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A breakdown of the Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer

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As with most reveal trailers from Rockstar Games, the first teaser for Red Dead Redemption 2 focuses on tone over gameplay. Considering the developer’s reputation for creating violent open worlds full of cynical troublemakers, the footage is notably absent of a singe gun being fired. So what does this rather serene look tell us about the game?

Here’s an initial breakdown. Let’s continue picking at the footage in the comments.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Wildlife

If there’s one recurring focus of the footage, it’s the abundance of wildlife. Nearly every sequence features animals going about their daily routines. Deer graze, buffalo roam, birds soar threw the sky. There appears to be a persistent ecosystem that happens without the player’s involvement. In one shot, we see a raccoon feast on a smaller critter. In another, vultures ignore a dog as they pick at a carcass.

Wildlife has become increasingly common in Rockstar games, particularly in the rural areas of Grand Theft Auto 5 and the hunting side-quests of the original Red Dead Redemption. But Red Dead Redemption 2’s setting already looks to be even denser with fauna.

Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2

Travel

Horseback was the default mode of travel in Red Dead Redemption. That appears to still be the case in Red Dead Redemption 2, though the inclusion of a canoe and a buggy suggest other means of travel. The aerial views hint at a humongous map, making a train the likely method for clearing long distances.

Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2

Nature

Without the need to render huge cityscapes like Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption 2’s open world is focusing on the majesty of nature, like rich lighting and dense foliage. The land is covered in thick grass and trees, and sunlight peeks through the branches. The shot of a fire in the forest is especially striking, the orange glow of the fire in contrast with the moonlit trees and the stars in the sky.

Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2

Homestead

I would like to take a moment to address a comment at the top of the trailer’s YouTube page: "you see the gta trailers that r so cool an then u see that .a short af trailer that shows only the nature." Worry not, dear YouTube commenter. I suspect nearly everyone in these screens will be killable, because this is, in fact, a modern open-world video game.

But there’s something appealing about the introduction of the towns and homes of Red Dead Redemption 2 as actual towns and homes, and not Westworld-esque murder parlors. Rockstar has a knack (and a budget) for detail work, and it’s exciting to see that put toward authenticity and not the snarky humor of the GTA world.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Multiplayer

Grand Theft Auto Online has been a boon for Rockstar, extending the life of Grand Theft Auto 5 by years. The original Red Dead Redemption already had a top-notch (and surprisingly relaxing) multiplayer mode, but we expect an even greater emphasis on playing with friends online. This one shot of a gang of cowboys galloping across the prairie seems to be a very tiny hint of what that will look like.

The trailer is careful not to reveal too much about story, or even the placement of RDR 2 in the series timeline. Share your findings in the comments below, and let’s discuss!