Red Dead Redemption 2 - release date, screenshots, and everything you need to know

Fast facts

  • Red Dead Redemption 2 release date: Spring 2018
  • Formats: PS4, Xbox One
  • Developer: Rockstar
  • Price: TBC

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a portal to every cowboy fantasy you've ever had, and Rockstar Games' Wild West sequel is coming to PS4 and Xbox One sometime in early 2018. So far we've had just one majestic teaser trailer, a pack of tantalizing screenshots, and just a whisper of official information, but it's enough to have us strapping on our riding spurs in anticipation. We've gone full Sherlock on every shot of the trailer, every pixel of the screenshots, and kept our eyes and ears open for any rumor or clue out there in the world. Saddle up partner, and let us take you through everything we know so far about Red Dead Redemption 2.  

Red Dead Redemption 2 release date now slated for 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 GTA 5. Since then, a more recent 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 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 signalled 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 when on to add 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 last game sells over 70 million copies (and counting), a publisher is going to back you no matter what. 

Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer shows Rockstar’s most visually stunning open-world ever

No-one does lonely Wild West spectacle quite like Rockstar. Just rewatch the Red Dead 2 trailer. 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. Rockstar sandboxes always contain exquisite lighting and insane 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 engine has benefitted from a few subsequent years of development, ageing like a particularly sumptuous (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.

Red Dead Redemption 2 story revolves around a gang of outlaws

Look at the Red Dead 2 artwork. Rockstar isn't promoting the game with a single, Marston-style figure. Instead, it’s seemingly prepping us for the very real possibility that Redemption 2 centres on an entire posse of outlaws. Rockstar North absolutely nailed GTA 5’s criss-crossing trio of leads, so why can't Red Dead 2 successfully integrate the seven characters hinted at in the trailer and promo art?

Everything we’ve seen so far - from the trailer’s parting shot to that previously mentioned sketch - suggest a number of outlaws will figure heavily in Red Dead 2. This wouldn't be uncharted territory for the franchise, either. After all, Red Dead Revolver put you in the spurs of a good half dozen playable characters back in 2004.

Sure, Red Dead 2 won’t necessarily let you play every outlaw that stars in that stylish concept art. Yet at the very least, it looks like the game’s story will give each one of these antiheroes decent screen time. Westerns have a special relationship with the very specific number of scoundrels shown in the Red Dead 2 trailer, and we’ve no doubt swapping between a potential Magnificent (murderous) Seven cowboys would be a huge treat.

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 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 being 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 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 is almost certainly a prequel… probably

The original Redemption was such a tender love letter to the dying throes of the Old West, it would be pretty bizarre if Red Dead 2’s setting took place after Marston’s quest. The last game spanned 1911-1915, and even during this period modern civilisation was beginning to encroach on the ways of the West; be it whispered chatter about flying machines or early automobiles shuddering along the cobbled streets of Blackwater.

Based on footage from the Red Dead 2 trailer, it looks like this follow-up’s world is less advanced than Marston’s. Shots of a downtrodden streets show an old-timey local store and a passing horse-drawn carriage. The latter in particular suggests the game takes place before 1911.

If Red Dead 2 is a prequel, perhaps that means a young Marston could feature. Rockstar setting the game in the 19th century would also allow the developer to focus on events that really cemented the legacy of the Wild West, like the American Gold Rush of the 1850s. Whatever the theme, it seems unlikely Red Dead 2 will be set after 1915, and with the last game bidding adieu to the Old West in such emotional style, an earlier era celebrating the golden days of the Frontier would give Rockstar plenty of fresh material to tackle.

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 break out phenomenon has netted the studio over half a billion dollars in just over three years; a figure fuelled by folk constantly buying in-game currency with actual money. GTA Online has been so stratospherically successful, such a relentless money-making machine, 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 - god, 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 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

The big hero shot at the end of the Red Dead 2 trailer heavily suggests the story revolves around a gang. If Rockstar’s latest open-world adventure is a prequel to the first Redemption, then said posse could well be Dutch van Der Lin’s crew; a group constantly referred to during Marston’s many musings last time out. Regardless of whether you saddle up with Dutch, it wouldn’t be that much of a shocker to see Red Dead 2 follow on from GTA 5 with more criminal-swapping missions.

Controlling and switching between multiple characters worked brilliantly in Blaine County, and the prospect of potentially hopping between various outlaws in Red Dead 2 is tantalising. 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 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.

Even if you only play as a single outlaw - most likely the man seen standing in front of a burning oil field in the trailer - the tiny glimpses we’ve seen of Red Dead 2’s plot suggest a gang features heavily. Seeing as some of GTA 5’s best missions revolve around jumping between Michael, Franklin and Trevor on-the-fly - think back to the terrific Three’s Company, where you abseil into IAA headquarters - we’d love to see Rockstar (be it North or San Diego) take on set-pieces where you switch between more than one cowboy. 

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 (decidedly damp) death awaited. Thankfully, it looks like our outlaw(s?) 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 hale 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)

Don’t expect Red Dead Redemption 2 to have any PlayStation VR specific bonus modes, either. 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. I think that’s a factual statement.” We wouldn’t get your hopes up over Red Dead squeezing in VR six shooter battles, then. 

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