FutureFive New Zealand logo
Consumer technology news from the future
Story image

Hands-on preview: Red Dead Redemption 2

By Darren Price
Fri 28 Sep 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

FutureFive’s Darren Price recently checked out an hour and a half of Rockstar’s highly-anticipated Red Dead Redemption 2. Here’s what he thought of it.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game that’s been a long time coming. The last Red Dead came out way back in 2010 and I’ve been looking forward to returning to the twilight years of the old west ever since. So, it was with much excitement that I sat down in Rockstar’s Sydney HQ to play a curated demo of the upcoming game.

It’s 1899, fifteen years before the previous game. The modern world is taming the wilderness, threatening to make the outlaws and gunslingers obsolete.

As the demonstration started I joined Dutch van der Linde’s gang hiding in the mountains, licking their wounds following a botched robbery in Blackwater. Laying on the bed nursing a nasty-looking wound to the face was a much younger John Marston, the protagonist from the last game.

Whilst John Marston sought to redeem himself for past indiscretions, this time we fill the shoes of Arthur Morgan, a senior gang member with no such good intentions. Loyal to Dutch, the gang is Arthur’s family. And in order for the gang to thrive, bad men need to do bad things.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is the first Rockstar game to be developed from the start on this generation of console hardware. As amazing as Grand Theft Auto V is, don’t forget it started out as an Xbox 360/PS3 game and only remastered for the current gen.

To develop this sequel, Rockstar have drawn upon their global network of studios in order to fully harness the technology available to them. The first example of this is the way that the horses have been implemented in the game. Player have the opportunity to increase the bond between Arthur and his horse, unlocking gaits and improving the animal’s attitude. The more attention the horse gets the less skittish it will be. 

In order to turn around their ailing fortunes, the gang takes a vote in favour of robbing a train containing valuable rail bonds and we head out into the world. After riding to the railroad the gang sets up an ambush. Using dynamite, the idea is to blow the train from the tracks. Unfortunately, things don’t go to plan. Leaving Arthur to jump on the roof of the moving train as it exits a tunnel. 

Where as the last game followed Marsden on a solitary journey, this time Arthur Morgan is very much part of a group. Dropping down into the train carriage, I had the opportunity to command on Arthur’s men to attack, or carry it out myself.

With the deeds in his hands, Dutch leaves the fate of the men guarding the loot up to the player. Apparently one of the many choices that will shape both the character of Arthur Morgan and the world around him.

This ended the first part of the demo. I was then ushered outside, so as to avoid spoilers.   

Returning to the game Arthur Morgan was astride his horse alone in the wilderness. The mountains on the horizon, it was pointed out to me, were where I’d just been for the train robbery.

A cart drove past me leaving ruts in the muddy trail. The driver said hello. The contextual menu when targeting the cart offered suggestion to engage in conversation or rob him. I left him to carry on with his business.

It was time for some hunting. Taking aim with my bow I fired at a nearby deer. And missed. 

Even though I missed the deer, I triggered Arthur’s tracking skills to bring up an overlay showing the path of my prey. It wasn’t long before I spotted the deer in the distance. I fired, this time hitting it. Following the icon on the map, I got off my horse to find the fatally wounded animal in some distress. It was pretty disturbing, and I like my steak cooked medium. A vegetarian is likely to be beside themselves. Taking out my knife I, very graphically, finished the wounded animal off. I then skinned it. I placed the skin and the carcass on the back of my horse and headed into town.

My host told me that there was a butcher in town that I could sell the carcass to. I also need to be mindful that the meat would spoil if I left it on my horse for too long.

As I trotted into town I passed a hanging. A woman was cry, hysterically. The image of the dying deer still fresh in my mind and now this- a no-hold-barred execution. Red Dead Redemption 2 pulls no punches in its portrayal of how tough life was back then. As I approached the butcher with my dead deer, I got my left and right muddled up, accidently pulling my gun on the poor fella. The butcher ran away. 

Meanwhile, one of the townsfolk took offense and punched Arthur in the face, knocking off his hat. I returned a few punches of my own, laying my opponent out. I accidentally picked up his hat and placed it on Arthur’s head.

With the butcher still in hiding I decided to check out the town. Observing the deer blood on Arthur’s coat, the towns-folk were not shy in their comments, shout out things like “I hope that’s you blood” and “you look a mess”. Looking like a filthy murderer is not going to impress the locals.  

At the end of the muddy street a new building was being constructed. I was told that if I returned to the town later in the game the building may be finished, even occupied. 

Whilst we have seen the same sort of mission structure before and know what to expect from the narrative, I was quite taken by how real the game world felt. The town, as I wandered through it, seemed alive, as if everyone was carrying out their business regardless of whether or not I was playing the game. It was explained to me that Rockstar wanted the game to be as much about experiencing the game world as enjoying the story and carrying out missions.

After a quick visit to the town store (where you can just pick stuff up and buy it or browse a detailed catalogue) and the hotel for a bath, the butcher returned. My deer carcass, which had fallen into the mud, did not fetch me the money it would have done if I’d have been more careful. Perhaps I should have taken it back to the camp for my friends’ supper.

Just like the town, the Van der Linde gang’s camp seems alive, with the gang and their families all going about their business. Tied to a tree was an unfortunate member of a rival gang. He didn’t take much persuading to disclose his gang’s location.

You don’t have to go in guns blazing, the stealth works as well. As we approached the rival gang’s camp I selected Arthur’s throwing knives. Rather than ask one of my men to do the dirty work, I thought I’d give it a go. I managed to take out an enemy, but I was spotted and the resulted gunshot alerted the whole camp. 

The mission descended into a chaotic gunfight. The deadeye mechanic makes a welcome return, making awesome, movie-style, chained shots a reality. With the camp cleared, all too soon the demonstration was over.

An hour and a half with a game of this scale and undertaking is not really long enough. From Rockstar’s previous form, though, it’s a safe bet that my glimpse of the game was fairly representative of what the finished game with be like.

Apart from the amazing visuals, it was the attention to detail that I found most impressive: the muddy tyre ruts, the comments on the state of my attire, the seemingly independent actions of the NPCs. The emergent gameplay that players are likely to experience in the game, typified by my impromptu street fight, is likely to be one of the stand out features. I’m looking forward to playing up Arthur’s outlaw character as spending quite a few sessions just out causing trouble.

I was impressed with what I saw. Red Dead Redemption 2 looks and plays just as it should, welcoming players to a vision of the Wild West that seems incredibly, and sometimes horrifically, real.

Read Dead Redemption 2 is out on 26th October for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.  

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cybersecurity
Could New Zealanders initiate a cyber attack from within?
The threat landscape is significantly increasing worldwide, and the opportunities it presents are a growing concern in Aotearoa.
Story image
PIJF
The path to bolstering supply chain security in New Zealand
A significant amount of today's business and leisure activity relies on IT supply chains. From complex international freight trades to local small business distribution channels, any supply chain that involves IT infrastructure serves as a crucial tool in our daily lives. 
Story image
Digital Transformation
SAP partners with New Zealand Rugby for digital transformation
The multi-year partnership will see SAP advance NZR with its organisational operations, team performance, fan experience and sustainability goals.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft NZ and TupuToa to boost diversity in cybersecurity sector
Microsoft NZ has teamed up with TupuToa to co-develop a cyber security employment programme specifically aimed at creating more diversity in Aotearoa's cybersecurity sector.
Story image
Norton
Hands-on review: Norton Anti Track 19 software
We get hands on with Norton's new privacy tool that was introduced in March 2022.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review: MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI motherboard
It’s all change with Intel’s 12th generation CPUs. We have a new chipset in the 600-series, a new socket with the LGA 1700, and new DDR5 memory.
Story image
Sony
Sony launches LinkBuds S - the latest model in the series
Sony says the LinkBuds S will give users a unique sound experience through sensor and spatial sound technology, even in AR games.
Story image
Jabra
Jabra reveals its latest portable headset Engage 55
Jabra has launched the Engage 55, the newest product in Jabra's Engage series designed for ultimate call security and quality.
Story image
Design
Dynabook launches new Tecra A40-K and A50-K models
Dynabook has announced two new additions to its Tecra range, with both said to help promote flexible working solutions while also reducing the strain on IT managers.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition
In almost every respect it works like a book, apart from the fact that it weighs next to nothing, fits in my hand perfectly, and is soothing on my eyes.
Story image
Digital Signage
MAXHUB's Digital Signage range to bolster boardroom productivity
The new MAXHUB Digital Signage technology is purpose-built to make every kind of team meeting more effective.
Story image
Review
Hands-on-review: Creative Outlier Air V3
Creative is back with the third version of its affordable Outlier Air wireless earbuds range - aptly named the ‘V3’. And this time, they come boasting ambient mode and active noise reduction.
Story image
Chorus
Chorus and Nokia launches first trial of 25G PON broadband
Chorus and Nokia have announced the successful demonstration of 25 gigabit per second fibre (Gbps) broadband technology at the Chorus Fibre Lab in Auckland. 
Story image
Logitech
Logitech releases new mouse with ergonomic and sustainable focus
Logitech has announced the Logitech Signature M650 Mouse and the Signature M650 for Business Wireless Mouse, both with new ergonomic features and capabilities.
Story image
Gaming
Mastercard users can now use rewards points in gaming
Mastercard has launched Mastercard Gamer Xchange (MGX), allowing APAC consumers to convert their rewards points into gaming currency.
Story image
D-Link
D-Link launches new G415 Smart Router as part of EAGLE PRO AI range
D-Link A/NZ has announced the launch of its new G415 AX1500 4G Smart Router as part of the new EAGLE PRO AI Series.
Story image
Mobility
Hands-on review: STM laptop bags
The advent of hybrid working has meant we need laptop bags. We got our hands on two of the most popular laptop bags from STM.
Story image
TUANZ
TUANZ to address rural connectivity at 2022 symposium
TUANZ is hosting the Rural Connectivity Symposium for the first time in person since 2019, providing a forum to discuss the state of rural connectivity.
Story image
Sustainability
The AI Forum helps NZ pave the way with AI sustainability practices
Non-profit organisation The AI Forum is helping Kiwis learn about addressing climate change issues through the use of AI technology.
Story image
Mobility
Tyson Beckford partners with Element Case on new AppleWatch band
Celebrity Tyson Beckford has collaborated with STM Brands' Element Case brand to create a rugged new accessory.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Google to enter the smartwatch market with the Google Pixel Watch
Google has provided a first look at its new Google Pixel Watch, which is set to make an entry into the competitive smartwatch market.
Story image
PaaS
New digital traffic light system to tackle construction defects
Smarter Defects Management launches its PaaS digital system and says it will revolutionise managing defects in the construction industry.
Story image
Wireless
Hands-on review: Steelseries Aerox 9 Wireless and Aerox 5 gaming mice
Steelseries offered two interesting mice for review, the Aerox 9 Wireless, aimed at MMO/MOBA players, and the Aerox 5, a wired mouse for multi-genre use.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft backing Māori and Pacific wāhine in tech industry
A new initiative focused on getting Māori and Pacific wāhine into the tech industry and backed by Microsoft, NZTech and the government is calling for tech companies to get involved.
Story image
Gaming
PNY launches XLR8 Gaming EPIX memory products in A/NZ
PNY has launched its XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X RGB™ DDR4 Silver 3200MHz and 3600MHz memory products in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: WD_Black SN770 NVMe SSD Game Drive
Western Digital expands its WD_Black range of NVMe solid-state drives with the WD_Black SN770 Game Drive.
Story image
WolfVision
WolfVision announces new range of visualisers
WolfVision has announced a new range of visualisers to help meet multiple industry demands for remote learning and educational solutions.
Story image
Phishing
WhatsApp and QR codes the next scam threat - report
KnowBe4 has warned it expects to see an increase in QR Codes and the WhatsApp chat platform being used for phishing and other scams. 
Story image
i-PRO
i-Pro announces newest solutions as rebranded enterprise
i-PRO APAC Oceania has introduced its newest high-resolution mid-range cameras, with combined edge AI analytics and resolutions of up to 4K.
Story image
Collaboration
TikTok launches community-inspired effect capability
TikTok has announced the launch of its Effect House feature to allow its users to create and share Community Effects.
Story image
Review
Hands-on-review: GoPro Hero 10
I have a long history with GoPro; I still remember getting my first camera when I was 16, using it to film Parkour and the day I lost it down a dingey crag. 
Story image
Apple
Apple previews new features for users with disabilities
Apple says new software features that offer users with disabilities new tools for navigation, health and communication, are set to come out later this year.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: The A500 Mini Retro Gaming Console
Retro Games, the UK outfit responsible for a range of retro gaming devices from joystick to full-sized Vic-20s and C64 emulators, have launched their A500 Mini Retro Gaming Console.
Story image
Wireless
Hands-on review: HyperX Pulsefire Haste wireless mouse and HyperX Pulsefire XL Mat
With its lightweight Pulsefire Haste wireless mouse and RGB lit Pulsefire XL Mat, HyperX sets out to up your game and add a little colour to your desktop.
Story image
Wireless Nation
Wireless Nation, N4L provide 4G network to remote NZ schools
Wireless Nation and Network for Learning (N4L) have rolled out the Rural Connectivity Group’s (RCG) new 4G network to better connect three Chatham Islands schools.
Story image
IDC
IDC finds 3.9% decline in worldwide tablet shipments
Preliminary data from IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker has found tablet shipments reached 38.4 million units during Q1 2022, a year-over-year decline of 3.9%.
Story image
Wireless
Hands-on review: Technics EAH-A800 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones
Designed in Osaka, Japan, these headphones just exude quality. They aren’t heavy, but they feel well built and solid.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft unveils adaptive accessories for disability access
Microsoft is introducing an expansive Inclusive Tech Lab to give people with disabilities greater access to technology through new software features and adaptive accessories.
Story image
Surveillance
i-PRO releases smallest AI-based surveillance camera on the market
The new i-PRO mini network camera is now available, with a pocket-sized form factor and full AI analytics functionality.
Story image
Wireless
Sony to bring new 1000X series WH-1000XM5 headphones to the market
Sony has announced the newest edition of its award-winning wireless headphones, with the 1000X series WH-1000XM5 noise-cancelling model.
Story image
Digital Marketing
Getty Images delves into the world of NFTs with Candy Digital
Getty Images and Candy Digital, the next-generation digital collectible company, have announced a new multi-year partnership agreement.
Story image
Dynabook
Dynabook refreshes Portégé X30L series with the Portégé X30L-K
The new model contains hybrid-architecture Intel 12th Gen Core P-Series 28W processor options, Wi-Fi 6E, along with Intel Iris Xe graphics.
Story image
Poly
Poly introduces new smart devices and announces Amazon e-store in Australia
Poly is introducing two new pro-grade devices to the market and announcing its first official Australian e-store on Amazon.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: 32GB PNY XLR8 Gaming MAKO 6000MHz DDR5 memory kit
PNY’s XLR8 Gaming MAKO DDR5 memory modules are designed to get the most out of systems based on Intel’s 12th generation Alder Lake CPUs.