Thanks to video games I have been a space explorer, an elf assassin, a survivor of a zombie event and even a champion of mixed martial arts. But no video game has made me feel more in its digital universe than when Red Dead Redemption 2 took me to the Wild West and made me an outlaw with a conscience.
I think what I like most about video games is the ease with which they plunge you into other lives. That ability to transport me in space to strange alien worlds, or in time to Ptolemaic Egypt, for example. It is something of enormous value to me, from my experience as a player. Within these proposals there are video games that I return to, on a recurring basis, because of how well they achieve that immersion: Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed Origins and Valhalla, Ghost of Tsushima, The Witcher 3… And Red Dead Redemption 2.
Already the first title managed to convince me that I was John Marston. There are few games that by offering me a character already built, and with a defined personality, have made me identify so much with its protagonist. I could count them on the fingers of my revolver hand. The fact is that with the launch of Red Dead Redemption 2, not only was it possible to raise the bar technically, something to be expected, but the gaming experience was also improved. The immersion. The transfers. I’m talking about the ability of Red Dead Redemption 2 to get me into the game and make me enjoy each game. Where I always have a secondary mission, where I can have fun fishing, breaking in horses or hunting down some outlaw. And it’s not just about the graphic quality, which without question takes you to that Far West that smells of horse manure, gunpowder, sweat, Leone, Peckinpah, Parollini and Tessari. It’s about the experience. To take care of your arsenal, to brush your horse, to sell what you have hunted before it rots, to fight with drunks in an alley, to save to buy warm clothes or to camp when night falls. Red Dead Redemption 2, being an action game, has managed to make me feel like the protagonist of the adventure more than most games I’ve played.
For me he achieves it especially in his “end game”. Finished the main plot, and without the stress of following Arthur Morgan’s narrative, Rockstar turns us into a young John Marston who is still defining his personality. Entering the game at that moment, in which one can decide to travel the map from north to south and from east to west without any ties, is one of the best examples of the essence of the “sandbox”. And somehow, also from that idealized idea of the “Far West” in which freedom always extends one step beyond the horizon and where the only thing you have to worry about is the next meal and that nobody shoots you in the back.
The moment I pick up my game I just have to decide which way to go.With that in mind, and with a setting as rich, detailed and alive as the one created for Red Dead Redemption 2, the gaming experience becomes a tremendous array of possibilities. Perhaps only Breath of the Wild knew how to make better use of that hand of cards. In my case I prefer the RDR2 proposal. By the time I resume my game, all I have to do is heat up a coffee, break camp, saddle up my horse (his name is Ender, by the way) and decide which way to go. What happens until the time of night falls again is in the hands of the providence generated by the random events of Rockstar. I never know what will happen to me: will they try to steal my horse? Will I sleep in a hotel that night? Will I stumble upon some juicy wanted sign? Will I get attacked by a bear? Will I win enough playing Blackjack to buy that coat I want so I can head off into the mountains?
Playing Red Dead Redemption 2 is an exciting experience from the safety and comfort of your couch. To live the risks and misadventures of a poetized life in the “far west”. And it will be because I am surrendered to the cinematographic charms of the Western, but its proposal has resonated with what I am looking for in a video game like very few proposals from the medium. Will I have to wait long to enjoy a Red Dead Redemption 3?