Jun 14, 2016
E3 2016 is underway and rumors are still swirling around the possibility of an announcement from Rockstar on a Red Dead Redemption sequel/prequel. A few alleged details have reportedly leaked in recent months, from the obvious (an expanded map) to the more intriguing (three playable characters – including a customizable one?).
A lot of the details remain unconfirmed or could easily be changed before release, but other things are easier to anticipate. The name itself is likely to follow the tradition of an ‘R’ word – Revolver, Redemption (…erm, we’ll ignore Undead Nightmare) – with various claims putting their chips on ‘Rebellion’, ‘Renegade’, and ‘Retribution’. All sound fine to us. Another claim points to the more grandiose ‘Legends of the West’, which if true, would probably lend more credence to the multiple playable character rumor.
Ultimately, we don’t care much about the title as long as the content hits the mark. It was hard to fault RDR. Even the glitches were some of the most entertaining in game history. So how can the sequel rustle up a new saddlebag of awesome? From story to gameplay, here are a few things on our wishlist…
We saw a few Native American NPCs in RDR but the game reflected a sorrier state of affairs for the indigenous people of the prairies. Most were depicted as having been pushed into reservations or outlaw gangs. If RDR2 is a prequel, it would be great to incorporate more of this rich culture back into the heart of this western romp.
We’re imagining having tenuous relationships with various tribes, where the main character can find himself suddenly under attack from marauding dog soldiers or having to venture into a camp to pass the peace pipe and negotiate support. The various tribes themselves could also be at war, leading to some potential free-for-alls igniting in the wilderness, with the player caught in the middle. What do you do? Pick a side? Head for the hills? Or leave no man alive?…
One of the most interesting characters in RDR was retired gruff gunslinger Landon Ricketts, once famed across the country but now living in Mexico with a lifetime of killing behind him. He seemed to symbolize a potential future for Marston, a man destined for solitude and regret if he kept wandering the country with his finger on the trigger.
Given what we know of the character’s history, his story could prove for a natural adventure – even to the extent of making him the main protagonist. We know he was involved in some dangerous showdowns, including one with ‘the Butcher Brothers’ (betrayal). He lost his wife in unknown circumstances (heartbreak). And a single gunfight in 1902 made up his mind to head south of the border forever (mystery).
But there’s one event in Ricketts’ history that makes us think that maybe none of this is coincidence, but rather design…
The Blackwater Massacre
In RDR, several references are made to the devastating Blackwater Massacre of 1899 in which the town witnessed almost 40 deaths in a battle between lawmen and outlaws. Ricketts was one of the few survivors but suggestions have also been made of the involvement of other minor characters, including one of Bonnie McFarlane’s brothers.
The scale of the event and the lack of information about it suggest to us that Rockstar may have been embedding possible prequel events into RDR from the get-go. The Massacre sounds like an ideal setting for a major in-game finale, practically initiating the events of RDR, such as the crackdown on roving outlaws like Marston, the reason for Irish’s alcoholism, and Willie Oats’s apparent trauma.
If all this is leading to a prequel, we could also get more insight into the death of John Marston’s father or the early ‘Robin Hood’ years of Dutch van der Linde.
Enhanced combat mechanics
Although RDR was great fun to play, the controls could sometimes prove awkward and often at the worst times (i.e. combat), leading to many a creative insult hurled at our screens. Sometimes you’d try to take cover behind a crate, only to have Marston hunker down on the wrong side of it, getting chunks of his back shot out while he looked around gormlessly. Sometimes you’d draw a pistol on a beaver only to auto-target on some hapless civilian riding by in the distance, causing you to immediately become wanted by the local sheriff.
Refined mechanics should be looking to remedy these problems while also adding sweet new features (ability to dual-wield, anyone?). The game could also do with fleshing out hand-to-hand combat, enabling more options if you find yourself without your sidearm – or if you just fancy a punch-up.
More interesting mini-games
RDR allowed for a good variety of side activities to earn money and respect from the locals, like poker and arm wrestling. Of course there were also others we only played for the achievement and then never bothered with again (horse shoes, anyone? Five finger fillet…).
RDR2 could throw more of the former into the mix while sticking to its period theme. For “games”, we’d love to be able to enter bare-knuckle boxing matches and knife or axe throwing wagers. And again, if indigenous tribes are involved, a brutal game of stickball could become a matter of life and death.
Rounding up a posse
The west doesn’t have to be won alone. Let’s say you make friends with NPCs throughout the game. If you need to take on a bigger and more difficult gang hideout or particularly difficult missions, you don’t have to do it alone. Send a telegram out to a couple of them and wait for them to ride into town to accompany you on your mission.
Each of these NPCs could also come with their own skills and weapons. Maybe you need a demolition expert to help you take out a bridge, or a sharpshooter to cover your back while you advance across open ground. Need to head into Cheyenne country? Call in the brave you befriended and have him escort you through dangerous areas to avoid getting attacked, or to broker a deal with the elders. There could be any number of possibilities and the difficulty of the mission could all come down to the strategy you employ when picking your allies.
Making the land your own
This is where a real stamp of difference can be made to the RD franchise. Just as Fallout 4 allowed players to bed down and build up a fort, so too could RDR2 give us a chance to carve ourselves our own little slice of home.
Your homesteads would not only provide the standard save spots, but potentially wagon-style shortcuts to travelling around the map if you’re the type of player that gets tired of riding from town to town, especially when we’re likely to be dealing with a much bigger map.
Resources needed to build your home could be simply bought, traded or gathered. Having your own farmland could allow you to plant rare medicinal herbs, distill your own moonshine, and keep a paddock of saved horses. Plus, you could outfit that new cabin with hunting trophies and other mementos from your travels – some of which could become useful for later missions. While not a revolutionary concept, increased immersion can’t be a bad thing.
Been hankering to see something special? Let us know in the comments below.