Here is our non-spoiler review for Rockstar Games' latest title - Red Dead Redemption 2. You may see our name and think it'll be biased, but we have a lot of things to say on both sides, so sit back and enjoy.
Our review will include a lot of screenshots from our pre-release copy of the game - sent kindly by Rockstar - but they will not include story spoilers, so do not worry.
Some would say Red Dead Redemption 2 is an open-world action-adventure game - and it is, don't get me wrong. However, what Rockstar Games have created with their latest title is one of the best role-playing games I've ever had the pleasure of playing.
You've heard all about the NPC interaction systems, the liveliness of towns and cities - but no one might have explained the way that Rockstar Games have made it so no matter where you are, something peaks your interest. On one of our travels, a man waved hello from the side of the path to be kicked in the face to death by his own horse.
The first Red Dead Redemption is held high for its creative storytelling, fantastic open world and intriguing narrative - but when you play Red Dead Redemption 2 just after finishing the first game (which I did), you look back upon that almost-decade old title and feel... well... satisfied.
Firstly, Red Dead Redemption 2's horses could probably be considered one of the - if not the best - AI design in recent years. We already know that Rockstar Games spent years designing each and every horse featured in this game and we always hear how good they are but the second you get on one of them - you feel it.
I think the best improvement on horses from the first title was the fact that Rockstar Games realised that the creatures have four legs and aren't limited to basic vehicle turns - they can drift, slide, and do amazing movements on a much better axis. Of course, they cannot do this when attached to a wagon.
Speaking of wagons, the feel when riding on one is almost exactly like the first game - but in a good way. They have great weight to them and handle a lot differently, making chases extremely difficult at times. But that's the fun in it, right?
Some things I personally wanna see some changes to are the fact that you don't have to hold L2/LT over an NPC to interact with them - and by that, let me give you an example. I was riding my horse along the countryside when a fellow called out. I rode over to see what was going on, and noticed that he wanted me to check out a plant.
Unfortunately, I never got to see what the plant was - because I pressed triangle instead of square to inspect and began grabbing the NPC by the throat. I let him go in panic, but it was too late. He had already began running away from me.
It's a shame - I would've loved to see what that plant was, but I guess it's impossible for me now that I've physically assaulted the guy. Hopefully, Rockstar make it so you can't just grab people because you pressed the wrong button.
The camp is the best feature in the entire game. It is everything - the hub for story missions, the place where you can resupply on ammunition and food/drink. But it is also a living, breathing area. No matter where your camp is located, you find yourself making it a home.
A lot of people are wondering if it is repetitive - donating to camp, sharing stuff, etc. However, sometimes the gang gets a cut of money you steal automatically or if you do decide to help camp - it's not an inconvenience. I also noticed that anything you drop at camp; whether it be pelts, or other items - they do not despawn. They stay at your camp.
Amazingly, the camp moves around and has its own schedule - no matter where you are or what you are doing. Of course, it adapts to the point of the story you're at but that's about all you have control over. All the gang members get on with their own tasks, or become social with one another.
I was at the camp one night and it was getting dark - I wanted to sleep so I could get back to riding in the morning, but I thought I'd get myself a drink and sit down for a while with the gang members; who were all sitting at the campfire.
A real factor of everything the game throws at you is just the beauty of it. It's hard to look at all the action in the game and not just stop for a breather - taking in all of the views. There's so many times I've been in a hectic environment but had to slow down to just admire how gorgeous this bloody game actually is.
The best thing about how gorgeous this game is - the fact that you can take a screenshot at literally any second and it'll come out like a pre-planned, pre-scripted photo. It's not, half of these photos were taken literally out of nowhere. It's immaculate.
Now, that's also a bad thing - because Rockstar Games have not made the Rockstar Editor available for us to use. I would kill to make some Western films. Whether this will come in a future patch, we can sure hope so. For now, it's a very obviously missing feature. You can't have a game this beautiful and not give us tools to make masterpieces.
Rockstar have once again failed to disappoint us while playing this game. It's a gory, bloody, extravagant western open world. Hunting takes actual skill and patience, fishing is surprisingly not boring, and the story is wove perfectly - blurring the line between both side quest and story mission.
Activities are pretty good. Poker, Dominoes, Five Finger Fillet - all super fun to play and easily learnable. However, watching a film is kinda boring; it being narration over pictures, of course.
You have to play this game - right now.
Red Dead Redemption 2 releases Friday, October 26 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.