south. Love is a dangerous game and occasionally one that requires compromises. While the Legendary Beaver will always be out there, ready to be hunted, it's just as crucial to learn to appreciate the humble Ruined Cougar.
No, it may not be ideal, but what in life truly is? True companionship can blossom from the strangest of places. A 1-star Ruined Cougar can lead to greater things in life. If there's one lesson Red Dead Redemption II imparts with its hunting, it's to be humble. Humility goes a long way in the eyes of the Lord.