Put simply, "Red Dead Redemption 2" takes video games into new territory. Whether the casual gaming community will be wholeheartedly on board with this deeply immersive, detail-oriented style of game remains to be seen.
"Red Dead Redemption 2" is a follow-up in the form of a prequel to 2010's popular and critically-acclaimed western-outlaw adventure "Red Dead Redemption."
The success of that game combined with the general praise for Rockstar Games, the studio behind the two games, created an unmatched level of pre-release fervor for "Red Dead Redemption 2" this year.
With a Metacritic score of 95 percent based on over 70 reviews, "Red Dead Redemption 2" has found its way into the top tier of the gaming world.
However, the game's creators are not unaccustomed to success, having also made the "Grand Theft Auto" game series. According to a Forbes article, the fifth game in this franchise made roughly 65 million sales.
The "Red Dead Redemption" game series follows in the footsteps of "Grand Theft Auto" in that it allows players to simulate unsavory and unlawful actions.
That the game itself moves as heavily in the direction of outlaw lifestyle details is fascinating for multiple reasons.
For starters, the gameplay is much slower than other recently acclaimed open world, role-playing games like "God of War" and "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt."
The game certainly contains more than its share of action moments, and this scaled-back pacing is by no means bad, but it is a bit jarring due to the depth of detail.
Take, for example, hunting. In most cases, to hunt successfully you need to use a bow, not a gun, to keep from damaging the animal's pelt.
Similarly, because your character, Arthur Morgan, emits an odor you need to be downwind of the animal(s) in question or apply a Cover Scent lotion to dull your smell.
While these elements, and the hundreds more like them, are fun to deal with, there's no escaping the fact that they take time to account for.
Ultimately, Rockstar's unparalleled emphasis on detail signals a shift away from strict action gameplay toward simulation. Such a change in direction ultimately makes sense given the open world gaming genre where the primary goal is the creation of an immersive world that's compelling to interact with.
At the same time, however, "Red Dead Redemption 2" perhaps unintentionally challenges us to ask at what level of simulation should we be uncomfortable?
In an era where open world games are designed to take 100 plus hours of your time, gamers would do well to remember that games are a business and every moment spent maintaining a digital character is one less spent on yourself.