Valentine is a small town at the edge of the plains in New Hanover, with the Grizzlies Mountain Range, based on the Rockies Mountain Range in Colorado, looming in the background. The town’s economy revolves around livestock and the livestock auditions, an honest industry that suits a settlement in the region known as the heartlands.
I walked on over to the butcher shop, sold my wares, and walked around the corner where the main street greeted me. I walked down the main street, greeting citizens and entered the gunshop where I brought a weapon with the money I collected from my adventures and walked on out again.
Red Dead Redemption II takes place in 1899, 12 years before the beginning of Red Dead Redemption. By this point in history, the American Old West is beginning to fade into myth and as the pace of modernization and the rule of law begins to make its way from the Eastern seaboard, the days of living as an outlaw are numbered.
You play as Arthur Morgan, a member of the Dutch van der Lind gang, who is an enforcer within the gang. Arthur was adopted into the crew when he was a boy; it’s all he’s known and he’s proud of it, very different to John Marston who was trying to repent for his outlaw days in 1911. However, Arthur has a moral code that you can define which popped up after I completed the first mission, ““Who the Hell Is Leviticus Cornwall?””
The story for Red Dead Redemption II begins after a ferry heist goes terribly wrong in the town of Blackwater, leaving multiple people dead, including a girl by the name of Heidi McCourt, and the gang retreats to the Grizzlies and this sets off a catastrophe within the gang, and the very first time, that each member except those that are deeply loyal to the gang like Arthur has to question themselves if it is time to leave. The most pressing matter is that gang is bankrupt, the gang had stored its riches in Blackwater, which now means that they can’t get their money out without attracting the attention of the Pinkertons, a private law enforcement who is on their heels.
Dutch forms a plan to hijack a train that is said that it carries a ton of cash, however, the train belongs to Leviticus Cornwall, a major oil baron, and that Leviticus won’t take kindly to someone robbing his train.
As the gang rode down into the foothills, I noticed that this is a very different world to that of the original game and that this period within the vast history that is the American Old West is more lived in and that the world around us feel lived in and real. Our horses make footprints in the ground, snow-covered trees give way to trees in transition. I decided to ride with the gang after taking a moment of riding alone to get a feel for the game’s world.
The gang aligned on a hill overlooking a set of traintracks that crossed a bridge. Bill Willamson, who you might remember from the original game, was down by the tracks setting charges. It didn’t go to plan as the explosives failed to detonate and we had to chase the train down and jump from above.
Lenny and Arthur encountered resistance as we headed further into the locomotive and eventually stopping the train so we could loot it. The security guards who were guarding the back of the train didn’t want to cooperate so the gang had to blow its doors and we entered a lavish interior and started looting the place. We found bonds which were the primary reason of why we were robbing Mr. Cornwell’s train and after the gang left, Dutch told me that I should deal with the security guards and so I did. I let them go in the mountains, they wouldn’t last long anyway.
When the game let me loose after arriving in the Heartlands, I explored the wilderness and walked into the town of Valentine, sold my wares to the butcher, and brought a new weapon for usage at the local gunshop.
I took all of it in, the world around me felt real and alive. The most exciting element was when night arrived, the night sky lit up with the Milky Way and on my way back to camp, I saw people in carriages and on horseback and I greeted them and then continued on to my destination. Red Dead Redemption II is an open world game for the ages. It’s very rare that a game like this comes along.
( Stay tuned for my review of RDR2 coming sometime soon.)