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Feature Article

GameSpot's Game Of The Year 2018

And the winner is...

In 2010, GameSpot's Game of the Year was none other than Red Dead Redemption. Eight years later, that game remains one of our all-time favorites, and leaving John Marston behind to step into Arthur Morgan's story wasn't easy. Red Dead Redemption 2 ended up being everything we could have wanted in a prequel, but it's also a moving, often heartbreaking, and oddly hopeful story that stands independently of its predecessor--and that's only part of the reason why Red Dead 2 is GameSpot's 2018 Game of the Year.

It's fair to say that Red Dead Redemption 2 faced incredibly high expectations. For fans, there was the matter of how to follow the original Red Dead Redemption. More generally, there was the simple fact that GTA V, Rockstar's previous game, is among the most successful entertainment properties of all time, as well as the promise that Red Dead 2's open world would be vast and incredibly detailed (including the horse anatomy). Going into Red Dead 2, you'd be forgiven for expecting it to be a big cowboy playground where you can go anywhere and do anything an outlaw might care to do. And in some ways, it is--but it's remarkable for the ways in which it isn't.

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When you first start Red Dead 2, the scope and detail of its world are almost overwhelming. In a series of tutorial missions woven into the exposition, you're presented with a variety of cowboy-ish activities you can undertake: fishing, horse-rearing, robbing, hunting, and more robbing, plus personal grooming and the need to eat. It's easy to dismiss the story missions entirely to follow the pastime of your choice, which inevitably leads you to another random activity or a chance encounter on the side of the road and then, before you know it, to a town far from where you are "supposed" to be. Your choices seem endless, the world impossibly large, and the freedom of wandering through it on your horse is too enticing to ignore.

Even more impressive is how the world shifts to react to you. Getting into a deadly fight in a bar, for example, doesn't just put your own honor level at risk; townspeople will remember you for it, and you will not be very popular. An expensive horse gets oohs and ahhs from passersby, while running into someone with your horse will (understandably) make them very, very upset. The world is both fantastic and mundane, populated by criminals and honest citizens alike, and getting a cheery greeting from a random person in the street draws you into the world just as much, if not more, than discovering a serial killer's hideout or robbing a train does.

There's a point where this sense of wonder and freedom will clash with what the story is doing, and that point may be different for everyone. It might be the mission structure, which often devolves into firefights even if you try your hardest to avoid them; it might be the pacing, which is slow and deliberate and sometimes exhausting; it might simply be the nature of getting from place to place, which, due to limited fast travel options, means you'll be spending a lot of time with your horse. No matter how you're trying to play, whether it's as an honorable Arthur or a terrible one, you'll often find yourself doing things you didn't particularly want or intend to do.

This is where Red Dead 2 tests your patience, and it can feel like you're fighting against the game just to play it. But far more than being a detailed, living open-world game, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a focused narrative experience, and you, the player, are not at the center of it. This story belongs to Arthur Morgan, to the Van der Linde gang, and to the death of the Wild West; everything you do feeds that story. The choices you make are not as important as the process of making them, and that's precisely why the story is as impactful as it is.

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Arthur Morgan is a man caught between two versions of himself: the man he is and the man he would like to be. He's caught between his loyalty to Dutch and the doubt that creeps in as more and more things go wrong. The act of playing Red Dead 2, as you're caught between what you want to do and what you are able to do, brings you closer to Arthur. Your frustration when a mission goes south is Arthur's frustration; any guilt you feel toward the end of the game, when you're meddling in matters that don't concern you, is Arthur's guilt.

There's an overwhelming sense of inevitability in everything you do, which is exacerbated if you played the original game and know what becomes of the Van der Linde gang. Many of the people you're building relationships with, you assume, will die before the events of Red Dead Redemption, and the ones who don't can make you sad for other reasons. But despite that, Red Dead 2's story is ultimately a hopeful one, and fleeting moments of levity and optimism offer a respite even when you can sense a cruel fate is only a few story beats away.

It's hard to shake the kind of connection you develop with Red Dead Redemption 2's world and characters. It's a game that can try your patience, for sure, but it simply wouldn't be the same if it didn't. It's an unforgettable experience that challenges your expectations as often as it meets or exceeds them, and there's no question that it's our Game of the Year.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

kallie

Kallie Plagge

Kallie Plagge is GameSpot's Reviews Editor. She loves Pokemon, anime, and Grunt Birthday Party.
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Externalpower43

So its horse balls for the win. Lol.

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face76

GoW should have won hands down. Just like the VGAs. Which was the only award they got right. Ninja was awful there and there shouldn’t be an award for playing video games on camera. But I digress. GoW was the complete package. Great story. Amazing gameplay. Interesting characters. No online. No dlc. The game was released in a complete state. RDR2 is slow. Is basically a Rockstar game. The template is the same for GTA5, GTA4, RDR, and RDR2. Open world with either horses or cars. Rob or kill people for loot to buy better weapons to rob or kill people to loot. So and so. Plus, RDR2 will be released 2 more times. On the next gen and then on pc probably. So again it’s a Rockstar game. Shit put astronauts and have them ride shuttles to rob or people on other planets and you have grand theft space redemption. There are aliens who’s testicles shrink based on the weather.

Avatar image for No_Intelligence
No_Intelligence

@face76: I had way more fun play RDR2 than GoW. GoW i played the first 2 chapters and stopped cuz it was poorly paced. I enjoy RDR2 because it's a game that lets me choose my own pace. The world was much more captivating than GoW. Story was also much better.

I didn't think GoW deserve all it's hype to be honest. But it is just an opinion.

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Cbordi

I myself would give it to God of War...

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Mozelleple112

A Shame Red Dead Redemption II won over God of War. Don't get me wrong, the game is PHENOMENAL, but I think God of War has a minuscule edge over RDR2. Both 9.6/10 games but Rockstar did a Rockstar and Santa Monica Studio really stepped up their game.

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Jimbowesker

Wow, for the first time in I dunno, maybe ever, that I agree with Gamespots GOTY!! Great choice and I also think this game is magnificent in many ways. Good choice!!!!

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Willowvale75

Actually shocked they picked RDR2 over GOW lol Look, let's be real I enjoyed RDR2 also. But come on. It was not perfect. Too many issues flawed the overall game. Dated controls and mechanics, clunky weapon wheel. Details, that just made things cumbersome and dare I say..BORING at times. Sure great open world, visuals and character and acting. But I got bored trying to do everything in that game. I get it..Dutch has a plan...lol Then it falls through and we switch camps over and over lol

Moral system was flawed. One minute I'm nice, friendly, then I'm murdering and robbing banks..wtf lol

GOW was just more polished, tight, great mechanics etc.

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halo1399

This might truly be, in my opinion, the worst decision in GOTY history. God of War was better, as was Celeste.

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kubiksc

Red Dead is one of the least "fun" games I've ever played. But, boy do I love grabbing a bowl of soup at the camp and eating it as I slowly walk around and chat with the gang.

One time it was like 1 in the morning in game, everyone was sitting around the campfire, I was standing around with soup bowl in hand. Grimshaw comes in and bitches about how nobody appreciates her. Everyone's just staring at the fire, no response. She huffs and puffs as she walks away.

That wasn't much "fun" but it sure does keep me coming back to the game.

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Lizard_King89

This is my GOTY as well good choice.

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rachetmarvel

It is odd that a game, that was not even the highest rated game of 2018 according to gamespot won goty.

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ZmanBarzel

@rachetmarvel: A review is just the opinion of one person. GOTY is the consensus pick from numerous editors/staff.

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rachetmarvel

@zmanbarzel: Thank you for repling, but why do gamespot not use the same method when reviewing a game ?

Avatar image for zmanbarzel
ZmanBarzel

@rachetmarvel: A few reasons:

* Gamespot can’t afford to have everyone play the game before release if it wants to also publish articles and videos on other topics to keep the site fresh. Playing a 20-hour game eats up half an employee’s work week; even longer games take up even more of a percentage, to where a 40-hour game is all a person could do.

* Publishers usually don’t provide enough review copies to allow everyone to play games pre-release. If you want a review out a few days before street date, or on that day at the latest, you can’t wait for a game to come out so you can buy those extra needed copies.

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texasgoldrush

Gamespot, along with the rest of games journalism, just ensured that Rockstar will keep making dated and flawed games with excellent production values.

Instead of being critical and actually calling out Rockstar for its flaws in their game design, games journalism circle jerks, Rockstar thinks it can do no wrong, and continues its flawed game design and direction, while the rest of the industry has already made better gameplay systems and better ways to implement story and choice in their games.

Hey Gamespot, THIS is not good GOTY game design, it is NOT flaws on purpose, or the point of their game. its outdated game design protected by big money and circle jerking reviews.

https://www.patreon.com/posts/thoughts-on-red-22570692

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Mozelleple112

@texasgoldrush: The good of Red Dead Redemption II by far out weighs the flaws. yes there are big flaws but its soooo damn good in many other ways. I'd personally give it an 8/10 on my subjective, harsh scale. But using the BS video-game rating where 5 is unplayable, 7 is average, 9 is good and 10/10s are handed out like candy... I'd say its a 9.6/10 game. (Gamespot would round this to a 10)

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Yeezer

@texasgoldrush: Gamespot and the industry has ensured? No, get your head of your ass. Rockstar has the biggest marketing and advertising in the entire industry. The game outsold all those games in that patreon page he was using "fine examples of modern open world games design" in 3 DAYS! Rockstar and the Houser Bros are not going to copy other devs. They've made it clear time and time again. Judging from the fact it vastly outsold and reviewed higher than those games, it seems like they're not wrong

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texasgoldrush

@yeezer: And how does it get its sales? Marketing. The game's success is extremely frontloaded. Second, its reviewed highly, but it is currently losing the GOTY count to a lower rated God of War (and it just won IGN).

https://gotypicks.blogspot.com/2018/10/2018-game-of-year.html

It seems to me that the wind is already out of RDR2's sails.

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Yeezer

@texasgoldrush: The sails already out? Sill topping weekly charts around the world and already three times the sales of God of War. With all of the glitches people are using to figure out exploits there seems to be a lot of indication that expansions are coming next year, not to just the online but to the single player. Something God of War won't give players. but they happily added four months later a new game plus mode that should have been already there to begin with. Sounds like lazy development but whatever. And with the inevitable PC release will be happening soon.

RDR2 will be relevant for the next three years.

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texasgoldrush

@yeezer: Yet God of War is winning more GOTY awards in both critics AND GAMERS. It goes to show that God of War has a higher gamer acclaim rating than the more divisive RDR2. Hell, neither GoW or RDR2 are my picks, but simply put GoW is the better game.

Monster Hunter World is also getting an expansion and DLC next year, your point? And really, its accomplishments in what it does for the industry surpass RDR2's.

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hystavito

@texasgoldrush: My view isn't as harsh as yours :), but I agree to some extent, I've been complaining a long time that while GTA games are good, they aren't doing much to improve them.

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jumalan75

by some weird criteria I have had more overall and long lasting fun playing red dead 2, but I think God of War is GOTY and was better made.

Not sure how to put it, but overall Felt God of War was a cleaner, more consistent and improved product for what they set out to accomplish.

Don't get me wrong, RDR2 is stellar in many of the same departments and again I feel I am getting more miles out of it, but Rockstars controls are still a little clunky, ran into a few bugs and mishaps...

10 GoW 9.9 RDR2, but it's not a robbery decision for Gamespot to gift the award to RDR2

Avatar image for deactivated-5c2b926b0d74a

Look at the billions Microsoft has made this year, look at their PC and mobile strategy, play anywhere, specialised controllers, backwards compatibility, eating up games studios like pac-man. Holding off flagship titles for launch.

They have a clear strategy for an absolute monster next gen.

Sony don’t have the capital so they will rely on nostalgia but they have already played that card.

They don’t have the capital to compete with Microsoft, they don’t have the innovation to compete with Nintendo.

The PS4 was good, a massive improvement on the crap PS3, but the PS1/PS2 days are over. PS4 only did this well because of the horrendous Xbox ONE launch and some terrible Kinect decisions.

But now what?

What’s their plan?

Why do you think they are sitting out E3?

Avatar image for ember_to_flame
Ember_to_Flame

@nerveagentuk: Microsoft wont go for a monster gen they will release slightly upgraded consoles more often. Sony will release a monster in comparison but further ahead. Pretty sure Sony will survive and continue with making consoles. And E3 is dying, is what I read hence dropouts. Are other times yearly where they can show off stuff. And xbox one launch isn't the only problem, it's the cancellations of exclusive games and other stuff. Sony has delivered beyond my expectations, I had high hopes on the comeback of the xbox but it never happened.

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ecs35

@ember_to_flame: I doubt Microsoft would do that. The manufacturing and design costs of making a whole new console that is only slightly different is high. Consumers won't be interesting in forking over $400 for a new console that is only slightly improved.

Unless they design consoles like PC's where you can swap out components, we'll likely continue to see major updates every 5 years or so. It's still the most economic option with consoles.

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Ember_to_Flame

@ecs35: That is what I read. But how often I don't know, doubt it would be a new one every year.

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@ember_to_flame You heard it here first folks xbox are releasing nothing more than a slight upgrade and Sony are going to have a much more powerful beast, hahahaha you been drinking that pony juice again hahahahah so much sadness is heading your way when the new consoles are announced

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Ember_to_Flame

@nerveagentuk: Are you high? Next sony console is like 2022, xbox will have time to release atleast one stronger console before that. It's a comparison to the last console not between xbox and sony, I mean next xbox wont be much stronger than xbox one x. But next sony will be more powerful than ps4 pro but at a later date.

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@ember_to_flameNext Sony console is 2022 and yesterday in their xmas themes they released right across it play5tation, yeah ok brains,thanks for the update, excuse if i take your opinion and laugh hard at it then discard it, but thanks for passing through kid:

Avatar image for ember_to_flame
Ember_to_Flame

@nerveagentuk: "Back in May, Sony Interactive CEO John Kodera revealed to the Wall Street Journal that the PS5 would not be releasing until at least 2021."

Pretty sure there were articles on this very site saying the very same thing. So If they announced yesterday night(cause I was up til 3 on the morning and I did not see any announcements) I clearly have missed it.

I only speculate on articles I have read. And I am probably older than you and considering your behavior, might even double that. But I wouldn't mind getting ps5 earlier, it is about time to get a newer system.

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rachetmarvel

@nerveagentuk: Their sales say otherwise.

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Ohaidere

@nerveagentuk: any strategy that involves sitting out an entire generation isn't one I'd be plugging.

Avatar image for deactivated-5c2b926b0d74a

@Ohaidere: Record breaking sales is sitting out? hmmmm overall disapointing granted due to the launch but its as simple as that a bad launch by mattrick the clown and his dumb kinnect.Anyway lets see what happens I know where my money is

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GamerOuTLaWzz

60hrs+ in just started chapter 3, still having tons of fun with the game (same couldnt be said with the online part) Game deserves it.

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jcwainc

sure. i say story wise gow was better but over all game and what u can do and whats to come. rdr 2 i support this.

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Pongman75

Waiting for this game to hit pc. I might be dead by then tho lol.

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martintule24

God of war is better than this.

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BabeNewelll

Not my Game of the Year

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Star_Classic

Am I the only one who pretty much put RDR2 down because it was borderline boring? The pace of the game is/was really off-putting to me.

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halo1399

@star_classic: you’re 100% right, it was incredibly boring

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Husker42C

@star_classic: I finished it and did enjoy the game, but it was a struggle at times. In my opinion, it’s verry overrated.

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Squattingpig

Gamespot HQ.

"Red dead 2 is easily the best game of 2018"

"What did we score it?"

"A 10, obvioisly - no question"

"Are you sure?"

"I SAID NO QUESTION!"

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mattcake

As much as I love RDR2 I had more fun with Spiderman and completed it without anything else interrupting me (Rare, as I'm like a magpie and drawn to new shiny games). I feel like I'll enjoy RDR2 more when it's on PC and I can aim with 60fps, as opposed to 20-something too, it really feels like a cheat just dead-eyeing everything and guzzling powerups but it's too annoying otherwise :/

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Kennie_Bennie

Well deserved. Someone had to give it to Red Dead Redemption 2 at some point. Ideally I hope God of War and RDR2 end the year with an equal amount of awards as both stand out amongst the rest and are both on top right now. This year would not be the same without these two.

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Ember_to_Flame

Something tells me the choice for this game was already made before the game was out. I'm not surprised, but I suppose it was either this or gow, not that many major titles in 2018. 2019 however, going to be a war, never ever has there been a year with that many major titles, first 6 months will be a crazy release fest, bet next years goty on gs will also be wrong game (in my opinion :) ).

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Kennie_Bennie

@ember_to_flame: Hell yeah, 2019 is gonna be an incredible year. Hopefully the games will be even greater than the likes of RDR2 and GoW.

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ecs35

@kennie_bennie: Doom Eternal ftw

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Ember_to_Flame

@kennie_bennie: Im pretty sure they will be.

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ecs35

Played most of RD2 and it's certainly a AAA masterpiece. Production quality is up there.

But the fun factor? It was enjoyable but kind of easy aside from the sometimes annoying survival mechanics. Controls were clunky as hell which was bandaided by the auto aim system. The game was mesmerizing, but not the most fun I had this year.

Seems the focus of games these days is more on production quality and less on overall fun factor, imo.