I’ve been playing Red Dead Redemption II on and off for the past week-and-a-bit, but didn’t want to comment on it immediately as I had heard it takes a bit of getting into.
Like Lorcan said earlier, the first couple of hours that constitute a general tutorial are actually pretty boring. It does the job in situating you in the world of the game and teaching you the controls, but there isn’t anything particular dazzling about it, and it’s surprisingly linear.
(It all looks nice though, with a bit of a Hateful Eight vibe of cowboys stuck in snowy cabins in a harsh wilderness.)
But after the first section, the game opens up quite a bit and it becomes a lot more enjoyable. There’s immediately a huge amount of freedom in terms of how you play the game - pursue missions, explore character, or simply kick around the landscape looking for something interesting to crop up.
It’s a detailed and rich enough environment that it supports any method you choose, and it feels like this is really the heart of the game: it’s what you make of it. I’ve said a few times that I think the real triumph of modern sandbox games is in creating fully-realised worlds that you want to spend time in, and RDR2 fits the bill. There’s lots to do and see, and it feels like it’s going to take a long time before things get boring.
It’s not perfect - controls are a bit unintuitive at times, getting the character in the right position to execute certain actions can be frustrating and fiddly, and there’s a level of fussiness in terms of the details that goes beyond what I want from a game: eating healthily, shaving regularly and changing clothes paper-doll style to match the weather isn’t particularly enjoyable for me, although I guess some must enjoy it.
But overall it’s an impressively-realised game that feels like it will give out what you put in - so if you invest time and effort into its world, you’ll be rewarded, but it won’t amount to much for a quick pick-up-and-play.
I’m enjoying it as a slower-paced and laid-back alternative to the more immediately satisfying Spider-Man - they make a good pair and offer a decent choice depending on my mood.