"Red Dead Redemption II" takes the Old West setting of its predecessor and improves upon it in every way.
"Red Dead Redemption II" puts the player in the shoes of Arthur Morgan, an outlaw fleeing with his gang from bounty hunters during the turn of the century. The game allows the player to live the outlaw life, robbing banks and trains, running from the law and engaging in numerous bar fights and shootouts. The player is allowed to decide if they want to be honorable or debaucherous, and these different playstyles influence the aspects of the world.
The developers packed an enormous amount of detail into the world. The map shifts farther east from the original game, with the easternmost part of the first games map becoming the westernmost part of this game. The environments range from horse trodden plains to snowy mountains, all of which are populated by a large population of flora and fauna for the player to discover.
A large area of the map is also heavily inspired by Louisiana. Separated from the rest of the map by a large swamp, the city of Saint Denis features the same architecture and style of New Orleans.
The game allows players to participate in all of the activities associated with Old West outlaws. To earn money, players can rob banks, trains, stagecoaches, stores and any of the non-playable characters. Players are also allowed to engage in more law-abiding activities, such as cattle rustling and fishing. The game also encourages hunting, not only for materials, but also for morale.
The game’s morality system encourages players to help the other members of the Dutch van der Linde gang around the camp, which includes fetching special items for them and hunting animals to feed the camp.
"Red Dead Redemption II" also brings back many characters from the original “Red Dead Redemption.” Not only do the antagonist of Red Dead Redemption — gang members Bill Williamson and Javier Escuella, FBI agent Edgar Ross and gang leader Dutch van der Linde — but the first games protagonist, John Marston, returns as a member of the gang he was later forced to hunt down. This gives the player the opportunity to see what Marston’s life was like before the events of the previous game.
The game contains deep themes about issues such as development and feeling out of place in the world. The characters often talk about how the age of outlaws is ending and how the developing society is slowly eliminating their way of life. They realize their time is coming to an end and society does not want them around, which leads to them questioning what will happen when their lifestyle will end and if they will even live to see that day.
Overall, the game succeeds in allowing the player to vicariously live the outlaw lifestyle. Filled with a beautiful adaptive world and an engaging story, "Red Dead Redemption II" will go down as one of the best games of the year.