For Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar Games is touting a more dynamic game world that pays close attention to your behaviour and reacts accordingly. However, it's not just monitoring whether you're being nice to the people around you and abstaining from robbing banks and holding up trains; it's also considering how you look and smell.
Being an outlaw is dirty work. All that robbing, killing, and generally getting up to no good gets the sweat glands pumping and wild west body funk going. And since it can be difficult for cowboys and outlaws to find some time for self-care, it's also easy to let your body hair get a bit out of hand. However, in Red Dead Redemption 2, it's important to ensure that Arthur Morgan is kept prim and proper. If you don't bathe regularly and shave, other members of the Van der Linde gang will call you out on it, even going so far as to take you to one side and stage an intervention. Characters in the world will also react to your poor personal hygiene, opting to give you a wide berth if you're stinking up the streets.
Those you actively engage with may have different dialogue options that treat your disheveled Arthur in a less than kind way. In one of our Red Dead Redemption 2 hands-on sessions this aspect of the game manifested perfectly after an unexpected shootout. We wandered into a nearby camp and, unbeknownst to us, it belonged to a gang we'd robbed earlier. Of course, all hell broke loose, and before long we were covered in blood and dirt. Once we'd managed to get to safety, we found that it was quite tricky getting help because people we were attempting to flag down weren't keen to stop and chat with a man covered in filth and sinew.
On the flip side, putting some care and attention into your hygiene means life is a little peachier for Arthur Morgan. Eventually we managed to make it into town and convinced an understandably apprehensive hotel owner to let us have a bath. After giving ourselves a good scrub, greasing back Arthur's hair, and trimming his beard, a walk through a bar resulted in one patron calling us "pretty boy." That patron was a mean-looking thug so we got out of there real quick, not wanting to ruin our fresh and clean look.
Naturally, this aspect of the game and its world seems like it's going to feed nicely into role-playing. Those who want to craft an Arthur Morgan that is wild, dangerous, and feared may want to let his personal hygiene go down the toilet, while the folks that want the slick, clean, fresh-faced outlaw that is respected can spend time and effort maintaining him.
There are numerous other role-playing hooks in Red Dead Redemption 2, most notably in the way character attributes work. In addition to having health, stamina, and Deadeye meters, the game has "Cores" which govern the way these stats work.
Red Dead Redemption 2 will launch on October 26 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Red Dead Online, meanwhile, will arrive a month later in November 2018. It will be available as a public beta and Rockstar has warned users to expect "teething problems." For more on Red Dead Redemption 2 and our impressions based on the first five hours, check out the video above.