Red Dead Redemption 2 Could be the Next Step in Open World Gameplay
Nothing makes a fictional, video game world feel more alive than seeing the effects and consequences of your decisions play out across the landscape. After all, in real life, nothing we do occurs in a vacuum. Sure, most of us aren’t usually making choices with repercussions on a global scale, but even our smallest decisions, like taking a reserved parking spot, affects someone else in some small way. In video games, more often than not, we, the player, usually are completing the sort of tasks that would affect dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of fictional lives.
Nowhere is this more essential to immersion than in open world games. The open world is cast as its own sort of character and, in some ways, is more important than any real NPC you may encounter on your journey. In order to convince the player that they are traversing a real, live world, it must be reactionary, not static. Historically, open world games have achieved this with varying degrees of success: Bethesda, with their Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, is probably executing this the best at the moment (albeit not perfectly), while Square-Enix’s more recent attempt at the open world in Final Fantasy XV failed spectacularly in this regard.
According to journalist Geoff Keighley, who recently went hands-on with Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar Games’ newest installment in their Western series might be the next step in the evolution of the open world genre.
“The pioneers of open world gaming have taken a giant leap forward and crafted what I would now call a living or responsive world game,” Keighley tweeted earlier this week. “This is a massive leap for the industry: A living, breathing world of characters, wildlife and dynamic events acting together.” Keighley cautioned that he only played about ninety minutes of the game, so he couldn’t guarantee that Red Dead Redemption 2 maintains this level of dynamism throughout, but the veteran games journalist seemed extremely impressed with what he experienced so far.
I’m excited too. I’ve played a fair amount of open world games, and while I obviously enjoy the genre, I’m also highly critical of its flaws. I wanted to love a Final Fantasy game with a true open world setting, but after spending hours driving around an empty landscape where newspapers and smartphones exist, yet no one recognizes the prince of their own nation, and where sidequests amount to retrieving a part for a random person’s broken-down car (all while playing as said prince), I was forced to concede that Square-Enix only understood the term ‘open world’ in the most literal sense - the map is big and there aren’t a lot of loading screens. (For what it’s worth, I liked Final Fantasy XV, just not the open world portion.)
The first Red Dead Redemption definitely fared better than FFXV in the open world setting, but I never felt quite the same thrill of exploration like I did in Skyrim or Fallout 3 - the landscape was incredibly evocative of the American West, but being attacked by the same wildlife and running off the same bandits over and over again quickly got old. If Keighley’s tweets are any indication, it sounds like Rockstar has been studying the many open world games that came in between the first Red Dead and their upcoming installment, examined what worked and what didn’t, and have applied that knowledge in spectacular fashion to Red Dead Redemption 2.
Personally, where the first Red Dead Redemption really shined, for me, was in the characters and story. If the sequel manages to keep that level of writing while bringing true innovation to the open world experience, I think Red Dead Redemption 2 will be a game both players and developers will be lauding for years to come.
Red Dead Redemption 2 comes out on October 26, 2018 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Are you looking forward to Red Dead Redemption 2? What did you think of Geoff Keighley’s tweets regarding his experience with the game? Let us know in the comments, or leave us a voicemail at (347) 509-5620.