Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer breakdown - what's hidden in that reveal?

Rockstar just broke the internet. Again. The first Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer may only be a little over a minute long, but there are plenty of juicy details in there to get us speculating over the upcoming epic open world Western. Huge buffalo herds! An amazingly lush world! Seven playable characters! Well, maybe. Red Dead Redemption 2 plot details are pretty much non-existent right now - the only line in the video is “Listen to me, when the time comes, you gotta run and don’t look back. This is over.” - but we’re unhealthily excited all the same. Saddle up and scroll down for a comprehensive analysis of all the trailer’s highlights.  

Best in the West

Well that didn’t give much away, did it? The first Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer is an almighty tease, and reveals little gameplay details, though Sony claims it was captured from PS4 gameplay. What we do know, is Rockstar’s latest Western sandbox takes place in a truly stunning take on the American Frontier. There are also enough tidbits to pull out of those teasing 68 seconds to make some educated guesses about the direction the surefire cowboy classic is headed in. And if nothing else, at least we know Rockstar is still reeaaally good at making virtual sunrises. 

The wilderness takes its cues from GTA 5 

Well this is hardly a surprise. Red Dead Redemption 2’s world seems to be taking visual cues from Blaine County. Venture outside of Los Santos, and GTA 5’s map presented players with sumptuous mountains and dense forests; a view that’s repeated in the second shot of RDR2’s trailer. The sun-dappled gorge above is filled with super detailed trees, rivers, and thick, plentiful grass for those grazing deer to chow down on. Considering Rockstar’s legendary location scouting trips, we’d be amazed if the new Red Dead’s map wasn’t the most lush, detailed open world ever created. Oh, and the eagle-eyed among you will notice what appears to be a ferret-like critter feasting on a smaller animal. That little predatory snippet suggests RDR2 will have a more advanced, nuanced ecosystem than its predecessor. 

Like the last game, this will be a visually varied sandbox

John Marston’s melancholy adventure was great at mixing up its setting, taking in everything from the barren wastelands of New Austin, the earthy canyons of Mexico to the verdant greenery of Tall Trees. The forest in the shot above is a dead ringer for the woods John slaughtered so many grizzlies. We fully expect Red Dead Redemption 2 to present us with a map that once again ticks off every classic piece of iconic Western scenery.  

It looks like campfires are back

In the original RDR, Marston used portable campfires to both save his game and to fast travel around his vast Wild West sandbox. Judging from this screen it looks like campfires are back, and we’d be surprised if they don’t function much like last time. Here’s hoping the pleasantly rambling ranchers who used to talk John’s ear off if he decided to rest beside their fires make a return. Also… DAT SKY.

You can load animal carcasses onto your horse

The trailer suggests you’ll be able to load up your trusty steed with freshly shot deer and other deceased critters. Last time out, John would quickly skin animals for their pelts, but couldn’t actually move their corpses. For the sequel, we’d be shocked if an expanded hunting system doesn’t come into play. Perhaps taking an entire critter to local merchants - instead of just the pelt - will reward you with more money? Seeing as hunting wildlife in the first RDR was such a horribly addictive hoot, we can’t wait to start getting murderously intimate with the sequel’s animals.

Boat travel is in

John Marston infamously couldn’t swim in the last game. If you went near the drink in the first Redemption, it was cowboy curtains for the doomed outlaw. Yet in RDR2 it looks like water is going to play a much larger part. This screen suggests you’ll be able to travel by boat; something Grand Theft Auto crims have been able to do since GTA 3. At the very least it looks like you’ll at least be able to paddle a canoe, and it’d be surprising if the game doesn’t have a fully formed swimming system to accompany its boats. 

Where the buffalo roam

The scene above could have been ripped straight out of the last game’s Great Plains area. Of course, the original Redemption could never handle this amount of buffalo. Marston never really got a chance to hunt horned herds in a proper mission, so let’s hope RDR2 has a few choice set pieces where you can engage in some epic buffalo hunts. Oh, and we’re sure that locomotive marks a return of train fast-travel/robberies. Interestingly, you could earn a trophy in the last game for hunting the big critters to extinction suggesting this might be set before that time period. So, because of that...

It’s probably a prequel

It’s hard to pick out an exact time period from the trailer, but it looks fair to say Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place before the events of the last game, which was set in 1911. Judging by this brief screen of a town, coach travel is very much still a thing. Considering automobiles were being used in the first Redemption’s Blackwater area, it probably suggests RDR2 takes place before those first cars began to surface. Also note the local shop. It seems a dead cert merchant-trading will return. 

A real barnburner 

Oh god, it’s all coming back. This shot reminds us of Redemption’s fateful final mission, The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed. Remember that poignant moment when John pensively pushes open the doors of his barn after shepherding his family to safety? Of course you do. Now let’s never speak of the horrible, bullet-ridden demise that swiftly follows. At any rate, all those cattle hint ranching is set for a return in Red Dead Redemption 2. If it leads to more missions like the original’s superb A Tempest Looms - the one where Marston stops Bonnie MacFarlane’s kamikaze cows from charging off a cliff - we’re all for more beef-guiding action.

Red (really) Dead 

Death looms over this shot. Just look at those nasty vultures picking the bones clean off what appears to be a pig/boar carcass. It’s nice to see dogs return, too… though the fellow above looks a good deal more feral than the first Redemption’s lazy canines that used to slowly amble up and down the main street of Armadillo. The horse-drawn carriages are also worth noting, and again point to Red Dead Redemption 2 taking place in the 19th century, not the early 20th like its predecessor.

Is that you, Mr Marston?

It seems safe to assume this is one of the game’s main characters. The art Rockstar has already leaked, coupled with a shot we’re going to look at in a second, hints RDR2 could contain as many as seven playable stars. The multi-criminal blueprint worked fantastically in GTA 5, but spinning a coherent narrative with double the playable characters would certainly be a challenge. About all we can tell about the chap above is he’s trying to conceal his identity - note the bandanna - and he most likely has something to do with that fire in the background. Could he be a younger John Marston? The line about running certainly suggests he’s an outlaw. Regardless, the over-the-shoulder shot is a cute nod to the first time we saw Michael in GTA 5’s debut trailer, way back in 2011. 

The Magnificent (murderous) Seven 

And here’s the big hero shot. This seemingly doubles down on the seven playable character angle hinted at by the art Rockstar released earlier this week. Though we can’t really pick out many individual details about these bandits - stupid YouTube artifacting - it’s safe to assume they’re at least on the wrong side of the law, judging by their concealed faces. The dude in the middle could well be their leader, and is it just us, or is his coat a deadringer for John Marston’s duster coat? Whether you actually control all seven of these cowboys or whether some are just AI companions, the game’s shootouts should be epic.

It’s coming Fall 2017

One of the few concrete facts we know about Red Dead Redemption 2 is its proposed launch window. It’s slated to come out Fall 2017 on PS4 and Xbox One - no word on a PC release yet - with Rockstar’s press release promising “an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland”. While gameplay details are currently thin, a significant multiplayer side as been mentioned, most likely its own take on GTA Online. Trevor and co’s multiplayer has made mountains of cash for Rocksteady and Take Two, and with the studio already registering RedDeadOnline as a domain, epic online cowboy adventures look assured. The eight player posses in the original Redemption’s multiplayer were great fun, and we expect online elements to be woven into every fibre of RDR2. Can you say ‘seven player co-op campaign’? Hey, an outlaw can dream. In the meantime, check out our Red Dead Redemption 2 character theories

Dave Meikleham
Paid maker of words, goes by many names: Meiksy… Macklespammer… Big Hungry Joe. Obsessive fan of Metal Gear Solid, Nathan Drake's digital pecks and Dino Crisis 2. Loves Jurassic Park so much, may burst at any moment.