Red Dead Redemption 2 puts you in the shoes of Arthur Morgan, an outlaw cowboy on the run. He’s the key member of a gang and, as all outlaw gangs are wont to do, they commit crimes from time to time. However, given that Rockstar has created a game world that reacts to your behaviour and presents the knock-on effects of your actions to you, getting away with no good is much harder than you’d think.
The people that inhabit Red Dead Redemption 2’s wild west are always watching, and while some will turn a blind eye to your misbehaviours, others may feel compelled to do something about what they’ve seen. This means that if you break the law while people are around, they could narc on you. In our hands-on gameplay session we got a good example of this system in action.
While in a marshy area, we gunned someone down and were immediately informed that there was a witness who had seen the whole thing. As we turned to locate this person, a lady screamed and began running away. Naturally, not wanting to spend the night behind bars or even six feet under, we gave chase to stop her. Once close enough to her we fired Arthur’s gun into the air and she stopped in her tracks.
Using the game’s new conversation options, we selected the “Threaten” option and she replied by saying she wouldn’t tell anyone about what she’d seen. However, there was a boldness to her voice, and her tone and attitude presented her as someone who would do the right thing and tell on us at the next available opportunity. We chose to let her go and, as suspected, a few moments later the incident was reported. When we asked Rockstar if we could have guaranteed that she wouldn’t report it, a representative said we could have doubled down on the threat to effectively convince her that we meant business and scare her into staying hush.
Ensuring that things don’t escalate when you’re engaging in criminal activity feels like it’s going to take a fair amount of thought and careful planning. In addition to keeping in mind potential witnesses, there are also other small ways in which things can go awry if you’re not careful. For example, if you’re not wearing a bandana or covering your face in some other way, witnesses will also remember you and report you to the authorities.
Based on our time with the game, once things devolve into fisticuffs and gun fights it’s much harder to de-escalate and return to a neutral state than in previous Rockstar games. In the Grand Theft Autos of old and the previous Red Dead Redemption, calming things down usually involved breaking line of sight from witnesses or lawmen to simply hide out until things blow over. However, since the world is more reactive, even doing that can be difficult in Red Dead Redemption 2. Something like bad hygiene can change the way people behave towards you, so you can bet that walking around covered in blood is going to make escaping a whole lot harder for Arthur Morgan.
Red Dead Redemption 2 releases on October 26 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. There will be a bunch of special editions, and you can get the details on all of them in our Red Dead Redemption 2 pre-order guide. One month after the game’s launch, in November 2018, Red Dead Online will become available as a public beta.