Rockstar are more or less the undisputed Kings Of The Video Game World. When they release a game, the world pays attention and every critic more or less throws out a 10/10 rating just out of sheer habit.
Grand Theft Auto 5, their previous title, sold more copies than the Gutenberg Bible, so expectations could not have been higher for Red Dead Redemption 2. That’s an exaggeration about it out selling the bible just to be clear, but the fact that GTA 5 has regularly been appearing on the top seller list, even recently, since its initial release in 2013, basically makes it the bible of the video game world.
The original Read Dead Redemption released in 2010 was a smash hit of epic proportions. Not in the same league as GTA 5, but then few games ever will be. Red Dead 1 introduced players to a cowboy world unlike any seen before it, following much the same open world formula as the GTA series. But, taking a much more grounded, realistic, and levelheaded approach. As GTA was famous for having an in-game Internet cafe called Tw@t, Red Dead took a much more straight-faced approach. The “serious” Rockstar franchise if you will.
But could Red Dead Redemption 2 possibly keep Rockstar on the absolute cutting edge of the gaming industry?
Breaking New Ground
Red Dead 2 took about 7 years to create, and that really does put into perspective just how much time is required to make a game on this scale, with this level of detail.
Let that sink in.
Think back to 7 years ago, what you were doing, and where you were in your life. That is when work started on this game.
Is Red Dead 2 everything everyone hoped for?
Yes it is.
Does it take video games into new territory? Yes it does. Will games be trying and failing, to hit the new bar set by this game probably until GTA 6 comes along? Yes. But then, not every game studio is a multi-billion dollar organisation like Rockstar, and nothing short of a multi-billion dollar organisation is required to make a game of this scale, and depth.
The Devil And Details
Imagine it is your job, day in and day out, to create animal models that can be skinned. But not just standard video game skinned, by which skin disappears from an animal, and appears in an inventory. No, an actual, detailed, realistic animation of knife cutting a slit, and the character manually pulling the skin from the model. Beneath the skin is a detailed muscle and fat texture, waiting to be slowly revealed.
Now imagine making a similar animation for the 200 hundred species found in the game. This is the level of detail that exists in Red Dead 2. It’s astonishing, even utterly mind blowing. But this is only scratching the surface…
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How Much Is Too Much?
Before we get too carried away, the question really needs to be asked; how much detail is too much?
Food also needs to be manually cooked over a fire, coffee manually brewed and the player must keep track of their character’s weight. Eating too much will add weight, eating too little reduces weight. Guns must be manually cleaned in order to keep them in perfect working condition. No, these animations cannot be skipped. Did we mention that your horse’s testicles shrink in cold weather? This is not a joke, though, to be fair, likely added as a discussion creating detail for marketing purposes.
It’s clear that Rockstar threw everything and sundry at the game, knowing the levels of expectation and player desire to see the next level of gaming reached. There’s even the chance to play Poker – a game within a game if you will.
Red Dead 2 has surpassed even GTA 5 in this regard, but perhaps to the detriment of the game itself. Playing the game is slow, even tedious in its commitment to detail. This was indeed, clearly, the intention of the developers, but no doubt an angle taken to accommodate the level of detail.
But, where too from here?
Games of this sort can only be created in 7-year increments. Meaning that the next time you can expect to see a game of this quality is 2025. Or is it 2050, if the game is required to surpass this new, astronomically high bar? Hence; how many new Red Deads are you going to see before you die of old age? This is a serious question.
This is the video game industry now, and as breath taking as it is seeing each new level hit, the reality of the situation is also made very clear; the video game industry cannot keep surpassing itself. At least, not if we want to keep seeing the games in our lifetimes. So, where to from here? Perhaps it is starting to become clearer than ever before that limits are being reached, and something has to give, in some regard, for video games to keep existing as they do.
You’re probably looking forward to seeing how GTA 6 will top this. Everyone is. Rockstar however probably are not!