The first reviews of Red Dead Redemption 2 are out, with the open-world Wild West game receiving across the board praise from critics.
The game, released on Friday, is set 12 years before the events of the original and takes place at the very end of the 19th century, as a new, modern world begins to take over the old, exploring how those in the old west dealt with and tried to fight such a change.
The Verge’s Andrew Webster praised the game’s realism and the mission mechanics that fluidly combine general exploration with the discovery of new main and side missions.
“But it’s the smaller details that set this open-world Western apart,” he wrote. “In a lot of ways, RDR2 doesn’t actually stray too far from the formula laid down by developer Rockstar with games like Grand Theft Auto V and the original Red Dead Redemption.
“It still takes place in a vast, sprawling world, and it still tasks you with committing a lot of crimes in that world in order to progress.
“But the near-obsessive attention to detail, along with a new gameplay structure that centres around a family-like group of outlaws, makes Red Dead Redemption 2 the most convincing open-world game I’ve ever played.
“Except for a few rare instances, everything you’re doing in the game feels right, as if you were actually a bank-robber trying to get by in the Old West. Those small details make the simulation that much more compelling. You might be struck by the way mud builds up on Arthur’s boots on a rainy day, or how his beard grows as time progresses.”
Devin Coldeway and Jordon Crook from TechCrunch also praised the game’s details, calling it one of the “loveliest characteristics” of the game.
“Riding my horse along a beaten path, normally near a railway, takes me back to 2010. All the things players have done before — shooting, riding, walking through the world — feel similar to the last game, albeit slightly smoother,” they said.
“The cinematic camera (a page out of the GTA playbook) is particularly delightful, especially in autopilot alongside NPCs leading the way.”
However, they did criticise some aspects of the control and menu system, calling it “crammed” and “overworked”, and a sometimes hard place to navigate comfortably.
Cnet’s Jeff Bakalar was also fulsome in his praise for the game, saying that it has “raised the bar for narrative open-world games and will have a lasting impact on how they are made in the future”.
“There’s no shortage of original, compelling gameplay to take part in and it goes without saying that no two playthroughs will look alike. We’ll be talking about Red Dead 2’s secrets and easter eggs for months, if not years to come.”
But some of the reviews also touch upon the other headlines surrounding the game’s launch – the “crunch” working conditions the game was allegedly created under, where staff worked long hours to finish the game.
The Verge’s Webster acknowledges that it is difficult to review the game without taking this into account, saying: “RDR2 is undeniably an amazingly detailed and expertly-crafted game, but it’s hard not to wonder if a game of this scale can even be made in a way that doesn’t harm its creators.”
Red Dead Redemption 2 is out on Friday for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.