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  • 100% Completion: Possible, but very challenging and time-consuming. The game helpfully keeps track of your progress in the compendium as well. Doing so unlocks the "Best in the West" achievement/trophy.
  • 100% Heroism Rating: Maxing out your Honor carries benefits including major discounts at most merchants (up to a whopping 50%), access to unique outfits, and a higher Random Drop rate for more valuable items like jewelry when looting the dead bodies of hostile enemies (such as rival gang members).
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  • 20 Bear Asses: A number of challenges involve obtaining a certain number of perfect quality pelts from specific animals, to say nothing about getting the various hides and feathers for the items crafted by Pearson and the Trapper.
  • 24-Hour Armor: While not quite armor, everyone sleeps in their normal attire. This can include heavy leather or fur coats, vests, gun belts (with guns), boots, and spurs.
  • Abandoned Mine: One can be found northwest of Strawberry. You'll need to activate some dynamite to get inside, where you can find a unique knife and a mining helmet. Many others can be found out in the world as well.
  • Absent-Minded Professor: Marko Dragic from the "Bright Bouncing Boy" series of side missions. It ultimately costs him his life as he is killed by one of his inventions.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality:
    • While lauded for having some of the most realistic and fun horse riding mechanics in gaming, there are still quite a few breaks from reality present. It's very damaging for a horse to run on paved roads, run into a full speed gallop immediately after resting, and in general be kept at full speed for long whiles at a time. It also usually takes months to teach one to come at your whistle. Taming a wild horse also takes much more time and effort than is depicted in the game. Feeding and grooming are also much more complex in reality.
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    • Keeping yourself fed and well-rested offers boosts, but isn't required. Outside of a very select few cases where doing so is required to advance a mission, you never need to eat or sleep.
    • Cleaning your firearms in-game means wiping them down with some Gun Oil. In real life, it involves taking them apart to carefully clean all of the pieces and mechanisms while using different oils on the metal parts and the wooden parts, which would be incredibly tedious.
    • While the game does have some inventory limits, you are still able to carry around far more than would be feasible in real life. Two long guns, two handguns, hundreds of rounds of ammo for each, a knife, a lasso, throwing knives, tomahawks, sticks of dynamite, fire bottles, a fishing rod, a machete, two dozen bottles of booze and medicine, horse supplies, cartons of cigarettes and multiple cigars, a week's worth of groceries...
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    • Drinking too much and passing out on dangerous areas, such as rivers, snow or desert only results in you waking up nearby like usual, instead of death.
  • Ace Custom: If you know where to look, you can get versions of certain guns with unique appearances: two unique Cattleman Revolvers, two unique Double-Action Revolvers, two unique Schofield Revolvers, one unique Mauser Pistol, one unique Double-Barrel Shotgun, and one unique Rolling Block Rifle. The only drawback is they can't be modified in any way.
  • Acoustic License: It's quite easy to have a conversation with someone while you are both on different horses thundering down a hard dirt road, sometimes even in the midst of gunfire.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: Although with a sequel instead of an adaptation:
    • Uncle is established to be a former member of Dutch's gang. While the first game never revealed anything about him and implied he's just a random farmhand with whom John was drinking buddies with. This raises some awkwardness as Jack in I asks how John knows him despite growing with the gang, although it doesn't quite go into retcon territory.
    • The 1899 Blackwater massacre was a mere background detail and had no ties to Heidi McCourt or Dutch's gang, and existed mostly to give a reason why Landon Ricketts was in Mexico. This game establishes that Dutch's Boys were behind it and Heidi's murder triggered it.
    • An inversion also happens: The heist during which John got shot and left to die was not a ferry job like it was implied in I, but it does happen and Marston gets shot during it. Instead the robbery he got shot and left behind on was an army train.
  • Adventure-Friendly World: Just as one would expect from a Rockstar Wide Open Sandbox game. The world is massive and you can explore almost all of it once it opens up. The game is dotted with random encounters, rival gang camps and ambushes, Stranger side missions, animals to hunt, and points of interest to explore.
  • Aerith and Bob: There is a noticeable mix of common names (Arthur, John, Charles, Sean, Karen, Susan, etc.) as well as some rather old-fashioned ones that will seem unusual to modern players (Hosea, Micah, Josiah, Kieran, etc.) Given the time period of the game, this is rather appropriate.
  • A Father to His Men: Subverted by Dutch. He certainly seems to play it straight through the first half of the game, and will play it up when it suits him (such as leading the rescue of Jack). He calls his fellow gang members things like "brother" and "son", and preaches the virtues of the gang being like a family. However, the moment it no longer suits him, he drops this charade in a hurry, such as being willing to let a captured John hang if not for Arthur and Sadie rescuing him, then berating Arthur for doing it.
  • A.I. Breaker: Cougars and panthers are ambush predators who can deliver a One-Hit Kill to the player when they pounce. However, if you are first thrown from horseback (which is likely even on a fully bonded horse when a cougar/panther is close), they seem to get confused and do not pounce right away. Instead, they'll circle around you, giving you time to get to your feet, draw a weapon, and potentially kill them. Notably, this does not happen with other predators like wolves and grizzly bears, who can and will attack you immediately after being thrown from your horse.
  • A.K.A.-47: The game uses a mix of real life gun names and Bland-Name Product names for guns closely modeled on real-life guns. Like Grand Theft Auto V, the compedium uses fictional companies as stand-ins for real-life firearm manufacters, like "Buck" for Colt and "Lancaster" for Winchester. Consequently, the first game's Winchester and Henry repeaters were renamed "Lancaster" and "Lichfield" for the second installment; it's possible those companies raised trademark issues. (Springfield Armory was a government-run manufacternote , and the Volcanic company is long defunct).
  • The Alcatraz: Sisika Penitentiary. It's a heavily fortified prison on an island off the coast of Lemoyne. Should someone attempt escape, they would need a means of transportation back to the mainland where they'd be defenseless in swamps infested by alligators and Night Folk. Naturally, you need to break John out after he's captured during the failed bank robbery in Saint Denis.
  • The Alcoholic: The Van der Linde gang sure has some notable alcoholics. Uncle is rarely found without a drink in his hand, Karen becomes one later in the story and, in the Epilogue, is presumed to have drunk herself to death. Bill Williamson is almost always seen with a drink in his hand and is quite prone to Alcohol-Induced Idiocy. Perhaps the biggest example of an alcoholic is Reverend Swanson who's, almost literally, never seen sober around camp. He does get better in chapter 6 and quits drinking altogether.
  • Alignment-Based Endings: Downplayed example as Arthur's death warrant is already signed with his tuberculosis but your honor slightly changes the final cutscene; a high honor results in Arthur being left to die somewhat peacefully watching the sunrise, while a low honor results in Micah finishing him off. The former is considered the canon ending.
  • All for Nothing:
    • The last part of the game involves Arthur doing everything he can with what little time he has left to give John and his family a future. Unfortunately, Edgar Ross will eventually come and utterly destroy that future. Although Arthur does give John, Abigail and Jack several peaceful years that they would not have otherwise gotten.
    • If the newspapers in 1907 are to be believed, the Wapiti Indian reserve had no oil under it after all, meaning that all the suffering the natives there went through was entirely pointless.
    • Even if Arthur was to somehow find, and then donate, say, one hundred thousand dollars, which is a very nice amount of money, especially in 1899, Dutch would still need more money, despite the fact that the gang had more than enough to leave the country.
  • All-Natural Snake Oil: Present as a consumable item which actually does something, refill your Dead Eye meter.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
    • A vaudeville singer in St. Denis sings "Hello! Ma Baby!", which seems out of place in the setting. However, the song was written in 1899 (when the game takes place), and was a Tin Pan Alley hit in New York that same year. So this isn't totally unrealistic. However, the arrangement contains blues elements, which wouldn't enter popular culture until the World War I time frame, and the singer's vocal style is more appropriate to the 1940s.
    • A Mafia boss in the 19th century Deep South seems ridiculous, or Rockstar trying to inject more GTA into their Western. However New Orleans, which Saint Denis is based on, did in fact have significant Italian organized crime all the way back in the 1880s. Existing independently of their more famous Northern cousins, the New Orleans Mafia still exists today and is older than many of the more famous Mafia families.
    • While not available as chewing gum, cocaine was a commercially available stimulant in the 1890s and could be bought from drugstores.
    • Skinning a small animal quickly and cleanly with just your bare hands may seem ludicrous, but it's completely possible in real life.
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: Stashes of items can be found all over the game world. Chimneys are an oddly popular place for storing valuables. Lockboxes can be found tucked under/between all manner of furniture. Stashes of money and items can also be found out in nature, such as in tree stumps and crevasses.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: While the cause of Dutch's declining mental state throughout the game (and into first game) is up for intense debate, there is no hiding his paranoia, impulsiveness, narcissism, and delusions of grandeur. You can see it early on when he out of the blue tells Arthur that he knows he will betray him in early Chapter 2, long before he really loses control.
  • Ambiguous Situation: A bunch of these...
    • It’s not clear what exactly happened in Blackwater. The gist of it seems to be it was going well until they got swarmed by Pinkerton's. Dutch was goaded into murdering the girl by Micah and things quickly went south from there. Javier says it was chaos but tries to downplay Dutch murdering the girl. He could very well just be trying to protect Dutch or Dutch could have needed to do it. It’s also never explicitly said what Arthur and Hosea were working on and/ or how big it’d be. Arthur makes it seem like a much safer real estate scam in his journal but not much else is stated beyond that. It’s also implied that the whole thing could have been a set up by the Pinkertons. Dutch’s speech that can be found in Horseshoe Overlook makes it sound like he knew it was going to be a bloodbath all along but the question is why he would have thought that.
    • As related to above, there’s never a definitive answer as to how long Micah has been selling out the gang. Milton says he’s been helping since after Guarma but there’s other implications he’s been doing it for longer than that. You can find Dutch’s wanted poster at his camp at Strawberry, suggesting he’s been planning to sell Dutch down the river the whole time. If Blackwater was a setup, he’d be the prime suspect and it would mean he’s been working with them for months. The campsite he suggests for Chapter 3 is also a prime location for an ambush. He also wears a white hat which is usually saved for the good guys in Westerns however this could also be a hint that he’s working with the “good guy” Pinkertons who are trying to get Dutch.
    • A lot of Dutch’s Sanity Slippage is left open to interpretation but it seems like a recent thing. Whether or not he was Evil All Along but managed to hide it or genuinely changed once the pressure started mounting is debatable but Hosea and Arthur who know him best say he’s changed pretty early on. His behavior also gets notably more erratic after he hits his head in Chapter 4. Micah’s influence on him is also ambiguous, he could be taking advantage of Dutch’s deteriorating state or he could be the one causing it.
    • The specifics of Arthur’s love life are also left very vague. It seems like he and Mary were together for quite some time, he tells Mary-Beth that she put a lot of years into him even though she knew they’d probably never be able to get married. The picture of them when they were younger doesn’t have a date on it so it’s not clear just how long they were together nor how long ago she got married. It’s also not clear if she truly was in love with her husband or if it was a Marriage of Convenience ordered by her dad. Arthur’s other confirmed relationship, with his son’s mom Eliza, is similarly left ambiguous. It seems like a fling but he never explicitly says that.
      • The life and death of his son Isaac and lover Eliza is also left vague. All Arthur says is that he was a good kid and that he once taught him to fish. Considering Arthur compares Jack to Isaac, he was likely around Jack's age when he died. He mentions Eliza was nineteen, but it's unknown if he means that that was her age when he met her or that was her age when she died. Arthur also calls her "a good kid" which only adds to the ambiguity. It could be that he was significantly older than her or it could mean they were around the same age and it did really happen that long ago. If it was the latter, Issac would have been roughly the same age as Jack was in the first game, adding to the similarities between the two of them. It’s also not clear how long ago Isaac died, as Arthur tells Jack and Rains Falls that it happened a long time ago.
    • The Strange Man is back and even more ambiguous this time. He seems to have made some sort of Deal with the Devil with Herbert Moon to survive the cholera outbreak. One of the main theories about his identity in I was that he was a manifestation of John’s subconscious which is the only theory that gets Jossed. He knows stuff about Arthur too and you can talk to a guy in New Austin who’s met him. Said guy thinks he’s the grim reaper (which is another one of the main theories). He’s left so ambiguous that the Blind Seer, who otherwise gets everything right, says he doesn’t know if he’s “of this world” nor does he know what the man wants with John.
    • Why Dutch is there at Micah’s hideout in the epilogue is also not explicitly explained. He says he’s there for “The same reason as you” to John but that could mean he thinks John is there for the money or that he wants to kill Micah. Word of St. Paul says it's the latter.
  • Anachronism Stew: The game, set in 1899, has a mix of culture, technology, and society ranging from all over the latter half of the 19th century through the first few decades of the 20th century. To note specific examples:
    • Texas Hold'em being the go-to version of poker. While it's possible that Texas Hold'em was invented by 1899 (the history of the game is rather obscure), it didn't become popular until at least 1925. Five or Seven Card Stud or straight draw poker would have been the go-to card games of the era.
    • The available firearms are an odd mix of guns which would have been obsolete for decades and guns not even invented yet in real life. For example, the Carbine Repeater (modeled after the real life Spencer Carbine) is about 30 years past its prime by 1899, and the Volcanic pistol was an obscure museum piece from before the Civil War. Meanwhile, the Semi-Auto Shotgun (modeled on the real life Browning Auto-5) was patented in 1898 but wouldn't be produced until 1902, with the in-game being a post-1950 example based on the reload animationnote . The Maxim machine guns are Model 1908s, here appearing nine years too early. Perhaps most flagrant is the Carcano Rifle, based on the Carcano 91/38. That "38" stands for 1938. It is also an Italian weapon, and finding even a period appropriate Italian rifle (such as the Modello rifle) in the American west would have been extremely unlikely.
    • The original Carcano 91 would have been around (at least in Italy), but in its 1891 form was a much longer rifle than the in-game model copied directly from the infamous "Lee Harvey Oswald" version. The Oswald connection also explains its being available only as asniper rifle, despite the actual Carcano being relatively inaccurate for its type.
    • Shotgun ammunition appears in metallic cartridges, which were more expensive, heavier, and fell out of favor following the introduction of paper shotgun cartridges in 1877.
    • While pre-rolled cigarettes were available in cartons and packs in 1899, hand-rolling cigarettes was by far the more popular method of the era. It wouldn't be until World War I (where the easier-to-ship pre-rolled cigarettes were included in solder's rations) and the subsequent advertising boom of the 1920s that pre-rolled cigarettes took over.
    • The "Open Range" era quickly came to an end with the invention of barbed wire in the 1870s and was all but completely dead by 1890. Barbed wire is extremely rare in the game and farmers leading herds of sheep through open land is a common random encounter.
    • Telegraph (and even some telephone) poles and lines were much more common in real-life 1899 than what is depicted in the game. They would have ran along pretty much every rail road track and most major roads.
    • Milton and Ross introduce themselves as Pinkerton agents acting as lawmen on behalf of the U.S. government. This arrangement was common in the 1870s and 80s, but had been made illegal by 1899.
    • By 1899, bison were reduced to a tiny population while wolves were intentionally hunted to extinction in the real life analogues of the in-game locations where they spawn. Both, especially the wolves, are plentiful in-game. (Conservation and re-introduction efforts have brought both species back in modern times.)
    • While wood-burning 1870s-style locomotives could still be found in the West, especially on short and narrow-gauge lines, most locomotives by 1899 were coal-burners of more modern design. Oddly, the locomotives in RDR2 are still more modern than those in the first game, which is set in 1911.
    • In Chapter 6, it is possible to overhear Dutch talking to himself at camp where he seems to be running through a game of chess in his mind. He mutters "ah, yes, White to d4," which is the Algebraic Notation of for describing chess moves. However, that system of notation didn't become popular until the 1980s. During the era of the game, Descriptive Notation would have been used instead. (Ex. "White Queen's Knight 4".) As an Easter Egg, the move Dutch describes is the first in a strategy known as the "Dutch Defense".
    • The KKK can be encountered, but the original incarnation of the Klan had died out in the early 1870s, long before the game starts in 1899, and wouldn't be revived until the release of The Birth of a Nation (1915).
  • An Arm and a Leg: Powerful weapons, such as shotguns, can tear limbs and even heads apart.
  • An Axe to Grind:
    • Hatchets are a powerful melee weapon.
    • Tomahawks are a throwable variant.
  • And I Must Scream: You can find an outhouse in back of the Braithwaites' estate with their daughter Gertrude locked inside. She is clearly unhinged (implied to be from inbreeding) and has been shut up for what may be months, if not years. And shooting the chains holding the door shut doesn't break the links as usual. You can't save her.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Like with the original game, after the protagonist dies at the end of the main story, it goes through a Time Skip to a few years later where the player takes control of a new character - this time the second playable character being none other than John himself.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The main story ends after the second Epilogue. At that point, you are free to explore the entirety of the game world as well as complete any side missions and challenges which remain.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes:
    • Your rewards for completing the Legendary Animal hunts are a trinket/talisman made out of part of the animal which grants a passive bonus and an outfit (or piece of an outfit) made from the animal's pelt/skin.
    • Getting your Honor rank to either +4 or -4 gives you unique revolver grips: the Cattleman Revolver gets a special pearl grip, while the Double-Action Revolver gets a special ebony grip. High Honor also unlocks certain pre-made outfits in the catalogue.
  • And Your Reward Is Edible: Rewards for minor missions are sometimes food items or tonics. Notably, fulfilling camp requests from your fellow gang members are usually rewarded with items you can consume, such as Jack giving your chocolate or Tilly giving you health tonics.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Averted with horse testicles that react to changes in temperature.
  • Animal Motifs: Arthur has one in the form of either a stag or a wolf depending on his honor level. It first appears when he is diagnosed by the doctor and reappears during important cut scenes as an omen of his own mortality for the rest of the game.
  • Annoying Arrows: Generally averted. The Bow can be a devastating weapon in the hands of a skilled player. Standard arrows will silently kill a human enemy with a single headshot. Improved arrows, intended for use on large game such as cougars and elk, will silently kill human enemies with a vital shot.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • While Arthur is responsible for feeding the gang, the player is in no way forced to do so. They will never die from the lack of food, although they will complain to Arthur if he returns to the camp. You can freely forget about them and do something entirely different without having to worry about them. However, it's worth mentioning that failing to keep the camp fed will result in poor interpersonal relationships with them, which in turn may lead to Arthur missing out on side missions with other characters.
    • As with its predecessor (and GTA V), if you fail a sequence enough times, the game will helpfully allow you to skip it.
    • If you lose a legendary animal pelt, it'll be automatically given to the trapper, you just won't get money for it.
    • Health items can be consumed through your bandanna.
    • In the final mission you're supposed to use dynamite to flush Micah out so Sadie can get the drop on him, but nothing in game tells you to do this, and trying to shoot it out with him gets you killed. However, if you don't think to do that, then Micah will eventually move into position on his own and the cutscene will trigger without you having to do anything.
    • Unlike in Rockstar's previous attempt at the system, ignoring Arthur's basic needs isn't fatal. Instead of draining his health, once the cores are empty you'll only suffer from small penaltiesnote In addition, while in San Andreas you pretty much had to stop whatever you were doing and head to a restaurant when CJ got hungry, Arthur's needs can be satisfied by just purchasing or hunting various consumables and using them from the ever-present inventory.
    • While animal corpses left on the ground or on your horse will eventually rot, everything in your satchel is safe, meaning you don't have to worry about that perfect squirrel carcass or that food you cooked but put away, as neither will go bad if you leave them sitting in your inventory.
  • Anti-Hero: Played with in different ways regarding Arthur, depending on his Honor level. A high Honor Arthur downplays it, still being an outlaw but one who avoids needless criminal activities and frequently helps those in trouble. A neutral Honor Arthur plays it straight, still caring about the gang above all. A low Honor Arthur plays it up to the point of being a Nominal Hero, with the only thing separating him from outright evil characters like Colm O'Driscoll and Micah is his being honor-bound to Dutch and his gang.
    Arthur: Maybe when your mother's finished mourning your father, I'll keep her in black, on your behalf.
  • Anyone Can Die: Many of your fellow gang members die suddenly and messily. Most of the gang, including Arthur, will be dead or have run away by the conclusion, and even more are Doomed by Canon. By the conclusion of Red Dead I, the only gang members left alive are Jack, Sadie, Charles, Tilly, Mary-Beth, Pearson, Trelawny and Swanson (Karen is unknown).
  • Appropriated Title: Downplayed example. While this game is technically the third Red Dead game (after Red Dead Revolver and Red Dead Redemption), since Redemption was much, much more popular than Revolver, the game drops the RDR naming convention of the first game and just goes straight with calling itself Red Dead Redemption II. However, it does end up making sense, as by the end Arthur spends what little time he has left trying to help Marston live a peaceful life, thereby redeeming himself.
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: Just like its predecessor, two guns which fire the exact same ammunition can deal wildly different amounts of damage, logic be damned. Guns with a higher rate of fire almost mostly deal less damage than slower-to-fire guns which use the same ammunition as well. To note a few specific examples:
    • The Scholfield Revolver (based on the Smith & Wesson Model 1875) would have lower damage than the Cattleman Revolver (based on the Colt Model 1873) and a faster reload speed. They fired a lower velocity and hence lower powered .45 round than the Cattleman. The top break design is a lot faster to reload than a fixed cylinder design.
    • The Carbine Repeater (based on the Spencer Repeater) should be the most powerful of the repeaters, firing by far the largest caliber round. However, it is the weakest.
    • The Bolt Action Rifle (based on Springfield Model 1892) should be the most powerful rifle, as it fired the highest velocity rounds of the four. Instead, its the single-shot Rolling Block rifle (based on the Remington Model 1871) which is treated exclusively as a sniper rifle.
    • The C93 Bordacht semi-auto pistol is depicted as more powerful than the C96 Mauser pistol, even though it should be the other way around. The 7.65×25mm Borchardt and 7.63mm Mauser rounds are dimensionally identical with each other, with the latter round carrying a more potent powder charge in its case.
    • The Volcanic Pistol (based on the pistols of the same name developed by Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson) is the single most powerful sidearm in the game, providing the stopping power of a repeater in a small package. In real life the pistol used a novel Rocket Ball bullet design - while the caseless ammunition was advanced for the time, the bullet's minuscule charge meant it was woefully underpowered.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Easy to miss, but it's definitely in play, likely due to AI limitations. Most missions have Arthur being assisted by a group of NPCs, but if it moves beyond 2-4 it's almost guaranteed that the group will only be that big for a riding sequence, and when the action kicks off the number will be whittled down for some reason or other, or the period of assistance will be very brief. The mission "My Last Boy" exemplifies it best, since it is enforced twice. In the beginning, seven members of the gang go to the oil field, but upon arrival Dutch takes John, Bill and Javier to distract the military from another location so that Arthur, Sadie and Charles can save Eagle Flies. The trio are then joined by six braves... most of whom die by the time the group reaches the bottom of the hill and starts fighting; any survivors will likely also perish or disappear in all the chaos. Along the way, the group picks up Eagle Flies and Paytah, and they do regroup with Dutch and the rest, for about a minute while they take out what's left of the soldiers, after which Arthur is aided only by Dutch. The most egregious example occurs in "Horsemen, Apocalypse," where despite the gang's hideout being attacked, several members (Micah, Bill, Javier, Lenny) are inexplicably missing, and their absence is never addressed afterwards, which is made all the more jarring by the fact that they have camp dialogue concerning the attack.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: The Pirate Sword, Volcanic Pistol, various Hatchets, and even the Bow are surprisingly effective weapons, even against other armed enemies. With self-crated arrows, the Bow becomes the most versatile and efficient weapon for hunting.
  • Arc Words:
    • "What choice do I have?" is a recurring quote throughout the game which reflects the fatalist views of the main characters.
    • "Revenge is a fool's game", a rule the gang goes by to discourage their members from taking things too personally. The more the gang unravels, the more they break this rule. This culminates in the final mission in the game, an act of revenge by the surviving members of the gang against Micah for his betrayal and his (possible) murder of Arthur.
    • To the first game, "Don't look back."
  • Arrows on Fire: A craftable item which naturally set targets on fire. Dynamite arrows take this to another level.
  • The Artful Dodger: Saint-Denis has a whole gang of them. During his initial time in the city, Arthur gets robbed by the children and they even lure him into a back alley and surround him with weapons.
  • The Artifact:
    • One of the campfire songs present in the game is the real word "Ring Dang Doo", except the mention of "New Orleans" is replaced with "Ol' Bordeaux". "New Bordeaux" was the beta name for Saint Denis, the game's New Orleans stand-in, before being changed in development.note 
    • In the epilogue, most pictures of John in the pause menu depict him with his normal hair, but in gameplay his hair is a Palette Swap of Arthurs' that naturally parts to the opposite direction. The pictures were thus either made before they finished designing 1907 John, or the change was made late in production.
    • The info card for Wallace Station claims it's in Ambarino, but it's actually in West Elizabeth. A leftover signpost under the map confirms it was originally further to the north, but the card was not updated.
    • The Guarma segment is an odd case. The 2016 map shows it was not a late addition, but appears to have been heavily castrated from what was originally planned. Unused coding suggests it was meant to act as a small second hub — coding suggests you could return to it in the epilogue and turning off the snipers reveals the area is much larger than it seems, with an entire unseen second bay down an unaccesible path. The mansion seems to also have neen plot-relevant. Rewrites turned the location into a linear, limiting, and temporary experience.
    • Tempest Rim is a leftover area from before large amounts of Ambarino were redesigned so the story would flow better; Glitching there and comparing the area to the 2016 leaked map shows there are several roads and even an opening where Colter used to be before the redesign.
    • Jeremy Gill noticeably mentions Frontera Bridge — a railroad bridge from I which connects New Austin to Nuevo Paraiso in Hennigan's Stead — but the bridge doesn't actually exist in this game. This line is seen as one of the many hints that suggests Mexico was planned but cut.
  • Artifact Title: Present on two levels:
    • The "Red" still draws from Red Harlow, the main character of Red Dead Revolver, who does not appear.
    • Arthur isn't interested in changing his ways, even if he is starting to doubt Dutch. The name "Redemption" is thus because of the game's ties to the previous game, and to make the game more recognizable to general audiences. This is ultimately subverted come the climax of the game, as Arthur fights doggedly (and gives up any hope of recovery from his tuberculosis) in order to give John and his family a future, which one could argue is his redemption.
  • Arthur Morgan Is About to Shoot You: The cover might remind you of something else you may have seen before.
  • Artificial Atmospheric Actions:
    • Fish are prone to beaching themselves if you stand near bodies of water for long enough.
    • Certain encounters can be broken for silly reasons. For example, during the recurring encounter where you can shoot the leg irons off of an escaped prisoner or the one where you rescue a woman tied to the back of the horse, you are necessarily holding your drawn weapon. When the "encounter" script ends, the person you just rescued may panic and flee from you due to your drawn weapon despite you having just helped them.
  • Artificial Brilliance: What Rockstar is wishing to accomplish. They realized that the next step in open-world games is interacting with the game world and seeing how it reacts to the player in turn, and rebuilt parts of their game engine to support this. A few examples; note that these happened in free-roam, and were not part of any mission.
    • Rob a camp while its owner is fishing nearby. A dog left to guard said camp starts barking and alerts the fisherman. You are then presented with several options, such as apologizing, threatening, or insulting the fisherman, and your actions determine what will happen next. You may attack the man, the man may attack you, the fisher may flee to alert law enforcement and put a bounty on you, or you can apologize and give his loot back, for a few examples. Additionally, how the fisherman reacts to those options depends on your Honor rating as well as your personal appearance. He'll be much more likely to accept an apology from a well-dressed and bathed character than an unkempt one in blood-stained and bullet-hole-riddled clothing.
    • Ride close to a farm. The owner picks up a shotgun and starts yelling threats to you. Again, the dialogue system allows this situation to be defused peacefully or violently, depending on your actions.
    • Animals have realistic dynamic behaviors and interactions with their environment, and frequently interact with one another. In just one example, docile herbivores will bolt if they see another animal near them running away from something, even if they don't sense what caused that other animal to flee. This makes stealth during hunts especially important, as it isn't just your quarry you have to worry about seeing you.
      • In some cases, this is taken even further. You, may occasionally happen upon a buck with its antlers entangled with another, with the latter having died some time before (likely from exhaustion), or a wolf pack fighting with a bear over a kill. Both instances are known to happen in real life.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • The whole level of interactivity with NPCs won't stop enemies from standing right in the open during gunfights. Even if they are in cover, remaining in cover yourself for long enough will cause them to run straight at you where they can be mowed down with ease. Unfortunately, this is also true of your allies during firefights. Many players have failed missions thanks to their allies (who usually must survive) charging headfirst into the crossfire of several in-cover enemies...
    • Enemy NPCs outside of plot-relevant scenarios can become complete idiots and even shoot their own partner(s)-in-crime. They may even blame you for their own idiocy.
    • Horses in real life are very careful with where they run. Even if just a small person or obstacle is on their path, they will veer off to the side rather than run into anything and will (usually) avoid trees and other creatures. Horses in the game, however, will run face-first into trees, rocks, and other horses as soon as you don't pay attention, sending themselves and Arthur tumbling.
    • Cougars and Panthers are dangerous creatures who can kill you instantly with a pounce. However, they seem bewildered if you are thrown off by your horse in their presence. They'll actually start to run away from you while you get to your feet before eventually circling back. This gives you plenty of time to shoot them.
  • Artistic License – Astronomy:
    • The moon is incorrectly placed — it's on the northern skies, which would be correct if the game took place on the southern hemisphere. As the game takes place in North America, it should be on the southern skies. It also goes through phases much faster than the real thing.
    • The constellations, while largely correct, are also incorrectly placed in relation to each other.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Tuberculosis doesn't quite work in real life the way it works in this game, presumably for the sake of time compression. First of all, only about 10% of people who get infected ever develop the disease and generally speaking if you make it two years without showing symptoms, you're in the clear. Although people who smoke like Arthur do have a higher probability of it becoming active. Even today about 80% of people who live in the developing world carry the disease even though it can now be treated with a course of antibiotics. Second of all, even pre-antibiotics you had about 1/3 chance of being able to survive it so it wasn't an automatic death sentence. It varies how long it takes to start showing symptoms but presuming the game takes place over the course of a few months, the time it takes for Arthur to start getting sick is accurate. What's not accurate is how quickly it takes him to die. It usually takes several years for this to happen,note  not several months. Had it taken that long for Arthur to die, it likely would have dragged the story out, especially given that they were already working with pre-existing timeline.
    • Dutch's horse, The Count, is said to be an Albino Arabian Stallion. In real life, horses cannot carry true albinism due to Lethal White Syndrome. Albino horses are born with non-functioning colons and die within a few days of birth.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: While Oleander Sage is poisonous in real life, its lethality is greatly exaggerated in game. In reality, it would take a fairly large quantity to kill an adult human. Here, its residue on an arrowhead can kill a grizzly bear.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Some liberties were taken with how the firearms operate, but this is just standard fare for Rockstar.
    • The Carcano 91/38 is ALWAYS loaded with a full en-bloc clip, regardless of whether or not the existing en-bloc clip is still in the rifle itself, as there's no animation for the removal of the current clip when reloading with rounds still in it, nor an animation for the ejection of it out the bottom of the magazine when it's emptied after chambering the last round.
    • The Evans Repeater's reload animation sees the wielder cycling the action every time a round is loaded into the magazine. This is correct as the weapon's helical magazine does not have a spring follower, and feeding/advancing of rounds is done by cycling the action. However, this fails to take into account scenarios where some, but not all, of the rounds in the magazine are fired. Trying to top up the magazine in this instance would result in a live round being ejected from the weapon every time the action is cycled to advance the magazine after loading a round, and would repeat until all of the existing rounds in the magazine ahead of the rounds being added in were emptied out. This is best explained in this video.
    • Arthur has a tendency to keep his finger on the trigger, even when he's not aiming at anything. Especially when you inspect any of his handguns, his finger is on the trigger. However, his second visit with a side character, Charlotte, has him trying to aim her husband's rifle downwards to the ground while she's holding it.note  She actually notices and follows along.
    • While trying to find information about Angelo Bronte in Saint Denis, Dutch puts a gun to Arthur's head after catching him off guard outside of a bar, and tells him "Stick 'em up, cowboy." Of course he's just joking and the situation is a comedic one... except he actually pulled the hammer back and had his finger on the trigger. One of the most important rules in firearm safety is that you never put your finger on the trigger unless you're going to shoot.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • The KKK was not in operation during 1899. The First Klan was shut down by the U.S. Government in the early 1870s under the Grant administration and wouldn't be recreated until the 1910s (although a number of similarly brutal white supremacist groups remained in operation in the South), and their infamous hood and robes wouldn't be seen until much later. But who doesn't like seeing the KKK make complete fools of themselves? Since Red Dead is set in an alternate version of the United States like the GTA series note , it's possible that the KKK persisted in some form later. In one of the random encounters, a KKK leader notes that it's become much harder to operate due to the federal government, so they're probably a remnant.
    • When Arthur first meets Agent Milton, Milton claims he's "seconded to the United States Government". This is a legal impossibility in 1899, as the Anti-Pinkerton Act was passed in 1893 which prevented the USA government from hiring agents of the agency.
  • Artistic License – Ornithology:
    • The bird referred to in-game as a "California Quail" as actually a Northern Bobwhite. A rather inexplicable misidentification, given that actual California Quails have a rather unique and photogenic appearance compared to the relatively plain-looking Bobwhite.
    • Little Egrets can be found in the swamplands of Lemoyne, despite the fact that they are a largely Eurasian species that occasionally wanders into the eastern United States and has only recently established a population in the Caribbean. This was likely an attempt to create a less-fancy counterpart to the Snowy Egret, which in this game is always shown in its fancy breeding plumage (in reality, Snowy Egrets only have this plumage for part of the year, and throughout the rest of the year look almost identical to the Little Egret).
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: One of the game's points of interest is a compressed human skeleton completely fossilized in an exposed rock wall. Humans colonized the Americas far too recently for any such thing to actually happen by 1899.
  • Ascended Glitch: While the "Dead Eye-powered Homing Throwables" glitch from the first game has been addressed (it still happens but only in very short range), you can craft homing varieties of the throwing knife and tomahawk in this game.
  • Ascended Meme: You can find the skeleton of the Donkey Lady in New Austin just south of Armadillo. It even wears the same clothes as the glitched character in the original video.
  • Asshole Victim: There are arguably so many to count:
    • Story mission character villains will actually die but Arthur doesn't kill them.
    • Ambushers have a frequent case where they demand a toll, pretending to ask for help, or attacking on site and you respond with a bullet to their face.
    • Certain NPCs you find will try to get your attention, but beating up some NPCs or killing them increases your honor.
    • Most of the gang's targets both during the main mission and companion side missions are these, reinforcing their Pragmatic Villainy ways. Strauss' debt collection missions are one of the few exceptions.
  • Attack Animal: Numerous groups use dogs in this fashion. Bounty hunters who come to apprehend you if you have a bounty may bring dogs, which are good at forcing you out of cover.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The highest level of Deadeye now shows a faint image of the target's vital organs, such as the brain.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Played for Laughs when French artist Charles Châtenay flees town Disguised in Dragvery obvious drag. He gets a fair few admiring comments from people before they get close enough to notice. Being who he is, he eggs them on, to Arthur's mingled exasperation and amusement. He even kisses Arthur.
  • Automaton Horses: Downplayed compared to most video games, including its predecessor, but still present. Horses can take far more abuse than in real life, bond much quicker with their riders (including freshly tamed wild horses), and the required care they need is significantly simplified from real life.
  • Autosave: Present, including during missions where manual saving is disabled.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Dynamite arrows are the equivalent of having a RPG launcher in an old west setting. However, like other flammables and explosive weapons, target NPCs cannot be looted while animals will be "ruined", meaning you can't skin them or get meat from them.
    • The Arabian horses have the greatest stats of all the horses, but tend to be fiery and easily spooked by predators, so players pass them over.
    • Dual-wielding sawed off shotguns with slug rounds. You'll reduce any man or beast to bloody chunks at close range due to the sheer stopping power of your pair of Hand Cannons, but the rate of fire and reload speed is very low, the recoil is utterly insane and the accuracy beyond very close range is poor compared to more moderate sidearms.
    • Huge fish, while awesome to catch, aren't necessarily the best size to go for as only one can be stored on a horse at a time. Even if you have a second horse and carry one yourself, you'll be able to carry a maximum of three. As such, it's better to go for several medium size fishes as they can be stored in the satchel and still sell for a good price.
  • "Awesome McCool" Name: Tacitus Kilgore, one of Arthur's aliases.
  • "Awkward Silence" Entrance: You expect anything different from a Troperrific Spaghetti Western homage? When Arthur enters the Saint Denis saloon in Chapter 4, everyone freezes for a few seconds.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Bill Williamson is very much the same boorish psychopath he was in Red Dead Redemption; only he's on your side this time. He worries that he'll get the same dementia that got his dad and seems to have PTSD from his time in the army.
    • Micah Bell is erratic, explosive, and cannot resist pulling the trigger.
    • Sadie also turns into this at times, when looking for revenge.
    • All the members of the O'Driscolls, Murfree Brood, and Skinners. And how.
  • Backstab: Sneaking up on a NPC with a knife drawn will allow you to perform a "Stealth Kill" in this vein.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: If Arthur, or John, kills an animal, either by just plain shooting it or running it over, and doesn't bother to skin or collect it, he will lose a small amount of honor. Killing domesticated animals, like cattle, oxen, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, dogs or cats, causes the same amount of honor loss as killing an innocent. If he gets caught doing so, the crime is called Animal Cruelty. Too bad that some of the stuff that Pearson and the Trapper make requires the hides/feathers from some of these items. And then there's Micah, and whatever it was he did to Jack's first dog....
    • While honor will still be lost for killing a domesticated animal, the criminal aspect can be reduced by killing those that belong to criminals and other normally hostile types.
    • Likewise, when possible, after running them over, or overshooting them, just simply skin or collect and break-down the animal afterwards, to prevent honor loss. Afterwards, just donate the meat and/or carcass, to the camp, for provisions.
  • Badass Army: Deconstructed with the U.S. Army present in the game. Drawing their attention and wrath is considered a death sentence by most of the Van der Linde gang, including Arthur. However, when they are fought, they turn out to be little more than green recruits handed rifles and sent off into dangerous situations. They are also led by an incompetent Colonel looking for some last glory before retirement who even tries to have his actually competent second-in-command court marshaled and hanged for treason when he wants to sue for peace with the Wapiti. Discussed at one point by Arthur after fighting some of them when he finds one's ID card (a precursor to dog tags) and learns that he's just a "kid from New Jersey". Except when in overwhelming numbers, they're little match for hardened career outlaws.
  • Badass Bandolier: Buying one doubles the amount of rifle and repeater ammo you can carry. Once bought it, Arthur will always be wearing it and receive its benefits, even if wearing an outfit/disguise that hides it. In a nice graphical touch, as Arthur burns through his ammo stock, the number of rounds visible on the bandolier goes down.
  • Badass Beard: Arthur and John are certified badasses and will grow one as time passes if you don't shave.
  • Badass Crew: The Van der Linde gang, naturally. Even the women acquit themselves rather nicely with a gun in their hands.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit:
    • Dutch, though he has his flaws, is indeed a certifiably badass gunfighter and perhaps the sharpest dresser in the game.
    • Arthur and John. There are a number of very nice outfits to put them in, right up to formalwear. Both are full blown One-Man Armies.
  • Badass Longcoat: One of Arthur's clothing options are coats, ranging from waist length jackets to dusters and tailcoats.
  • Bag of Holding: Your satchel, even without upgrades, can hold far more than it should be able given its size. Taken Up to Eleven with the Legend of the East satchel, which can hold 99 of every item.
  • Bag of Spilling:
    • During the Guarma Chapter, Arthur loses access to most of his items. Justified as having washed ashore on an island after a botched robbery forced the gang to stowaway onto a ship that gets caught in a storm.
    • Then, during the Epilogue, John will start with very little, but he eventually gains access to the satchel, which might be the Legend of the East satchel, allowing him to use everything Arthur had. The only issue is a distinct lack of provisions, but given it's been eight years, odds are that the food has either spoiled, or John, Jack, and Abigail ate the food during the times that the Pinkertons were looking for them, and John couldn't hunt, and Abigail couldn't go shopping.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The stranger mission "He's British, Of Course" has a circus performer duo (one of them is a "woman animal wrangler" named Margaret, who's a mustached man wearing a dress) missing several animals needed for their tour: a zebra, a tiger, and two lions. Arthur will go out and fetch the animals. The zebra turns out to be a mule painted to look like a zebra. The next animals on the list are the tiger and the lion (one of the performers adding that they sent one of their best lions to hunt down the tiger), and the tiger and lion turn out to be a cougar painted like a tiger and a dog with a wig around its neck to make it look like a lion. Once the cougar and the (dead) dog are locked up, the performers ask you to look for their second lion at Emerald Ranch. Arthur (who's seen the "lion") at first declares that it's just another dog, but the beast goes wild, and it turns out to be an actual lion after all.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Most of the "Greet-Greet-Antagonize" dialogue chains involve these. For example, Arthur may first compliment an NPC for having a "kind face", before clarifiying it's "the kind I'd like to punch!"
  • Banana Republic: Guarma, a Caribbean island belonging to Cuba governed by a brutal slaver. Arthur and the gang spend the first half of Chapter 5 there after the botched bank heist in Saint-Denis.
  • Bar Brawl: One of these occurs as a story mission in Chapter 2. You are, of course, free to start them in every saloon you come across if you so wish.
  • The Bartender: Every saloon has one to serve drinks as well as, depending on the establishment, serve food and provide rooms/bath services.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: If you go for Dutch's money, then the knife fight with Micah can become this, as there is a wall of fires in the forest.
  • Battle in the Rain: The random weather in the game can turn any battle into one of these. The rain can also be accompanied by thunder and lightning.
  • Bawdy Song: Several of the campfire songs sung by the gang, particularly those sung during celebrations such as after the rescues of Sean and Jack.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Both Black and Grizzly bears are present in the game, with Grizzlies being one of the most dangerous animals present. They are Lightning Bruisers that can shake off multiple rifle rounds.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Dutch's ultimate goal throughout most of the game is to get enough money to escape to Tahiti (or a similar tropical location) with the gang. In one part of the story, he, Arthur, Micah, Javier, and Bill do end up on a tropical island—Guarma—which is suffering from many of the same things that Dutch hates about the U.S., namely workers and nature getting exploited by corporations and the military.
  • Beef Gate: While you can go there at any point in the game, and at one point are required to for a Chapter 2 main story rescue mission, the endless waves of federal agents swarming all around Blackwater will prevent you from getting much accomplished. Until the Epilogue, when you live as a local, unmolested by law enforcement by default.
  • Berserk Button:
    • The half-black, half-Native American gang member Charles takes bison hunting very seriously. The beasts are a big part of his heritage, and he urges Arthur to respectfully shoot only one and claim every part of the animal for use. So when a pair of cowboys massacre an entire herd of them and just leaves the carcasses to rot, he confronts them and guns one of them down without batting an eye.
    • Arthur doesn't take too kindly to being called "pretty boy" and almost beats a guy to death for it in Chapter 2.
  • Betting Mini-Game: Several, including Poker, Five-Finger Fillet, and Dominoes.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: A high honor Arthur is downright friendly, but he can gun down an entire enemy posse in the blink of an eye.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: Colm O'Driscoll, Agent Andrew Milton, Leviticus Cornwall, and Micah Bell.
  • Big Beautiful Man: Arthur can potentially become this if the player fattens him up by eating a lot of high calorie items. Unlike C.J's obesity which is Played for Laughs, Arthur is still undeniably a major Hunk. Which makes it worse when he contracts tuberculosis and gradually wastes away, as you'll be unable to eat enough to keep his weight up due to the disease.
  • The Big Easy: Saint Denis is a stand-in for New Orleans.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Both the Grays and the Braithwaites, despite being bitter Feuding Families, have this in common. Led by an aging patriarch and matriarch, respectively, both families are well past their antebellum prime. The Braithwaites in particular keep a mentally disturbed daughter locked up in a shed and stoop to kidnapping Jack when they realize the gang is attempting to Play Both Sides.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Any time Arthur and John meet foreign people, they will usually speak with a mix between English and their native language. These include Spanish, German, Polish and Norwegian, among others.
  • Black Comedy Rape: One Stranger encounter has Arthur pass by a house on the outskirts of Saint Denis (New Orleans) where a totally-not-creepy hillbilly tries to lure him in with the promise of food. If you go inside, cue Arthur getting knocked unconscious while being told "See? Friendship ain't so tough." before waking up in the middle of a field.
  • Blamed For Being Railroaded: Arthur catches flak from his fellow gang members several time for botched missions over which the player had no choice but to go along in order to advance the story.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: You can disarm enemies by liberating them of their firearms with some good aim. During duels, you can do this for a bonus in Honor. There are also certain instances where you MUST do this to proceed (eg. One particular bounty that you must capture alive, Joshua Brown, will challenge you to a duel in a bid to escape, thus requiring you to disarm him in order to proceed. Similarly, Jamie Gillis will attempt to kill himself when cornered and must be stopped by disarming him in this manner.), and also instances where this won't work (eg. The Legendary Duelists).
  • Bittersweet Ending: Arthur is eventually diagnosed with tuberculosis, and Micah's betrayal of the gang results in leading each surviving member to their state in the first game. However, Arthur uses what time he has left to either help John escape with his family or get Dutch's loot, expose Micah for the traitor that he is to Dutch, and ultimately dies content in completing his goal. Years later, John, Sadie, and Charles avenge Arthur by hunting down Micah.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: You can disarm duelists in the game instead of killing them. In fact, doing so actually gives a high honor raise instead of an honor drop if you kill the duelist. There's even a challenge where you disarm three people without reloading your gun.
  • Blind Seer: The blind beggar random encounter. Giving him money results in him giving cryptic-but-accurate predictions of Arthur's (and John's) futures.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: Gun upgrades can be purchased with parts made out of gold, silver, ivory, pearl, and ebony. Combined with intricate inlays and carvings, you can create some very blingy guns.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Animals are skinned onscreen, while Arthur just tears the skin off rabbits and other small animals with his bare hands. Animals feel pain, and your horse can be crippled. Humans can lose whole limbs or their heads if hit by a powerful enough weapon.
  • Blood Is the New Black: You can get coated in blood through the various fights (or random cold blooded murders) or hunting you do throughout the game, particularly if you do close range executions/attacks or carry a carcass on your shoulder. Also serves as a gameplay mechanic as if you don’t wash it off and try to interact with people they’ll be creeped out and try to avoid you/be suspicious of you.
  • Body Horror:
    • Mangey animals can be encountered, particularly around the Elysian Pool. They cannot be skinned due to the disease.
    • Kieran gets his eyeballs gouged out and head cut off, before the corpse is sent back to Dutch carrying its own head.
  • Book-Ends:
    • The game begins and ends in the snow-capped mountains in the northern section of the map. At no other point in the story are the mountains visited outside of the beginning and end.
    • The first mission introduces the player to Dutch, Arthur and Micah, three characters who'll be there when Arthur succumbs to his tuberculosis. Additionally, the mission ends with the trio rescuing Sadie from the O'Driscolls, while the game ends when Dutch and the player (Now John instead of Arthur) save Sadie from Micah.
    • The first and final robberies the player performs for the Van der Linde gang are train jobs.
    • A portion of "Mountain Hymn" plays when the gang travels to Horseshoe Overlook in the beginning of Chapter 2. The full thing, with lyrics, plays again during the credits.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Various types of booze are available as consumable items. Each will boost/restore your Health, Stamina, and/or Dead Eye depending on the type in question.
  • Border Patrol: As in Grand Theft Auto V, trying to take a boat off the map will result in the boat sinking leaving Arthur at the mercy of the water and whatever predators lurk in it. Some edges of the game world are unclimbable cliffs and hills that are too steep to climb, causing both Arthur and his horse to slide back down.
    • Venturing into New Austin before the epilogue will result in an unseen sniper killing you. Same with Guarma - venture too far into the red zone and if the hordes of guards won't kill you, the sniper will.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Hunting:
      • The game features an absolutely massive array of animals to hunt, incredibly detailed and diverse in their size, appearance, and behavior, but most players looking to either make money hunting or provide meat for the camp will probably largely stick to Whitetail Deer. They're plentiful across most of the map, very easy to hunt once the player has a rifle, graze in groups so the player can usually find a pristine specimen, and fetch a fairly good price at the butcher.
      • The same applies to Alligators. They are extremely common, spawn on the coast just a bit north from Saint Denis, and barely move. If you have a heavy rifle, you can just look for a perfect specimen, shoot them in the head and bring their skin to Saint Denis for quick cash. Their only downside when compared to the aforementioned deer is that you can only store one alligator skin on your horse while deer skins are stackable (up to 10).
    • The game offers a wide variety of old west firearms, but the basic ones handed to you during Chapter 1 (the Cattleman Revolver, Sawed-Off Shotgun, and Carbine Repeater) are more than enough to carry you deep into the game. Ammo is extremely plentiful, upgrades are relatively cheap, and if you're a judicious user of Dead Eye, they'll drop nearly any humanoid enemy in the game with a single headshot.
    • You also get an assortment of various types of ammo for your guns to shoot with. For the most part, the regular ammo will do just fine, especially if you're aiming for headshots, and it is the only type of ammo carried by enemies.
    • Did Arthur or John just engage in a bunch of crimes that now have cost him his honor, possibly while doing the Bandit Challenges or trying to get the Bountiful Achievement? To bring it back up, just engage in a whole lot of catch-and-release fishing, specifically for small kinds of fish - like bluegill and pickerel. Nothing to brag about, but releasing a small fish generates the same honor as releasing a big one, and is easier to catch in the first place. Alternatively, if their bounty in the area is clear, they can go into town, and just greet people, pet dogs and cats, and their honor will gradually increase.
    • Speaking of fishing, both small and large fish have their own problems, so focusing on the medium sized ones may be the best option. Small fish are almost worthless, and you can only transport one large fish unless you want to slowly carry a second one on your arms to the closest butcher/trapper. In contrast, medium sized fish are stored in the satchel and sell for a decent amount of money.
  • Bottomless Bladder/Nobody Poops:
    • Averted in Chapter 2: while getting drunk with Lenny, Arthur has to go outside to take a whiz in private. After getting back to the bar, he finds that everyone's faces look like Lenny's, and Hilarity Ensues.
    • Also averted, as your horse can occasionally seen emptying itself. Of course, being an animal it doesn't care where.
    • The guys in camp will also regularly go off to somewhere a bit more private and pee on trees.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Everyone but you-they do have to reload, but they never run out of bullets. When you loot their corpses, however, you will only get a handful of standard rounds of ammunition. On the plus side, if you have a few of those cool bandoliers and gunbelts, you'll be able to carry hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and that's just the regular stuff. Buy or craft the improved stuff, the expression "Load on Sunday, shoot all week" becomes "When is he going to stop shooting all those flaming bullets? I preferred it when he used regular ones! My buddies didn't burn to death after getting shot then!"
  • Bounty Hunter:
    • You can serve as one by taking bounties from law enforcement. Some targets must specifically be brought in alive in order to receive the bounty.
    • NPC bounty hunters may come after you if you linger in regions where you have a high bounty.
  • Breakable Weapons: Downplayed. Firearms have a "Condition" value that causes the weapon to be less effective the worse the condition gets. Frequent use and water damage are the main ways that condition goes down. You can restore it by visiting a Gunsmith or by using some Gun Oil. However, they will never break entirely, and it mostly affects the gun's firing & reload speed.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: A few in-game currency examples.
    • Every crafting recipe and Satchel can be bought from any fence once you reach the epilogue. However, If you wish to obtain them as Arthur, you have to craft and find them yourself.
    • You can obtain cigarette cards by either finding them around the world or just buying/looting premium cigarettes. Any duplicate cards can fortunately be sold to any fence.
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: The bayou around Saint Denis. It's full of stagnant water, deep mud, gators, moonshiners, and more.
  • Bullet Time: Dead Eye returns from the last two games, crossing over with Super Reflexes. There's also a kill-cam system that shows certain kills in slow-motion, similarly to Rockstar's Max Payne 3. The focus of the camera changes depending on Arthur's honor level; high honor will have the camera focus more on Arthur, while low honor focuses more on the victim.
  • Bullying a Dragon: You're an armed-to-the-teeth One-Man Army who can literally be wearing the skin of a grizzly bear you killed with a knife, and those random encounter horse thieves and rival gang members will still try to rob/attack you. A Curb-Stomp Battle usually ensues.
  • Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: In an easily missable conversation Arthur states that he wants to be buried facing west, "so [he] can watch the setting sun and remember all the fine times [they] had that way." While he dies facing, and watching, the rising sun (High Honor), Charles finds his body and buries him facing west, towards the setting sun.
  • But Thou Must!: Frequently; while the player has a fair degree of control on how Arthur behaves outside of missions, as well as to a limited degree within them, throughout the story Arthur is required to do many reprehensible things. This reaches Meta levels with the Thomas Downes debt collection mission; it's the ONLY one of the debtor missions that's mandatory, compared to the all the others being optional, because Arthur MUST beat Mr. Downes to death and contract TB in the process for the back half of the game's story to play out the way it does.
  • Byronic Hero:
    • Arthur himself. Based on his interactions and the writings in his journal, he is clearly intelligent, introspective, cynical, and is haunted by many things in his past (with more added over the course of the story). Even a high Honor Arthur still participates in the gang's outlaw activities and believes in the philosophy instilled by Dutch.
    Mary to Arthur: "There's a good man within you... but he is wrestling with a giant."
    • Likewise, John, taking Arthur's example more than Dutch's, struggles with his out of place philosophy on life while balancing his earnest desire to do right by others even if he has to suppress that philosophy, which - ultimately - he is unable to do completely.
    • Dutch qualifies. He's intelligent relative to the setting, highly charismatic, is extremely passionate about the gang, and has an intense drive and determination to live out his philosophy. He is, however, extremely self-centered and, while he claims the contrary and even acts on it when it benefits him, won't hesitate to sacrifice anyone or anything (gang members included) to get what he wants. His Sanity Slippage over the course of the main story puts these more negative traits into the spotlight.
  • Call-Forward:
    • At one point, John makes the exact same pose with a sawn-off shotgun as he does in the cover art of the original game. He's even missing his hat.
    • When John is holding Javier at gunpoint in Redemption 1, he says the following: "Now, I ain't the judge, but as it turns out, it's you or me. The way I see it, it might as well be you". In II, Dutch says nearly the same thing ("It was either us, or him! I figured it might as well be him.") after a shocked John admonishes him for drowning Angelo Bronte, changing the context of the original line to John deliberately quoting Dutch.
    • John's signature outfit is a gift to him from Abigail.
    • Much of the epilogue is spent on building and acquiring funding for the Marston ranch in Beecher's Hope.
    • Arthur's grave has an inscription of either Matthew 5:4 (low honor) or 5:6 (high honor). Years later, John's will have an inscription of Matthew 5:9.
    • Much of the things the blind beggar tells Arthur are cryptic, but often end up becoming true. This also applies to John, to whom the old man tells about the first game's ending - not that John understands it.
    • One of the random conversations around camp is a 4 year old Jack wanting to be a gunslinger when he grows up, something both Hosea and Abigail themselves object to. He becomes this in the epilogue of the first game by his own volition.
    • In response to the above Abigail scolds Jack that he'll be a gunslinger 'over [her] dead body' Jack starts his quest for revenge shortly after her death in 1914.
    • In the mission "Favored Sons", Dutch informs the army men that have him and Arthur cornered that they can't fight nature, change, or gravity, before both of them turn around and plunge into the river below. In Red Dead Redemption, Dutch quotes this almost word for word to John in "Dutch's Last Stand", minutes before he willingly commits suicide by falling off a cliff.
    Dutch (Red Dead Redemption II): "You can't fight nature, captain. You can't fight change. You can't fight...gravity."
    Dutch (Red Dead Redemption I): "We can't always fight nature, John. We can't fight change. We can't fight...gravity. We can't fight nothing."
  • The Cameo:
    • There's a strange painting inside a strange hut in Bayall Edge, Lemoyne. If you visit the place every few days, the painting will eventually be finished; once this happens, you can briefly see the Strange Man in the mirror. This doesn't work until the epilogue, however.
    • Herbert Moon, still as anti-Semitic as ever, reappears as the Armadillo general store owner.
    • Bonnie MacFarlane is briefly mentioned in a love letter that can be retrieved off a corpse on a beach.
    • Harold MacDougal is mentioned a few times in a newspaper article and a side mission.
    • Nigel West Dickens is name dropped in an article praising his wares in the final newspaper.
    • Both the sheriff of Valentine and Arthur name drop Landon Rickets.
    • The player can stumble on a crashed flying machine in New Austin. Close inspection shows that "Charles Kinnear," the guy who John helped build another flying machine in the first game as part of a side quest, is written on the side of it.
    • Archer Fordham makes an appearance during the credits montage, having tracked the Marstons to Beecher's Hope with Edgar Ross.
  • Camera Lock-On: Can be used to talk to NPCs this time, much like the Trope Codifier. Using it gives you the option to press different buttons to chose different dialog options.
  • Camera Perspective Switch: You can freely switch between third-person and first-person POV, just like the eighth-generation port of Grand Theft Auto V.
  • Camera Screw: Cougar and Wolf attacks cause the camera to follow them for a few seconds. Unfortunately, it overrides all other camera control (at least in free aim mode), so before you get the chance to fire back you'll probably be mauled by said animal or it's friends.
  • Camp Cook: Pearson for the Van der Linde gang. He was a former U.S. Navy cook before joining the gang. Based on in-game comments, his culinary skills leave a lot to be desired.
  • Cap: One is present for Honor. Once you've reached maximum Honor, any further honorable deeds will not be counted toward it. Unfortunately, this means that a single dishonorable deed, even if unintentional such as accidentally shooting a horse during a shootout, will cause your Honor to drop one level. Somewhat mitigated thanks to the Easily Forgiven nature of the game, as you can make it back up quickly by greeting some NPCs or by doing some catch-and-release fishing.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Colm O'Driscoll. Unlike Dutch, or even the other gang leaders who have clear goals behind their disposable actions, Colm murders, steals, and rapes because he enjoys it. He makes the fact that he's a villain abundantly clear and makes no claims to the contrary.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Uncle would have you believe that his lumbago is this. Ultimately subverted in that there are implications of him being something of a lazy drunk even in his youth.
  • Cash Gate: One occurs in Chapter 2 when a main story mission to rescue Micah from the Strawberry jail results in a $300 bounty in West Elizabeth. Paying it off right away can be financially crippling so early in the game, but not doing so leaves you at the mercy of respawning groups of bounty hunters when in West Elizabeth. Ultimately Downplayed, as you can continue with the main mission without much trouble if you don't pay it, but hunting and completing Stranger missions set in West Elizabeth become more challenging if you do not.
  • Cassandra Truth: Arthur can run into a crazed man in St. Denis that is distributing pamphlets describing the industrial revolution's potential effects on the environment. While he is raving mad, he's not entirely wrong.
    • In the 'Wisdom of the Elders' questline even after Arthur finds proof that the 'darkness' the town is experiencing is from lead and arsenic poisoning caused by runoff from a nearby mine and the Magical Native American who's been 'helping' them is a conman sent by the mining company to get the townsfolk to waive their right to sue, the people of Butchers Creek still believe their problems are supernatural in nature.
  • Catchphrase: Dutch has two - "I have a plan" and variations of "have faith".
  • Cave Behind the Falls: Several waterfalls have them. A couple have hidden treasures as long as you've found the appropriate Treasure Maps.
  • Central Theme:
    • Underestimation. Just about every major character decides something is less of a threat than it actually is, and pays dearly for it every time. Examples include Catherine Braitwaithe underestimating how violent and skilled Dutch and his men could be, Angelo Bronte underestimating how smart and vengeful they could be, Arthur underestimating how insane Dutch really is, and so on. On a larger thematic level, this applies to the entirety of the playable area, as just about everyone underestimates how much civilization will really change things, and in particular how things like outlaws will be wiped out.
    • Loyalty. The game is especially concerned with duties that stem from loyalty and how it can be a destructive, paralyzing force. Arthur aggravates his sickness because of the love and responsibility he feels over his gang, particularly the Marstons and the women; John mans up to retire from gunslinging out of loyalty to his wife and son. The various antagonist's underlings have no real attachment to their bosses, but they still follow them to their dooms. Finally, the gang ultimately falls apart because of the members' loyalty to Dutch. Bill and Javier refuse to entertain the idea that Dutch can be wrong, which feeds his obsessions; Arthur, Hosea and John don't stand up to him out of loyalty until it's too late.
    • Redemption: Arthur has made some very bad choices in his life that inevitably come crashing down on him. He's been an outlaw for as long as he can remember, he's ruined his relationships with the only people he cares about outside the gang (Mary and his son, mostly), and he's got a nasty temper. However, underneath it all he's a guy who's stuck in a life he has no real love for that he can't get out of and wants better for himself. He truly loves people and is loyal to a fault. It's not until Dutch goes off the deep end and he gets sick that he truly realizes he can be better. He does everything in his power to get John, Abigail, and Jack out even though he's knocking on death's door. He ultimately has to pay for his life with it but he gets there. His actions here also are an echo to I where John similarly finds it in his own death for Abigail and Jack's sakes. It's implied that Jack was able to live a normal life eventually, which is the crux of what both Arthur and John wanted for him.
  • Character Customization: The player can combine various pieces of clothing, and you can change the saddle of your horse. Arthur's hair and beard grow in gameplay, and you cut both to specific styles, and even apply pomade. Depending on how much you eat, Arthur will also either lose or gain weight that affects your stamina.
  • Chekhov's Gun: One of the earlier, routine missions ends up having some bigger implications to the story. Specifically, the mission where Arthur beats Thomas Downes for a loan received from Mr. Strauss results in him contracting tuberculosis, which he doesn't receive an official diagnosis for until late Chapter 5. Mixed with a bit of Interface Spoiler as unlike the other missions that Mr. Strauss gives you, the one involving Thomas Downes is a mandatory story mission as opposed to a sidequest.
  • Cherry Tapping: You can intentionally use weak weapons like the Varmint Rifle to torture and humiliate enemies.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: As a part of the game being Bloodier and Gorier, headshots with powerful weapons can result in kills that fall under this rule. Walking up to someone and firing a Sawed-Off Shotgun in their face, for example, works wonders.
  • Circle of Standing Stones: Cotarra Springs has a variant with a circle of stacked stones. They are involved with one of the Treasure Map missions.
  • City Guards: The Saint Denis police. They factor into several missions (typically needing to be avoided), are decently well-equipped (even having police wagons), and seem to be infinite in number.
  • City Slicker:
    • Albert Mason is a photographer out to capture the beauty of the Old West's wilderness before it is spoiled. As seen in the recurring encounters, he is utterly clueless about the dangers posed...
    • Josiah Trelawny is a pseudo member of the Van der Linde gang and is much more at home scamming other city slickers than gunslinging in the untamed west.
  • Clairvoyant Security Force: No matter how far out into the wilderness you are, witnesses to a crime can report it to the law within a minute. Patrols will then swarm the roads during the search phase seemingly from thin air.
  • Climax Boss: Micah serves as the final enemy Arthur will have to fight before, depending on his honor, he either succumbs to tuberculosis or gets murdered by him.
  • Clothing Damage: A decidedly not-for-Fanservice version is present. Your clothing can become stained with mud or blood. Bullet holes and knife slashes can appear after taking those types of damage. If you survive an attack from a cougar or grizzly bear, claw marks may appear on your back. Switching outfits and then switching back will return your clothes to proper condition.
  • Coins for the Dead: At the very beginning, Davey Callender dies from his injures sustained in the Blackwater Massacre after the Van der Linde gang has reached Colter, and they have to put two coins on his eyes as an assurance that the dead have to pay The Ferryman before they can move onto the afterlife.
  • Collection Sidequest: Numerous examples, including dinosaur bone locations, certain perfect animal specimens, certain bird feathers, and more. Many of the Challenges also play out similar to this trope, such as collecting one of every kind of herb/plant in the game and breaking one of every wild horse breed. Finally, those going for 100% Completion will need to collect hundreds of examples of animal skins, bird feathers, and carcasses to complete every outfit and craft every item.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Excepting cases where it is required by a mission, you are perfectly free to draw a knife or gun during a fist fight and use it. You'll likely lose some Honor depending on the situation and may attract the attention of the law, but it's better than getting overwhelmed.
    • The context-sensitive nature of close quarters combat can lead to this. If an enemy closes in on you, you may find your character striking them with a gun stock or Pistol Whipping them. Other situations may involve you forcing the barrel of a rifle or shotgun into their torso and pulling the trigger. If you are taken down by a grizzly bear, you'll have a brief window where you can draw your knife and stab the beast while it mauls you, potentially getting it to back off or killing it outright.
  • Commonplace Rare:
    • Aside from Moonshine, which can be bought from a fence, nearly every other crafting ingredient needs to be harvested in the wild. This includes things like Animal Fat and the hides of domestic animals that logically should be for sale at a butcher.
    • Every single companion request item needs to to be found during gameplay. None of them are items that should be rare or unusual, but you can't even buy a book from the bookstore in Saint Denis.
  • Companion-Specific Sidequest: These will pop up around camp for your fellow gang members. Examples including going hunting or fishing with a specific companion, playing games like poker, dominoes, or five-finger fillet, or going on unofficial missions to rob stage coaches, homesteads, or livestock. The better the morale is around camp, the more likely these are to appear. They are also only available temporarily, and if you don't complete them soon enough, they can disappear. Naturally, another factor that can cause them to become unavailable is if the quest giving companion is killed as part of the story. While the robbery-based examples can earn you some money, they exist mostly to flesh out many of your fellow gang members who otherwise don't get much direct interaction with Arthur (and thus the player).
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: In several cases, descriptions of items in your inventory differ from the onscreen "tips" and sometimes both differ from what is stated in the compendium. Fishing bait/lures are a notable example, with the types of fish its good at catching and even where to use it (crossing over with Non-Indicative Name in the case of the lures) changing depending on where you are reading.
  • Context-Sensitive Button: Almost all buttons have differing functionality depending on where you are and what you are doing. For example, the same button is used for mounting your horse as for skinning an animal carcass. If your horse is too close while you're trying to skin an animal, a slight change in your positioning can lead to accidentally mounting your horse instead. Similarly, the same button is used for drawing/holstering your weapon as for drawing an additional weapon off of your horse. This can lead to you looking more threatening than intended when approaching a neutral stranger if you go to holster after hopping off of your horse but instead draw another gun. The button to mount your horse is also the melee button so if you're not facing the right way when trying to get on your horse, you can very easily choke someone and get the law on you. This happens in the towns a lot, especially Saint Denis.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!:
    • During missions, if you linger too long by, say, looting bodies, your fellow gang members will tell you to hurry up and repeat what you are supposed to do next.
    • In between certain missions, this will happen to you at camp. One of your fellow gang members, often Dutch, will try to get your attention to start the next mission and sometimes resorts to outright yelling "Arthur, get over here!"
    • After at least one mission, if you take too long before reporting to Dutch Charles will track you down and ask you when you're coming back to camp.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In the original Red Dead Redemption, there are mentions of a massacre that took place in 1899 in Blackwater city, which killed many, lawmen and criminal alike. This event was the reason Landon Ricketts decided to flee to Mexico, and may have killed one of Bonnie MacFarlane's brothers (who died in 1899 from a head shot). The fact that Dutch's gang is on the run after a botched robbery in Blackwater implies they caused it, accidentally or not.
    • Several pre-order and Special Edition bonuses are themed after Nuevo Paraiso, a playable Mexican region from the previous game.
    • In the first game, if you had John Marston fight wolves with only a knife, one thing he might shout was, "How do you think I got these scars!?" This game features an early mission where Arthur and Javier go searching for John who it turns out got attacked by wolves, and thus got his scars.
    • Similarly to the above, a few lines from the previous game (and the eyepatch on one of his optional outfits) implied John was blind in an eye. After Arthur rescues him, he has a bandage over an eye while recovering, seemingly confirming said blindness.
    • You can occasionally hear bits of the leitmotif from the first game when John is around.
    • In the first game Dutch gives a speech to John during Ross' raid on his fort about how you can't fight your nature, yet he has dedicated his entire life to fighting against his circumstances; both external and internal. One other thing he mentions is how you can't fight gravity foreshadowing that he's gonna jump to his death, rather than be shot by John. Here in the prequel Dutch makes a similar speech, while he and Arthur are at gun point by a host of lawmen and makes a similar allusion to gravity; except this time there is water below him, and his submission to gravity actually saves his life rather than ending it.
    • Red Harlow gets mentioned by name again by an ex-bounty hunter you can find in the wilderness.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • In the first game, John at several points describes himself as being only "semi-literate", and he and Abigail rely on their better-educated son to read complicated documents. In the epilogue, his entries in Arthur's journal are, while not as eloquent as Arthur's, well-written and perfectly legible. Although it can be taken as a combination of John still depending on lines to write on (most of his journal entries have self-drawn writing lines), making more mistakes than Arthur, and not being one for leisurely reading.
    • Also in the first game, John implies that no one in his gang cared about him and left him for dead first chance they got — in this game Arthur Morgan uses the last days of his life to ensure the Marston family can have a chance to escape and live a better life.
    • The Strange Man implied that the robbery where John was shot and left for dead was the same ferry job where Dutch shot Heidi McCourt. In II, said ferry job happens just before the game even starts, and while it's mentioned that John did take a bullet during it, he still manages to escape with the gang.
    • John's dead daughter is never seen nor referenced. It's unlikely she was born before Jack since John has issues believing Jack is his kid, and she cannot have been born after the gang breaks up since Javier knows about hernote . It is possible that Javier just assumed that John would have more kids and that she lived and died during the Time Skip from 1899 to 1907 or died sometime between 1907 to 1911, but it's not explained in-game. However, using the "sleep" function in Beecher's hope may trigger a cutscene of John and Abigail making small talk on the bed, and once the game returns they both are in their underwear regardless of what you were wearing beforehand implying they had sex. Considering that contraceptives weren't really a thing in the Wild West, it's not too farfetched to think of it as a nod to her.
    • Venturing out to New Austin in the epilogue (which, it should be noted, is completely optional, save for a single story mission that takes place near the state's outskirts in Hennigan's Stead and one side quest in Rio Bravo) makes no real sense, as John implied in Redemption 1 that he's never been in the area, seemed unfamiliar with the MacFarlane Ranch and Armadillo, and needed an escort to Fort Mercer. It's been speculated that the existence of New Austin in II at all is mainly for the multiplayer portion.
    • Speaking of New Austin, when it becomes available, the barn in MacFarlane's farm is absent. It's an error because Bonnie mentions in I that Drew built it while she was just a little girl. The epilogue takes place in 1907, meaning that she was at least 26 when it was built.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Dutch's gang numbers at nearly two-dozen people, of which only about half are dedicated fighters, including Dutch and Arthur. They're often pitted against overwhelming numbers of government agents and rival gangs like the O'Driscolls. In addition, the gang very rarely sends all of their fighters out at the same time, usually going out in pairs or in groups of four. Dutch attributes their success against such disparity in numbers to their familial bonds, which give them greater motivation to fight over the thugs who are only in it for the money.
  • Continuing Is Painful: Steps are taken to heavily downplay this trope. If you die during a mission or otherwise fail, you get the option of returning to the last "checkpoint" so that you don't have to start from the beginning. If you die during free roam, you'll respawn with a small monetary penalty. In both cases, any corpses in the immediate area despawn, so you won't be able to loot them (if human) or skin them (if animals). If you die during an "encounter", it will no longer be present and you'll have to wait for it to reoccur. Perhaps the most painful thing about continuing is that you lose any pelts and animal carcasses stored on your horse. This includes Legendary animals, however, their pelts will automatically go to the trapper for crafting, you just lose out on the money you would have gotten for selling them.
  • Controllable Helplessness: At several points in the story, you'll find yourself bound in some way. In each case, you can look around and struggle against your restraints before getting the opportunity to escape.
  • Convenient Questing:
    • Played straight for most main story missions. They typically take place relatively close to the gang's camp or the nearest town.
    • Side missions frequently avert it. For example, one of Strauss' Chapter 2 debt collection missions sends you into the mountains north of Strawberry. Another Chapter 2 side mission, "The Noblest of Men, and a Woman", has you track down four retired duelists who all live far from Valentine.
  • Cool Helmet: The Viking Helmet, which you can loot from an old Viking tomb.
  • Cool Horse: You'll become attached to your horses and start to feel this way about all of them as you bond with them, but a few truly qualify:
    • The White Arabian can be found and tamed as early as Chapter 2 west of Lake Isabella. She's better than any horse you can buy for several chapters, and comparable horses cost over $1000.
    • "The Count" is Dutch's Albino Arabian Stallion. He has elite stats across the board and bucks off anyone who tries to ride him besides Dutch. Fun fact, horses are unable to carry true albinism, making The Count (literally) impossibly cool.
  • Cool Mask: Several can be acquired or purchased ranging from an executioner's hood to gnarly metal skull looking masks. They obscure your identity while committing crimes.
  • Cool Old Guy: Hosea Matthews. He's in his late fifties, but has plenty of cunning and experience as an outlaw during the golden years of The Old West.
  • Cool Sword: One of the weapons you can acquire is the Pirate Sword. It's an old fashioned cutlass that can slice and dice enemies with ease.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Leviticus Cornwall is a railroad, oil, and sugar baron who didn't get that way by being nice. He thinks nothing of siccing his Private Military Contractors and Pinkerton Detectives on anyone who gets in his way. Oil is discovered under The Rez? Bribe the government to move the natives again so you can stake claim.
  • Cowardly Mooks: Some enemies will attempt to flee once you've either wounded them or have killed enough of their comrades.
  • Cowboy: Naturally. You can encounter them all over and even impersonate one on a few occasions.
  • Crafted From Animals: Camp upgrades, trapper outfits, satchels, saddles, trinkets, and more are all crafted from various animal parts. Hides are the most common ingredient, but teeth, claws, feathers, antlers, horns, fat, and glands are also used for some items.
  • Critical Existence Failure:
    • Very slightly downplayed for NPCs. Those hit by a non-fatal shot may limp, slowing their ability to move, but are otherwise still lethal.
    • Also downplayed for the player character. Other than some mild Interface Screw when you get low on health, you are otherwise every bit as capable with a sliver of health remaining as at full health.
  • Crossover: With GTA Online of all things.
    • As long as you are connected to Social Club, you'll receive an in-game email from "vanderlinde@eyefind.com" with a picture of a location inside. Find this place, and three more locations will be added to your map. Find them all, and one final location is added to your map. From there, you'll find a Golden Double-action Revolver from a chest, and performing 50 headshots unlocks it in RDR II. Fortunately, the quest is entirely free and the headshots can be performed on NPC characters so it can be done solo. (And awards you 250,000 GTA$ as a nice bonus.)
    • Pre-ordering the digital version from either Playstation or Xbox Store gives you extra GTA$ in GTA Online on your system. The regular one is worth 500,000$, the Special Edition is worth 1,000,000$ and the Ultimate Edition is worth 2,000,000$.
    • August 2018 saw another treasure hunt - this time the treasure was a stone hatchet.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Despite being The Alcoholic, suffering from lumbago, and coming across as rather simple, Uncle shows on a few occasions that he can still handle himself in a gunfight.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: Most of Strauss' debt collection missions are optional. However, the Thomas Downes mission – the one in which Arthur contracts tuberculosis after intimidating, if not beating up, a dying man whose family is utterly broke – is a main quest mission and is thus required to continue.
  • Cue the Sun: At the end of the final mission before Arthur dies, if you have high honor then regardless of whether you help John escape or go for the gang's loot, Arthur will die peacefully while looking at the rising sun.
  • Cult:
    • The Chelonians are a religious cult with a particular reverence for turtles. They recruit young, able-bodied men who are then required to give up everything they own to the cult. One side mission has Arthur rescuing the brother of his Old Flame from the cult.
    • By a lot of measures, the van der Linde gang can be considered a cult, with Dutch as their cult leader. Cults are zealous in their beliefs and want to project it to the world. This would be the gang's commitment to "freedom" and their repuatation about believing in this above everything. The group will also claim lofty goals but upon closer look, don't follow up with them which definetly applies to Dutch at the very least (especially if you believe he was Evil All Along). Even if the gang (mostly) isn't religious,they use a lot of religious rhetoric like about "faith" and how Dutch "saved" them all from their bad situations. Tilly straight-up says Dutch is the closest thing to a perfect person she's ever met. The best way they fit the academic defitinition of a cult note  is how Dutch cultivates himself as the authoritarian leader who's the most important peson to everyone else in the group. The only member of the gang who has a life outside of it is part-timer Trelawney. He has a wife and two sons who live in Saint Denis. None of the rest of them are married or seemingly have any other family or friends to speak of. Arthur , who previously did have people he cared about outside the gang, doesn't have anyone by the time of the game. As far as he knows, Mary's husband is still alive and his son, Isaac, is long dead. He tells Sister Calderon that he threw his relationship with Mary away because he couldn't get away from Dutch. It's not until Chapter 4 when Dutch starts losing it that he tells her to give him some time to save up some money, tie up some loose ends, and then he'll leave for her. He also wouldn't leave the gang to be a father to Isaac. Dutch doesn't start really having a problem with John until about the mid-point in the story once he and Abigail start getting closer. He tells John at one point that she's "poisoning" him against him. The rest of the gang pay dearly for their blind devotion to Dutch.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The assault on the O'Driscoll camp at the end of Chapter 1. The Van der Linde gang kills three or four times as many O'Driscolls without a single casualty.
    • The assault on Braithwaite Manor at the end of Chapter 3. As part of the gang's Roaring Rampage of Rescue of Jack, they wipe the floor with every person present and then burn the place to the ground, again without a single casualty.
  • Cutscene Incompetence:
    • Arthur can gun down armies of men, shrug off bullets, and take down three other men in a fist fight...as long as you're controlling him. You can't help but to you roll your eyes during the numerous occasions where Arthur is knocked out, strangled, snuck-up on, escaped-from, etc. right before regaining control in a much worse situation than you would have allowed it to reach.
    • It's not even limited to cutscenes, as the game has a few moments where the player can be in complete control of Arthur but the threat is marked as "friendly" (as in, aiming is allowed but reticle is greyed out and you can't shoot) before they complete whatever they were doing. For example, a hunter up in Ambarino gets mauled to death by a bear as your bullets go right through the beast, and Lenny's killers are on-screen for a brief moment before they shoot him yet the player can shoot at anything but them.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: The mission "Blessed are the Peacemakers". Arthur has up to this point killed dozens of O'Driscolls and survived injuries right up to gunshots. However, a trio of O'Driscolls is able to sneak up on him, knock him out with a single gun-butt strike, and then take him down again when he wakes up with a single non-lethal gunshot.
  • Cutting the Knot: An option for opening locked containers, generally performed with the stock of a gun. It's noisy, so it is likely to draw attention in stealthy situations. You can purchase a Lock Breaker from a fence, which allows this to be done relatively silently.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: While the controls are similar enough to the first game that this is averted within the series itself, chances are you'll be trying to talk back to NPC in other games.
  • Dark Reprise: There are a few different remixes of "Unshaken" that can play during the ending.
    • If Arthur decides to go back for the money and get revenge on Dutch and Micah instead of leave with John, a threatening, bass-y, hip hop-esque beat plays as he makes his way back in High Honor mode. The start of the song contains a snippet of Nas vocals. Rather than the humble, questioning tone of the original version of "Unshaken", they're far more aggressive and confident:
    I rise to the top
    I cannot be stopped
    I stand
    Unshaken
    • Regardless of ending choice, depending on Arthur's honor at the end of the story, a version of "Unshaken", called "Crash of Worlds" by Rocco DeLuca, either with an angelic, harmonic choir (high honor) or an ethereal, spooky instrumentation and a deep, bass-y choir (low honor) plays at the very end of the mission.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Mary's father despised Arthur and he's a big part of why they broke up. As seen during Mary's mission in Saint Denis, her father is a broke, drunken lout who doesn't have room to talk. You can find his body with no explanation in New Austin laying in the middle of the road just past the church outside Armadillo in the epilogue.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Companion missions allow you to interact one-on-one with your fellow gang mates. You get to learn about their pasts, their motivations, and get a better look at their personalities.
  • Death by Irony: Arthur draws beautiful sketches of places and wildlife in his journal, to the point where his fellow gang member remark upon his artistic ability. What kills him in the end isn’t his violent lifestyle, but tuberculosis. How is that ironic? TB was also historically known as ‘The Artist’s Disease’ due to a widespread belief was that tuberculosis assisted artistic talent, as witness the number of great artists who were affected. Wikipedia has an article about it here.
  • Death by Racism:
    • Each of the KKK random encounters end in this fashion, even if you don't involve yourself. In one, several members accidentally set themselves on fire trying to light a cross. In another, the cross falls, killing two of them.
    • The racist eugenicist in Saint Denis is so hated by the rest of the town that you can kill him in broad daylight without repercussions.
    • After recovering the items from the foreclosed home of an old man who turns out to have been a former slave catcher, you can kill him on the spot and actually gain honor.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Arthur at the end of the main story. Terminally ill from tuberculosis already, he decides to spend his last days making amends and helping the truly deserving, eventually giving his life to help John Marston escape from their vengeful former comrades.
  • Death Mountain: The final quarter of the "Red Dead Redemption" mission if you go with John involves the Pinkerton gang attacking you on the mountain while you're trying to escort John out to safety. Once the Pinkertons are defeated, Micah launches an attack on you, and you have to fistfight your way to a draw. And in the ending, if he doesn't kill you already as long as you're in High Honor mode, the tuberculosis definitely will while you're watching the sunrise.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Crossing over with Cherry Tapping, this can be performed using the Varmint Rifle. It holds 14 rounds and can be fired quickly thanks to its pump action. Unless you're scoring head shots, it will take about half that magazine in order to bring down human opponents.
  • Death Seeker: As revealed in the Epilogue, Sadie. She admits that she no longer cares whether she lives or dies, and keeps throwing herself into dangerous situations as a bounty hunter as a result.
  • Decade Dissonance: Larger cities like Saint Denis and Blackwater are much more advanced than more rural towns like Valentine and Rhodes, which seem to be stuck about 20-30 years in the past.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Done in Chapter 4 by the O'Driscolls with Kieran immediately before launching an assault on Shady Bell.
  • Deceptive Disciple: Micah for Dutch. In the later chapters, his kissing up to Dutch makes him Dutch's new #2. In reality, he's planning to sell the gang out to the Pinkertons.
  • Deconstruction: The outlaw life is not as fun and romantic as it seems.
    • Dutch's Idiot Hero mentality of laying low, making a big score and then leaving only gets the gang deeper and deeper into shit, and due to their destructive nature they chronically draw attention to themselves. All their efforts to lie low fail, pushing them further and further from their destination. In the end, they fail to get anywhere even remotely close to their goal.
      • As mentioned before, Dutch is a terrible leader: he may be charming and charismatic, but his poor decision-making skills combined with his Sanity Slippage eventually lead to all gang members either dying or abandoning him.
    • Also mentioned above, Dutch's whole "one big score" mentality is revealed to be woefully unworkable. The gang simply cannot make make enough money in just one job to provide for twenty-plus people, not to mention seeing their passage out of the country and set up properly in a new one. Dutch seems somewhat aware of this, but his thinking never advances beyond "just keep pulling off heists", none of which make even close to what they need, so they're trapped in the same futile cycle.
    • The West doesn't give a damn if you're a main character or not. One of the gang members, Sean, is unceremoniously sniped in an ambush. By the end Kieran, Lenny, Hosea, and even Arthur have bitten the dust.
    • Many of the gang's members have various amounts of Hidden Depths they could use to live normally or even gain wealth, but are buried by their criminal lifestyle. For a few examples, Javier knows a surprising amount about fishing and can handle a guitar really well, while Arthur and Mary-Beth can do wonders if given a pen and paper.
      • In an extension of that, the game continues its deconstruction of the first one's themes of change and moving on. John doesn't have any extra skills or hobbies and has no passion for menial work - what's really valuable about him is his gunslinging, which also repeatedly endangers Abigail and Jack. It's made abundantly clear that he abandons his old ways mostly out of love for his family and a sense of debt towards Arthur.
    • The concept of open-world games is played with in the epilogue and it even ties into the original Redemption. The gameplay and activities remain mostly unchanged but with one big difference; John has a kid he should be raising. It's established in 1 that John hasn't spent that much time with his family and has had a habit of just disappearing for long periods of time. The activities Beecher's Hope offers are menial chores, encouraging the player to explore the world and participate in some of the dozens of available activities. As a result, every time you leave the ranch to do something more interesting than milking cows and shoveling manure, you're accidentally screwing up Jack's psyche by being a Disappeared Dad.
    • Chapter 3 is a deconstruction of the Playing Both Sides plot. Hosea and Dutch both write off the Grays and the Braithwaites as dumb hicks who won't catch on to their attempt to play them off against each other to let them get at a rumored fortune of Civil War gold. Unfortunately for them, neither family is that stupid or blinded by their mutual hate for one another, and take notice when the same group of strangers show up to cause trouble for both families.
    • In the first game, Herbert Moon's bigotry was mostly Played for Laughs. However, in this game, it's shown as causing harm to himself and other around him. When John meets with him in the epilogue, he can find a letter showing that Moon ruined his relationship with daughter after she decides to marry a Jewish man.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype:
    • Sadie becomes one of the typical Action Girl. Her violent nature is a consequence of some serious emotional trauma (it's heavily implied that the O'Driscolls raped her after killing her husband), with the terminally-ill Arthur outright stating that she and him are "more ghosts than people." It eventually reaches the point that she tells John in the epilogue that she seeks out dangerous situations because she wants to die. She gets a bit better by the final mission and end credits, where she decides to leave for South America and find some measure of peace.
    • Arthur Morgan of the typical Villain Protagonist character. Sure, he may not have had a choice in the beginning, but his acceptance of being the "bad guy" leaves him feeling pretty shitty about himself. Reading his journals reveals that he is also under a lot of stress and that he feels that he can't help prevent everything from spiraling out of control. After he finds out he's dying, then he's wracked with guilt; desperate to make what amends he can, having realized that all he's done has not been worth it. The final nail in the coffin is if the player chooses to help John and has good karma, his last words will be "I tried. In the end... I did."
  • Deep South:
    • Scarlett Meadows, a county of mixed hills and bayous that is run by two inbred clans who hate each other's guts. Still marked by the Civil War, it is a place where lingering traces of the slave trade can be found.
    • The state of Lemoyne in general, which takes heavy cues from Louisiana, complete with its own version of New Orleans, the city of Saint Denis.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Just like the first game, the setting of II shows how different peoples attitude in the past were.
    • Racism is still prevalent during this time where anyone who is non-white is treated with hatred or seen as a savage that needs to be controlled or put down.
    • The Women's Suffrage movement is mocked by most men, who think that giving women the right to vote is absurd.
    • An optional series of missions has Arthur assisting an inventor of a prototype electric chair, which he claims is a "humane" method of execution. When it finally comes time to demonstrate the device, it turns out to be anything but.
    • As related to the above, the death penalty is very liberally used throughout the game which is in stark contrast to today, especially outside the US. Today, it's legal in 29 states and still practiced in 17 of those. The U.S. is one of the few developed countries that still has it even though the federal government hasn't executed anyone since 2003.
    • Arthur is out of the norm for the time period by unequivocally treating every woman he comes across as an equal and with respect. He can tell the girls at camp that he thinks that men and women are equal(y awful). He even says in his journal that he doesn't like when men treat the women in their lives as objects without seeing them as their own people (specifically in the context about Mary's dad). He's also disgusted when Micah says in Chapter 4 that the girls owe the guys sex because all they do is sit around at camp all day. Arthur says they help and that they don't owe anyone anything.
    • There are obstacles to various romantic relationships in the game that wouldn't really exist today. One of them is Arthur and Mary's Interclass Romance. Since Mary comes from money and would have no way to provide for herself should something happen to him, she doesn't have the the luxury of marrying for love and marries someone that's more "suitable". Nowadays a rich woman like Mary would have a college degree and the legal protection to not to have to listen to her dad. Another type of romantic obstacle that wouldn't exist today is the stigma against interracial relationships. No one in the gang really has a problem with Lenny (who's black) having a crush on Jenny (who judging by Arthur's drawing of her was white) but it's implied that Hosea doesn't really mean that it wouldn't have worked out between them because of their similar names. It's more the fact that society wouldn't accept them. They wouldn't have been able to get legally married in a good chunk of the country (or even have sex in some places) as Loving vs Virginia , which repealed all anti-miscegenation laws, wasn't decided until 1967. In Manzanita Post, you can come across a Norwegian settlement group who fled to the U.S. because they brutally killed an interracial couple (Morrocan husband, Norwegian wife) and their child. The picture of said couple has "unclean" scribbled on the back of it. There's also what's implied to be Bill's closeted homosexuality. Arthur says in his journal that he doesn't care what secret Bill is hiding but there was no way for him to be who he was until the 1990s at the very earliest as the Clinton Administration was the first explicitly pro-gay administration. The Supreme Court didn't overrule the federal law prohibiting same-sex sexual relationships until Lawrence v. Texas in 2003.
  • Denser and Wackier: While the story is just as serious as the first game's (if not even more so), the stranger quests are less so. In 1, most of the strangers were relatively normal, with a few exceptions. note  Here, the bunch you'll meet consists of, for example, a traveling freak show (which is a tweaked version of one cut from I), a Mad Scientist, a very camp plant collector, and two brothers who willingly subject themselves to violence and life-threatening acts to win over a girl they both like. The most insane of the missions may just be a male animal tamer who disguises himself as a woman because, he (she?) believes that no-one wants to see a man tame animals. Note that he didn't even bother to shave his large mustache. The animals in question are just normal animals painted to resemble exotic animals. Well, except for the lion.
  • Determined Widow:
    • Sadie. Her homestead was attacked and her husband killed by the O'Driscoll gang, and she only survived because the Van der Linde gang saved her and took her in. Over the course of the story, Sadie becomes a badass gunslinger in her own right who seeks violent retribution against the O'Driscolls, though other characters note how much the violence has changed her, calling her a "ghost" at one point. By the epilogue, Sadie has become a well-regarded bounty hunter, but has become so hollow that she casually tells another character she "wants to die".
    • Charlotte Balfour, the widow of Willard's Rest, is a slightly more traditional example. She and her husband were wealthy folks from the city who decided to try their hand at rural life, only to find it harder than they expected. After the husband's death, Charlotte expects to starve and die herself, but Arthur teaches her a few tips on surviving in the wilderness and eventually she settles into a not-unhappy rural life. It even seems for a moment like she has romantic feelings for Arthur, but Arthur's impending death from tuberculosis puts a dampener on things.
  • Developers' Foresight: Grab some popcorn.
    • Single shot guns need to be either reloaded or the hammer has to be pulled back between shots, which is done by pressing the shoot button between shots. Revolvers allow fanning the hammer, allowing several shots in quick succession. Guns also deteriorate over time, either from soot from firing or via being submerged in water, snow, or mud for extended periods. You have to either purchase gun oil or have a gunsmith clean them to revert their stats to max if this happens. According to Rockstar, some gun-related realism had to be dialed back to keep the game fun; said "gun-related realism" is likely due to the extensive dismantling and reassembly process needed to properly clean them.
    • Your horse will occasionally take a crap, they will react to hidden snakes, and their testicles react to the temperature. Also, if you spook a horse by walking beside or behind it, or walk up to a horse that doesn't know you, it can kick you.
      • Near the end of Chapter 6, if you killed the Pinkertons who shot your horse and and you have to say goodbye to it in front of John, he will ask you what the hell you're doing and repeatedly ask you to hurry up while you're mourning it, which kinda wrecks the silent mood.
    • Animals you've killed will start to rot, with the weapon you use to kill them and the shot location affecting the pelt's value. Dead animals you carry bleed on Arthur, altering NPC reactions to Arthur. The rate at which animal carcasses begin to rot is affected by the temperature: slower in cold/snowy areas, faster in hot areas.
    • The environment actively affects Arthur's appearance. Water, mud, snow, and blood can accumulate on his hair and clothes, eventually drying and fading away. Arthur's skin bruises from being punched, bullet holes and cut/slash marks appear on his character model, and he gets sweaty from exertion. He also needs to eat and sleep or he'll eventually become fatigued, which affects the regeneration of both health and stamina, and causes him to become dizzy. His posture will also change, and as mentioned above, his hair and beard slowly grow. Your clothing also affects Arthur's health depending on the region, as wearing heavy clothes in the desert or light clothes in the snow and cold actually affect gameplay.
    • NPCs having a discussion may mention Arthur in their discussion if he comes close. The interaction system takes the previous lines into account, so you can first greet, then antagonize, and finally apologize to someone in the same conversation. Following an NPC long enough will eventually cause them to get freaked out about you stalking them and run for it. As mentioned above, Arthur's appearance affects how NPCs react to him. If he looks like a hobo covered in blood, some people may refuse interacting with him; if he carries someone's charred corpse around, people will be audibly appalled. If he is dressed like a gentleman, people are more likely to be nicer to him.
    • Killing someone may cause their loved ones coming after you later, and committing a crime in a city causes its inhabitants to not trust you for a few weeks, even if you leave and come back. If alerted, the law won't instantly try to kill Arthur for small crimes, instead giving him a stern warning and, if the crime is severe enough, ordering him to leave the town for a while.
    • You can encounter opossums in-game. Yes, they can play dead. The real foresight is that if you approach an opossum that's doing so, you will be given the prompt to pick it up/skin it, just like you would with a real dead animal. Of course, attempting to do either does nothing. Hell, Rockstar even made the 9th Master Hunter Challenge this to show it off.
    • Whistling for your horse too much in a short amount of time will actually cause you to run out of breath. Additionally, Arthur will curse in frustration if his horse is out of whistling range.
      Arthur: Not again!
    • The grapple move differs depending on the context; there are separate animations depending on if you're in front or behind the target, when running it turns into a tackle, and if the tackle is performed on shallow enough water, instead of the normal grab Arthur instead pushes the victim's head underwater and starts drowning them.
    • The last mission from Henri Lemieux gives you the option to either spare or kill Jean Marc Mercier. If you kill him, you'll have to dump his corpse off into the nearby swamp. Come back a day or two later at that same spot and fish there and there's a chance you'll snag up a severed arm, which Arthur remarks is Jean Marc's.
    • If you return a bounty target alive, you'll usually have a chance to watch the target be hanged the next day. You can then try to rescue the target by shooting the rope and the surrounding lawmen. If you're quick enough, you can actually save them, and can sometimes get unique dialogue from the targets in return.
    • There are two variants of each non-story related journal entry depending on which part of the game they are found. Namely, John has his own should you miss any before entering the epilogue chapters. And going with John's self-description as "semi-literate", his descriptions are much simpler than Arthur's and his drawings are poorly made. Rockstar also went the extra step and made Arthur entries for the content you can only find in New Austin, a state Arthur never canonically enters in the game. (Though this may also be a case of What Could Have Been.)
    • If you rob Algie Davison before Strauss sends you to collect his debt, then the house will be abandoned and you can take the debt money without any trouble.
    • Seamus takes stolen wagons off your hands and pays you for them. However, if you steal a train and drop it off near his barn at Emerald Ranch, he will have unique dialogue. Unlike most dialogue, it’s given as a direction.
      • Seamus: That’s of no value to me! Bring me something I can actually sell.
  • Dialogue Tree: Arthur can chat with any NPC by aiming at them (with or without a gun on his hand). When locked on to an NPC, the game displays a list of possible interactions, such as "Defuse", which allows you to stop potential fights before they even start, "Antagonize" which can be used to start fights, and a few others others. The available options and the dialogue itself are affected by various factors, such as the current situation, location, NPC alignment, whether Arthur's gun is holstered or not, and even his appearance. Unlike in most examples, the system is omnipresent and doesn't stop the gameplay. The system is practically identical to the one Rockstar used in their previous game Bully.
  • Died Standing Up:
    • A particular glitch can cause this in both NPCs and animals. There are a number of ways to trigger it, but the most common seems to happen when making a kill shot from an extreme distance. When you get close to your target, they'll be dead but still standing. In the case of a few animals, such as mountain sheep, they may have a stream of blood pouring out of them continuously until you interact with the carcass.
    • In the spirit of the trope, given the game's physics engine, NPCs can be killed while sitting in chairs or leaning up against objects.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • You can get the game's best saddle (speed-wise, at least. also includes stirrup bonuses) as soon as you unlock free roam in chapter 2... and you only need to find a perfect panther from one of their few spawn points, make a clean kill, take the skin to a trapper before it starts to rot, and pay a small fee.
    • The Legend of the East satchel takes about six hours to get all of the skins you need but it's sure worth the work. Getting a perfect cougar in particular can be extremely frustrating, they only spawn in two locations in the original map (one northwest of Strawberry, another north of Ambarino) and only one spawns a night. You could be setting up camp to sleep until the evening for a month in the real world before you get a perfect one to spawn but once you get it, you'll be able to carry 99 of everything which is extremely helpful.
  • Dire Beast: The Legendary animals are all larger and more powerful versions of their standard brethren. The one that stands out the most in this regard is the Legendary Bull Gator, an alligator that's close to 40 feet long, over three times the size of the game's other, more realistic gators.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • You can find an "Arabian", an elite horse with the game's highest stats from a spawn point on the northwestern point of Lake Isabella. It may take a few visits to spawn, but you can obtain one as early as Chapter 2 once the stables unlock in one of the first story missions. It can be recognized from its snow white coat and for being pretty much the only horse that spawns on the freezing climate.
    • Several powerful guns can be acquired early in Chapter 2 by performing the right side quests around camp and in the nearby First Town of Valentine. Notable examples include Schofield Revolver (acquired by robbing the Valentine doctor), the three unique Revolvers/Pistols acquired during "The Noblest of Men, and a Woman" side-quest available at the Valentine saloon, and the Pump Shotgun (acquired during "The First Shall Be Last" side-quest given by Javier in camp). None of these weapons costs a dime to acquire and most will easily carry through the rest of Chapter and even into Chapter 3 with the right upgrades.
    • The Stage Coach Fence at Emerald Ranch becomes available early in Chapter 2. Once unlocked, it can become an easy source of nuke-level money. Simply steal stage coaches and bring them to the fence for an easy $15-$40 a pop. Emerald Ranch itself is within sight of several crossroads that are traversed frequently by stage coaches. Once you learn the most valuable/least risky wagons to look for (2+ horses, nice looking wagons, single occupant), you can easily haul in $400+ per real life hour. It's more than enough to upgrade every weapon you have available, max out your ammo, spoil your horse(s), and upgrade your camp with ease.
    • Hunting is also a very easy source of good money/updating right off the bat if you know how to do it right. In one of the first missions available in Chapter 2, the legendary animals become available. If you hunt the legendary buck just north of Strawberry, you can craft a trinket at the fence (which becomes available a bit later) that spawns more three star animals. The medium and large sized animals can be lassoed and stabbed which guarantees a perfect pelt/carcass. Deer in particular are all over the map and are very easy to find, kill, and sell . A perfect deer carcass will fetch you $10 at the butcher/trapper and you can easily do three or four of them in the span of ten real life minutes. You can also skin them to give to Pearson who can use them to upgrade your satchel. You can get the legend of the east satchel (which by most counts takes about six hours of outside work to get) that holds 99 of everything not even halfway through Chapter 2 if you want. Though it costs $225 to get the leatherworking tools to update your satchel which can be hard that early on in the game.
    • There's a gold bar , worth a whopping $500, literally (not figuratively) just down the hill from the first camp in Horseshoe Overlook. You can get it as soon as the map opens up and while you won't be able to sell it until the fence opens up a bit later, it's still a very healthy sum that early in the story.
    • As mentioned above under Difficult, but Awesome, you can get the game's most stamina/speed/acceleration efficient saddle very early on if you can pull it off.
    • There are 3 treasure map "chains" in the game, and the third and last one of each gives you a few gold bars. Once you find them all, you have a total of 11 gold bars, each worth 500$. If you know where every map and treasure is, you can complete all three chains as soon as free roam opens up. With the pre-order DLC map chainnote  you can find 4 more, rising the total to 15 Gold bars, giving you a free 7500 dollars. In addition, finding all 9 treasures in the main game also completes the explorer challenges, allowing you to buy a set of equipment that boosts your max health from any trapper. Memorizing each location makes repeat playthroughs a breeze as far as money is concerned, and even the camp upgrades can be covered with around 4-5 bars.
  • Disguised in Drag: The provocative French artist Charles Châtenay goes undercover in incredibly unconvincing drag — the chest hair and beard are a bit of a giveaway — to flee town after making enemies of practially the entire population of Saint Denis.
  • Disposing of a Body: You can cover up murders by hiding the body where passers-by will be less likely to see it. Dumping them in the wilderness or into bodies of water are good options. See also: Fed to Pigs.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Strangers are very quick to resort to violence over mild slights and accidents, such as lingering too long in their wilderness camp or bumping into them.
  • Distressed Dude: At different points, you'll rescue Sean, Bill, and John for situations like this. You'll need to escape from such a situation as Arthur after he's captured by the O'Driscolls and again in Guarma.
  • Does Not Like Men: Saint Denis's Suffragette, Dorothea Wicklow. As she says:
    Once women get the vote, the whole country will stop making such a pig's ear of everything! There'll be no more wars, no hunger, no stupidity! We'll elect a woman president, within the first ten years, of course, men are such judgmental prigs, you need us women to help straighten you out! Okay? With us helping, I'm not saying there won't be trouble, I just think we'll do a better job of things.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: If Arthur is played honorably through and maintains his maximum honor by the final part of Chapter 6 (aptly titled "Red Dead Redemption"), then his final ride, with "That's the Way It Is" playing beautifully in the background, may come across as some kind of college graduation ceremony, with people complimenting on his best behavior as if he were graduating from morality school summa cum laude ("with highest praise"), even though he has only a short time before he dies from TB anyway.
  • The Don: Angelo Bronte is the mafia-esque crime lord of Saint Denis, right up to having the Saint Denis police in his pocket. He doesn't take too kindly to another crime boss, Dutch, setting up shop so close to his town and tries to have him killed in a set-up train station robbery. Dutch repays in kind later, having Bronte kidnapped before drowning him and feeding him to gators.
  • Doomed by Canon:
    • What's left of the Van der Linde gang is destined to fall apart after a failed robbery. A former member, John Marston, will be forced to hunt down other former members afterward.
    • Tumbleweed, the sole bright spot in the chaos that is New Austin, is destined to lie in ruins by 1911.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: Tall Trees, the aptly-named coniferous forest west of Blackwater, is an absolute death trap. It's used as a home base by the Skinner Brothers, a sadistic gang of ruthless psychopaths that loves to abduct travelers, strip them naked, torture them horribly and flay them alive before leaving their carcasses in massive, bloody piles by the side of the road. Especially in the early stages of the epilogue, it's nigh-impossible to ride through these woods without stumbling upon such grotesque horrors, or being attacked by the Skinners yourself. By 1911 the Skinners seem to have disbanded or moved away, as in the original game there's nothing particularly dangerous in Tall Trees but the occasional bear or wolf.
  • Downer Beginning: The story starts with the gang on the run in the mountains during a blizzard after a botched job in Blackwater. They can't get to their stash of money, several gang members are dead with one captured, they're low on food, and they have the law hot on their tails.
  • Dramatic Irony: San Denis Mayor Lemieux thinks learning will make man "put down his guns, and start living a life of relentless purity" in 50 years. Well, no, the world just used that learning to make bigger and better guns.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • Sean is unceremoniously killed with a head shot not a minute into a main story mission.
    • Kieran is captured off screen and only a single gang member mentions his absence before his beheaded body rides into camp immediately prior to an O'Driscoll attack.
    • Lenny is simply shot dead during a botched heist. No build up, no sad last words, just...shot dead.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Averted on two levels. In terms of the narrative, Deliberate Values Dissonance is at play. During the time period of the game, drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco were extremely common. Harder drugs, like cocaine, were often prescribed medicinally. In-game, all of the drugs are quite useful. Alcohol can refill your bars and cores, with the exact effects depending on the type of alcohol. Moonshine in particular temporarily maxes out and fortifies your health bar, making it a great item to take right before a big fight. Smoked tobacco refills your Deadeye core at the cost of some slight stamina, while chewing tobacco temporarily maxes out and fortifies your Deadeye bar making it extremely useful. Cocaine gum is another consumable which temporarily maxes out and fortifies your stamina bar.
  • Dual Wielding:
    • Once you get the off-hand pistol holder, you can do this with handguns. It potentially doubles the amount of shots you can fire before reloading, but reloading is then slower as a result.
    • Dutch and Micah are both notable dual-wielders. Dutch uses a custom pair of Schofield Revolvers while Micah uses a custom pair of Double-Action Revolvers.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Arthur is the self-described "workhorse" of the Van der Linde gang, and it comes with the lack of respect one would expect. He is apparently the only gang member contributing to the camp food supply, and missing even a single day draws negative comments from Pearson and Ms. Grimshaw. Want to upgrade the camp? Arthur will be providing 90% of the necessary funds. Someone owes the gang money? Arthur collects. Another gang member needs some extra muscle on a mission? Yep, Arthur. Something goes wrong on that mission? Must be Arthur's fault.
  • Duel to the Death:
    • A possible encounter, most often in saloons, involves bumping into an ornery, drunken patron who will then challenge you to a duel. If you accept, you can meet them outside for the duel.
    • With one exception, all of the legendary gunslingers in the related side mission meet their fate with you in this fashion.
  • Dummied Out:
    • Under normal circumstances, the dinosaur bones quest can't be completed before the epilogue, since eight of the bones are located in New Austin, which Arthur can't access at all in the entire game since there's an invisible sniper that will kill him the moment he crosses the border. The quest is meant to be completed by John in the epilogue, as he's the only one that can cross into New Austin unharmed. However, you used to be able to glitch your way to New Austin as Arthur without being instantly killed and completing the quest. Arthur could still talk with the quest giver and has his own set of lines with her. This suggests that the quest was also meant to be completed by Arthur at some point in development. You can still get the glitch if you have the disk version, uninstall your file, and turn off wifi updates.
    • Datamining the PC version has revealed some odd character models that never appear in the game; An adult version of Princess Isabeau (a kidnapped european princess who is alluded to several times but players were never able to find her in-game), a living version of Agnes Dowd (a ghost of her appears as an easter egg in the game proper) and even a goddamn caveman (no-one knows what his purpose is/was).
    • Oddly enough, the noticeably absent towns of Mexico may in fact be there, but are simply disabled in-game.
  • Dump Stat: Stamina. It really only drains when sprinting or swimming, and given the amount of time you'll spend on horseback, you won't be draining it often. Most players don't think twice when using consumables such as alcohol or tobacco products which lower your stamina while increasing your health or Dead Eye. Additionally, many players will fatten up the player character which increases health at the cost of stamina, since being able to take a couple more bullets is significantly more valuable than being able to sprint or swim for a longer distance.
  • Dwindling Party:
    • The Van der Linde gang. Four are mentioned as dead or dying as a result of the Blackwater fiasco and subsequent escape before the game even starts. By the end of the game, Sean, Kieran, Lenny, Hosea, Susan, Molly, Micah, and even Arthur himself lie dead.
    • In a mission specific example, the gang members who set out to rob the Saint Denis bank experience this during that mission and those immediately after. Hosea and Lenny are killed, Abigail flees, John is captured, and Charles leaves the group in order to draw off some Pinkertons. Of the five who escape on the ship to Guarma, Javier is wounded and captured there, leaving the foursome of Dutch, Bill, Micah, and Arthur.
  • Dying Town: Tumbleweed was crippled when the railroad was rerouted through nearby Armadillo instead, then suffered bandit raids and a cholera outbreak. As seen in I, it would become completely abandoned a few years later.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Pretty much the entire Van der Linde gang. There isn't a single member who hasn't been subjected to some sort of terrible loss or abuse before falling in with the gang.
  • Eager Rookie: Lenny has elements of this. He's only 19 and one of the most junior members of the gang, but seeks to prove himself. He initiates dangerous missions including the assault on the Lemoyne Raiders HQ to steal a weapons shipment and a stagecoach robbery which is actually a trap set by federal marshals. Arthur seems to take Lenny under his wing and he is really coming along, having greatly assisted during the botched trolley station robbery before he is gunned down without warning during the failed Saint Denis bank robbery.
  • Early Game Hell: If you're looking to do things outside of the main mission, Chapter 2 becomes this. Unless you play at least some of the main mission to unlock things, you're stuck with a very limited selection of weapons (not ideal for forays into areas with predators or possible rival gang ambushes), certain items are locked (like the Fishing Rod), and certain vendors (like the wagon and horse fences) are not available. It is also before the game's Money for Nothing comes into play, so you're often perpetually broke unless you really go out of your way. Many guides recommend playing up to the end of Chapter 2 or even into Chapter 3 before venturing deeply into the game's side content as it will be much easier once you've unlocked a greater variety of weapons and items.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Due to the Prequel nature of the game, it is a Foregone Conclusion that the Van der Linde gang will break up through both internal strife and the constant pursuit of the authorities. However the epilogue reveals that Charles, Mary-Beth, Tilly, Swanson, and Sadie were able to settle down and have satisfying lives afterwards. Charles moved to Canada and raised a family, Mary-Beth became a prolific author, Tilly married a successful lawyer in Saint Denis, Swanson moved to New York and became a preacher, and Sadie becomes a Bounty Hunter and eventually decides to move to South America to pursue a more peaceful life. Also, Edith and Archie Downes if Arthur chooses to help them in the final chapters; they take his money and invest it to become the owners of a successful golf course.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • At several points during the main story, you'll shoot up entire towns and gun down dozens of lawmen. You will be wanted "Dead or Alive" afterward, but you can simply pay off your bounty at any post office with no consequences once you do. Stroll right back into any of those towns and it's as if nothing happened at all.
    • The "Honor" system. Naturally, robbing and murdering outside of where it is required for main missions causes your Honor to drop. However, you can regain Honor, right up to maxing it out, with simple activities such as greeting townsfolk or doing some catch-and-release fishing.
    • In-Universe: Bill at one point complains how any time he screws up, he gets chewed out while Arthur's fuckups are "One of them things" and he faces very little criticism. Being Dutch's first son clearly has some benefits.
  • Easter Egg: One of the random gamblers in Valentine is named Claude.
  • Emergency Weapon: Even if you expend every round of ammo and toss every throwable weapon, you will still have your trusty knife.
  • Encounter Bait: Somewhat literally with Predator and Herbivore Bait. Spread them on the ground, retreat to a a spot with a good view of the bait site, and wait as they attract animals.
  • End of an Age: As with the first game, a major theme running through this prequel is how the outlaws of the "Old West" come to terms with the encroachment of law and order from the East making their way of life increasingly impossible. The prequel hammers this theme even more than the first game, as it takes place when the gang is still active.
  • Enemy Chatter: If you remain undetected near groups of enemies, you can listen in on their conversations, which are fully scripted.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: Detected hostiles show up as red dots on your radar.
  • The Enemy Weapons Are Better: Averted in most cases, as enemies will use lesser "worn" versions of guns you already have. However, in a select few cases, it is possible to acquire better weapons before they would normally unlock by getting them off of certain dead enemies. For example, one can acquire the Rolling Block Rifle from some bounty hunters who will come after you if you have a bounty. Another is that it is possible to acquire a Bolt Action Rifle early by completing bounty missions, attending the subsequent hanging of the outlaw, and then gunning down one of the police guards at the gallows who may be carrying one.
  • Epic Fail: Several Stranger encounters end in this fashion. To note:
    • One such encounter involves two thieves attempting to open a stolen safe with dynamite. It goes off before they can get back, blowing them both up. (The door to the safe does come off, so you can help yourself to its contents.)
    • Another encounter is a group of KKK members attempting to set up a burning cross. However, the cross falls onto them, crushing and burning them to death.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Van der Linde gang is easily the most diverse in the game, including several minorities and women. This is in a setting with plenty of period appropriate racism and sexism portrayed.
  • Escort Mission: A number of Stranger missions involve rescuing someone from hostiles (a rival gang, wild animals, etc.) during which they must survive in order to succeed. In a few cases, you may also need to give the rescuee a ride back to town.
  • Eternally Pearly-White Teeth: Averted. While it varies from character to character, most have realistically yellow or brown teeth.
  • Ethereal Choir: A reprise of "Unshaken" called "Crash of Worlds" plays in the background during Arthur's final moments leading up to his death; depending on what you do with his honor, it can be either angelic or sinister.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Arthur keeps a picture of his deceased mother next to his bed. A low-honor Arthur plays this completely straight, while a high-honor Arthur downplays it (he is still an outlaw bandit after all).
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The Van der Linde gang will gladly rob anything they can make a dollar on and isn't above killing anyone who gets in their way. But they take great offense to the Braithewaites kidnapping Jack. Cue the Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • As mentioned, the gang will kill if needed as part of their robberies, but Dutch frowns upon outright murder and claims (when confronted by Angelo Bronte) that they aren't murderers for hire. Arthur too gets several moments of this during some side missions, such as the one where the Saint Denis mayor asks Arthur to kill his former assistant.
    • Arthur writes in his journal after he and Hosea rob Seamus's cousin-in-law that robbing family is low even for him.
  • Everybody Smokes: Standard for an "Old West" work. Countless characters throughout the game can be seen smoking. This even includes Arthur in some cutscenes.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: John Marston gets his scars from being mauled by a pack of wolves during a scouting mission gone awry.
  • Evil Debt Collector: One of Arthur's roles in the gang. No matter how honorable you play Arthur as, the loan shark missions tend to be Kick the Dog moments for him. The biggest and most tragic example is when Arthur accidentally kills a sick debtor, forcing the victim's widow to pay off the debt in his stead. Eventually Arthur cannot stand the misery such predatory usury is causing, and forcibly ejects the gang's loan shark from the camp, threatening to kill him if he returns. Said debtor ends up giving Arthur fatal tuberculosis as a result of the incident, and Arthur is so disgusted with what he did that he views it as a Karmic Death.
  • Evil Pays Better: If not better, then faster. Looting items from corpses often results in valuable junk, and robbing stores can give you more than many of the bounty hunting missions do. Stealing wagons, looting and robbing random civilians and/or robbing stores and trains for an entire day can get you a lot of cash for little work. However, you only get discounts if your honor is high enough, and getting caught means you'll be constantly harassed by bounty hunters until you A) spend some of your ill-gotten gains to pay off the bounty or B) surrender to the law and lose some of your money anyway.
  • Exact Words:
    • Downplayed. Before release, Rockstar mentioned that the game world is open from the start. This is technically true; you can go to West Elizabeth before the game allows it, but you'll be faced by unlimited waves of Pinkertons that will hunt and gun you down. However, if you try to go to New Austin, you'll be killed by an invisible sniper. Every new area can be visited as soon as the prologue is over, though.
    • Several challenges can be completed much more easily if you take the wording literally. For example, some challenges require you to kill an enemy in a specific way, meaning you can't just kill some random NPC to fulfill it. However, it does not say that the enemy has to be a threat. You can tie up a rival gang member, drop them somewhere that makes it easy to complete the challenge, and then kill them while they are totally helpless. Bandit 10, which requires robbing five trains without getting caught, is a lot easier when you realize that "robbing" includes stealing a single item from the baggage car.
  • Exploding Barrels: Boxes of dynamite and barrels of moonshine will explode if shot.
  • Exposed to the Elements: A new gameplay mechanic involves your cores draining if you aren't dressed appropriately for the various environments and weather conditions. Going into the snowy peaks of the West Grizzlies without heavy winter clothing is a bad idea, as is wearing said heavy clothes in the humid bayous of Lemoyne. It's advised to always keep an outfit each for cold and hot conditions on your horse.
  • Extended Gameplay: Aside from the requisites of the Open World Sandbox genre like sidequests and other activities, the game features a rather extensive Epilogue sequence focusing on John Marston, who gets Promoted to Playable. Said Epilogue is a series of missions focusing around John and his family trying to go straight, and it ends with them building Beecher's Hope and paying it off with the money lifted from the Blackwater job. Of note is the sheer length of this part, as it technically accounts for 1/4th of the entire game. After the main storyline has been completed, the player is allowed to wander the world as John, or help take care of Beecher's Hope by doing chores.
  • Extremely Short Timespan:
    • The main story of the game takes place over a few months in 1899. You can, of course, take quite a bit more time than that to actually complete the story in-game, with potentially hundreds of days passing.
    • Arthur contracts tuberculosis and dies of it in a matter of weeks. Although there was no effective treatment for TB in 1899 other than rest in a dry climate, "consumption" nonetheless was a disease which typically, in its latency period, took years slowly to consume its victims. Although it's possible that Arthur unwittingly chose to hasten the TB progression with his smoking, drinking beer, and getting beaten by physical trauma and malnutrition, all of which are risk factors for TB.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Arthur in a high Honor ending, choosing to stay behind to hold off pursuers while the Marston family escapes.
  • Fake Difficulty: The ambient challenges, as many of them also fall under Luck-Based Mission. While the gambler challenges are the most infamous as some are entirely luck-based, there are some in the other challenge branches as well. Hunting perfect pelts also relies on this way too much, as you not only have to find the animal, there's a chance they are already damaged once you do, and then you have to hope you hit the hitbox of the animal's weak spot and get a one hit kill. All of these are affected by luck to at least some degree.
  • Fast-Forward Mechanic: You can skip ahead to Morning, Noon, or Night by sleeping in a bed, at the gang campsite, or by setting up your personal campsite from your main horse.
  • Fauxshadow:
    • Kieran is a captured O'Driscoll who sticks with the Van der Linde gang because leaving the protection they offer is basically a death sentence. In short order, he takes the gang to wipe out an O'Driscoll hideout, saves Arthur's life, offers a fun fishing companion mission, and seems to be earning the respect most of the gang. He really seems like a character who will become important down the line and who you will be rewarded for fostering a positive relationship with. Instead, he is captured by the O'Driscolls offscreen in Chapter 4, killed, beheaded, and sent into camp as an example/distraction immediately prior to an O'Driscoll attack.
    • When Arthur visits the Downes ranch again in Chapter 3, Archie is not even trying to cover up his hatred of Arthur for causing his father's death, and the concept of revenge even comes up in their discussion. Those familar with westerns might assume that he'll pop up later as an antagonist, but instead Arthur ends up helping the family when they need it, burying any potential revenge scheme Archer may have had.
  • Fed to Pigs: Pigs will chew through any corpse in their vicinity. This is a handy way for you to dispose of bodies, and there is a scenario where you can help a prostitute by disposing of a dead customer in this manner.
  • Felony Misdemeanor:
    • Mark Johnson is one of the bounty mission targets. He is wanted for stage coach and train robberies from years in the past and carries a bounty of $25. No mention is made of him having killed or even seriously harmed anyone beyond robbing them. However, should you apprehend him, you can witness him being hanged in Rhodes. For a $25 bounty.
    • Law enforcement is very quick to deliver an armed response, even for non-violent or accidental offenses, such as vandalism or clipping someone with your horse.
  • Feuding Families: The Grays and the Braithwaites. Dutch and the gang hope to exploit the feud by Playing Both Sides in Chapter 3, but the feud doesn't make the families that blind and they catch on, leading to one gang member's death and forcing the gang to move once again.
  • Fictional Counterpart: The Wheeler, Rawson, & Co. Consumer Guide catalogues found in every shop is one to the Sears, Roebuck, & Co. mail order catalogues from the era, complete with the "Cheapest Supply House on Earth" and "Our Trade Reaches Around tohe World" taglines.
  • Fictional Document: The game contains hundreds of notes, letters, and even some full blown short stories in book form. You can collect them and they are neatly organized in your inventory by category.
  • Fictional Province: The game takes place in the fictional U.S. states of New Austin, West Elizabeth, New Hanover, Ambarino, and Lemoyne. Guarma is a fictional Caribbean island visited as well.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: The Wapiti have already been moved to a new reservation once with great difficulty, and now the government wants to move them again because they believe there is oil beneath their reservation. Their leaders are fighting it, both literally and metaphorically, with the local army colonel goading them into attack with actions like stealing their horses and burning their sacred sites in hopes of wiping them out for glory.
  • Filk Song: Setting Sun, a slow and melancholic western ballad, courtesy of Miracle of Sound
  • Fire Purifies: The third trailer has a heavy emphasis on fire and its destructive nature. In the final game, it's one of the things that Reverend Swanson talks about at night around the gang's campfire.
  • Firing One-Handed: Just like John in the first game and epilogue, Arthur fires all sidearms one-handed, even the Sawed-Off Shotgun.
  • First-Person Shooter: Just like the eighth-generation port of GTA V, there's an option to play the game from a first-person perspective.
  • First Town: Valentine, a fairly unremarkable livestock town, is not far from the gang's first hideout at Horseshoe Overlook. Unless you really go out of your way, it will have the first gun store, general store, stables, and more that you visit.
  • Fishing Minigame: You can fish in most bodies of water, with different types of fish appearing in different areas of the map as well as depending on the body of water (lake or river). Different baits and lures also influence the type and quality of the fish you catch. You can also toss in a stick of dynamite, though this causes you to lose honor. On the flip side, catch and release fishing causes you to gain honor. Finally, just like the "legendary" animals to hunt, there are legendary fish to catch.
  • Fisticuffs Boss: Several missions in the game involve Arthur defeating enemies while unarmed in order to continue the mission. Notable ones are the fight in Valentine's saloon shown in trailers, and the final confrontation against Micah Bell.
  • Foregone Conclusion: As would be expected from a prequel:
    • At the very least, Dutch Van der Linde and part of his gang (John Marston, Bill, Javier) will survive the events of the prequel, as they appear in the events of the first game set years later.
    • Arthur obviously wasn't seen in the original Red Dead Redemption or even mentioned as one of the men John needed to hunt down. So, regardless of whatever became of him, it can already be pieced together that he didn't exactly have a big presence in New Austin by 1911.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • One of the first things Dutch and his group do in the game is save a woman from bandits... and accidentally burn down her house. Just a harbinger of how the Van der Linde gang tends to make things worse despite whatever ideals Dutch preaches.
    • Unlike all the other debt collections, the one for the Downes family is mandatory. Arthur ends up catching the same disease that afflicted Mr. Downes: tuberculosis. And it's implied he got it either from beating him up or from him coughing up blood on his face.
    • Related, Arthur will cough numerous times in cutscenes and in-game before he collapses at the end of Chapter 5. There's also numerous times where Arthur seems unusually winded, which makes no sense since he's in excellent shape and in the prime of his life. These coughs also escalate in severity throughout the game, beginning as small coughs before turning into large hacking fits.
    • Molly tries to ask Arthur at one point if he genuinely thinks Dutch loves her. She can also be seen talking to Abigail about it. This, as well as her constant whingeing and anxiety seem to set her up as a classic Hysterical Woman for Dutch, and she's killed upon drunkenly admitting that she was the one who ratted them out in Saint Denis. In reality, this is a Red Herring, and Micah was the actual mole.
    • In an early chapter, when Hosea asks Arthur how he's going to die or be buried, Arthur tells him to "Face me to the west so I can watch the setting sun and remember all the fine times we had that way." These words become a contrast in the High Honor ending of Chapter 6 (if you go with John) when, instead of being a bad man who watches the sunset and reminisces about the old days of being an outlaw, Arthur becomes a good man who looks forward to a better future in store while watching the sunrise on the mountaintop and dying at peace with himself. However, it would later be revealed in the epilogue that Charles laid Arthur's body to rest on the quiet hilltop in a grave that perfectly faces the evening sun, thus fulfilling Arthur's request to Hosea.
    • "Mountain Hymn" has lyrics that foreshadow what happens to Arthur in both High Honor endings:
      Your day is done, the time has come.
      You battled hard, the war is won.
      You did your worst, you tried your best;
      Now it's time to rest.
      Now it's time to rest.
    • A classic western trope is that the good guy, usually a sheriff or other gunslinger aligned with the law, wears a white hat; the bad guy, usually an outlaw or other Anti-Hero, wears a black one. Now think, who is the only member of the Van der Linde gang who is hardly ever seen without a white hat? It's Micah, and it turns out that he is really a stool pigeon for the Pinkertons.
    • Starting around chapter 4, Dutch starts wanting to use Micah on jobs more and at one point in a tirade at Arthur says that Micah is the only one whose still loyal. Micah has been worming his way into Dutch's confidence to turn him against everyone else to make the gang easier pickings for the Pinkertons.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: Prior to the events of the game, John left the gang for a year and then returns, welcomed with open arms by most. Arthur is not one of them, disgusted that John had left the entire gang as well as Jack (whom at first John doesn't believe to be his son). Eventually, Arthur starts warming up to John again after the latter is determined to get Jack back from Angelo Bronte.
  • Free Rotating Camera: Present in 3rd person, like most Rockstar games. Pressing the left trigger will cause it to lock on. If you have a gun drawn, this will also point the gun using auto-aim, which also locks it onto the target.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Zig-zagged in that you cannot fire your weapon while pointing at companions during missions, and you cannot even draw your weapons under normal circumstances while in camp. However, any Splash Damage you cause, for example using fire bottles, dynamite, or by shooting explosive containers, can still harm and kill your companions.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Micah. The rest of the Van der Linde gang are a group of outlaws who nonetheless view each other as a sort of family unit. All with the exception of Micah, a violent psychopath who often goes out of his way to antagonize other members of the gang and otherwise act like a massive asshole. The only reason he's able to stick around is because he's a competent gunman and he's really good at sucking up to Dutch, who goes through a steady decline as the game goes on. Eventually, by the end, he sells the gang out to the Pinkertons to save his own skin.
  • Friends with Benefits: Sean and Karen have a bit of a relationship like this.
  • From Bad to Worse:
    • The beginning of the game sees the gang in a bad spot - lost in a blizzard, two people are dead, one was captured, and the rest are hunted by the Pinkertons and other bounty hunters after a botched ferry job forces them to run off east (the opposite direction of where they wanted) without money and low on supplies.
    • The end of Chapter 4 through the beginning of Chapter 6 is basically a Trauma Conga Line of things getting worse for the gang. A bank heist in Saint Denis goes awry, resulting in the death of two gang members and the capture of a third. In order to escape, the survivors from the heist group stow aboard a ship bound for Cuba which wrecks along the way. They end up on the island of Guarma, a nightmare of a corporate police state run by a corrupt sugar baron. They are captured, one is wounded, and then the survivors must aid the local resistance in order to secure passage back to America. Finally, when they arrive and regroup with the rest of the gang, they are almost immediately beset by Pinkertons who bring a veritable army to take the gang down.
  • Full-Boar Action: Wild boars can be hunted in the southern areas of the map. They are quite hardy and can take several rifle shots to the body before going down.
  • Futureshadowing: Edgar Ross meets Jack Marston for the first time at a river bank while Jack is fishing. Jack Marston meets Edgar Ross for the last time at a river bank, although Ross is duck hunting instead of fishing.
    Ross: Enjoy your fishing, kid... while you still can.
  • The Gadfly: This is the raison d'être of the avant-garde French artist Charles Châtenay, who strives "to provoke, to challenge" his audience — primarily through nude paintings of people they'd prefer not to see nude. Even while fleeing town, he claims that there's no difference between being loved and being hated, as long as he makes an impact.
  • Gainax Ending: Played With. The player probably understands the ending of the "Geography for beginners" stranger mission, but it's clear that poor Arthur is very, very confused about the whole thing. To recap:Francis, the guy who gives you the mission is gone by the time you return to his cabin. Instead, inside you find a mural depicting skyscrapers and him walking through a circle. Seconds later, a woman walks in and reveals that the only Francis in their household is the 1-year old she's holding in her hands. Our Main Character notices that the baby really appears to be the man they interacted with earlier, and leaves the cabin confused about the whole thing. Most players have enough knowledge about Time Travel Tropes to understand the implications, while Arthur doesn't.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • There are reports of a few items (camera, lantern, fishing rod, throwing knives) disappearing from the player's inventory once you enter the epilogue. While throwing knives can be forced back into your inventory by crafting a special variant (you still have them, but just can't equip them), the lantern, camera, and fishing rod cannot. Unfortunately, the camera is required on the legendary duelists side mission, while the fishing rod is required to catch all of the legendary fish (some of which can only be caught in the epilogue without exploits) so these become outright impossible to complete. What triggers this is a total unknown as it doesn't affect everybody, but one possible trigger may be dying and restarting a checkpoint after Arthur gives his satchel to John.
    • Ammo will sometimes disappear from your inventory. Sometimes its just for one gun (most commonly the Varmint Rifle) and other times it is for an entire "class" of weapons (those which share the same ammo type, so repeaters, rifles, and shotguns). Exactly what causes it is unknown, but players have seemingly traced it to the upgraded bandolier which doubles your "long gun" ammo capacity. Even then, what triggers it is unknown as some players with the upgraded bandolier never experience while others experience it several times in a single play through.
    • While players are supposed to be able to fully grow out a beard, the growth system can be glitchy and they may not be able to do so. How it is even supposed to work is uncertain. The most common theory is that maximum beard length is tied to story progression, yet some report that they can grow Arthur's beard to its maximum length as early as Chapter 2, and others say they can't grow a beard past level 6 or 7 even after beating the game and drinking several hair growth potions each day. Hair growth seems to work fine, however.
  • Game Engine: Runs on Rockstar's "RAGE" engine.
  • Game Gourmet: There are two main categories of consumables - tonics and provisions. The former consists of a variety of items that restore health, stamina, or Dead Eye and are either store-bought or brewed by the player at a campfire. The latter consists mostly of actual food and drink, falling squarely into this trope, and consuming them increases one or two Cores, which govern the regeneration of the meter they're tied to. Fruits, vegetables and snacks restore the Health Core, coffee, chocolate and other stimulants restore the Stamina Core, and cigarettes, cigars and various types of alcohol restore the Dead Eye Core. Lastly, campfire-cooked meat restores all three Cores at once - the bigger the game, the bigger the recovery. Cores are always constantly draining, and while the player can't starve to death, having completely empty Cores often puts the player at a disadvantage.
  • Game Hunting Mechanic: Hunting has been made even more realistic here, with the values of the catches being dependent on the freshness of the meat and the cleanliness of the kill.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Averted. Your allies can be killed when involved with missions which results in mission failure. The game prevents you from shooting them directly, but they can still be killed by explosions you instigate.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • Once you switch to John, your ability to swim is gone. You can still save yourself if you're close to the shore, but John will go into a complete panic and his stamina, core included, will be depleted instantly.
    • It's known that Arthur has a way with words and art, as shown in his journal, while John is... Just compare his sketching and Arthur's in the epilogue.
    • Once you reach chapter 6 (or you're in the middle of Chapter 5) and Arthur is diagnosed with TB, he starts thinking about making amends, even at low honor. In turn, the game begins to nudge the player to redeem him by allowing them to reach max honor. In addition, the side quests and debt collection missions in the chapters allow forgoing rewards and absolve the debts. So to say, you unlock Arthur's conscience.
    • Also once you get to Chapter 6, Arthur's journal gets increasingly illegible due to his handwriting as his disease progresses. The entry about the "Dear John" Letter he gets from Mary in particular is pretty much impossible to read unless you use the text function.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • John starts off with whichever level of Dead Eye Arthur had, while in 1 he had to learn abilities already available here.
    • Several of the collection missions can be started as Arthur but can only be completed as John, since a few of the items needed to be collected (fossil locations, legendary fish, etc.) are only available once the rest of the map opens up in the epilogue. None of the quest-givers seem to notice that it took 8 years to collect everything, and all of the quest items are still available, with none having been found by the quest-giver themselves or any other agents the quest-giver may have. Finally, when John does complete a collection quest, all the quest-givers act as if John had done the whole thing by himself; in fact, none even observe that they had originally given the quest to someone else, or question why a random stranger they'd never met before is mailing them the things that they asked another guy for 8 years prior.
    • It's kind of a given, but it counts; you can put in 2,000... 5,000... 10,000... hell, 50,000+ dollars into the contribution box if you're willing and able. Doesn't matter. The story will truck on with Dutch and the gang insisting that they just don't have enough money to escape the outlaw life.
      • Similarly, the epilogue treats John as completely broke, even if you collected many thousands of dollars of valuables as Arthur and never sold them, thus having them carry over to John via Arthur's satchel. With the amount of money you can make from selling things at the beginning of the epilogue, John could have outright bought Beecher's Hope and not had to go on all the bounty hunt story missions with Sadie just to make the mortgage payments.
    • Taking a bath after going after Thomas Downes does absolutely nothing once after you visit him for his loan. This is the one mission where it triggers Arthur contracting tuberculosis and it is mandatory.
    • Between 1899 and 1907, the Marston family is constantly relocating thanks to John's inability to keep his revolver in his holster. Once you start playing as him, nothing stops you from committing crimes in public, as canon dictates that John and Abigail live the rest of their lives in Beecher's Hope. John could massacre the entirety of Blackwater without getting his family in trouble.
    • Health Tonics can be used to bring you back from brutal injuries, however no one seems to think of them when it comes to the story. For example, John spends weeks recovering from his injuries in Chapter 1 and no one thinks to give one to Dutch after his traumatic head injury in Chapter 4. Making this one more flagrant than most health item/story injury examples is that you can offer them injured Strangers during numerous random encounters.
    • The whole of Chapter 3 involves the gang working the Braithwaites and the Grays in order to find and steal a stash of gold each family claims the other has. But as early as Chapter 2 Arthur can find a letter from 1806 in the swamp near San Denis from Lucile Braithwaite to Douglas Gray, the two had fallen in love and ran away to elope, stealing the gold in the process. Finding this letter has no effect on the story or Dutch and Hosea's quest for the 'hillbilly gold'.
    • Sometime after collecting the debt from Thomas Downes, Edith may visit the camp as a random encounter and tell Thomas is dead. Arthur even expresses regret about how things turned out. However, Arthur is also told this little fact in a story mission cutscene later in the game, and the game treats like it's the first time he hears about it.
  • Gang of Hats: Much like the previous installment, most of the gangs are identifiable by some physical aspects and all by unique behavior.
    • The Van der Linde gang revolves around Equal-Opportunity Evil (they are the most diverse of all gangs) and Dutch's idiosyncratic anarchist ideology.
    • The O'Driscolls are all Irish immigrants and Irish Americans, who all wear green accessories possibly as a tribute to their heritage.
    • The Lemoyne Raiders are a neo-Confederate militia that relies on robbery, moonshining, and gunrunning to finance their ongoing war; they all wear Confederate uniforms.
    • Angelo Bronte's gang are all Italians in nice suits, almost certainly an early Mafia family (though never named) or possibly Camora.
    • The Murfree Brood are severely inbred yokels who torture and cannibalize their victims; they rarely wear shirts.
    • The Night Folk wear primitive clothes and only use bows and melee weapons, they never talk and many wonder if they are fully human
    • The Del Lobos are stereotypical Mexican banditos.
    • The Laramie Gang serves as hired thugs for wealthy ranchers to bully poor homesteaders, they all wear fine clothes and red neckerchiefs.
    • The Skinner Brothers are a multiethnic gang of sadists who torture their victims much like the Murfree Brood.
  • Gargle Blaster:
    • Moonshine, much like in the real world. It is extremely flammable, meaning it is a very high proof. You can still drink it for a temporary health boost.
    • Aged Pirate Rum. Though the game takes place in the past, it is still some 200 years after the golden age of piracy. Booze that old would not be pleasant to drink.
  • Gatling Good: Mounted M1908 Maxim machine guns are used in this role. They'll be used against you in several missions, and you can sometimes take control of them. Oddly, the first game, set 12 years later, is more technologically backwards, featuring things like Gatling guns and wood-burning locomotives more appropriate to the 1870s. Of course, this was a function of RDR 1's troperific homages to Hollywood westerns, anachronisms be damned. The appearance of 1908 Maxims in 1899 is equally anachronistic, in the other direction (the U.S. Army's MG at the time was the Colt M1895 "potato digger.")
  • Generic Ethnic Crime Gang:
    • The O'Driscolls are the primary rival of the Van der Linde gang and are almost entirely Irish in terms of ethnicity.
    • The Lemoyne Raiders are made up of ex-Confederate soldiers and other southerners they've drawn to their cause.
    • Angelo Bronte is The Don of an Italian proto-mafia gang in Saint Denis.
  • Gentle Giant: Large game including Elk, Moose, Buffalo, and even Black Bears are entirely non-hostile. It is possible for them to trample you if you get in their way, but they won't intentionally attack you.
  • Genre Shift: The first half of Chapter 5 turns the game from a western sandbox to a [1]-esque jungle adventure.
  • Get It Over With: After turning in a bounty alive, you may witness them being publicly executed next time you're in town. Most are hardened career criminals who have an attitude like this.
  • Ghibli Hills: West Elizabeth to the north and west of Strawberry. It's a hilly forested area with mountain streams, peaceful lakes, plentiful wildlife, and is relatively untouched by man.
  • Ghost Town:
    • Colter is an abandoned mining town that serves as the gang's hideout during Chapter 1.
    • Limpany is a small town devastated by a fire and then abandoned.
    • Pleasance is a small community that was hit with the double whammy of a mass murder followed by a plague outbreak. Its few buildings are boarded up as a result.
  • Ghost Train: A spectral train can appear on railroad tracks.
  • Give Me Your Inventory Item: Several Stranger encounters involve giving items like Health Tonics to NPCs who are sick after eating poisonous plants or who have been bitten by a snake. While you can simply ignore them or choose not to give them the item, you'll generally take a hit to your honor.
  • Golden Ending: While still rather bittersweet, the ending you get with high Honor, a fully bonded horse, making The Atoner-style choices in Chapter 6, and choosing to hold the line to allow the Marston family to escape is generally considered the best possible ending.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: A combat option. You'll get into quite a few brawls over the course of the game where you'll fight in this fashion.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: It is a game set in the Old West, so characters of all moralities can be seen throughout the game smoking like chimneys. This even includes Arthur, who will be smoking in a number of cut scenes even if you try to actively avoid doing so in gameplay (smoking recharges your Dead Eye core at the cost of some Stamina). A high Honor Arthur gets several of the "Good Smoking" exemptions, including being a badass and (depending on who you ask) being sexy.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Rockstar seems to be actively trying to invert this.
    • Some kills activate a kill cam, which shows off the gun's moving parts and the bullet hitting the target in all its gory detail.
    • The majority of animals are skinned onscreen. For larger animals, this means plunging a knife into its stomach and peeling the skin off. For birds and small game, you pick them up and rip their skin/feathers off with your bare hands.
  • Gotta Catch Them All:
    • Several Stranger missions involve locating/collecting large numbers of items like dinosaur bones, rock carvings, specific perfect condition animal specimens, legendary fish, etc.
    • Several Challenges have requirements in this vein, such as taming one of every kind of horse or picking one of every type of plant.
  • Go Wait Outside: Numerous side missions only advance to the next stage 24 in-game hours after completing the previous mission in the chain. However, nothing is stopping you from simply setting up camp and sleeping for that time to quickly advance them. Conversely, you'll be chastised at the start of some main missions with characters making statements along the lines of "what took you so long" even if you immediately begin that mission at the conclusion of the previous.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: In the end credits, Mary visits Arthur's grave (which has a Celtic cross headstone signifying his Welsh heritage), and demonstrates that despite everything that happened between them, she still cares for him. If he was played honorably through to the very end, then his grave is also adorned with a bunch of flowers to add a bit of cheerfulness to this otherwise bittersweet scene. John Marston can also visit the graves of his fallen comrades, including Arthur, for the "Paying Respects" achievement. If the player reaches 100% Completion, John also visits said grave and writes on Arthur's journal as "Unshaken" plays in the background, and says, "Guess we're just about done, my friend."
  • Gravity Barrier: Used in several areas on the edges of the map. Slopes less than what you've climbed to get to them suddenly send you sliding back down when you try to climb them.
  • Great Escape: An early Chapter 2 mission has you breaking Micah out of the Strawberry jail. Naturally, it gets...noisy...and attracts the attention of the law.
  • Green Aesop: Killing too many animals in quick succession results in honor loss. Most easily seen by shooting down a flock of birds in a single deadeye use and/or by dynamite fishing.
  • Green Hill Zone: The gang's first two camps at Horseshoe Overlook and Clemens' Point qualify. Both are in green wilderness areas surrounded by plentiful non-hostile wildlife and have relatively peaceful (until the actions of the gang itself disrupt the peace) nearby towns.
  • Grim Up North: The northern areas of the map are covered in deep snow bounded by tall mountain ranges. They're home to dangerous creatures including Grizzly Bears and packs of Wolves. Naturally, the Downer Beginning Chapter 1 and the Bittersweet Ending final epilogue mission take place up here, book-ending the story.
  • Groin Attack: One sidequest features a pair of brothers trying to prove their manliness to a woman by having Arthur punch them to see who has the higher pain tolerance. You start with their faces, go down to their stomachs, and end the section by kicking them in the crotch, which causes both of them to collapse.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The only advice the game gives you in regards to disguising yourself to avoid gaining a bounty while committing crimes is to wear a mask, neglecting to mention that depending on the situation there are several other steps involved. This can bite players in the ass hard during the story and land you with at least one pretty hefty bounty. This Reddit post covers some of the finer details that even the official guide doesn't mention, but the general gist is this: disguises and masks help keep witnesses from giving a good positive ID, as lawmen that witness you will ID you no matter what, and the time it takes a witness to report to the law giving you the time to either run, hide, or change your appearance in any way before they show up to investigate. Changing your appearance can equate to getting a haircut and shave or just changing clothes to an outfit you have stored on your horse, be it a custom outfit or one of the many presets. Hanging around an investigation site makes the lawmen suspicious of you, with a good chance of them IDing you as the culprit and likely either firing on you or trying to arrest you.
    • The game doesn't tell you all of the bonuses of crafted saddles, particularly that they also include the bonuses of stirrups (which can't be changed while using a crafted saddle). For example, the best purchasable saddle has the bonuses of 16/14/16 and the best stirrups have the bonuses of +2 to top speed and acceleration and a 50% slower stamina drain rate. In comparison, the stable menu tells you that the craftable alligator saddle has the stats of 20/24/22 and a 50% slower stamina drain, with no mention of the +2 bonuses that would come with the stirrups. However, the +2 bonus is actually still present, but it can only be seen on the horse section of the pause menu.
    • Finding specific animals for hunting and fishing. The game thankfully hands you a map early on of Legendary animal spawns and reinforces these with a pop up letting you know that you've entered their territory. However, for rare standard animals, finding them can be a real challenge. Need that Perfect Panther pelt to upgrade your satchel? They only spawn in two locations, and there are numerous circumstances which may cause them to not spawn. Some of the smaller animals can be an even greater challenge due to a combination of their size and infrequent spawns, such as the badger.
    • The owl talisman is a reward you get by beating an optional late-game mission without killing anyone, and slows down all core drain by 15%. Every other talisman avoids this, as the required items that only spawn once cannot be sold.
    • Want to keep John's white gambler hat? You need to have someone punch it off and have John pick it up during the first half of the epilogue.
    • Want to keep Arthur's money into the epilogue? There's actually a way to do it, but it's incredibly obscure. You have to go to the Aberdeen farm and drink until you pass out, which results in the Aberdeens taking all of Arthur's money and putting it in their secret stash. Then you just leave and complete the rest of the main game, reach the epilogue, and then complete enough missions to unlock the free-roam portion of the epilogue. Then you can go back to the Aberdeen farm, kill everyone there, and take the money out of the safe.
  • Guns Akimbo: Borrowing from Rockstar's earlier work on Max Payne 3, you can dual-wield pistols for extra firepower.
  • Guns in Church: You can carry firearms with you almost everywhere. When entering camp, your long guns will typically be left on your horse, but you still keep your sidearms and knife on your person. A few story missions will require you to turn in your guns as well, averting the trope.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: NPCs can be rather irascible and don't appreciate it if the player (almost) bumps into them or, if they're even grouchier, stands too close to them for more than a moment. Those of a generally violent disposition are definitely this trope, being more than willing to start an (armed) fight over the smallest things.
  • Hammerspace: Averted in some respects, unlike in I.
    • You can carry up to two sidearms and two longarms on your person, period. Switching which weapons you're carrying requires either going into a town with a gunsmith and switching them out there if you're somehow without your main horse, or switching them out from your main horse's saddlebags.
    • You're limited with the number of animal carcasses you can strap to your horse: two moderate animals and one medium/large animal. Small animals are put in Arthur's satchel, while massive animals can only be carved on the spot. Pelts and feathers work differently: feathers and small/moderate pelts go into your satchel, medium/large pelts are draped over your horse's back and can be stacked, while massive pelts take up the medium/large carcass spot.
    • Zig-zagged with Arthur's satchel, gun belt, bandoleer, and saddlebag, which each act more like a Bag of Holding.
      • Satchel: You can carry a limited number of each item, but there appears to be no limit as to the sheer variety of stuff you can carry in each of the six categories. The carry capacity can be increased by upgrading your satchel, with the Legend of the East satchel boosting your capacity for everything to 99.
      • Saddlebags: You can initially carry only three outfits/hats/masks in them, but buying upgraded saddlebags from any of the stables will boost that limit to five. All while looking like they'd be lucky enough to store one outfit. They can also carry all of your weapons, with guns just appearing and disappearing when you take them out and put them back.
      • Ammunition: Each weapon type has a certain limit for how much ammo you can carry for each type (for example: revolvers and repeaters have caps of 200 for regular/express/high velocity ammo, 100 for split point, and 10 for explosive). Buying the upgraded gun belt (revolvers and pistols) and bandoleer (repeaters, rifles, shotguns) will upgrade your max ammo by 50%, while buying any of the reinforced gun belts and bandoleers from the Saint Denis trapper will upgrade your ammo max by 100%. Note that once you buy an upgrade to your satchnel, gun belt or bandolier, their effects are permanent, even if you don't actually wear them.
  • Hammerspace Police Force:
    • On certain missions, the lawmen sent after you will continue to spawn infinitely. Kill as many as you want, the game will keep sending more after you. In cases like this, the objective becomes escape.
    • In free roam, killing enough of the lawmen sent after you following a crime will stop them from coming after you. However, this typically results in a high bounty, after which bounty hunters will continue to spawn if you stay in the state in which you have the bounty. Played straight in and around Blackwater until the Epilogue, where federal agents will spawn infinitely if you're spotted.
  • Handicapped Badass: Despite being terminally-ill with tuberculosis, Arthur still manages to hold off a large number of Pinkerton agents and later fights the healthy Micah to a draw. Things may have turned out very differently indeed if Arthur had been in fit condition during the ending.
  • Hard-Coded Hostility: Rival gangs will be immediately hostile if you enter their camps or hideouts. A possible random encounter in their territories are ambushes set to take you out.
  • Has Two Mommies: Gender inversion. After the deaths of his biological parents, Arthur was a street urchin scooped up by Dutch and Hosea who raised him together before they started their gang. Even twenty years on, Arthur still sees them as his family, and writes in his journal that he loves both of them dearly. They are explicitly called his parents a couple times in the game.
  • Hat Damage: It is possible to remove people's hats with a well placed shot. They can also be knocked off in a melee fight. This can also happen to you as well.
  • Hate Sink:
    • The kids in Saint Denis involved in robbing Arthur's satchel. Further cementing this is the fact that it's something that can happen to anyone in real life if they're a little too trusting. The experience is probably more personal than getting shot.
    • All of the rival gangs have their negative attributes played up to instill player hatred and make the Van der Linde gang look much more reasonable by comparison. Colm O'Driscoll is a Smug Snake who believes in quantity over quality when it comes to his gang members. The Lemoyne Raiders are The Remnant of the Confederacy, complete with anti-Federalist ideals and loads of racism. The Night Folk are barely human cannibalistic monsters. The Murfree Brood are inbred Hillbilly Horrors who torture their victims and launch sneak attacks. The Skinner Brothers are a loose collection of criminals who engage Cold-Blooded Torture for its own sake.
  • Healing Potion: Health Tonics and some alcoholic beverages work in this fashion.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Horses can be named and renamed at stables. For some reason, in a game where it's possible to decapitate someone with a shotgun, profane names are not permitted in spite of the game's dialogue being profanity ridden.
  • The Hero Dies: Arthur, already terminally ill with tuberculosis, performs a Heroic Sacrifice at the end.
  • Heroic RRoD: A high Honor Arthur in the final mission succumbs to tuberculosis worsened by overexertion.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Two examples from Arthur.
    • The first example is when Arthur gets diagnosed with tuberculosis - he is told that he may survive longer if he retires somewhere warm and dry, but he chooses to stick with the gang anyway. He continues to help others in this condition despite knowing that it will lead to his inevitable death.
    • The second example is when Arthur decides to stay and hold back the Pinkertons while John escapes with his family. Unlike John in the original RDR, Arthur manages to successfully hold off the attackers without losing his life in the process, only dying when Micah intervenes.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Arthur is very hard on himself in this regard, whether he's played at high or low Honor. He never misses a chance to voice his self-loathing. He constantly brushes off people whenever they compliment him or tell him how he's a good person and that they like him, and he even calls himself an "ugly bastard" when he looks at himself in a mirror.
  • He's Back: The Epilogue opens with John, now going by the name Jim Milton, working at Pronghorn Ranch for David Geddes, who's being hassled by the Laramie Gang. One night, the gang attacks the ranch and John, having had enough of them, suits up for a shootout in the mission "Jim Milton Rides Again" to show that John Marston is back!
  • He Was Right There All Along: Cougars and Panthers are ambush predators who can pull this on you. Perhaps you're sneaking through a wooded area hunting when, suddenly, you hear a growl and see a red dot appear on your mini-map. From that point, you have about one second to active Dead Eye, lock onto the creature, and fire a kill shot before it pounces, killing you.
  • Hidden Depths: Arthur engages in some surprisingly deep and interesting philosophical discussions with various characters over the course of the story, quite an accomplishment for a gunslinging outlaw with no formal education. His journal entries also provide insight into his thoughts, and are more eloquently written than how he speaks. He will get called out on this by a couple of people, most notably Dutch.
  • Hide Your Children:
    • Downplayed, as there are children present throughout the game, but not in the "open world" portions. They can only be interacted with in cut scenes, preventing you from harming them.
    • Played straight with animals, as you will only encounter adult animals.
  • Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Each rival gang wears something that makes them identifiable, ranging from Downplayed with the O'Driscolls wearing bits of green to the Lemoyne Raiders playing it straight with old Confederate uniforms. Each of these groups are outlaws who shouldn't logically want to call attention to this fact.
  • Hillbilly Horrors: There are a lot of creepy folks hanging around the woods and swamps in various areas of the map. More than one gang also have this as a theme, most notably the inbred Cannibal Clan known as the Murfree Brood.
  • History Repeats: A subtle one, but noteworthy nonetheless. John gives his life so Jack can have a normal life in the first game, only for the boy to throw it all away years later in pursuit of vengeance. In this game, Arthur does the same so that John can leave his outlaw days behind, only for the latter to ruin it by attacking Micah's gang to avenge the former and putting himself back on the law's radar.
    • In the final mission before the Epilogue of the first and second game, Edgar Ross leads an army of government men to kill members of the Van der Linde gang at their respective home/hideout. In the first game, its the U.S. Army attacking Beecher's Hope to kill John with Uncle being an added collateral casualty. In the second game, its the Pinkerton Detective Agency attacking Beaver Hollow to kill any gang members that haven't already fled or have been executed already.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Thomas Downes coughs on Arthur while the latter is beating him to recover a debt. There's even a particular moment where he coughs right in Arthur's face and Arthur wipes it in disgust. Downes' wife comes out and reveals that Downes is sick as he lies there coughing and struggling for breath. This is how Arthur caught TB. The music that plays in the ride back to camp clues the player into something major having just happened.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Night is always brightly lit by the full moon, so it's never more than a little dim, and shadows are still strongly apparent.
  • Hollywood Density: The gold bars found throughout the game are easily handled with one hand.
  • Hollywood History: Rockstar took great paints to Avert, Subvert, or at least Downplay, many classic-but-inaccurate "Wild West" tropes. For example, the game is realistically diverse in terms of races. Blacks, Mexicans, Asians, Native Americans, and many European nationalities (Irish, Scots, Poles, Germans, Italians, and even an instance of Scandinavians) are represented. The law, while still corrupt in places, is portrayed as more well-meaning and competent than in most media centered around outlaw main characters.
  • Holy Ground: The Native American Burial Ground is considered such a site. Shooting animals on or near it causes you to lose honor.
  • Home Base:
    • The camp. While in the gang's camp, Arthur can sleep, play minigames, change clothes, shave his beard and socialize with the other members. This base's location changes several times throughout the story. In the epilogue, as the gang has dispanded and John replaces Arthur, the camp is replaced by first the Pronghorn ranch and later Beecher's Hope.
    • Camping is still a game mechanic, but while you can sleep, cook food and craft at them, they lack the character customization aspects of the main camp. They're more akin to temporary bases.
    • As many of the enterable houses in the wilderness have beds on them yet their owners never appear, it's possible to take over any of them and treat them as one. However, as the game doesn't treat them as camps, they don't offer anything else than the ability to sleep inside them.
  • Honorary Uncle:
    • Uncle isn't a blood relative of anyone in the gang, yet everyone still refers to him as such.
    • Jack refers to the adult male gang members as "Uncle" including Arthur and Hosea.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Several of the female members of the Van der Linde gang contribute in this fashion. Abigail is retired from this life since having Jack, but a few others still actively engage and, based on the conversations you can have with them, are quite lovely people. Part of an early Chapter 2 mission has you rescue Karen when one of her Johns reacts angrily to her attempting to rob him.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: One of the vaudeville shows in Saint Denis features a strongwomen named Hortensia, who claims that no man can beat her in a fist fight and challenges anyone from the audience to do so. Climbing on stage and taking the challenge will inevitably result in you getting your ass beaten unconscious and thrown out the back door of the show. Even if you are skilled enough to knock her down it makes no difference; once you've done that, her next attack on you is guaranteed to be a One-Hit KO. The game will also not let you shoot her either.
  • Horse Archer: You've got a bow and you'll be spending a lot of time on horseback. While this can be an effective way to hunt, going after human enemies armed with actual firearms requires some real skill.
  • Hospitality for Heroes: Having a high Honor gets you discounts of up to 50% at stores. It also makes it easier to Defuse situations which may escalate to violence.
  • Hot Coffee Minigame: Downplayed but present when bathing in most hotels. You have the option for a deluxe bath in which an attractive woman helps you bathe. You can give inputs on body parts to wash and make small talk.
  • Hub City: Saint Denis is the largest and most populous city in the game. It has one of every kind of merchant, including a Trapper, and has a high volume of missions available. Its only downside is that it isn't centrally located, being at the far southern end of the map which can make trekking there tedious.
  • Human Pincushion: Arrows will stick in targets and show until you collect them. If you intentionally aim for non-vital shots with standard or small-game arrows on a human opponent, they can limp around still alive with numerous arrows stuck in them.
  • Hunk: Arthur is a very handsome and charming cowboy with rugged features. Other characters even compliment him on his good looks, depending on how well-groomed his appearance is. He starts the game off as a "bad man" and continues to believe that of himself, but other people tell him otherwise. He gets some "attractiveness points" for being polite and courteous towards women, compared to others who are dismissive and speaks to them in a condescending or derogatory way.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: Hunting any predatory animal can become this if they detect you first. However, the Legendary Panther takes the cake. Every other legendary animal has you follow a series of clues before the animal will spawn. When hunting the Legendary Panther, it spawns to ambush you after finding the third clue. You'll need to dodge its One-Hit KO pounce before you can kill it.
  • Hunter Trapper:
    • Plenty are found as NPCs. Trappers are merchants who buy hides and can craft items for you. Many are found as random encounters, such as trappers with their leg caught in their own traps and hunters in the wilderness with their fresh kills on a horse in tow.
    • This is perhaps the most lucrative honorable way to make money in the game. Find perfect animal specimens, kill them in the least damaging way possible (typically a varmint rifle or bow/arrow), skin them, and then sell their hides.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Consumables take effect instantly, and you can chow down hundreds of pounds of edibles or gallons of liquid at once if you choose. Subverted in Chapter 6 once Arthur's tuberculosis symptoms take full effect. You'll only gain benefit from eating a small quantity of food. You can still continue to consume more, but it won't have any beneficial effect.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Arthur to Dutch. Arthur even refers to himself as the "workhorse" of the gang. Virtually all of the gang's successes occur thanks to Arthur's presence, while he also helps to minimize the failures including saving the lives of nearly every other gang member at least once during the main story. Arthur is also apparently the only gang member providing food and, if you choose to do so, will contribute by far the majority of funds to the camp.
  • Hyperspace Mallet: All of the guns not currently equipped to your person are stored on your horse, though only two (plus the bow) will be visible at once.
  • I Fought the Law and the Law Won: Sleepy towns with a Sheriff and maybe a few deputies will suddenly be throwing dozens of heavily armed lawmen at you during major heists. Additionally, if you commit crimes in the countryside, witnesses will be able to report it in less than a minute and the surrounding roads will be swarmed with lawmen on horseback shortly after.
  • I Have Your Wife: In Chapter 3, the Braithwaites attempt to pull this on the gang by kidnapping Jack. Cue a Roaring Rampage of Rescue by the gang which results in the deaths of all the Braithwaite sons and their mansion burned to the ground.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Night Folk are cannibalistic.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: Just before his Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the main story, Arthur passes his hat and satchel on to John.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: The U.S. Army, just like in the first game, are seen wielding a different weapon instead of what should be the standard service rifle at the time. In the first game, it was the Krag-Jørgensen in place of the Springfield 1903. Here, it's the Winchester Model 1866 instead of the Krag-Jørgensen. The first game got a pass simply because the Springfield isn't in the game, but they get no such excuse here, where the correct service rifle is a usable weapon.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: As usual, with "Rockstar Games Presents" on the cover.
  • Incredibly Conspicuous Drag:
    • Charles Châtenay dresses up as a woman to escape Saint Denis in his final mission. He does not shave his facial hair and wears a low-cut dress which shows off his chest hair.
    • "Margaret" the animal tamer is a buff, mustachioed man in a dress who thinks a female animal wrangler will attract a bigger audience. Making matters worse, he has an actual woman as his assistant.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Near the end of the game, Arthur is diagnosed with tuberculosis and may very well succumb to it should the player have a high enough honor to earn a relatively peaceful death. Justified, as there was no real treatment for tuberculosis at that time.
  • Indy Ploy:
    • In terms of the narrative, despite all of his reassurances that he "has a plan", it becomes more obvious over time that Dutch has devolved into this. By Chapter 6, several gang members including John and even Arthur himself begin to call Dutch out on this.
    • You can count on one hand the number of missions which actually go according to plan in the main story. When they do go off the rails, Arthur steps up in this regard. Most often, the new plan becomes "shoot your way out".
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Milliken, a Sisika Penitentiary guard, is reduced to this when he’s used as a hostage in order to bust John out of prison.
  • Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat: You can come upon campsites and homesteads which have been explicitly abandoned for several years in some cases, yet still contain consumable items. This is arguably Justified in the case of canned goods and alcohol, but is not for items like bread, crackers, and cheese.
  • Infinite Stock For Sale: All merchants carry enough stock in non-unique items to fill your inventory to the max. When you've bought up to your limit, the item will be marked as "sold out" in the catalogue. You can then immediately turn around, use or discard one of the items, re-enter the purchase screen, and the item will be available once again.
  • Informed Equipment:
    • Only two trinkets/talismans can be equipped to your character at a time, however, the effects from all of them are applied regardless of which two you are wearing.
    • Several outfits and disguises are not compatible with the bandolier, so it will not show on your character. However, its effects (doubling rifle and shotgun ammunition) are still applied.
  • Informed Flaw:
    • Arthur states on several occasions that he is a lousy fisherman. However, you can catch every fish species in the game and even all of the legendary fish without issue.
    • Wearing crafted clothing will get you funny looks and people joking about Arthur's choice of clothes (and not entirely without reason) yet some of the supposedly weird clothing looks completely normal but still causes these comments. For example, the coyote scout jacket looks almost identical to those found in stores, yet talking to people while wearing it will still cause amusement in NPCs.
  • In-Game TV: Like its predecessor, you can go to theaters and watch short projected films with narration.
  • Injured Player Character Stage:
    • During a Chapter 3 mission, Arthur is captured and tortured by O'Driscolls. Beaten and shot through the shoulder, you'll need to escape their camp.
    • During the opening of Chapter 5, Arthur washes up on Guarma following a ship wreck. He's exhausted, sunburned, and dehydrated. You'll control him as he stumbles to find the rest of the surviving gang members.
    • Toward the end of Chapter 6, Arthur gets ambushed and injured by Micah while in his final stages of TB. You have to fight off Micah for as long as you can, and if you went with John, you'll have to crawl over to Micah's revolver in the final part of the fight while he's chasing after you; if you went for the loot, you'll have to dodge his Finishing Moves via knife attack (though, depending on your honor, Arthur will either get a few more cuts and stab wounds (low) or none at all (high)).
  • Inn Security: The first time you make camp in Murfree Brood territory, you'll be interrupted as you sit by the fire by two members of the brood who threaten you to leave their land. Should make camp in their territory again, it is possible that they will attack.
  • Insistent Terminology: Whenever Seamus’ cousins are brought up, he always refers to them as cousins by marriage.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Had the Greys shot anyone but Sean, the first game wouldn't have happened. He was accompanied by Arthur, Bill and Micah, all of whom are important to the events of the first game.
  • Instakill Mook: Cougars and Panthers have a pounce attack which, if it lands, will instantly kill the player character regardless of health.
  • Instant Death Bullet: A headshot with most weapons on a human enemy will kill them instantly. This is also true for most animals, however, larger animals like bears and buffalo can shrug off single headshots from weaker weapons.
  • Insult to Rocks: One of the "Antagonize" conversations with Sadie:
    Arthur: I'd call you a fishwife, but I'd be insulting the fish.
  • Interface Screw: Drinking several alcoholic beverages in a short time will cause the screen to blur and your movements to become slower and more clumsy.
  • Interface Spoiler: Both actively Averted and also played straight.
    • Until the story is actually completed, the number of total story missions (the grand total being a whopping 109) on the progress tab is listed as "???".
    • The screen that shows how far you are in the story in the "Progress" tab? In an aversion, Arthur dies at 75%. The rest of the game is about John building Beecher's Hope.
    • Those with keen eyes may notice that John's equipment is stored in the exact same places as Arthur's. This is to reuse the existing character animations once you switch to John. Some people actually figured out the twist from mere screenshots because of this.
    • There's also a bizarre zig-zag of this. Wait, why does Arthur have the option to upgrade John's tent? What good does that do me? We're not playing as John....yet. However, the camp upgrades become unavailable once you actually switch to John.
    • If you browse the items that a Fence can craft, you will see that a lion paw trinket is available, which gives away a huge surprise in the "He's British, Of Course" side mission.
    • The more dishonorable players of I may recognize Micah's horse, Baylock, as being the spitting image of the "Dark Horse", which was only available in I to a low-honor John. It may come as little surprise then, that Micah is a rat and tries to sell the gang out to the Pinkertons in the end.
    • From a dialogue tree in Chapter 6: ARTHUR'S SON??? which reveals an aspect of his life he'd never brought up before.
    • There's a 'Wellbeing' stat on the Player info screen that doesn't seem to change early in the game. Once Arthur starts succumbing to tuberculosis mid-Chapter 5, it changes to 'Unwell', and once he's officially diagnosed, it reads 'Tuberculosis'. Both statuses have little effect on the game, decreasing the max Cores a bit.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: a few of these...
    • In the Chapter 2 mission "A Quiet Time", you can walk in on a couple having sex twice while looking for Lenny.
    • There's a random event in Valentine where you can stumble into being a peeping Tom. There's a man laying on the bed being spanked by a woman. If he sees you, he'll tell you he'll kill you if he sees you.
    • A variant on the above is a couple laying in bed in their underwear but high as a kite. They try to have sex but are too stoned to do it. The husband just ends up passing out on his wife.
  • Invisible Wall: While Rockstar is known for avoiding them, if the player tries to swim across the rivers that serve as map borders, they will eventually hit one of these.
  • Invulnerable Civilians: Averted, like all Rockstar sandbox games. You can gun down every single person in a given town if you are so obliged.
  • The Irish Mob: The O'Driscolls are a rare Western example.
  • Irrelevant Sidequest: Most Stranger missions, but in a positive way since it's up to the player to decide which quests they want to complete. The game even justifies it by having it explicitly recommended to you to go do things outside the main missions in order to earn money for yourself and the gang.
  • I Should Have Done This Years Ago: During the climax of Chapter 6, when John hears of Micah's treachery from Arthur while they are fleeing from the Pinkertons, John's furious reaction is: "We should have killed him months ago!"
  • It Can Think: A Downplayed example with the "she-wolf" in the third "The Veteran" mission with Hamish. She leads he and Arthur into an ambush launched by the rest of her pack. Downplayed because there is no implication of human-level intelligence, but as Arthur notes, this is behavior even beyond what an intelligent animal species like wolves can normally display.
  • Item Crafting: You can craft special weapons and ammunition out of the base items by applying other items at any campfire. For example, you can create various kinds of arrow including poisoned and dynamite varieties. You can also, very simply, create "split point" ammo with no additional ingredients (as you are simply cutting the bullets with a knife to make them act as quasi-hollow point ammunition).
  • It's Always Spring: No matter how much time actually passes in-game, it will always be May of 1899 until the main mission is complete. While the northern areas of the map are covered in snow, its specifically stated to be from a late-season storm. The rest of the world is quite green and very spring-like.
  • It's Up to You: It's almost as if mission givers outside of the main missions are just waiting for you to come along to solve their problems.
  • I Want Them Alive: In a non-villainous example, the majority of the bounty missions require that you bring the target in alive.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: The bow is designed to be the swiss army knife of hunting; it has the most variats of special ammunition, all designed to take down different animals with minimal damage to the pelt. It's downsides are its slow speed, stamina drain, and the requirement that most of said special ammunition has to be crafted.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Arthur. He is still a good man underneath his rough exterior.
  • "Join the Army", They Said: Pearson is a former Navy cook and will make complaints to this effect in his camp dialogue.
  • Just Before the End: The game tells the story of how the Van der Linde gang began its decline and how Dutch became the madman seen in the first game.
  • Just Take the Poster: When accepting bounty missions, Arthur will take the poster with him. Justified in that he wouldn't want others to know about the bounty.
  • Karma Houdini: Margaret from the side mission "He's British, Of Course". His escaped "tiger" (a painted cougar) kills his dog while his escaped lion kills two people and multiple farm animals at Emerald Ranch. The worst thing that happens to him is that he loses those animals mentioned and has to give up a $50 reward.
  • Karma Meter: The Honor system of the last game returns. High Honor brings rewards like increased payments for hunting, cleaner killcams, and discounts at merchants. Low Honor players get more money from robberies and gorier killcams, though even at maximum honor they're quite bloody.
  • Kick the Dog: Plenty of opportunity for this, from sticking up townsfolk to antagonizing homeless veterans to literally hitting dogs. For a particularly twisted example, a number of random Stranger encounters on the road have the local criminal gang robbing passers-by, a stage coach, or a stopped train. You can kill the rival gang members, which will earn you thanks from the townsfolk, then immediately turn around and rob them yourself.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Fire Bottle returns and still makes for a particularly gruesome way to dispatch enemies. Self-crafted incendiary ammo and fire arrows are also options.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Low-honor players can lean into this heavily, but even maximum-honor players can take anything with no repercussions as long as it's not owned by anyone living or on the corpse of an innocent. NPCs who notice you take their things may take offense, at which point they may run off to alert the law or just take matters into their own hands by fighting you. Unlike most games, you have several options for dealing with them, such as threatening them into not turning you in or tying them up.
  • Knife Nut: A Hunting Knife is the default melee weapon, and several unique knives can be acquired as well. It is quite useful for making stealth kills, and is used in cut scenes to skin animals and cut free hostages. Throwing knives are another option, and can be used in melee or, as the name implies, thrown to give you an option for ranged stealth kills if you don't want to take up a long gun slot with the bow.
  • Laser-Guided Karma / Tragic Mistake: The game's sense of morality, about the strength of making amends, is strong - and swings both ways. In the game's final chapters, particularly the epilogue, John struggles with the choice Arthur gave him: to live peacefully with his wife, or fall into the life he left behind. He nearly loses Abigail and Jack to it, and has to work hard to build his life back up again... but when the choice to finally kill Micah in Arthur's name comes back into his life, he can't help but take it, even as his wife is sobbing, trying to prevent him from possibly throwing their new lives away. She turns out to be right: this choice to become the gunslinger one last time, get bloody retribution and steal the windfall Micah took from the gang, despite not needing it, is then what leads Ross directly to him, spurring the plot of RDR 1 to happen and ultimately destroying his family. Much like how Jack killing Ross was not what John wanted for him, Charles points out that Arthur would not want John to do this, but like Jack, John can't help himself, and so dooms himself.
  • Land in the Saddle: It is possible to jump from up to about two stories on a horse safely. Don't try this in real life...for the horse's sake and yours.
  • The Last Dance: Arthur if you decide to help the Marston family escape at the end of the main story. After holding off waves of Pinkertons, Arthur will either be killed by Micah or succumb to his tuberculosis depending on your honor level.
  • The Leader: Kinda. Arthur Morgan, the player protagonist, is essentially the third-in-command of Dutch's gang. As Dutch is slowly losing his marbles and Hosea is killed, the more reasonable members of the gang begin to look to Arthur for orders instead of Dutch.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The mission "Jim Milton Rides, Again?" Sure, John Marston breaks his retirement to help his boss, but we all know the real meaning of the title.
  • Leave No Witnesses: It is possible to get away with crimes by killing or threatening all witnesses to it. You'll still need to leave the scene rather quickly, as any other NPCs who stumble upon it become witnesses as well.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Your allies during missions often fall into this category, especially Micah. In most cases, when the missions include your fellow gang members, they must survive or else the mission fails. Unfortunately, they often fall into some of the same Artificial Stupidity behaviors as your enemies, such as running head first toward groups of enemies entrenched in cover.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: After Agent Milton is killed, Edgar Ross descends upon Beaver Hollow and the surrounding mountainside with the full force of the Pinkertons to eradicate the Van Der Linde gang once and for all.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • While toned down a bit from the first game, cougars are still fast moving, hard-hitting killing machines that can also survive multiple shots to anywhere but their heads.
    • Bears trade a little of the cougar's speed for more raw power, but are still (realistically) quite fast moving. They too can shrug off multiple shots and can even survive headshots from weaker weapons.
  • Limited Loadout: Downplayed but present in terms of the amount of firearms you can carry on your person. You're limited to two long guns (with the bow counting as a long gun) and two sidearms. There is also a limit on the amount of ammo you can carry for each gun type, which can be increased by purchasing upgraded gear. Averted for other types of weapons, such as throwables. You are free to carry a lasso, throwing knives, tomahawks, sticks of dynamite, fire bottles, etc. all at once.
  • Littering Is No Big Deal: When consuming items from cans and bottles, Arthur just drops them wherever he is.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Downplayed. It takes about a minute to launch the game, and then another one to load up your save file, but then you don't have to look at another loading screen ever again unless you reload a save. However, you pay for it up front if you bought a physical copy, as the game has to be installed off of a separate disc before it can be played, a process that takes a few hours.
  • Loads and Loads of Sidequests: There are some 34 Stranger and Companion missions available, many of which are broken into 3-5 parts, totaling well over 100. There are also at least 25 "encounters" which pop up randomly as you travel, almost all of which can spawn repeatedly even if you've already completed them.
  • Lockpicking Minigame: Certain robbery missions have you cracking safes. Its fairly simple in that you slowly rotate a joystick in the given direction until you hear a "click", and then repeat until the safe is cracked.
  • Logo Joke: The game shows gunsmoke and two shotgun shells being loaded upon launch. The shells, marked with "ROCKSTAR GAMES EST. MCMXCVIII", are briefly seen before being fired, creating the Rockstar logo as a red silhouette.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • If you incur a large bounty, you'll need to pay it off in order to stop waves of bounty hunters from coming after you. Another option is to allow yourself to be arrested by lawmen instead. You'll go to jail and be released a short while later, with your bounty normally deducted from your cash. However, if you don't have the money to cover the bounty, you'll still be set free without having to pay.
    • Several Challenges can be completed in a significantly easier fashion than how they read. For example, one of the Marksman challenges requires killing an enemy with a tomahawk from over 80 feet away. By "enemy", it means someone automatically hostile to you, such as a rival gang member. This means no killing a random stranger camped in the wilderness. However, you can render that enemy completely helpless first by, say, tying him him up first. While he struggles helplessly, you can walk to the required distance and toss tomahawks until you hit. Similarly, the final Bandit challenge requires robbing five trains without dying or being caught. What it doesn't say is that stealthily stealing items from the baggage car qualities as a train robbery. Simply steal something, hop off, return to the train station, repeat five times.
  • Loot Command: An option to "Loot" appears when you're next to dead bodies and incapacitated individuals (either knocked out or tied up). Unlike most games, there actually is an animation of you rooting through their pockets.
  • Loveable Rogue: Sean. He makes no effort to hide the fact that he's a drinkin', shootin', robbin' outlaw, whose introduction to the gang was attempting to rob Dutch, but he's just so charming. Arthur even compares him to his "little brother" after Sean is killed.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • The Gambler Challenges. Already based on games of chance, successfully completing the challenges means not just winning, but winning in specific ways which can take a lot of time and effort. Challenge 8 in particular is frustrating for many players. It requires hitting 3 times and winning a hand of blackjack. You have to do this 3 times. Even if you get five cards, the dealer could win or tie. There are players who got it in 20 minutes, and others that have spent hours with nothing to show for it. The other challenges have some degree of skill involved, but this one is entirely luck based.
    • Hunting. Each animal's (sans legendary) condition is measured in 3 star levels, and trappers and Pearson require "Perfect" condition pelts/carcasses (3 stars). However, animals spawn in all 3 conditions, and it can take a good while before the animal spawns and even longer to find a perfect specimen. After this, you need to get a one-hit kill with a weapon that fits the animal (small caliber for small animals, rifles/bow for predators, for example), and hope the shot hits the vitals you were aiming for. And even after this, if you die or a stray bullet hits the carcass on your horse, it'll be lost or damaged respectively. Your odds can be improved with a few tricks and a trinket, note  but the spawnrates cannot be affected.
  • Lured into a Trap:
    • Happens during a Chapter 3 mission where the O'Driscolls invite Dutch to discuss peace. While Colm and Dutch speak, Arthur covers them from a hill with a sniper rifle. However, several O'Driscolls sneak up on Arthur and capture him. Knowing that Dutch will go crazy trying to get Arthur back, they plan to draw him to their hideout while at the same time informing the Pinkertons of Dutch's location. Arthur is able to escape before the plan plays out.
    • Later in Chapter 3, several members of the gang are drawn into Rhodes to discuss a hot robbery lead. However, they are ambushed by the Grays and must fight their way out.
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