Red Dead Redemption 2’s realism is making it difficult to finish.

The extraordinarily detailed world of Red Dead Redemption 2 has sparked huge debate in the gaming community.

Where’s the fine line between hyper-realism and fun?

My stand on the argument is that Red Dead Redemption 2 is fun because of its meticulous detail. It’s alive, breathing and full of soul. I think it’s best moments shine through because of it’s realism. Each element is a conscripted piece of one enormous puzzle, specifically there to add layers upon layers to your enjoyment, providing you with a treasured experience.

I’ve been playing RDR2 pretty much exclusively since it’s record smashing release and, unwillingly, had to put the brilliant Assassins Creed: Odyssey on the back burner for a while, until now.

For the first time in weeks, I booted up the different but equally in-depth world of Odyssey and took the helm of Kassandra for a jaunt around the scenic and varied land of Ancient Greece. I had actually been so engrossed in RDR2’s vast open land that I had almost forgotten just how gargantuan Odyssey’s world was in comparison. The main difference, I noticed, was that it didn’t feel like this was a problem like it had just began to in Red Dead.

I came to the realisation that the realism factor I once loved had hindered my ability to enjoy a fairly sizeable and important chunk of Red Dead’s gameplay, the travel.

If I wanted to ride from the quaint but evolving town of Valentine to the revolutionized stone cobbles of Saint Denis, that’s about ten real-time minutes of riding and button mashing.

At the start of the game I was entirely okay with this, it was a voyage of wonder and discovery.

Now? It’s a journey I’ve taken multiple times, a location I’ve seen and fine details I’ve already discovered. I don’t want to do the little encounters on my way because I’ve done them, I just want to get where I need to be but it’s becoming such a chore. I just can’t be bothered to monotonously tap ‘X’ for the next fifteen minutes in order to get to the next mission, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find the motivation to travel to the next mission.

Yes, you could argue that I need to utilize the fast travel mechanics, but why should I? You still have to get to a  certain location if you want to use it, also, you’re unable to fast travel back to camp, so I would have to fast travel to the closest town to where I need to be, then ride from there, which could still take upwards of five added minutes on top of the fast travel loading screen.

It was only after I began playing Odyssey, I laughed mockingly at it’s horse physics.

Ha, look how bizarre and unrealistic this horse is, I thought as I preceded to vertically gallop up multiple stair cases and mountain ridges, I’m pretty sure I was atop a colourful market stall at some point.

I was shocked because that’s when I thought back to Red Dead, I dreaded returning.

After the initial polish and detail of Rockstar’s scrupulous reimagining of America had ran its course, I realized how much I favoured the often comedic and disorderly travel of Assassin’s Creed.

I was getting to where I needed to be, and I was getting there FAST. I could just cut across an entire sub-continent in one direction and even though it looked ridiculous I didn’t care because I had already filled my cup of immersion and realism in the first few hours when I played it safe, slowly taking the stoned roads and dusty trails, now it was just about getting things done.

Red Dead doesn’t do this, put in as many hours as you’d like, you will still find yourself on the same trail heading back and forth while your horse gasps for air, forcing you to gallop along sluggishly while the poor beast gets its breath back. And don’t even try and cut corners because you’ll find yourself before an unclimbable cliff or a simple tent that denies your passage. All the while, the FANTASTIC on-foot gameplay and thrilling narrative longingly awaits, although perhaps a good ten minutes away.

Cliff edges in your way in Odyssey? Soar majestically through the sky with very little repercussion on your return to land.

In Red Dead? Fall five feet and your horse is toast. You’ll spend the next forty minutes running to the closest town to get horse reviver, steal a horse to get back in time to rescue your suffering stallion and catch an unnecessary wanted level. Outrun the law and spend the next ten minutes returning to your horse. (This was a true story and while fun the first time, boy does it get old.)

Virtually any obstacle in your way in Odyssey? Up and over, baby.

In Red Dead? Spend half of your day planning which way around it you’ll take, meanwhile you get to watch each painstakingly detailed calf muscle jiggle around on your steeds leg.

It may seem as though I’ve completely gone against my high praise for detail in the beginning, but I feel like Rockstar could have done more to counter this end game slog. Ubisoft get a lot of flack for their waypoint’s system but in actual fact it’s an excellent and optional mechanic that allows you to discover new places while saving precious time in the latter stages of the game.

I personally think Red Dead would benefit considerably from the ability to fast travel from any point on the map. I don’t feel like it would take away from the realism, nor do I feel like it’s discouraging exploration since you would be required to ‘unlock’ those locations first. If you do want to take the long and immersive ride, you’re still welcome to it.

“In Grand Theft Auto V there was no fast travel!” Said someone somewhere, probably.

A great point! But GTA V is smaller and has FIGHTER PLANES.

TL;DR? Red Dead Redemption is massive and as time goes by it’s vastness is becoming more of a deterrent than a feature due to a lack of speed and options, starkly in comparison to the much larger Assassins Creed: Odyssey, where I’m able to fly through busy and congested areas without so much as a hitch.

What methods do you think could help solve this issue? Do you enjoy the scenic travelling of RDR2 or prefer to be where you need to be in a hurry?

Let me know down below!

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2 thoughts on “Red Dead Redemption 2’s realism is making it difficult to finish.

  1. Yes, I definitely feel this. To me, the commitment to realism comes across as cumbersome when it gets in the way of ludic theory – that is to say, the tactile satisfaction of actually playing the darn thing!
    I also feel discouraged to play it because I’ve heard estimates that it takes 80-100 hours of game time to experience the full story, and to me, I only ever really put that sort of time into games that have satisfying, repeatable gameplay (like a good JRPG, for example.)
    So yeah… THIS! Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

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