It’s ya boi “no redeeming qualities but roguish looks” for another episode of Rants and Raves With Aure. I fucking love Red Dead 2. More than love it. I adore it. It might be my favorite game of all time, don’t gaf about hype, or whether or not it’s “cool” to hate it, it’s just fun to play. The controls are sexy, the graphics are beautiful, the mechanics are polished, and the story is Shakespearean (maybe not that good but damn good). The point I’m making is that Red Dead Redemption 2 is easily better than the first game and quite possibly beats Fallout 1 and Total War Attila out as my favorite game ever. Every member of the Van Der Linde gang is fleshed out and human, and when they die it’s an actual “oh FUCK” moment. Beyond the characters, the story itself is an awesome work of Western fiction, with Arthur slowly coming to realize that Dutch really doesn’t have a plan and everyone has died for nothing. It’s a nihilistic romp and with plenty of shootouts and robberies along the way. The message of the story is also beautiful, in its dark way. The whole clash between a dying “free west” and the new rise of civilization illuminated both the good and bad of both systems, giving the old one a mythical tint without glorifying it like so many other stories in the genre do. At the end of the day, both the “Old West” and the new, current system that replaced it are shit. And that’s a message the game delivers loud and clear, without forcing it down your throat. To someone who’s not paying attention, the Van Der Linde gang is just a group of Robin Hoods, holdovers from a “better time”. But if you believe that then you don’t understand the game you’ve played. For all the gang’s reminiscing and ruminating on the cost of freedom, Red Dead 2 makes it VERY clear that the Old West was a brutal, violent time in which murdering a girl on a ferry (a recurring question the protagonist raises about an incident with Dutch) is seen as an “acceptable loss”, showing the gang’s double standard in a stark light. That being said, “civilization” isn’t much better. The Pinkertons and the “Law” very clearly step on the backs of the common man, and the system they usher in is already rife with corruption and perfect for abuse. At the end of the day, Red Dead 2 is a scathing commentary on 2 systems that destroy just as many lives as each other, with its mode of delivery (the life of Arthur Morgan) being just as compelling as the messages therein. All in all, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a wonderful story, a wonderful game, and is worth at least checking out if you’re even a minor fan of the Western genre. It’s cool to hate it because it was the big thing, and doubtless there’ll be comments like “no the game is shit” but I urge you to make that decision for yourself. Saddle up, and decide what YOU think. A decision someone was free to make in the older system, for all its flaws.