Gabriel Sloyer spent five years acting on Red Dead Redemption 2.
Excuse me for being a bit slow, but after spending a day with Red Dead Online, something that should have been obvious dawned on me. Maybe Rockstar's a developer whose focus is now more firmly placed on big, grand multiplayer experiences than it is the single-player experiences that made its name, and that first made me an admirer of its craft. And that perhaps should have been obvious if I'd have paid attention to the phenomenon that was Grand Theft Auto Online rather than moseying through GTA 5's campaign a couple of times before setting it to one side. Now I've sampled a little of what happens when Rockstar's open worlds go online, I'm kind of smitten.
Yeah, it takes a whole army of bounty hunters to bring in Sean Macguire.
We're breaking from our usual fortnightly Eurogamer Podcast schedule to give you a bonus episode this week - a spoiler-filled chat about one of the year's biggest games, Red Dead Redemption 2 - with Martin Robinson discussing his thoughts on how the story wraps up and more.
Having seen through the 60 hours or so of Red Dead Redemption 2's story, I'm now a dozen more into the meat of it all; the idling around a lush open world, picking up threads of stories here and there, tracking the trails of legendary animals in the wilds or following the rumours of supernatural goings on and seeing whatever dark forest they might lead to. It's the part of any Rockstar game I love the most, made all the more enjoyable when everyone's wading through those uncharted areas together, where whispers of strange NPCs or derelict households are shared online like tales around a campfire. It's where the freedom, brilliance and detail of these open world marvels really comes into focus.
There is a familiar pattern to media coverage whenever Rockstar publishes a game. There is talk about how the developer has used its newest game to iterate upon and redefine the open world genre. There are almost always articles on how various Hollywood films influenced Rockstar's development process. And there are at least one or two polemics that attack the developer for transgressing established norms about what can and cannot be done in video games. This last type of essay inevitably concludes that video games are bad, and lead to an increase in interpersonal violence as well as the downfall of civilisation.
Spoiler warning: this article concentrates on an area of the Red Dead Redemption 2 game map that is mostly inaccessible to players who have not finished the game. If you want to remain completely unspoiled, close the page now.
Will Red Dead Redemption 2 receive a PC version, and if so, what kind of visual upgrades could Rockstar deliver? The truth is that the existing console versions already possess high-end techniques sometimes reserved for high-end PC GPUs, so on the face of it, the options seem limited. And let's remember that Rockstar hasn't actually confirmed any PC version at all - though a data dump of the RDR2 mobile companion app seems highly indicative.
Red Dead Redemption 2 launched at midnight last night and, right now, millions of people around the world are playing. It's been a long wait - a friend told me recently they'd placed their pre-order over two years ago. The reviews, as expected, are positive. I can't wait to play it.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a landmark technical achievement - and the end result of a unique development situation. With Grand Theft Auto 5, Rockstar has already developed the top-grossing title in the history of the games industry - and with that comes the confidence to invest all of the time, money and resources required to realise its vision for the ultimate game. The final product is technological masterpiece, matching and arguably exceeding the very best first-party efforts of this generation.
Last week's Red Dead Redemption 2 reveal turned out to offer more than a look at gameplay alone - it was our first chance to check out Rockstar's first work on the enhanced consoles, the entire trailer captured in-game from the PlayStation 4 Pro build. So how is the developer using the console's hardware and based on our findings here, what should we expect from Xbox One X?
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a truly significant release - not just for Rockstar, but for the entire console generation. It's the first title designed from the ground up for PS4 and Xbox One, after all. Sure GTA5 received an impressive upgrade when it landed on these machines, but it was still very much rooted in last-gen technology. RDR2 goes much further, showcasing many key upgrades added to Rockstar's in-house RAGE engine.