Bruce Straley is one of the most accomplished video game designers of all time, having had a hand in Naughty Dog's biggest games, including the Jak and Daxter trilogy, the Uncharted franchise, and The Last of Us. Straley stepped away from Naughty Dog and mainstream game development in September 2017, but he is still playing the latest triple-A games, including Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption 2.
Red Dead Redemption 2 stands as the highest-rated video game of 2018, but that doesn't mean it's perfect. Responding to Naughty Dog developer Matthew Gallant on Twitter, Straley complained about story missions in Red Dead Redemption 2 removing the player choice that's so prevalent in every other area of the open world western, as the game needs players to play it a certain way to continue the story.
"But I’d argue removing player choice in order to achieve 'epic stories' undermines the power of interactivity completely. So, it winds up NOT being epic, because I end up frustrated that the game just doesn’t trust me. Then I’m just ticking boxes to start cutscenes," Straley elaborated in a followup tweet.
The game killed me when I tried to flank in that mission - like so many RDR2 story missions. They need me to do what the story requires & continually remove my choices. The env was open & I had the skills, but they punished me for thinking for myself instead of rewarding me. ☹️— Bruce Straley (@bruce_straley) January 14, 2019
Straley's tweet has gained some attention online, especially since The Last of Us and Uncharted franchises have both been criticized for their linearity. Straley has taken the extra attention in stride, clarifying that he loves Rockstar's work, and jokingly offering to join the studio for its next open world game as a consultant.
Straley is far from the first person to criticize Red Dead Redemption 2. Even though the game is the highest-rated game of 2018, it still has its flaws, with many fans expressing disappointment in the Red Dead Online mode. Red Dead Online had a shaky launch, and continues to be plagued by various issues to this day.
To Rockstar's credit, though, it has made an effort to rectify the lingering issues with Red Dead Online. For example, it re-balanced the in-game economy after player complaints, though it seems some more tweaking is needed before Red Dead Redemption 2's online multiplayer component will be fully embraced.
Moving forward, fans can expect Rockstar to continue supporting Red Dead Online with regular content updates that should improve it in the months to come. Rockstar has already added a Gun Rush battle royale mode, and one has to imagine that even more new game modes are on the way as well. Red Dead Online is still technically in beta, after all.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is out now for PS4 and Xbox One.