Since its debut, many were looking for Red Dead Redemption 2 to impress players with its open world. Rockstar Games is known for establishing new standards and going beyond what is expected from an open world game and Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn’t only meet expectations, it transcends them. Providing the most believable virtual worlds ever created. Unfortunately, the poor controls and inconsistent shooting hampers Red Dead Redemption 2 for what is one of the most technically advanced games this generation.

A Western That Doesn’t Disappoint

Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place before the events of the previous game, with players taking control of Arthur Morgan; a loyal member of the Dutch van der Linde gang. After a job in Blackwater goes south the gang is forced to flee from the U.S. Government, Pinkerton Agents, and rival gangs who want them dead. What follows is a series of missions for survival, as Dutch and his gang attempt to earn enough money to escape their fates.

Arthur Morgan is a terrific protagonist. While the player has small opportunities to alter his persona, helping people or robbing them, his ideology remains largely the same. He’s loyal to his family and wishes nothing more but what’s best for them. The other supporting characters share a similar quality, with layered personalities that make them each distinct and memorable. Each one is given ample time to showcase their reasons for being part of Dutch’s gang, their past, and what they want from life.

The story is full of high and low moments thanks to strong writing and excellent voice-acting. Each scene is wonderfully choreographed and gives the scenes a lifelike quality. You can almost believe these characters existed based on how well they’re written and voiced. What complements this incredible tale is the outstanding open world.

A New Step in Virtual Open Worlds

Rockstar has crafted one of the most technically advanced open worlds in video games. The entire map is full of activities that dynamically change and sometimes yield long-term results. You can rob someone only for them to come back at a later time, help a strange and have them reward you unexpectedly later on, or give money to a blind person only to watch them hand you something in return. It’s utterly amazing how intricate and densely packed this world is.

Visually Red Dead Redemption 2 impresses even further. Everything from the character models to the dust particles in the air has a high-quality to it. It was sometimes hard to believe that this was an Xbox One X running the game and not a high-powered PC. Throughout the adventure, Rockstar continued to floor me with how impressive the visuals are.

Fortunately, Red Dead Redemption 2 offers a wide array of missions that help teach the player all the activities available while also pushing the story forward. Missions come in a wide range of variety, some memorable such as robbing a train in a large shootout and easily forgotten but slightly push the story forward. However, everything has a purpose right down to the most tedious mission.

Realism at the Cost of Luxury

Red Dead Redemption 2 is the first time Rockstar has implemented realism into their games. Nothing is level gated and your health and stamina are determined by your literal fitness. Cores can only regenerate through eating and rest but you can slightly advance both by running and killing enemies using specific weapons. This extends to your horse.

Each horse is unique and the player must bond with it to increase its health and stamina by riding, feeding, and brushing them. If it dies it’s gone for good and the player must start again with a new horse, either wild or purchased from a store. To add to the realism the horse won’t spawn when called and has a specific range of hearing, once you go beyond that it won’t hear your call. This can be vexing as being far away can leave you stranded. Eventually, you become accustomed to the system, becoming less frustrating the more you play. By the end I was personally attached to my horse and valued it more, keeping it safe and taking fewer risks when traveling. Even went as far to keep certain horses longer rather than purchasing an improvement.

Fast Traveling and looting have been altered to complement the realistic aspects. You can only fast travel from specific locations such as railroads and stage coaches, making on foot travel your primary means of getting to a place. This can become troublesome since players will spend a lot of time traveling on foot, sometimes between 5 and 10 minutes.

Looting can become tedious quick as players have to watch an animation for each corpse you loot, plant you pick up, animal you skin, and item you pick up. This becomes annoying quick as you attempt to loot bodies for items and money. An option to remove and quickly loot items would’ve been well-appreciated.

The realistic system does add another layer to the gameplay. Eventually, you do adapt to the system, eating and sleeping regularly while maintaining your horses as well. But the constant actions such as looting is present throughout and quickly losing its appeal, like Mass Effect: Andromeda’s planetary travel animation. It’s impressive at first but quickly loses its appeal.

Technically Advanced, Difficult to Move

Red Dead Redemption 2 may be one of the most advanced open world video games of all time but its controls are something different. It’s shocking that such a visually impressive and well-crafted game could have such huge problems with the controls. The most consistent issue being the unresponsive commands, with the game failing to register commands to a noticeable degree. During intense firefights, it can especially vex to constantly to try and take cover, shoot, and evade being shot.

Shooting will require the player to pull the trigger multiple times to get Arthur to shoot. It’s also common for Arthur to unequip his guns, causing massive calamity when you’re trying to stay alive or capture a horse. Since players can only carry a limited array of weapons you must store the rest with your horse. The problem with this is that Arthur will constantly unload his entire arsenal, with the exception of his primary weapons.

All these issues constantly surface throughout the adventure. Whether you’re doing something truly exciting or busy work having these control issues constantly pop up quickly become bothersome.

First-Person Experience

The open world is only made better thanks to the first-person perspective. First introduced in Grand Theft Auto V on the PS4 and Xbox One this mode is absolutely stunning in Red Dead Redemption 2. You can clearly see each detail put into every part of this open world, and some of it will require a strong stomach. Rockstar did not limit the level of brutality and blood in Red Dead Redemption 2 and in first-person you get to see heads explode and body parts scattered. It’s such an amazing addition that it warrants another entire playthrough to just experience the game in this perspective.

The mode does have limits, for example, some cutscenes and animations put you back into third-person. In addition, those who suffer from motion sickness may find the mode disorientating. This is because Rockstar has taken extra care to ensure that the first-person mode reflects Arthur’s own eyes, moving to mimic his head moments as well. Another amazing technical feat.


Red Dead Redemption 2 is without a doubt one of the most impressive games to come out this generation, easily surpassing any open world game to release. On a technical level, it’s a true masterpiece that excels beyond expectations thanks to dynamic NPCs, visuals and animations that are simply groundbreaking. It’s a shame to see that the controls can break this sense of amazement as you attempt to perform basic actions. Regardless, Red Dead Redemption 2 is the most impressive game this generation that will have you exploring its open world for weeks.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Review
The Good
  • Groundbreaking Open World
  • Outstanding Story
  • Technical Masterpiece
The Bad
  • Realism In Favor of Convenience
  • Poor Controls
8.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author

Adam S
Sr.Staff Writer

Adam is a Senior Staff Writer for GAW with over 15 years of experience in writing and is completely obsessed with video games. He holds a BA from Brooklyn College and lives in NY.