Even though Red Dead Redemption 2 released almost half a year ago, the debate is still raging among fans about who makes the better protagonist, Arthur Morgan or John Marston. John Marston was the original cowboy from the first game, but Arthur Morgan is an equal contender for best Red Dead protagonist thanks to the nuanced take on his character.
For those of you still on the Marston train, we're here to let you know about all the things that Arthur Morgan can do that John just can't. Read on if you're ready to learn about these major differences between what Morgan can do and what Marston can.
In a hilarious take on the first game's limitations, Rockstar Games made it officially canon that John Marston can't swim. In Red Dead Redemption 2, Arthur Morgan can swim as long as his stamina holds out, which is a fairly long time.
If John tries to take a dip in a lake, his stamina depletes almost instantly, and he quickly drowns. If anything makes us miss Arthur Morgan more, it's watching John Marston die during a routine fishing expedition.
9 Start The Eagle Eye Ability
Funnily enough, a quiet afternoon of hunting in Red Dead Redemption 2 can be more enjoyable than a barroom brawl. Thanks to Arthur Morgan's Eagle Eye ability, you are able to follow the tracks of animals long after they've left a specific area.
You can then hunt them with a bow and arrow. This gameplay mechanic was only introduced in Red Dead Redemption 2. Players got to learn how to use it while playing as Arthur Morgan. John Marston did not have the same luxury in his own game, the first Red Dead Redemption.
8 Pull Off A Long Beard
Part of the freedom of Red Dead Redemption 2 comes from customizing your Arthur Morgan. In that manner, no two Arthur Morgans will always look exactly the same. You can have a bald Arthur, a groomed Arthur, or a bearded Arthur.
Eventually, John Marston gets the same freedom when players play as him in the Epilogue. However, if there's one thing gamers noticed when they reached the Epilogue, it's that John Marston just can't pull off a beard the same way Arthur Morgan can. Tell us you didn't do a double-take when you saw Marston sporting that facial hair. Go on.
7 Fight Hand-To-Hand Combat Well
It's clear from very early on in the game that Arthur Morgan is one of the bruisers of the gang. Alongside Charles and Bill, Arthur is definitely one of the heavy hitters. During that bar fight in Valentine, Arthur was able to take down the big feller, Tommy.
So while John Marston is definitely someone you'd want by your side during a gun-toting mission, he's not exactly the sort you'd want with you during an outbreak of fisticuffs.
6 Show Growth As A Character
For the most part, John Marston is a static character in his own game. Red Dead Redemption 2's epilogue tries to shoehorn some growth into him, but it does not reach the level of development that Arthur's character achieved.
Arthur went from being an outlaw gang's bully to being a person who wanted to do right by people. And no matter how you played him, honorably or dishonorably, he experienced that growth. John Marston's character development comes nowhere near the excellence that is Arthur Morgan's.
5 Herd Sheep
We can't lay the blame for poor sheep-herding skills entirely on John Marston. The mechanics for herding in the first Red Dead Redemption were difficult, to say the least. Red Dead Redemption 2 smoothed out the "herding" process.
The first game had us shepherd intractable farm animals that wanted to go everywhere but where you wanted them to. The sheep AI in the second game just seemed to know where to go. Of course, that could mean that Rockstar Games is trying to tell us that Arthur Morgan is a better sheep herder than John Marston.
4 Be A Decent Father Figure To Jack
Even though John Marston purportedly wanted to be a better father to Jack, we have yet to see any evidence of that. Beyond his meager attempts, John Marston does not seem to know how to be a dad.
Without a doubt, he loves his family. But if you want to see a more ideal father figure to Jack, you need look no further than Arthur Morgan. Arthur's fishing trip with Jack, even though it was interrupted by the Pinkertons, was endearing.
3 Not Get Facial Scars After A Wolf Mauling
Not everyone can go hunting without a scratch. We can't even begin to count how many times our Arthur Morgan got mauled by a wild cougar or bear. Unfortunately, dangerous animal encounters are just one of the hazards you have to face in the world of Red Dead Redemption 2.
However, even though Arthur Morgan may have had more run-ins with wolves than John Marston did, his scars faded away over time. John is stuck with the long scar across his face while Arthur Morgan can shrug his scars off. (Game logic.)
2 Function As The Gang's Enforcer
While Dutch might have been the head of the Van der Linde gang, Arthur was the strong right arm. He made sure to protect the gang when it needed protecting. While that occasionally meant rescuing certain members who got themselves into trouble, that also meant working as a debt collector. John Marston never reached that level within the gang.
He was newer to the group than Arthur. There's also the fact that he tried to ditch the outlaw life for a few years before returning.
1 Keep A Great Journal
Red Dead Redemption 2 found little ways to make you miss Arthur Morgan just when you thought you were recovering. One of those ways was by being able to tell the difference between Arthur and John's journal-keeping.
Arthur sketched scenes out wonderfully, and he actually had fantastic handwriting for an outlaw. John sketched things rather shoddily, and his handwriting was messier too. It might not mean much to the average gamer, but we sure missed Arthur's journal entries when they were gone.