Few will disagree that the first Red Dead Redemption was an amazing game, with its immersive world and solid gameplay. That said, no game is ever perfect, and while it will certainly come across as nitpicking, there were a small handful of features on which the first game could have improved. With the recent reveal of the upcoming sequel, now seems like a perfect time to take a closer look at some of these nits.
Red Dead Redemption had very satisfying combat, truly bestowing the feeling of being a gunslinger in the wild west, but one element of the game brought this down somewhat. The first Redemption title made use of an early version of Euphoria middleware for character movement. Moving the analog stick only caused the character to walk, while jogging required holding down a button that needed to be mashed for a full-on sprint. This cumbersome system could make firefights very goofy looking as the player idly trotted around a battlefield, and the stiff control combined with occupying a finger often cost players a life as they attempted to maneuver around simple objects.
It can’t be easy to set a game in the Wild West, as the terrain design is restricted to the historical accuracy of the region at that time, but Red Dead Redemption managed a reasonable amount of diversity in its communities and landscapes. However, the vast majority of the game map was made up of sprawling deserts and plains that featured very little to interact with. Communities and settlements often suffered from a similar barrenness. Some may argue that the Wild West was far from a bustling urban center, and this may be fair, but as Red Dead Redemption is first and foremost a game, it would have been nice for Rockstar to come up with a compromise. The sequel is the perfect opportunity to do just that.
At the center of every Rockstar experience is a sympathetic protagonist whose bad deeds can’t stop the audience from rooting for them, but prior to Grand Theft Auto V, these leading characters lacked a certain level of complexity. In an apparent effort to make the character broadly relatable, Red Dead Redemption‘s John Marston came out kind of bland, similar to Grand Theft Auto IV‘s Niko Bellic before him. If the rumors are true, that the Redemption sequel will actually be a prequel following Marston in the earlier parts of his criminal life, that could provide an opportunity to play as someone with a more distinct moral compass that is forced to develop a character arc over the course of the game.
Red Dead Redemption‘s online experience was immense in size—but somewhat lacking in the content department. There was a reasonable amount of activities to do with friends, but these tasks didn’t feature the same depth as the comparable ones found in the single-player. More mini-games such as dueling would be a welcome addition, but it would be even nicer to see full on cooperative—and maybe even competitive—missions with the complexity of those in the main campaign. If the developers need a reference, look at what they did with Grand Theft Auto Online‘s heists.
Red Dead Redemption put in great effort to connect players to the lead character through his personality, but more effort could have been put into his progression as a game character as well. Role-playing elements are admittedly ubiquitous in current games, but there’s a reason for this. Developing a character, their weaponry, and their skills creates a connection beyond the narrative. Sure, there are plenty of ways to make money in the world of the original game, but the benefits of getting rich felt superfluous, and character development could have a far more lasting impact. On that note, some system for building up your horse in the sequel wouldn’t be a bad idea, as the expendability of your ride in the previous game made it feel like little more than another disposable tool your arsenal.