Red Dead Redemption 2's release date has finally arrived, and you can read all about in our Red Dead 2 review. As with any game with a "2" attached to it, newcomers might be wondering if they'll understand what's going on, while returning players are eager to know if the new game will feature callbacks and references to the first game.
A number of GameSpot editors have spent considerable time with Red Dead Redemption 2 so far, and in our experience, Rockstar has done a pretty good job of making sure everybody will have a good time with this one whether you're familiar with the first game or not.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel that features an entirely new character, Arthur Morgan, in the starring role. You play as a member of the Van der Linde gang, the group of outlaws referenced in the first Red Dead Redemption and led by a man named Dutch. Characters from the first game like Bill Williamson and Javier Escuela are in your gang, while Red Dead Redemption 1 protagonist John Marston also plays a role in the story. The sequel provides clues about how John got his scar, while other characters make fun of his inability to swim.
It won't affect your enjoyment of interacting with the gang if this is your first introduction to them, but seeing them at a different point in their respective lives and witnessing the things that happen to them which ultimately shape the people they become in Red Dead Redemption 1 is a great treat for fans of the series.
As far as the game world is concerned, Red Dead Redemption 2's map includes a number of locations from the first game. We found it was fun to revisit these places, while newcomers are also in for a treat to see them for the first time and looking better than ever.
It's at the later stages of the game when returning players are rewarded for their prior investment. We won't get into spoilers here.
Whether or not you've played Red Dead Redemption 1, you should be able to enjoy the sequel. Rockstar plays the balancing act between rewarding series fans and not alienating newcomers pretty well in our experience so far.