It’s 2017, the year of the horse (actually it’s the year of the rooster, but we’re not talking about the zodiac here). Now that we’re in the release year of Red Dead Redemption 2, let’s go over the details so far:
Before October, if I received a penny every time someone got all triggered at a new game being referred to as “Red Dead Redemption 2”, GTAForums servers would be manned by jackrabbits instead of hamsters. “Don’t forget Red Dead Revolver!” they scorned, “Red Dead Redemption is already the second game in the series!” they scoffed. While it’s true that Red Dead Redemption was more of a spiritual successor than a direct sequel to Red Dead Revolver, everyone was still a little flummoxed when the poster for Red Dead Redemption 2 was officially revealed. Some continue to call it Red Dead 3; or should that be RDR23? Sounds like a Star Wars companion.
Now that we’ve had time to sit on it for a while, Red Dead Redemption 2 might be a simple and unimaginative title, but it’s also a smart one. Not only does it cement Red Dead Redemption as a flagship series alongside Grand Theft Auto, it also (probably) confirms that we’ll be going back to the same universe where John Marston existed. This doesn’t reject the influence of Red Dead Revolver, we just need to think of it like the transition from top-town to 3D in GTA, and numbering them makes more sense for the series as a brand than another random word beginning with R.
Something we haven’t quite confirmed yet is just what year Red Dead Redemption 2 will be set in. We can make assumptions that a follow-up title must be set after the events of Red Dead Redemption, however there are a few clues pointing to the opposite.
Three out of the seven outlaws on the announcement poster bear an uncanny resemblance to Bill Williamson, Landon Ricketts and even John Marston himself. This has allowed people to speculate that we might actually be going back in time to experience the early days of Dutch’s gang and see how the aforementioned gunslingers earned their name. Of course, some of these characters didn’t even meet until later in RDR1, so the similarities in the poster is a difficult one to interpret.
In addition, the mature voiceover in the trailer offers some sound advice in that “when the time comes, you gotta run and don’t look back”. Given that Red Dead Redemption’s story was a symbolic end to the wild west and the old ways of outlaws and bandits, we’re convincing ourselves that a group of seven outlaws wreaking havoc in the heartlands might not quite fit a post 1911-backdrop.
There are also a few little passing details in the trailer that people think point to something of an older era: electricity lamps, carriages looking “new and clean”, and a healthy looking herd of bison (that is, they don’t look like they’re on the brink of extinction).
Going back to the seven outlaws, we’re also yet to confirm just who our protagonist, or protagonists, might be. There are several unidentifiable men throughout the trailer doing day-to-day stuff like carrying a hunting prize on the back of their big-balled stallion, but the voiceover happens during scene where a figure is amongst some burning fields at some kind of working ranch. It focuses on him enough to make it feel like it could be a defining moment for a leading guy.
But things aren’t that easily confirmed right now. In the scene right after burning-fields guy, we’re back amongst the open plains being shown a band of outlaws on horseback; and you guessed it, there’s seven of them! Interestingly they all look different to the seven on the announcement poster, and one of them even appears to be a lady. Are we playing one of these outlaws? Are we going to play multiple characters like GTA V? Or could this be a preview of a brand new posse system for multiplayer, modeled on GTA Online?
The release date
Upon the announcement in October 2016, we were given Fall 2017 as a release window, and as we’re ever the optimists (not) some immediately expected this wouldn’t actually be when it will release. Pre-ordering was available pretty much right after the announcement however, and earlier this month people from around the world started reporting seeing promotional materials and window displays in shops to advertise the game. This is quite good news as marketing like this probably wouldn’t be paid for if there wasn’t some confidence in the announced release window, and without an actual date they still have 3 months of autumn to pick from without plaguing the campaign with a delay.
Resident web detective @Spider-Vice also tells us that it’s likely been in development since 2013-2014 from his sleuthing around the Internet. This might indicate that Rockstar has changed things up a little from previous games by announcing them when they’re nearly ready versus early on in development and making us wait a longer time. This might also be favourable for the much-wanted PC release if they copy the pattern of GTA V with consoles first and PC later, but with a much shorter wait in-between (sorry for mentioning PC, we know it’s upsetting).
As always, your guess is as good as ours. Nothing here is official just yet. The debut trailer didn’t really confirm anything about the game and it’s story other than the landscape looks pretty damn beautiful and pretty damn big. As Rockstar might know, we’re a patient bunch here at GTAForums, so we’ll be watching and waiting until there’s something more for us to report on. Hopefully we can expect a magazine spread and a second trailer sometime soon. For the time being, head on over to our Red Dead Redemption 2 section where you can make a wish for the game, discuss the possible impact of a GTA Online style multiplayer and sample the grains of the rumour mill.