- Red Dead Redemption 2 release date: Spring 2018
- Formats: PS4, Xbox One
- Developer: Rockstar
- Price: TBC
It's time to pull on your rattlesnake-proof boots and saddle up, because Rockstar is taking us back to the Wild West. The studio won our cowpoke hearts with Red Dead Redemption, and we're pretty sure they're going to do it all over again with Red Dead Redemption 2. It's coming to PS4 and Xbox One sometime in Spring 2018, and so far we've had just a couple of majestic trailers, a royal flush of screenshots, and a taste of official Rockstar information to whet our appetites. Never ones to shy away from a challenge (or rampant speculation), we've examined every word and pixel to bring you the definitive guide to the most anticipated new game of 2018.
Red Dead Redemption 2 will ride into town sometime in Spring 2018
When Rockstar first announced it was pushing back Red Dead Redemption 2’s release date from Fall 2017 to Spring 2018, our inner outlaws were crushed. Hadn't we waited long enough for a sequel to the 2010 masterpiece? The developer cited the upcoming sandbox sequel “needs some extra time” to get it up to the standards we all expect from the first game out of the studio since Grand Theft Auto 5. Since then, an earnings call with Rockstar’s parent company has shed further light on the reasons behind the delay.
Speaking to investors in late May, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick was adamant that Red Dead Redemption 2 has merely been delayed to ensure can Rockstar “deliver the most extraordinary [experience] we’re capable of providing.” When an analyst subsequently asked if the delay signaled the epic Old West adventure is suffering development woes behind the scenes, Zelnick was quick to shoot down the suggestion.
"We have not run into particular issues," Zelnick said. "We are building a new game from the ground up for the first time for new-generation consoles. And the pressure that we put on ourselves to deliver excellence and to delight consumers is extraordinary.”
Zelnick went on to add that Rockstar has the full backing of Take-Two over the delay. "We support emphatically the label's decision, and we are utterly confident that it will prove in time to be wise first and foremost creatively and artistically, economically as well." Turns out, when your previous game sells over 70 million copies (and counting), a publisher is going to back you no matter what.
Red Dead Redemption 2's trailer validates all those prequel fan theories
Meet your new Red Dead Redemption 2 hero: outlaw Arthur Morgan. Our first introduction doesn't exactly present him as the 'take him home to mother' type. We're sure there's more to him than threatening people and robbing banks, but right now, all we know is he's rough around the edges and in the employ of original RDR antagonist Dutch van der Linde - which sets the game's timeline firmly in prequel territory.
According to the information overlords at Rockstar, the new game is "the story of outlaw Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang as they rob, fight, and steal their way across the vast and rugged heart of America." We also get to see a few new faces: a woman who looks strikingly like the original's Bonnie MacFarlane - leading some fans to wonder if it's her mother - and a Native American character who advises Morgan on needing extra firepower. We also see another familiar face: Bill Williamson, a known member of Dutch's gang, and the first outlaw John Marston is set to track and kill in Red Dead Redemption.
Red Dead Redemption 2's trailers so far show Rockstar’s most visually stunning open-world ever
No one does lonely Wild West spectacle quite like Rockstar. Just rewatch the Red Dead 2 trailers. Golden prairies that stretch as far as the eye can see. Cavernous valleys where eagles dominate the skies. Simmering deserts that immediately recall the iconic sights of Monument Valley. Alligators lurking in swamps; snowy, treacherous paths. Rockstar sandboxes always contain exquisite lighting and insanely incidental detailing, and its latest world looks like it’ll top everything that’s come before.
Red Dead 2 has strong foundations to build on, too. If you’re lucky enough to have the hardware, play GTA 5 on PC at 4K and tell us it’s not one of the most consistently gorgeous games ever made. Now consider that the engine has benefitted from a few subsequent years of development, aging like a particularly sumptuous (and super shooty) wine, and there's every chance Red Dead Redemption 2 will be the prettiest open-world game ever made when it launches towards the start of 2018. At the very least, the trailer hints at a beautifully varied sandbox, filled with epic canyons, dense forests, and spectacular Old West vistas.
The Red Dead Redemption 2 map looks like it’s already been leaked
This looks pretty legit. Early last year, a Red Dead 2 map was leaked on (RIP) NeoGaf. The fidelity of the design - and specificity of the names on said map - only lend further credence to this being an accurate blueprint of the Western world we’ll hopefully all be roaming around next year.
Look closely at the leaked map, and you can see an area labelled ‘The Great Plains’. This significant chunk of prairie real estate was one of the most visually striking locales from the first Redemption - remember that sweeping valley with all the grazing buffalo?
The presence of islands and caravan sites on the leaked document are also interesting. Couple the former with the trailer shots of the canoe, and it would seemingly all but confirm that boat travel is in Red Dead 2. The inclusion of caravan sites also suggest this is a less-populated take on the Old West than the original Redemption’s. Again, this points towards Red Dead 2 taking place before Marston’s adventure, during a time when the American Frontier was still being discovered by European settlers.
Red Dead Redemption 2 multiplayer is definitely influenced by GTA Online
Red Dead 2 multiplayer details are thin on the ground; all the official site promises is a "brand new online multiplayer experience." But c’mon - Rockstar would be mad not to build a Red Dead 2 multiplayer mode that apes GTA Online. Rockstar’s breakout phenomenon has netted the studio over half a billion dollars in just over three years, a figure fueled by folk constantly buying in-game currency with actual money. GTA Online has been so stratospherically successful - such a relentless money-making machine - that it seems unthinkable Rockstar wouldn’t want something similar for Red Dead Redemption 2.
The original Redemption was already blessed with a terrific (if overlooked) online mode. Though It doesn’t get talked about much, saddling up in eight-player posses, robbing stagecoaches and messing about in that pristine Western wilderness was a hoot. Whether Red Dead 2’s online multiplayer is seamlessly woven into the single-player campaign remains to be seen (just imagine - drop-in / drop-out co-op would make for some fantastic missions). Perhaps Red Dead 2’s multiplayer will be its own separate entity, like GTA Online? Regardless of its final form, there’s little doubt that multiplayer will be a huge deal in Red Dead 2. Half a billion bucks is a figure Rockstar and publisher Take-Two simply can’t ignore.
Red Dead Redemption 2 characters could be swappable, like GTA 5
We may have met our protagonist, but the artwork so far definitely leans on the idea of the classic Wild West posse. With so many strong characters appearing in the latest trailer, it wouldn’t be that much of a shock to see Red Dead 2 follow on from GTA 5 with more criminal-swapping missions.
Controlling and switching between multiple characters worked brilliantly in Los Santos, and the prospect of potentially hopping between various outlaws in Red Dead 2 is tantalizing. Would Rockstar have the stones to allow you to control every one of the seven figures seen storming into the desert at the end of Red Dead 2’s first trailer? Mechanically, it would be a big ask. Swapping between upwards of five characters could become a logistical nightmare, but Rockstar is nothing if not ambitious.
Alternatively, the posse play could be a big part on the online world that will come with the game. Start deciding which of your friends you can trust with a horse and a six shooter now.
Red Dead Redemption 2's setting will feature more water
John Marston was not a strong swimmer. Hell, if the outlaw so much as dipped a toe in the waters of New Austin, swift (and decidedly soggy) death awaited. Thankfully, it looks like Morgan will get along swimmingly - sorry - with the wet stuff in Red Dead Redemption 2. Rewatch the trailer, and about thirty seconds in you can quite clearly see two figures paddling upstream in a canoe.
Water played a big part in GTA 5 - whether it was daring, submerged scuba dives to bust into secret government facilities, or scanning the ocean floor for nuclear waste in a mini-sub - so it wouldn’t surprise us to see river-based missions play a substantial role in Red Dead 2. Even the last game had a fantastic river quest: remember We Shall Be Together in Paradise? It saw Marston venture into Nuevo Paraiso for the first time, his Mexican adventure kicking off in style as Irish helped the charismatic cowboy paddle upstream on a raft against a hail of bandito gunfire.
If the original Redemption can give us a great on-water mission - in spite of Marston’s suck-ass swimming skills - surely Red Dead 2 and its canoes can serve up some H2O treats? Providing another mode of transport other than horse riding would certainly make traversing Rockstar’s latest sandbox more diverse, too.
Red Dead Redemption 2 probably isn't going VR (in case you were wondering)
Sure, Rockstar is currently hard at work giving LA Noire the virtual treatment - but don’t expect Red Dead Redemption 2 to have any PlayStation VR-specific bonus modes for now. Speaking at a Take-Two telecom conference on May 31, Zelnick sounded pretty down on virtual reality games and their ability to generate cash. “So far there is not a significant entertainment market for VR software," said Zelnick. "I think that’s a factual statement.” Unless LA Noire in virtual reality sets new sales records, don't get your hopes up over Red Dead squeezing in some VR six shooter battles.