Red Dead Redemption 2 's overly detailed world seeks to propose the reality. Fall and you will be covered with mud; if they're covered in mud, someone might make a shy comment about how they hope it's not shit. The world is full of little flourishes and behaviors that suggest that their NPCs are real people with real reactions. But the more I play, the more they feel like dolls playing a show.
Red Dead Redemption 2 would like to draw players into a kind of simulated (albeit overly romantic) version of bygone times of the natural world scarring less industrialization and people always had stories or stories to share. The world reacts to the player. Shoot someone in the leg and they could end up with a prosthesis the next time they see you. Leave a cadaver on the roadside and come back a few days to find bones. The nature of the game, with its detailed snow and character-influencing temperatures, strives to be realistic. Even Arthur himself imitates a real person by grooming and bathing, while his slow pace seems to be an attempt to separate him from faster contemporaries of the video game, such as Assassin's Creed Odyssey Kassandra
In the surface, the NPCs strive for the same level of detail and act for seemingly complete life. An angry saloon-goer throws somebody through the window to sleep with his wife; a clumsy rider stops to calm his horse, just to be kicked in the head. These moments try to show that the world is full of people going about their lives, but unlike the rest of the game, they are unfortunately artificial. The seams are beginning to show, and it is obvious that the people of Red Dead Redemption 2 exist only in relation to me and are defined only by what I can do.
The interactions of the game are limited by his inspirations. Westerns are a complex and problematic genre associated with a violent history that makes the myth of the rifle an egalitarian tool (eg, the often cited "God Created Man, Sam Colt Made It Equal") and robust, self-made masculinity. As a result, interactions with Red Dead Redemption 2 NPCs exist within this masculine framework. Arthur and the actions of the player are expressions of a mythical masculinity. We save women and smaller men – after all, better men could fight bandits and manage their horses – and compete against would-be gunslingers while taking advantage of unique abilities like Dead-Eye. We tip our hat like a real gentleman, and we kill everyone we want. The game rewards these male impulses. The Western framework only leads to certain types of interactions, and these interactions inevitably lead to rewards: outperform someone in a marksmanship contest and you will win some money; Save a man from wolves and he will give you a treasure map.
These rewards further emphasize that despite Red Dead Redemption 2 & # 39; s meticulous details and animations were created through excessive, damnable hours and strenuous work – the NPCs exist only for the benefit of the player. HBO's Westworld – whose basic credo is that people can visit a theme park of wild-west role-playing androids "hosts" who offer unique adventures, ridicules this fancy in a scene in which one the artificial worker of the park falls off his horse. When a human protagonist, William, comes to his aid, the host tries to seduce him with stories of a treasure map and lost riches. Williams's mate dismisses the prospective adventure as a transparent park narrative. It's kiddie stuff, a blatant attempt to draw park guests into side activities and storylines that are made to their amusement. And yet, in Red Dead Redemption 2 these scenarios play with little irony. The details of the game are meant to work wonders, and these NPC interactions seem to suggest a larger world of mystery and adventure. But these adventures are limited and always come back to reward the player. What a deep and rich world to have such people and adventures on every ridge! But they pale in comparison to the other details of the game, making them feel even more unreal.
Once, as I rode through the plains, I heard a man scream in fear. He would die, damn it. Please, someone will not help him. As it turned out, he was bitten by a snake. I could leave him, I could suck the poison, or I could give him medicine. I chose the latter, and then we parted. Nearly five hours later, I heard the man calling while walking around the city of Valentine. He sat with his friend on the veranda of a shop. Why was not it wonderful for him to see me, his savior? He was so pleased that he offered in the gun shop to pay for everything I wanted. I bought a Springfield rifle and a riflescope; It is perfect for hunting for deer.
This encounter meant giving consequences to my actions, but the reward and written character of our interaction sounded wrong. For all Red Dead Redemption 2 's attention to detail, this NPC was not an entity that existed before I found it. When I came, he was born only to be saved by me and to reward me for it. The characters of Red Dead are always taking you somewhere instead of just humans. Enemies are magically summoned to shoot me down. I watched them flash during certain events on my radar. NPCs exist in orbit of the player, for the player. This applies to some extent in all games, but it feels particularly pronounced due to Red Dead Redemption 2 Pursuit of creating a meticulous and credible space. As a result, Red Dead Redemption 2 & # 39; s open world often captures the beauty and detail of real spaces, but it never created the illusion of a functioning society or treats its citizens with empathy. How can it be if these people exist to serve me and if I can decide to kill them with a single touch of a button?
I avoid cities more often than not in the game. I am too distracted by the animatronic people and their acting life. Maybe I've been playing for so long that I can not help but see the strings of the puppeteer. It's not even about being more realistic; The point is that these entities can live independently of the service for the player. When I am out in the woods or riding on the plain, things seem to be calmer. Red Dead Redemption 2 & # 39; s detailed environments are intoxicating enough that I forget myself for some time. But this silence always breaks. Suddenly at the roadside passengers of stagecoaches are disturbed, hillbillys attacked or a man trapped in a bear trap. The world does not want me to forget all the things I can do, or all the riches that their characters want to give me. There's so much content out there, all to me, that the game can not help calling its theme park actors and handcrafted backdrops. The biggest crime I could commit would be to miss her.