Red Dead Redemption Update - Open-World Gameplay in the Old West

There's far more to the wild frontier than rolling tumbleweeds in this Western-themed action game from Rockstar.

Wandering on horseback through an arid chunk of Western frontier, your eyes scan the horizon. It's a view made up almost entirely of rocky cliffs, sparse foliage, and a whole lot of dirt. Then you notice an unusual rock formation in the distance. You've never been here before, but it looks somehow familiar. The realization hits you: That towering rock is identical to the one shown on the treasure map you've been carrying since at least three towns back. You pull open the map and take note of where the hand-drawn arrow is pointing, and a few moments later you've dug up a shiny bar of gold to pay off that bounty on your head.

That potential for exploration is one example of the way first appearances can be deceiving in Red Dead: Redemption. When you first lay eyes on the game's open-world setting, you may feel like you're in for a desolate journey. Part of that is the game's convincing visuals, which depict the rolling clouds, high plateaus, and sweeping hills of the Old West with an impressive fidelity. Though easy on the eyes, there's a good chance those long, dusty trails might have you thinking you'll have some lonely travels as you trek from one town to the next. But spend more than a few moments in this frontier, and you'll realize the world of Red Dead: Redemption is anything but an empty desert.

As you unravel the story of reformed criminal John Marston, you'll make your way through three distinct locales--two set in the American West and one in northern Mexico. Though the vast majority of the game's setting is made up of these aforementioned rural areas, a number of towns and outposts dot the landscape. The weather-faded city of Chuparosa, Mexico, is one such town. In this sun-drenched pueblo of wood and clay buildings, you'll find a population of blacksmiths, goatherds, and simple villagers going about their daily lives. A merchant offers you a practical way to spend the gold you've earned from successful missions, while a cantina offers you the chance to double, triple, or simply squander it away through gambling.

Towns like this feature traditional Wild West elements, right on down to the Wanted posters you'd expect to find plastered on local buildings. But in Redemption, Wanted posters aren't merely sheets of paper with an ugly face on them--they're a chance to do good in the world and earn some cash for it. These posters act as side missions, giving you the description and last known whereabouts of infamous criminals. If you decide to go after these criminals, you can choose to either take them out with your turn-of-the-century armory of repeating Winchester rifles, six-shooters, and shotguns, or earn a bigger reward by lassoing them to the ground and returning them alive. (Putting a bullet or two in them to slow them down is purely optional.)

Turn-of-the-century weaponry like scoped rifles make Marston much tougher than old-timey cowboys.

Quests like these will boost your honor--a gauge of how noble or vile your actions have been--but they're not the only way to affect how well regarded you are in the world. Over the course of your travels, you'll encounter dynamic situations that pop up throughout the open landscape. You might run into an officer seeking out two prisoners who have just escaped from his caravan, giving you the chance to chase them down or simply keep moving. You might witness some bandits shaking down a couple of travelers, and you can either save them or watch their fortunes unfold as you ride away. Other situations are less cut-and-dried in regard to what the right decision is, like when you're riding along and see a blindfolded prisoner about to be executed by a squad of soldiers.

As your honor increases or depletes, townsfolk will begin to react to you differently. You'll receive admiration and accolades if you've decided to take the noble route, and the local sheriffs will even look the other way if you commit a minor crime. (Normally, you'd become a wanted man and have to pay off your bounty or do a favor for the local authorities to receive a pardon.) But if you've gone the bad-guy route, people will cower or glare, while criminals who are aware of your notoriety will offer you the chance to work with them in some of their unsavory pursuits.

Rockstar's trademark elaborate cut scenes make the transition to the Old West.

No matter how good or bad of a person you are, you'll still need to get your hands dirty from time to time. While the game is set at the beginning of the 20th century, a time when the Wild West was becoming increasingly less wild, there's still a certain element of lawlessness to the world around you, so shoot-outs and violent eruptions are a common occurrence. They can be as simple as a scuffle out in the desert between you and a handful of bandits, where a few well-aimed revolver shots can leave you victorious. But they can also be as elaborate as one story mission in particular that has you charging a fort with a wagon full of explosives, taking on snipers camping in towers, and using a cannon to ward off waves of incoming reinforcements.

Based on what we've seen so far, the world of Red Dead: Redemption looks thoroughly engaging. Far from Grand Theft Auto with a Western paint job, it has the makings of a unique game whose look and gameplay feel authentic to that era in American history. We'll see how the full game comes together when it's released on April 27.

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Discussion

272 comments
Col-Struckin
Col-Struckin

haven't been more excited for a game since fallout 3

Black420Thorn
Black420Thorn

One more thing....R* had "side missions" in their games long before Gun was ever thought of. Are you a young gamer, wapzod?

Black420Thorn
Black420Thorn

@ wapzod - It's not even close to Gun's game. The only thing RDR and Gun have in common is the setting....The Wild West. So of course there will be some elements in the game that are similar, like wanted posters (that was a big part of the west), gambling, drinking... Once you start playing RDR I am sure you will notice that, Gun, it is not.

PLAYMOARNOTEZ
PLAYMOARNOTEZ

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roguas
roguas

come on we don't want to arrest mexican criminals we want to be one of them !!

Black420Thorn
Black420Thorn

I hope you can form a posse and it stores all the members in your posse. Like a guild with it's members. It would be cool to also form alliances and have them persistent also. I just think it would be a pain to have to rename your posse and form new alliances every time you log online. No matter, this game is everything I've wanted in a western game. Posse: The Dirty Eight

Rand401
Rand401

This will definitely be an awesome game. I can't wait to get my hands on it.

grasshopper6
grasshopper6

oh man this's gonna be a awesome game, I wonder if it's gonna brake any records

Jeebes007
Jeebes007

This is going to be real classic game,not just some fiction or fantasy crap this is the real deal. You want a realistic open world game, this is it.

bugbag
bugbag

I like open world games but I'm not sure if I want this.

VALENTT
VALENTT

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ElMeerkat
ElMeerkat

really want this game. visuals look good

Legion4Hire
Legion4Hire

I love how Rock Star continues to innovate and standout from the rest... A free world cowboy game! wow! so where is the hype machine for this game?

wapzod
wapzod

It's sounding a lot like Gun next-gen to me with all the gambling and wanted posters and side missions... not that it's a bad thing

Mister-Lee
Mister-Lee

really optimistic about this one. im hoping rockstar really leave you to your own devices as to how you advance in the game and make your fortune, farcry 2 touched on it, but ended up just being a linear mission-led story with a couple of moral choices thrown in

leezer4000
leezer4000

so looking forward to this game :) go rockstar go

InherentGamer
InherentGamer

This game reminds me of Gun, but on a grander scale. BTW I'm a huge Rockstar fan. Will be keepin this one on the radar for sure.

Irish-J
Irish-J

Take your cock smokin a$$ back to the ussr soviet b*tch....cause there's no honkeys or sh*! pile of snow over there (hope you're smart enough to catch the sarcasm). I guess you drink enough vodka and it doesn't matter that your women are as hairy as men!

Freakishrage
Freakishrage

no strip clubs back then sultano, but a cantina is a whore house. Soviet, I'll enjoy playing Metro2033 and watching all the other soviets cowering in the sewers. Wild west isn't honkey, trailer parks are dumb a$$

xXSoViEt
xXSoViEt

im not a fan either of the honkey/country style but its rockstar and they are serious ha hopefully they do a japan game next

SULTANOOOO
SULTANOOOO

hahahah.,,can i go to the paintshop or to the stripe club xD..

SULTANOOOO
SULTANOOOO

Another GTA ! xD... but in cowboy style!...awesome!

leaf21nut
leaf21nut

pre ordering tommorrow!!! this game has my head spinning... you can actually hunt animals, skin them and sell their pelts... card games, gambling, shooting, killing people... IT IS essantially GTA on horses... PERFECT!!! but theres more to this game than in GTA by far... the maps bigger, open enviroment, more to do... so i wont get bored with this gamelike i did in GTA

muze1
muze1

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junkchaser
junkchaser

I'm far from a cowboy culture fan, but this game looks very promising. Maybe it gives a lot of people an open door getting into the cowboy suite ...

rpgnutt
rpgnutt

evan if it was GTA with a western paint job i would still buy it.

OneEyedMonsta
OneEyedMonsta

@premythous Ermm, online multiplayer is a pretty big thing now and a major selling point. So I hope to GOD that it DOES have at least free roam with 16 players or more and some multiplayer modes. Hopefully Rockstar learned what worked and didn't work in GTA IV (like how the cell phone calls from "friends" were soooo annoying.). Hopefully you won't have to telegraph people in the game LOL.

adamantas4
adamantas4

i think it will outrun mafia 2 by far...can't wait!!!april is away...

Slice4142
Slice4142

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rebornblood
rebornblood

Sounds to me if this game is all its cracked up to be were looking at a GOTY.

teenrobin
teenrobin

Rockstar continues to push the envelope every generation with genre bending games and this one looks to be one of the largest of them all. A mixture of GUN and Grand Theft Auto, with a morale system evident in games like Mass Effect make this one of the games to have in 2010.

jokerman_28
jokerman_28

this game looks awesome. this will be epic. can't wait

Black_Adder_
Black_Adder_

I was totally frustrated after Call of Yuarez, but THIS has already been ordered...In hope for Rockstar's good reputation so far to be continued with RDR :) And it seems that there will be different clothing available not only guns - just brilliant for game character fashion freak like me :)

ropumar
ropumar

Mafia 2 is what I am waiting more.

PAL360
PAL360

This game will be brilliant. Cant wait

Crazy-C527
Crazy-C527

Final a open world game in the West and better yet its made by Rockstar......This will be a masterpiece

ronaldmcreagan
ronaldmcreagan

I haven't been looking forward to a game in a very long time. But this is one game I can't wait to get. Of course, I will wait to see what score it gets on gamespot first. But I just know it's going to be good. Rockstar always delivers the goods!

dominicangta4
dominicangta4

is made by rockstar the guys who made gta4 enough said

geoff-uk123
geoff-uk123

@OneEyedMonsta: Yes, it will have open world gameplay and online multiplayer, like GTA IV. ;)

never-named
never-named

That second screen below really show the improvements made to the RAGE engine. Can't wait to see how GTA V looks running on this!

SamSharp505_UOC
SamSharp505_UOC

@premythous MW2s single player was always going to suck, and although this game doesn't need it...it would be 5x better with it, GTAs free mode online is great, and this game is based on adventure even more so its gonna suck without it. Rockstar managed to make a decent online experience without harming the single player, and I doubt they'll do it with this.

premythous
premythous

@OneEyedMonsta god i hope this game doesn't have multiplayer not all games need it,see when developers spend time and resources on multiplayer the singleplayer mode suffers e.g( MODERN WARFARE'S SINGLE PLAYER MODE)it sucks,so lets pray to the game gods that rockstar didn't waste resources on multiplayer.

OneEyedMonsta
OneEyedMonsta

Will there be a free mode like GTA IV or any multiplayer game types?

keneesis
keneesis

I think this will be one of the biggest games of 2010

JimmyJimJim
JimmyJimJim

I loved red dead revolver and this game looks 10x grander in every sense of the word, I can't wait to buy it and play it.

DPhunkT
DPhunkT

I'd like to what kinds of guns they're going to use, I hope this game will be authentic as possible.

chedarcheese190
chedarcheese190

"Far from Grand Theft Auto with a Western paint job, it has the makings of a unique game whose look and gameplay feel authentic to that era in American history" QUIT CALLING IT GRAND THEFT HORSE.lol.