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Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer breakdown - every revealing detail you might've missed

It's baaaaaack. Red Dead Redemption 2 once again snapped the internet clean in two with its second trailer. This time out, we finally get a look at who we'll be playing as in the new Wild West epic, and spoiler: it's not a young John Marston. Instead, the sandbox sequel follows "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," according to Rockstar's Newswire. Read on to find out every little hidden detail from the latest amazing trailer, as we take in classic cowboy action that spans daring train robberies, dazzling prairies, old timey bank heists, and... um, really agitated alligators.   

Western wonderland 

The first shot of the new Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer really is a belter. It's frankly obscene how much detail there is in this one image alone. The sun peaking over prairies on the left; moody storm clouds gathering above; snow-capped mountains to the right. If this scene is any indication of the overall make-up of the final game's (supposedly leaked) map, Redemption 2 is going to be one of the most visually varied, spectacular sandboxes ever. 

Also, note the campfire. These popped up in the first trailer, but now there's a nearby tent at the site. Perhaps the game lets you pitch one to take shelter from the weather should those storm clouds lead to the sort of torrential downpour Grand Theft Auto 5 loves so much. 

Meet Mr. Morgan 

Contrary to months of excited speculation, the open-world Western sequel will not revolve around a young John Marston. Boo! However, the new lead still looks mightily intriguing. Around 18 seconds into the new trailer, we get our first decent look at Red Dead Redemption 2's main character: Arthur Morgan. Judging by his opening line, it looks like this outlaw is some sort of bounty hunter, tasked with finding people and shaking them down for dollars. "You got some money for me, boy? I've seen your name on our ledger." That "our" bit is important. As we'll find out a little later in the trailer, Morgan is working with Dutch van der Linde - one of the main antagonists Marston is tasked with killing in the last Red Dead. 

Current speculation would have you believe Morgan is played by actor Roger Clark, an American-born thespian who grew up in Ireland and was trained in the UK. His previous credits include parts in the 2014 movie adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and cutely, a 1997 cowboy-centric mini-series called The Wild West. Looking at pictures of Clark on his IMDB, there's a definite resemblance to Morgan's character model. Casting a relatively unknown actor would be right up Rockstar's alley, too - the publisher hasn't really used famous stars since Samuel L. Jackson in GTA: San Andreas.    

Gun for hire 

This shot of Morgan nonchalantly trotting through town on his steed sure brings back memories of riding down Armadillo's street with John Marston in the first Redemption. As before, horses are hitched to wooden posts when they're not being ridden. More interesting is the gunsmith store on the left. The shopfront sign reads 'R.L. Dalton', with a message below reading 'Weapons sold. All items bought.' This seems to hint at a time of poverty, but is also a nod to a real gang of outlaws from the 1890s called the Daltons (naturally). The gang primarily consisted of three brothers, who specialised in bank and train robberies; we're sure they'd get on famously with Morgan. Most of the gang was wiped out during a failed robbery in Kansas circa 1892.  

"I'll keep her in black" 

Next up, we see Morgan casually threatening a young man whose father has presumably died; it looks like the poor boy's mother is grieving in a nearby cemetery at the 00:33 mark. Whether this dude is on Arthur's ledger or not is unclear, yet what does seem certain is that Rockstar's latest outlaw is kind of a jerk. "Maybe when your mother's finished mourning your father," Morgan callously hisses, "I'll keep her in black... on your behalf." 

Now, John Marston was no saint, but he was consistently sympathetic and usually quite honourable. Arthur, on the other hand, seems to take real pleasure in threatening folk, and his general demeanour seems to be cockier and more confrontational than the original Redemption's doomed cowboy. 

The great train robbery 

Now this is what we're talking about. It just wouldn't be a Western without outlaws holding up some poor choo-choo. The trailer briefly shows Morgan and other gang members hiding in a forest, before quickly ambushing a train - forcing it to stop by parking a carriage on the tracks - then pistol-whipping one of its passengers. No wonder Morgan quips, "We've got lawmen in three different states after us." Considering Morgan seems to be backed up by a number of outlaws, could these train robberies act as a take on GTA 5's sweeping heist missions? The prospect of picking a crew and planning when and where to strike a locomotive is mighty exciting. 

Tree of life 

Moments later, we see a fleeting but beautiful shot of three figures riding over the crest of a hill as the sun rises. Slightly in front of them lies a sad-looking tree that appears to have been torn in half by a lightning strike. GTA 5's dynamic weather system could produce some visually spectacular storms, but downpour or lightning would never physically damage the environment. Could this brief scene indicate that Redemption 2 has more fully fleshed-out weather, where harsh storms can physically transform the environment? It seems ambitious, but it would be one hell of a cool feature if Rockstar could pull it off.  

Snow joke 

The fluffy white stuff isn't something you'd really associate with the original Redemption, but looking at this shot 47 seconds in, the sequel seemingly loves snow. The closest you got to this sort of weather in Marston's game was some frost-covered hills in the Tall Trees area, but the snow here is up to the horses' knees. Once again, this points to Red Dead Redemption 2 having a far more visually varied map than the first game. 

Point-bank range 

Around 50 seconds into the trailer, we see Morgan holding up a bank manager, seemingly forcing the helpless fellow to open up some safe deposit boxes. Presumably, this robbery doesn't go off without a hitch, because later on we see Morgan blowing up what look to be the same deposit boxes with explosives. Robbing local banks in the first Redemption could help you line Marston's pockets, but there was never really a central story mission focused around a big bank robbery. Here's to hoping the sequel has bank heists on par with GTA 4's Heat-inspired 'Three Leaf Clover' mission.  

Making friends 

The scene above sees Morgan conversing with a Native American man, who suggests the outlaw is "going to need an extra gun." While the latest trailer puts the emphasis very squarely on Arthur - and away from the seven outlaws highlighted in the previous trailer's final shot - it seems likely you'll occasionally be accompanied by AI characters. After all, most missions in the first Redemption saw John riding into action with an ally by his side. Seeing as the warrior above gets one of the few speaking parts in the trailer - and also looks to be the furthest figure on the right in previous Rockstar artwork - expect him to be an important player in Red Dead Redemption 2's story. 

Pleased as punch 

Next up, we see Morgan in what looks to be a more industrially advanced town than the one that houses the gunsmith store earlier on in the trailer. Aside from a quick look at a passing steam train, there are brief scenes where Morgan threatens a local man as he pins him to the wall, then a violent shot of the outlaw involved in a brutal fistfight. Said punch-up has attracted quite the crowd, and it wouldn't surprise us if fighting mini-games cropped up in certain towns. After all, there's only so much Five Finger Fillet you can play until someone loses a finger.  

Argh! Alligators! 

The original Redemption had some kickass wildlife, but it certainly never had alligators roaming the waters of New Austin. Of course, John Marston couldn't swim, so inserting an underwater menace into the game would've been a waste. This time though, Morgan is going to have to get used to getting his spurs wet. Right after that gator chomps down on a poor pig at 1:01, you can see three figures wading through waist-high waters, seemingly surrounded by Bald Cypress trees. This imagery feels like it's been plucked straight out of a Louisiana bayou, appropriate seeing as the state is considered part of 'America's heartland' - a term Rockstar has mentioned several times in press releases. Of course, Marston's adventure also flirted with swamps. Remember Thieves' Landing?  

Really Wild West 

Hunting critters then skinning and selling their pelts was one of the original's Redemption's most diverting pastimes, and it looks like the sequel is doubling down on the PETA-bothering action. At 1:03 we see Morgan hunting what looks to be a moose in a dense forest using a bow (which weren't in the original Redemption) in a scene that's more than a little reminiscent of that one bit from The Last Of Us. Immediately after, there's a brief shot of an extremely agitated grizzly bear charging through a lake. We hope Redemption 2 has a proper swimming system, otherwise Morgan is going to be an easy meal for Yogi and pals.  

Kill Bill 

Next, we see a violent scene in a bar, with a woman - who looks more than a little like the first game's awesome rancher Bonnie MacFarlane - stabbing a dude in the hand. Said beardy chap would appear to be 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. In the next shot, we get a better look at the stab-happy woman, as she remarks, "You're the only one of these fools that I trust." It's here that the resemblance to MacFarlane is really striking. Of course, if Redemption 2 really is a prequel to the last game, this probably isn't Bonnie... though it certainly could be an older family member. Are we looking at Bonnie's mother?  

Stealthy does it 

At 1:11, we see Morgan stabbing someone from behind in a swampy area. GTA 5 briefly flirted with sneaking - admittedly, Franklin knocking Michael's gardner out in the 'Repossession' mission was hardly Metal Gear-worthy - but it looks like Redemption 2 may go one further and introduce stealth takedowns. Killing folk in sneaky style is all the rage in open world games at the moment, so don't be surprised if Morgan's adventure features more stealth mechanics than its predecessor.  

Dutch courage 

Rockstar leaves the most significant reveal to the end of the trailer, whereby Dutch van der Linde - the Big Bad from the first Redemption - pops up to have a brief chat with Morgan. Redemption 2's story revolves around the bond between these two men, as they rob their way around the country, and it's interesting to see there's clearly a paranoid streak in Dutch at the 1:13 mark. "Do you have my back?", he asks Morgan, with the outlaw replying, "Always, Dutch." 

In the last game, Marston said his former gang member was once a Robin Hood-like figure, who robbed from the rich to give to the poor. However, as Dutch gradually became disillusioned with the increasing capitalism creeping into the Old West, he eventually turned into a bitter, paranoid figure. Earlier points in the trailer suggest Dutch may not have the full backing of the female outlaw, or Bill Williamson, and it seems likely a main narrative thread could revolve around Morgan's efforts to keep Dutch's gang together in spite of his partner's increasing paranoia. 

It's out Spring 2018 

For real this time. The final shot of the trailer confirms that the game is coming to PS4 and Xbox One in Spring of next year. Rockstar initially promised Red Dead Redemption 2 would ship Fall 2017 - which obviously didn't happen - so fingers crossed that the studio actually honours this new release window. The original Redemption launched back in May 2010, so maybe Rockstar has a thing for releasing epic open-world Westerns in Spring time. If the developer keeps to its word, it looks like none of us will be getting much fresh air next Easter. Hurry up, Spring 2018. You can't get here soon enough.  

David Meikleham
David Meikleham

David has worked for Future under many guises, including for GamesRadar and Official Xbox Magazine. He currently is the Google AMP Stories Editor for GamesRadar and PC Gamer, and also writes features, guides, and reviews for both brands in a freelance capacity.