RDR2’s Biggest Problem Fixes Itself On A Second Playthrough

RDR2 somehow drops players immediately into the action while also moving incredibly slowly, but its snowy start is much better the second time around.

Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2 frustrated many players with its slow build and elongated introduction, but these opening scenes evoke a very different feeling the second time around. After beating Red Dead Redemption 2 and finishing the game’s extended Epilogue, players may be tempted to spend the rest of their days taking care of the farm at Beecher’s Hope and exploring the massive (if slightly barren) open world of the original game’s map. However, there’s a good reason those players should consider starting over.

Red Dead Redemption 2 starts slow, something which is especially noticeable if players aren’t expecting it. Instead of a shootout or a chase, RDR2‘s first moments force players to trudge through the snowy mountains of The Grizzlies in the middle of a massive snowstorm as they attempt to lose the lawmen on their trail. Players may even have a hard time picking out which of the frozen, fur-covered bodies is the character they are supposed to be playing as, especially during the times where everyone is shouting over the blizzard at once. The first time a player experiences this introduction it feels at once both rushed and incredibly slow – who are these people? Why are the developers introducing so many characters at once? Why can’t I run?

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After finishing Red Dead Redemption 2‘s story and seeing how things end for characters like Arthur Morgan, Micah Bell, and Dutch Van der Linde, the beginning of RDR2 starts to make a lot more sense. By dropping players into Red Dead Redemption 2’s world immediately, without the benefit of an outside perspective with which to identify with, players must form their own opinions of the Van der Linde gang over the course of RDR2’s main story. Although this is impossible to accomplish immediately (especially considering the size of the Van der Linde gang at the time and the stark weather conditions they are introduced in) by the time a player attempts a second run, it’s evident that each and every Van der Linde gang member has been fleshed out from the start.

Red Dead Redemption 2’s Beginning Is Better The Second Time

Red Dead Redemption 2’s biggest problem is pacing. At times it can feel like a glacially-slow experience, something RDR2’s lengthy fishing missions do little to alleviate. However, there’s a reason for this. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a slow game because that’s how life on the frontier was, and because it gives players the time necessary to get to know all of the different members of the Van der Linde gang as individuals, not just background NPCs. Players not only go on missions with these characters, but they can also play cards with them, chat to them in camp, and sit around a fire at night with them, singing songs and swapping stories like real friends do.

As Arthur’s sickness progresses in Red Dead Redemption 2, and the size of the Van der Linde gang starts to dwindle, players might find themselves missing those slower in-game moments. Once the main campaign ends and players are pushed into Red Dead Redemption 2’s epilogue, it is likely that they will feel a bit of nostalgia for the reverie and laughter present in those early game moments. Like a parent whose children have grown up and left home, the new sense of freedom and open world exhilaration may be exciting for RDR2 postgame players at first, but they likely will miss the days when everyone was together.

This is why a second playthrough of Red Dead Redemption 2 feels so much different than the first. Those early game moments where players were originally trying to push against the slowness of the game to get to the action are replaced with the enjoyment of just seeing everyone’s faces again, and those introductory scenes which were confusing or boring at first feel much more weighty and important, especially knowing what comes next. Completing Red Dead Redemption 2 first is the best way to appreciate the game’s introduction, because every Van der Linde gang member is no longer a random person the player is being introduced to for the first time, but rather an old friend they already know.

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Updated: December 8, 2020 — 5:54 pm

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