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  • MacGuffin: The obscenely large take (stated in an in-game newspaper to be $150,000, which is over $4 million in 2018 dollars) from the botched Blackwater job, which was hidden by Dutch after everything went south - so well that nobody was able to find it. Practically a symbol of the gang's sins, almost to non-fantastical Artifact of Doom levels - it is a large part of the reason the authorities are tracking them so fervently, setting up the main conflict, the desire for some of the gang to go back and get it drives a lot of the conflict in the group - especially from Micah, even before he starts selling them out to the Pinkertons - and the group's slow realization that they're never going to see that money coincides with the realization that there may not actually be any escape for them. In the end, Micah gets his hands on it, and John steals it after he's dead. True to the game's morality, this act is heavily implied to be the thing that leads Ross to him and his family, years later.
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  • Malevolent Masked Men: The gang will wear bandanas masking their faces when committing robberies and various crimes of course. In a case of Reality Ensues, the game will probably treat it as a Paper-Thin Disguise if the player doesn't make the necessary steps of changing his other clothes too.
  • Man on Fire: Fire bottles, flaming arrows, incendiary ammo, and shooting explosives such as moonshine stills or boxes of dynamite can set your enemies on fire. They'll generally run around panicked before falling to the ground.
  • A Master Makes Their Own Tools: Only standard arrows can be purchased. In order to fulfill some of the hunting challenges, such as collecting perfect small game pelts or hunting cougars with a bow, you'll need to craft your own small game and improved arrows, respectively.
  • Mature Rating: Oh yes. Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol.
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  • Maximum HP Reduction: The new stats system sets up "cores" and "meters" for each of the three attributes - health, stamina, and Deadeye. The health core drains over time, particularly in extreme temperatures when you are not adequately dressed, and can be restored by eating and resting. When your health meter runs out, your core will begin to drain as you take more damage. When it also runs out, you die.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • The blind beggar gives Arthur and later John accurate, if rather cryptic, predictions of their futures.
    • The Native American Burial Ground northwest of Strawberry has a Whispering Ghosts effect and seems to have an unusually high spawn rate for animals nearby. Shooting these animals causes a drop in honor.
    • It's never explicitly confirmed if the vampire in Saint Denis is actually a vampire or simply an especially deranged serial killer
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  • Meaningful Name: Hosea shares a name with a prophet in the Jewish Bible, specifically a "prophet of doom". Hosea is the only "voice of reason" Dutch with listen to, and keeps Dutch's more ambitious/risky plans in check. When discussing the plan to kill Angelo Bronte and rob the Saint Denis bank, Hosea will try to talk Dutch out of it, saying that "it doesn't feel right". He's absolutely right to do so, as killing Bronte brought enough attention to the gang where local law enforcement and the Pinkerton Agency were well prepared for the gang when they robbed the Saint Denis bank.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The final mission of Chapter 6 involves Arthur and John fighting Dutch, Micah, Bill, Javier and their loyalists; Ross and an army of Pinkertons then arrive on the scene to wipe everyone out.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard:
    • Hosea is like an adoptive father to Arthur, bringing him into the outlaw lifestyle along with Dutch. Hosea is killed at the end of Chapter 4.
    • Arthur himself is seen as a mentor figure by many of the more junior members of the gang, including John, and dies at the end of the main story.
  • Menu Time Lockout: A downplayed version in that time does not completely stop when accessing your inventory, but it does slow to Bullet Time levels.
  • Metal Slime: Panthers. They only spawn in two areas, are very rare, and are just as strong as cougars, if not more. And since they usually spawn at night, they blend in very well with their environments, which makes getting a perfect panther pelt even more difficult.
  • Mexican Standoff: One occurs near the end of the Guarma chapter between Arthur, Dutch, Fussar, and Fussar's henchman Levi. Arthur has his lone pistol pointed at Fussar, Dutch has his guns pointed at both Fussar and Levi, Fussar is pointing at Dutch, and Levi is pointing at Arthur. In order to solve it, you need to kick a gun to the wounded ship captain on the floor, who will shoot Levi as you shoot at Fussar, who escapes.
  • Minus World:
    • The areas out-of-bounds. Unaccesible areas near the borders look like they could be part of the game's map, but the further you go, the more foliage and texture details start to disappear, until textures go very-low res and stop having hitboxes. Animal, horse and human AI stop working outside the map, and quick traversing requires usage of cheat codes. Camping also stops working in these areas.
    • Mexico is otherwise like the other out-of-bounds areas, but seems to get more detailed in game updates. See Obvious Beta for more on this.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Charles is half black and half Native American. When confronting some bison poachers, one seems at a loss for what slur to use against Charles.
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: The game hovers between an 8-9, with certain missions and events spiking up to a 10 (such as the serial killer side mission).
  • Molotov Cocktail: The Fire Bottles in all but name.
  • Molotov Truck: An oil wagon is used to this effect during a mission to stop and rob a train.
  • Money for Nothing:
    • There is big money to be made in hunting, but going for perfect specimens can take hours of research, planning, an execution. Since even poor quality pelts and carcasses still have value, a quicker method is to use "drive-by hunting". Whenever you're traveling between towns, simply shoot any animals you come across. You can store up to 10 "medium sized" pelts on your horse, dozens more small game pelts and feathers in your satchel, two small carcasses on the sides of your horse, and one medium carcass on the back. Simply stop at the butcher or trapper when you get to town, sell whatever you have, and collect your money. Also make sure you hunt the legendary buck (just north of Strawberry) and craft the trinket at the fence. It adds a chance for "Good" quality pelts to upgrade to "Perfect" quality upon skinning.
    • The Wagon Fence at Emerald Ranch becomes available in Chapter 2 and makes for quick, easy money. Emerald Ranch is surrounded by multiple crossroads which spawn wagons all day long. Look for wagons with two horses and a single NPC driver for the best risk/reward ratio. Ride up with your mask on, hop onto the wagon from horseback, toss the driver, find a secluded spot to wait out the investigation, and then flip it at Emerald Ranch for an easy $25-40 a pop. You can rack up hundreds of dollars in a real world hour with minimal risk. If you do get caught, Emerald Station is a short ride away and contains a post office to pay off your bounty.
  • Money Is Not Power: Angelo Bronte tries to offer a bribe to any of the van der Linde gang that will kill Dutch and set him free. He's actually surprised when none of them take the offer. It never occurred to him that his immense wealth and web of corrupt officials would be useless against men who a) value loyalty more than money and b) have already wiped out the gangsters guarding him. He still goes out defiant, but he's proof that when your only real power is your checkbook, you better hope you get to use it on people who care about cashing checks.
  • Money Sink:
    • Buying horses, with the very best breeds costing upwards of $1000. For significantly less money, you can try to find them in the wild and tame them.
    • The Gambler Challenges, many of which aren't simply about winning, but winning under very specific circumstances. You can burn through quite a bit of money trying to, for instance, win a hand of Blackjack while hitting three times. Nintendo Hard doesn't even come close to describing it.
  • Money Spider: The Organ Drops/Vendor Trash version is in full effect. From a single animal, you can get a carcass, pelt, and possibly accessory items like antlers, teeth, claws, etc. All can be sold for profit.
  • Mood Whiplash: The timing of some of the Stranger missions can cause this. For example, at the end of Chapter 3 Sean is killed, Jack is kidnapped, and the gang is forced to relocate after once again being found by federal agents. Chapter 4 picks up in Saint Denis, where you can find numerous bizarre Stranger missions right away, such as those of Charles Chatenay which revolve around nude drawings, adultery being Played for Laughs, and a Disguised in Drag segment.
  • Moody Mount: Horses at low levels of bonding are prone to bucking you off if you push them too hard or take them into dangerous situations or terrain. They can also kick you if you startle them. Fully bonded horses downplay this significantly, being much less likely to buck you off even in the most extreme of circumstances.
  • Mooks: Rival gang members take up this role for most of the game. They tend to spawn in groups and aren't particularly challenging to take down.
  • More Predators Than Prey: Averted. The player will almost always see deer or other large herbivores like pronghorn or mountain sheep every time they leave camp. Wild turkeys are everywhere and rabbits are so common that an early challenge to kill five while on horseback(either by shooting them or running them over with your horse) is very difficult not to complete. Coyotes and foxes are also common, although they're not dangerous to the player. Bears and wolves are much less common, and cougars are rather frustratingly rare, considering how many need to be killed to reach 100% Completion. The only large predator that can be consistently and easily found is alligators.
  • The Most Wanted: Dutch spends much of this game building the list of crimes that make him the most wanted man in America by the events of I. At one point, every other member of the gang is offered clemency if they allow the Pinkertons to take Dutch into custody. (To a man, and even some of the women, they go for their guns to defend him instead.) That is how badly the feds want to bring him in.
  • Mountain Man: The Trapper. Other than his permanent stall in Saint Denis, he's found in wilderness camps where he'll buy pelts/hides and craft them into clothing or other equipment. He's the only one who will buy legendary pelts and can craft them into unique items.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • Played straight for random bandit/raider encounters on the road. Demanding money from a veteran outlaw like Arthur/John is a bad idea...
    • Subverted during one particular random encounter in Saint Denis. A man will lure you into an alley with promises of discounted guns and ammo, only for another to knock you out and steal half of your money. You wake up a short while later with them having disappeared and no way to get your money back.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: The first Redemption wasn't 100% clear on what the gang was robbing when John got shot, with a ferry and a bank being mentioned. Here it's revealed it was an army train, but he did get injured during a ferry job gone wrong in Blackwater just before the game's events, and was captured by the Pinkertons in a failed bank heist.
  • Multiple Endings: A Downplayed example in that certain events happen regardless (Arthur dies, the gang breaks up, the Marston family escapes), but exactly how they play out changes based on a number of factors including your Honor level, if and how you've completed certain side missions, and choices made during the final chapter of the game. However High honor, help John is considered to be the canon ending.
  • Mundane Utility: While exploding bullets may seem like overkill in battles and aren't useful in hunting, they allow you to blast safes (such as those found in trains) open with a single bullet, so you can save your dynamite for crowd control.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In the first trailer and towards the end of Chapter 6, Arthur says “Listen to me. When the time comes... you gotta run and don't look back. This is over.” This is a pretty accurate description of John's final words & thoughts in the ending of I.
    • Spending time close to the San Louis River causes the game to occasionally play brief segments of the original game's Mexico BGM.
    • One of the "Greet" options when talking to Javier indicates Arthur asking him if he ever misses home (to which Javier says yes) before stating, "Must be hard, being so far away," a reference to the song "Far Away" by Jose Gonzalez, which plays while John is heading for Mexico in I.
    • Baylock, Micah's horse, is identical to the Dark Horse, a low-honor reward in the previous game.
    • During the Saint Denis Bank Robbery, John wears an outfit so similar to the "Elegant Suit" from the last game that it's unlikely to be a coincidence.
  • Narrative Filigree: There are countless World Building details in the game that have nothing to do with the plot or any side-missions. Notes, letters, books, and even unique locations exist simply to flesh out the world.
  • Nature Tinkling: In "A Quiet Time", when a drunk Arthur wakes up outside of the saloon after a Smash to Black from the supposed Bar Brawl-turned line-dancing, he looks around to find no one in sight, then reaches into his pants for his... manhood (which he cleverly manages to hide with both hands grabbing it) before emptying his bladder. And yes, that's the sight of his tinkling on the grass! While in first-person perspective! Which is kinda weird... and a little squicky.
    • Also, the guys in camp will regularly go off somewhere a little more private and take a whiz on trees.
  • Nemean Skinning: Several of the Trapper outfits qualify. A prime example is the outfit made from the Legendary Grizzly Bear, which includes using its open-mouthed head as a hat/hood.
  • Never Learned to Read: Several members of the van der Linde gang. Given the setting during a time when literacy rates were quite low, this is Justified. Notable examples include both Arthur and John, who didn't learn to read until they were taken in by the gang. Arthur develops this skill rather nicely, as evidence by his journal. John...less so. (Which is a Call-Back to I where John and Abigail rely on Jack to read more complex documents for them.)
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: There are plenty of alligators in the Bayou Nwa. If they happen to get you, especially in the water, you’re dead.
  • Nice Hat: Arthur can sport one of these. You can lose it if it's shot off and you don't grab it. If that happens, you can retrieve it at your wardrobe or your horse.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • Several of the Gambler challenges aren't simply about winning, which can be hard enough, as it is in a game of chance, but winning in specific ways. Gambler 8 specifically draws a ton of ire by forcing players to win three games of Blackjack while hitting three times. It's pure luck and can take hours to accomplish.
    • Hunting for Perfect Cougar and Panther pelts, with one of each being required to craft The Legend of the East satchel. The Panther in particular only spawns in two locations, with a laundry list of conditions that will cause them to not spawn. Each are ambush predators which can kill you with a single pounce. From the moment they growl and appear as a red dot on the mini-map, you have about one second to activate Dead Eye, lock on, and shoot. If you need the perfect pelt, you'll need to make that shot a head-shot as well. Happy hunting!
  • No Bulk Discounts: Played straight. Prices remain the same whether you're buying one or one-hundred of a given item.
  • No Communities Were Harmed:
    • Saint Denis is quite obviously based on New Orleans, from its bayou location, to its French colonial roots and influences, to the porcelain pavers labeling its streets, to its central square featuring a statue of a famous general on horseback. (“Quincy Harris” stands in for Andrew Jackson in the latter case.)
    • As for states, New Austin and West Elizabeth are still Texas and Colorado respectively, while Ambarino is the Rocky Mountains, Lemoyne is Louisiana, and New Hanover is South Dakota.
  • No-Gear Level: The first half of the Guarma chapter is a downplayed example. You only have a relatively small area of the map to traverse in, limited weapons and supplies because your horse and the gang camp are not available and almost nothing to do outside of the main missions and hunting a few exotic animals.
  • No Hero Discount: Subverted. At high Honor, stores will give you a discount.
  • Noisy Nature: Very much so. In many cases, your first indication that a particular type of animal is nearby are the sounds they make. Boars, Coyotes, and many species of birds including turkeys are a few particularly notable offenders.
  • Noodle Incident: What exactly happened on the Blackwater ferry is never made clear but it’s brought up and lot and is essentially the noose around the gang’s neck. Arthur wasn’t actually there which is why it’s so vague but some of the planning phase of it is in his journal. He, Hosea, and Charles were working on a real estate scam. He and Hosea were going to pull the scam the day after and then they were all going to go to California and regroup. What happens after that is murky. Somewhere along the way Dutch got goaded into killing a girl by Micah and then all hell broke loose. Law enforcement surrounded the boat and a bloody gunfight ensued. Jenny, Davey, Mac, and John got shot. The former two died from the wounds while Mac got away but was later killed but Milton. John also got away mostly unscathed somehow. Sean was captured by bounty hunters but what exactly happened to him is unclear as well. There’s also some hints that the whole thing was a set up all along.
  • Nominal Importance: The vast majority of NPCs in the game are simply referred to as "Stranger", with a number following it if there is more than one in a given scene (ie. Stranger 1, Stranger 2). Members of groups or other gangs are similarly but more specifically named, like "Gray 1", "O'Driscoll 3", "Raider 8", etc.
  • Non-Protagonist Resolver: Of all the arc villains, only Sheriff Gray, Colonel Favours and Alberto Fussar are killed by Arthur. Colm O'Driscoll ends up hanged in Saint Denis by the authorities, Leviticus Cornwall is shot by Dutch, Dutch drowns Angelo Bronte and feeds him to an alligator, Catherine Braithwaite commits suicide, and Andrew Milton ends up being shot by Abigail. Even Micah, who is softened up by Dutch, ends up being finished off by John.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Most missions have plausible reasons for failure such as dying, letting a target escape, letting someone you are supposed to protect die, etc. Others can be failed for far less sensible reasons, such as being in the middle of a massive shootout only to have the "Mission Failed" screen appear because one of your stray shots struck a passer-by and now you have a bounty.
  • No Sneak Attacks: A possible random encounter along roads in territories controlled by rival gangs are ambushes. Said ambushes would be considerably more effective if the gang members didn't feel the need to announce themselves and their intention to kill you before they actually start shooting, giving you valuable time to grab your weapons to fight back.
  • Nostalgia Level: If you played the first game, you will probably find the returning areas of Blackwater and New Austin this. There are naturally some differences as this game takes place years before the first, but most of the map is relatively unchanged. For some bonus points, since by the time you unlock them you'll be playing as John, you are exploring a Nostalgia level with a nostalgia protagonist. You used to be able to glitch there as Arthur in Chapter 4 but it was patched over in the March 2019 update..
  • Nothing but Skin and Bones: If you don't bother eating, your character will become "underweight", which results in Maximum HP Reduction. If you eat excessively, it is possible to Invert the trope by becoming overweight. Your maximum health will increase at the cost of some stamina. In the story, once Arthur contracts tuberculosis, it will become very difficult to even maintain an average weight. In the terminal stages, it becomes impossible for Arthur to keep any weight on at all, and he becomes painfully thin and frail looking.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Once the gang moves to Beaver Hollow, you can no longer donate money or restock the camp's supplies, since someone (heavily implied to be Micah) smashes the donation box and the ledger disappears. And after Arthur and Sadie bust John out of prison, you will have permanent dead or alive bounties in Roanoke Ridge and half of Lemoyne. You can still roam around those areas freely, but lawmen will no longer give you a chance to surrender if you commit any crimes. Finally, after the mission where Arthur and John blow up Bacchus Bridge, trains stop running until after the Time Skip.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: A Chapter 4 mission has you wading around in a swamp at night looking for a missing person. You, of course, have to split off from your group to search a greater area. If you've spent any significant time in the swamps before the mission, you'll know how frequent gators spawn and how quickly they can strike...
  • Notice This: Items which can be picked up have a faint flash and glint to get your attention. Unique weapons which can be picked up appear with a gold symbol on the mini-map when you are near.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: While in Guarma, the gang makes it clear that they are only assisting Hercule against Fussar in exchange for passage back to the US. That said, they do seem to take some delight in actually killing Fussar.
  • Not So Different: One of the available bounties is practically John Marston. This guy, "Mark Johnson", is a former outlaw who abandoned his life of crime, bought some land in the middle of nowhere, and wanted to start fresh with his wife and son.
    • One of the debtor missions in Chapter 6 is for a man named Arthur Londonberry who's died by the time you can get to him. His boss tells you to go find his wife. When Arthur goes to his house, he finds Mrs Londonberry and their young son. Arthur takes pity on them and even gives them money. A woman left with a boy to raise on her who Arthur helps financially mirrors both Abigail and Jack's situation early on as well as Arthur's babymama Eliza and son Isaac who died. Arthur sent them money but wasn't involved in the day to day due to his career.
  • NPC Random Encounter Immunity: Thoroughly averted. Strangers in the wild can be attacked by hostile wildlife and rival gangs.
  • Obvious Beta: Not the game itself, but glitching into Mexico shows it's clearly being worked on. For example, even though Chuparosa is not there as of this writing, a plot of elevated land ends unnaturally and abruptly around where the wall surrounding the town should be, and the shape of the train track can be seen pressed into the sand, likely as a developer note. The country's foliage and textures also have effort put into them, although both noticeably lose details the further you go east.
  • Occupiers out of Our Country: The shtick of the Lemoyne Raiders in targeting "Federals" and anyone they consider to be "Federals". In practice, they're no better than any of the other outlaw groups.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In Chapter 3, after Arthur is knocked out, captured, and tortured by he O'Driscolls, he escapes (badly wounded) to his horse. After getting out of the immediate area, Arthur passes out and is carried, slumped over, by his horse all the way back to the gang's camp. You only see a few cut-scene flashes during the trip. As if you needed more reasons to love your horse...
  • Offscreen Teleportation:
    • Averted with horses with one exception. There is now a max distance from which your horse can hear you, and it doesn't just appear near you when whistling. However, you can teleport them to any stable or horse station no matter the distance.
    • Trains may do this; Rockstar stated before release that trains move on a schedule, and this seems to be true as trains don't just conveniently appear near you like in say, Grand Theft Auto V; chances are that if you want to board a train without fast traveling, you'll be waiting for a good while for one to appear. However, you may occasionally spot several trains going nearby in quick succession and as they are not marked on the map this time, some subtle teleportation may be happening.
  • Oh, Crap!: Hearing the howl of a pack of wolves or the roar of a grizzly bear/cougar/panther when in the wilderness can cause this reaction. Hearing it means you may only have a second or two to lock onto and kill the onrushing predator. In the case of a cougar or panther, they are well camouflaged ambush predators whose pounce is capable of an insta-kill.
  • Only Child Syndrome: Out of the roughly two dozen people in the gang at the beginning of the game, only three are confirmed to have siblings: Hosea, Javier, and Micah. Hosea's dad was a bigamist whom he figures had about 100 kids, Javier laments that he missed his sister’s recent wedding, and Micah has a brother who lives in California with his family. Though many side characters have siblings and there were two brothers in the gang who died in the botched Blackwater heist. Somewhat justified in that a lot of women died in childbirth at the time and a lot of people also didn't live through childhood. Some of them could have been like Jack and be an only surviving child. It's also justified that they all had rough childhoods (most of them are orphans who've been on their own since they were kids themselves) and came together because they had no one else.
  • Old Save Bonus:
    • Finding the double-action revolver in GTA Online and getting 50 headshots with it will unlock it early for RDR II. While you can find one out in the field for free anyway, doing the GTA Online challenge is the only way to access the gold metal plating and pearl handle customization parts.
    • The stone axe, however, seems to only be unlocked if you find it in GTA Online and getting 25 kills with it. There is a catch for the Stone Hatchet, as it is found in an Indian burial ground near a lake near Strawberry whereas the revolver is unlocked on the fly.
  • One Head Taller: John is still much taller than Abigail even if the height difference is actually somewhat lesser than in I (John was made a lot shorter between the games). However the height difference here between Arthur and Mary is about the same as it was for the two of them in I.
  • One-Hit Kill: Any headshot on a human foe will kill them, even with a piddly varmint rifle. On the flip side, the pounce attack of cougars and panthers will result in one of these on you.
  • One-Man Army:
    • Arthur Morgan. Even if you try to be as non-violent as possible, you'll still likely end up killing more people than every single real-life Wild West gunslinger combined. Your enemies eventually start to notice this as well, and typically come with overwhelming numbers and/or set traps to try to take you down.
    • John Marston, just like in the first game. When you take over as John in the epilogue, he has all of Arthur's abilities and equipment.
  • One Size Fits All: Depending on how much you eat in-game, you can change pretty drastically in size from quite skinny at "underweight" to quite rotund at "overweight". Clothing and outfits you buy will fit you no matter how much weight you gain or lose after buying them, however.
  • One Steve Limit: Noticeably averted. There are both gang member Mary-Beth Gaskill and Arthur's former love interest Mary Linton, gang member Charles Smith and stranger mission character Charles Châtenay, Jack Marston and Brown Jack, Bill's horse, Jim Calloway and Jim Milton, an alias John uses in the epilogue, several Alberts/Albertos, and even another Arthur who serves as a debt collection target. Only in the last example are any in-universe observations made on the shared names.
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: Inverted: Arthur dies, and while John ends the game settling down with his family, we all know it's not gonna last. Meanwhile, while some gang members like Strauss and Karen come to bad endings, the others are able to move on and lead successful lives.
  • Opening the Sandbox: Begins happening at the start of Chapter 2. However, not everything opens up at once. You'll need to play through some of the main missions in order to open up things like the stables, fences, scoped rifle, offhand holster, and fishing rod. A few things, like the horse fence, don't open up until Chapter 3. Completing the story really opens up the sandbox — opening 2/3 of the areas from Red Dead Redemption (Southern West Elizabeth and New Austin), adding around half of the new map's worth of new areas.
  • Optional Stealth: Present in many missions, where only a select few actually force you to be stealthy. In the rest, you can go in guns blazing while still being able to complete the mission. At worst, this approach just makes the mission a little harder.
  • Organ Drops: In addition to pelts, animals will also drop feathers, teeth, tusks, claws, antlers, horns, etc. as applicable depending on the species. Some can be used in crafting and all can be sold for profit.
  • Outlaw: Plenty, as one would expect in a western. Technically the entire van der Linde gang is comprised of outlaws after the Blackwater fiasco. They play up the part by camping in secluded, easily-defensible areas outside of towns.
  • Outliving One's Offspring:
    • Arthur had a son named Isaac who died as a victim of a robbery at some unspecified point before the game. He's only ever brought up three times in the game, once if you hang around fishing with Jack long enough, once to Rains Fall (where he is interrupted by Rains Fall) and once to Sister Calderon (if you helped her in Chapter 5) in a later mission, so the details are vague.
    • Rains Fall, the chief of the Wapiti tribe, lost his older son in the fight between the tribe and the Army, and his younger son meets the same fate during the main story.
  • Out of Focus: West Elizabeth, New Austin and Nuevo Paraiso.
    • The former only has a handful of story missions, and half of it is under lockdown for most of the story. However, this is eventually subverted as most of the epilogue takes place in it.
    • There is exactly one story mission that (partially) takes place in New Austin, and like WE, it's under lockdown for most of the game. However, there is a decent amount of content to explore once it's open.
    • Mexico plays no role in the story whatsoever, and as such is not even accessible without exploits.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic:
    • The lasso is introduced when you have to use it to capture an escaped horse. Most players would be forgiven for never giving it second thought otherwise. However, it can be used in several other situations to great effect. First, it can be used to hunt medium sized animals, such as whitetail deer, while preserving the quality of their pelt and carcass. Ride up to your quarry, lasso your target, hop off your horse, walk up to it while still holding the lasso, and then hit the prompt to enter the "kill" animation with your knife. Another use when hunting is to drag un-skinned carcasses. Normally, you can only have one "large game" pelt on the back of your horse. Players figured out that you can get two large pelts if you store one on your horse, and then drag the un-skinned carcass of another back to town/camp. Sell/turn-in your first pelt, then skin the animal for the second. The lasso can also be used in a number of ways while committing crimes to make them easier and quieter. For example, you can lasso strangers and drag them into the wilderness before robbing them, making it less likely that you'll get caught.
    • Want to more easily fill up your compendium? Shoot large game with poisoned arrows. They'll flee and then lay dying for a little, allowing you to "study" them. This also reduces the risk of studying predators like the cougar or panther.
  • Pale Females, Dark Males: Inverted by Whitetail Deer. Does have darker and fuller pelage while bucks have lighter, brighter, and more contrasted fur.
  • Papa Wolf: John Marston, even more so than the first game. When news of Jack getting kidnapped reaches him, Marston can barely control himself. Dutch and Hosea have to calm him down repeatedly to prevent him from doing anything stupid.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: When committing crimes, you can pull a bandana over your face or wear a purchasable mask. It will be enough to fool civilians as long as you flee the red-highlighted area around the crime scene quickly enough, but any lawmen who see you will still be able to identify you through the mask and you'll receive a bounty.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • Arthur's biological parents died when he was fairly young and, after some time as a Street Urchin, was taken in by Dutch and Hosea who serve as father figures for him. He mentions in his journal that while he loves Dutch, Hosea is really more the person he sees as his father. As the game goes along, Hosea dies and Dutch suffers Sanity Slippage, causing Arthur to grow disillusioned with Dutch.
    • John similarly saw them as father figures after he was orphaned and they took him in. John becomes one of the first gang members to grow openly disillusioned with Dutch, which gets worse after Hosea dies. From that point, John looks more to Arthur as a mentor figure, something of a cross between a father and an older brother (Arthur being about 10 years older than John).
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: You suffer no loss to your Honor when killing and looting other outlaws. Additionally, some missions even reward you with an increase in honor if you go out of your way to harm/kill "evil" individuals as part of the mission. One prominent example is killing the former slave catcher in Scarlett Meadows. You can kill the Eugenics supporter in Saint Denis in broad daylight with absolutely no consequences, even if you put him on the back of your horse so you can finish him off in a more creative way in a different location (such as feeding him to an alligator or letting him get run over by a train).
  • The Peeping Tom: There's a random encounter in Strawberry at night where two men are looking at something through a window. When Arthur walks up, they run off and he looks through the window. It's a woman in her corset and stockings getting dressed, she shoots a shotgun at him and he runs off saying that he deserved that.
  • Pelts of the Barbarian: A few of the Trapper outfits are in this vein. If you wear the viking helmet and wield an axe/hatchet as a weapon, you can really drive the trope home.
  • Persuasion Minigame: Interrogations and individual robberies employ a simple version of this. You are given several options including "Theaten", "Beat", and "Aim Weapon". Certain NPCs are more likely to cooperate with certain options. For a particularly stubborn target, you can fire your gun into the air to show you mean business though this is more likely to attract unwanted attention.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Mostly averted with regards to crafting and the missions. In the epilogue, you can obtain every satchel you didn't craft as Arthur by purchasing them from the black market, and progress in each stranger mission is either retained or reset.note  However, the camp upgrades become unavailable after the epilogue starts. A few non-stranger side missions, such as the final Braithwaite mission, can be replayed in the mission replay menu even if you didn't play them before Arthur kicks the bucket.
    • If you want to fill the animal section of the Compendium, there are a few animals that you can only find on Guarma, which you can never come back to once you leave. These animals are not required for any achievements.
    • Want to keep Hamish's horse, Buell, after completing his missions? Do them during the Epilogue when you play as John Marston. Otherwise, if you get Buell as Arthur, you'll lose the horse for good even if you stable him.
    • You can only get Mary-Beth's book by meeting her at the Valentine train station before doing the final mission "American Venom". Once finished, she stops spawning there, meaning you can't get the book.
    • Some unique hats only appear in missions, and the unique "Rare Rolling Block rifle" only appears in a single mission. Speaking about hats, the white gambler hat John wears for most of the game can only be acquired in the first half of the epilogue by first having someone else punch it off and picking it back from the ground afterwards.
  • Pinkerton Detective: One of the antagonist groups in the game. Agents Milton and Ross are explicitly identified as such.
  • Playable Epilogue: The game has a fairly lengthy one following John Marston about 8 years after Arthur's death.
  • Player Headquarters: The gang's camp serves as one throughout the main mission. You can resupply (with camp upgrades adding to what you can acquire), rest in your cot/bed, get free meals, shave, change outfits beyond what is kept on your horse, and pick up companion side missions from your fellow gang members.
  • Playing Both Sides: Dutch's gang attempts to manipulate the two major houses of Scarlet Meadows, the Grays and the Braithwaites, into focusing on each other by carrying attacks on their properties on each other's behalf, intending to earn money and glean a bit of their wealth in the process. They both see through this plan easily as Dutch's gang wasn't exactly subtle in offering help and their coming coincided with more attacks.
  • Playing Possum:
    • Opossums are an animal found in the game and will have this reaction if you get close. You can attempt to pick it up or skin it in this state, but it will spring back to life if you do.
    • Bill at one point plays a passed-out drunk to help Arthur steal a dynamite cart for Dutch.
  • Point of No Return: Toward the end of Chapter 6, you find that Dutch's camp is a little less crowded, so talking to Dutch can lock you into "Our Best Selves", which will then segue into the aptly-titled "Red Dead Redemption" upon completion. These are also the last two story missions you'll be able to play as Arthur, so the game warns you that it will be your last chance to go for the optional Honor missions and build up your Honor meter to maximum if you want the Golden Ending (and get a few more items while you're at it). Once the game is completed, you will head into Playable Epilogue as John, which means that you can return to any place outside of the story missions, allowing you to complete many things you missed as Arthur.
  • Police are Useless:
    • In the story, it is very rare to see competent local law enforcement. Most towns have a sheriff and maybe a deputy or two, who don't do much besides sit in their office and comment on any bounties you bring in.
    • Averted on big missions, such as bank heists, where you may have to contend with dozens of heavily armed lawmen showing up. In several cases, gunning them all down isn't possible and the mission changes into getting away safely.
    • In free play outside of missions, law enforcement goes back to being useless. While they can recognize you even through you bandana/mask, which is a step up from common townsfolk, they are quite easy to escape. Once you lose your Wanted level, you can just stroll right back into town and greet some of the policemen who were just chasing you.
  • Politically Correct History: Downplayed. With the exception of Micah and Bill, the gang is fairly progressive, having no problem with 4 non-white members and quickly accepting Sadie as someone who is more use on the field than in the camp. They don't seem to have a problem with Lenny (who is black) having a crush on Jenny (who was white). Arthur even believes women should be able to vote, if only out of a belief that voting is pointless and idiotic, and anyone who wants to waste their time with it should be allowed. However, pretty much everyone finds Sadie's choice of clothing odd for a lady, and many side characters and extras are as racist, sexist and homophobic as you'd expected from the time period, with plenty of racial slurs getting thrown around by more bigoted characters.
  • Porn Stash:
    • One random encounter involves a man with a tent in the wilderness. If you check inside the tent, you'll find numerous photos of nude women strung up along with one of Albert Mason's wolf photos for some reason....
    • The Torn Treasure Maps lead you to a chest containing the unique Otis Miller revolver...as well as a bunch of erotic photographs.
  • Port Town: Saint Denis has a large and active port. Like its real life counterpart, it sits where a major river enters the ocean.
  • Potion-Brewing Mechanic: You can combine raw ingredients you've harvested at any campfire into home-brew versions of Health Tonics and the like.
  • Prequel: RDR II was released almost a decade after the original Red Dead Redemption, but is set in 1899, 12 years before the events of the original game. The epilogue takes place 4 years before the event of the first game and shows this even further.
  • Practical Taunt: It is possible to use the "Antagonize" dialogue option to incite neutral NPCs into attacking you. This lets you knock them out/kill them in self-defense, avoiding a bounty. However, the system is very unpredictable, so use it at your own risk. If you do it enough in camp,one of the guys will punch you and you wake up outside the camp.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The van der Linde gang prides itself on this. They, as a group, tend to only steal from folks "who can afford to share" and won't kill anyone that "doesn't need killing". On an individual level, you can choose to keep playing it straight or avert it by robbing and killing whoever you like.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Averted. Just like in the first game, scoring a headshot will leave very nasty-looking entry and exit wounds on the target. A headshot with a shotgun at close quarters takes the aversion Up to Eleven, leaving a decapitated body and the remains of the head raining down in bloody chunks unless your shot is off-center, in which case a small, flap-like section of the head will remain on the corpse.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: Unavoidable, since the game focuses on John's former gang. John and Jack are present in the game. When walking around the camp as Arthur, you're free to walk up to John and strike a conversation with him! Turns out to be a more than that by the end, as in the epilogue the player once again ends up taking control of John.
  • Private Military Contractors: Leviticus Cornwall has a veritable army of them at his disposal. He sics them on the van der Linde gang twice.
  • Prospector: A common Stranger encounter near creeks and streams.
  • Questioning Title?: Several mission titles: "Who the Hell is Leviticus Cornwall?", "Blessed Are the Meek?", "Sodom? Back to Gomorrah", "Jim Milton Rides, Again?", and "Home of the Gentry?".
  • Quick Draw: Several missions have points where you are automatically put you into Dead Eye in such a situation. One prominent example is the conclusion of "A Short Walk in a Nice Town", where Bill has been captured by the Sheriff who has a gun to Bill's head. You need to shoot the Sheriff to save Bill, and can then take a few shots at his deputies as well.
  • Racing Minigame: Several Stranger encounters along roads have them challenge you to horse race to a certain location with a bit of money on the line. You have the option to race against Dutch after one particular main story mission in Chapter 3 as well.
  • Railing Kill: Possible to do to targets along ledges or up on towers.
  • Railroading: While the world is indeed wide open and lets you do side missions in almost any order, the missions themselves tend to be extremely linear Point A to Point B to Point C-style, with a few rare exceptions that allow you to do various objectives of the mission in whatever order you want. Additionally, certain items and equipment only become available after a certain point in the main mission.
  • Railroad Baron: One of Leviticus Cornwall's industries, along with oil and sugar.
  • Random Drop:
    • Unless you obliterate them by using too powerful of a weapon, hunted animals will always drop a pelt/hide and some meat. Certain animals have a chance to drop other body parts such as fat, teeth, tusks, feathers, horns, etc. These are not guaranteed, however, even if the animal should logically drop them. Further, they can drop in different numbers between two otherwise identical members of the same species.
    • Looting dead bodies almost always nets you some cash and ammunition, but there is a random chance of acquiring other items such as jewelry (including belt buckles), food, alcohol, tonics, and tobacco products. A high Honor rating increases the chances of finding these items on dead hostile enemies (such as rival gang members). A low Honor rating increases the chances of finding these items on dead lawmen and civilians.
  • Random Encounters: While traveling, you may randomly come across Strangers, many of whom offer missions ranging from very short/quick (giving a sick man a Health Tonic) to ones with multiple stages (finding a wounded man on the road whose wife was kidnapped, locating the kidnapped wife, saving her from her assailants, then recovering money/a valuable item that she stashed).
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Part of the M.O. of the O'Driscolls. Led by an Ax-Crazy Smug Snake who believes in Quantity Over Quality, they can be encountered ambushing stage coaches and robbing homesteads, often leaving none alive. In Chapter 1, they do this to the Adler homstead, killing Sadie's husband and imprisoning her in the basement (with implications of rape mentioned later). The "burn" part in this case is Micah's fault, however.
  • Rare Candy: Ginseng Elixer, Aged Pirate Rum, and Valerian Root are rare consumables that permanently increase your Health, Stamina, and Dead Eye meters, respectively, when taken.
  • Rare Guns: The Volcanic Pistol returns from the original. Developed in the 1850s, it was a lever-action pistol fed from a tubular magazine, and it fired "Hunt Rocket Ball" ammunition. Said ammunition has the honor of being one of the earliest metallic firearms cartridges, as well as the somewhat more dubious honor of being almost useless due to its pathetically low muzzle energy.
  • Rat Stomp: A Stranger mission in Saint Denis has you clearing his bar of a rat infestation.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • If Arthur is Covered in Gunge and/or hasn't bathed in a while, people will refuse to interact with him. Being covered in blood may result in people actually running away from him, possibly to the point that the law enforcement acts hostile to him. And, of course, walking around with a mask on and openly armed isn't the best way to get people to talk to you.
    • John can get away with a lot of carnage in the first game because he's basically a government-sanctioned hitman. The Bureau will turn a blind eye to John's crimes as long as he stays useful. Arthur and the gang have no such blessing here. Every time the gang pulls off a high profile stunt, they have to immediately skip town because the law isn't just going to wait until they strike again.
    • It doesn't matter how many deputies, policemen, Pinkertons or soldiers they kill or escape from, the Dutch Van der Linde Gang is still just a handful of struggling, nomadic criminals going up against the limitless, established resources of the United States government. The outcome is never really in doubt; it's more a matter of when.
      • Related to the above, killing the man financing the Pinkertons isn't going to stop them. Considering Cornwall was extremely powerful and wealthy, the federal government can't ignore such a high-profile assassination, and sends even more detectives and deputies to find the gang.
    • While the Grays and the Braithwaites hate each other, they aren't stupid enough to ignore that Dutch's gang is working both sides, especially since the gang never wore masks and attacked one side immediately after attacking the other side.
    • No matter how badass you are, the Old West didn't have the medicine to treat illness that today wouldn't have been such a big deal. This ends up killing Arthur.
      • Similarly, traumatic brain injuries weren't widely understood nor easily treated at the time. After a botched robbery results in a trolley crash, Dutch begins showing signs of a TBI, which goes untreated. This is implied to be one of several reasons for his rapid mental decline and erratic behavior.
    • People you beat up have a chance of getting up, and can either try to continue the fight or limp away. However, hit them with a gun in your hand, and they will stay down for good. After all, getting hit in the face with a fist hurts, but being hit in the head with a heavy metal object can actually kill you.
    • Enemies that are set on fire are unable to be looted. After all, anything of value they might be carrying would be charred and thus worthless.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Many players are surprised to see that, compared to most Wild West media, there are plenty of black, Asian, Mexican, and other Ambiguously Brown NPCs present in the game world. As noted on the Wild West page under Race Lift, these races made up a far greater percentage of "cowboy" types in real life than is depicted in most media.
  • Real Men Get Shot: Toward the end of Chapter 3, Arthur gets knocked out and captured by the O'Driscolls. He tries to escape, but gets shot in the left shoulder and captured again. After being tied up and tortured, he escapes again and deals with the (now hours old) gunshot wound by cauterizing it with black powder. After recuperating for several weeks at camp, he's back in action good-as-new.
  • Rearing Horse: Able to be performed on command with a horse bonded to level 2.
  • Reclining Venus: The French painter and Gadfly Charles Chatenay produces a full exhibition of reclining nudes, male and female, which scandalizes his 19th-century southern American audience. A melee breaks out when they start recognizing their own relatives in the paintings.
    Man: That's my momma! As nude as the day she was born!
    Woman: Stop looking at my husband's buttocks!
    Man: Stop looking at my momma!
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: When you first start playing, your camp's supplies are seemingly one can of salted offal, which most don't seem to like, along with whatever was looted in the previous mission, which is why Arthur and Charles go deer hunting. Can be played a bit more straight if Arthur returns to camp and gives Pearson carcasses of rats, frogs, toads, snakes, small birds, and other poor quality game, with Pearson complaining a bit - still, they all end up in the stew pot, and they taste delicious. Usually averted if Arthur brings in things like deer, pronghorn, mountain sheep, and other big game, plus a good deal of food and meat, to say nothing about the fact that provisions can be bought for the camp starting in Chapter 2. Of course, come Chapter 6, it can really feel like this is the case, as one can't even buy provisions for the camp anymore, and some will complain if Arthur doesn't bring Pearson anything, with Pearson doing most of it.
  • Regenerating Health: Your and your horse's Health meters will refill slowly over time. However, the Health core will only refill from food or rest.
  • Relationship Values: A hidden one applies to camp. Performing activities like providing meat, adding to the gang's coffers, and doing chores around camp makes it more likely that companion missions (ex. Fishing with Kieran, Hunting with Charles, Rob a Stage Coach with Sean, etc.) will become available.
  • Remember the New Guy?:
    • Many of Dutch's followers here are new faces, and were never even mentioned in the previous title. That game implied that the gang consisted mostly of Dutch, John, Bill, Javier, and Abigail, with Uncle's relationship to the Marston family left ambiguous. A few lines in RDR1 do hint towards a larger gang, but as seen here, the gang is at least four times the size of what was shown in Redemption.
    • Arthur is a particularly egregious example. Everything the Marstons have in the first game is because of Arthur's sacrifice, which is acknowledged by John himself in the epilogue. During the original game, not even once does John mentions Arthur. John's optional meeting with Mary-Beth in the Epilogue does lampshade this though, with John mentioning that he doesn't talk about Arthur much anymore.
  • The Remnant: The Lemoyne Raiders are comprised of ex-Confederate soldiers and those they've recruited to their cause. In their minds, they're still fighting the Civil War with Yankees and "federals" as their enemies.
  • Repetitive Name: Like the first game, Bill Williamson. However, a snippet of dialogue here reveals it to ultimately be subverted, as he chooses to go by Bill to cover up his Embarrassing First Name: Marion.
  • Replacement Goldfish: After a big Reveal that Arthur had a baby mama and a son who were killed in a robbery at some point prior to the events of the game, it's heavily implied that he sees Abigail and Jack as this. Early on in the game, before John really starts to take responsibility for them, he goes out of his way to help them and even states in his journal that he should have married Abigail because he could provide for them when John couldn’t.
  • Rescue Introduction: Sean was captured by the law as the gang escaped Blackwater. A Chapter 2 mission has the gang rescuing him while he is being transferred, giving him a formal introduction to the player.
  • Retcon: In the mission This is Armadillo USA in the first game, John answers Bonnie's question "How well do you know New Austin?" with "I don't. We talked about coming down here many times but we never made it." and doesn't appear to be lying. While John not knowing the area despite being plyable there isn't impossible, since only one mission canonically happens there, Pearson has a photograph of the gang in what appears to be the deserts of New Austin. Additionally, the book Jack forgot to the pre-Blackwater heist camp is in New Austin according to the official guidebook.
  • Retired Gunfighter: Jim "Boy" Callaway. His biographer asks Arthur to track down four (later five) of his former associates who are similarly "retired" (and in a few cases, still actively on the run from the law).
  • Retired Monster: One memorable sidequest has Arthur breaking into an old foreclosed house to recover some mementos for a destitute old drunk who used to live there: an old pistol and a couple of books. One of the books reveals that the man was formerly a bounty hunter who recaptured fugitive slaves, including mothers and their children. Arthur returns to the old man, tosses the belongings into his campfire and walks away in disgust, leaving the old man to cry on his knees over the ashes of his legacy. The player gets positive karma if the player opts to shoot him.
  • The Reveal:
    • Micah is the rat.
    • Arthur had a son at one point whom he loved but couldn't be there for the day to day because of his line of work. One day he came to visit him and found his and his mom's graves. It's why he's so hard on John for not being there for Jack and Abigail when they needed him and why he ultimately sacrifices himself for them to get out of the life.It's not revealed until very late in the game (and the mission where it's revealed is optional) but it really adds another layer to a lot of what happens in the game.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Deconstructed as Dutch's desire for revenge continually screws the gang to the point where they are all either gone or dead.
    • Also it's implied that investigating the death of Micah is what leads Agent Ross to John, years after the Marston's trail went cold, resulting in the events in the first game and ultimately John's death.
  • Revision: The game alters the context of some lore from the first game without flat out retconning them. A few examples:
    • While Arthur is a Forgotten Fallen Friend in 1, several scenes include Arthur saying something John would later say in 1, turning them into John quoting Arthur. There's also a few instances where John's lines are changed into quotes of Dutch.
    • In 1 Javier uses plural when talking about Marston's kids, implying that the deceased Marston daughter was born before John left the gang. Here she goes unmentioned for the entire story and thus was born somewhere between 1899 and 1911, meaning that Javier just made a lucky guess. That is, if she hasn't been retconned away entirely.
    • John seemed unfamiliar with New Austin in RDR, but he can freely explore the region here once he becomes playable. However, if we take 100% checklist as canon, all he did was explore the place a bit while hunting, fishing and doing bounties, and considering that New Austin is established to be a hellhole in this game note  he doesn't really have any reason to go there at any point afterwards, meaning he could just have forgotten where everything was.
    • In RDR, the job that caused John to retire was implied to be either a failed ferry or bank robbery. Both happen here and Marston is wounded in the first and arrested in the second, but the heist that broke the camel's back was one on an army train. He also never mentions he still went back to the gang's camp to call Dutch out before leaving.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves:
    • In Chapter 2, Miss Grimshaw tells Kieran she's killed traitors before.
    • Subverted with Molly when she drunkenly declares to the gang that she ratted on them after the Saint Denis bank job goes south and is gunned down by Miss Grimshaw for her trouble. It turns out later that it was a tragic attempt to get her increasingly distant lover, Dutch, to pay attention to her.
    • Played straight with Micah, who is shot by Dutch at the end of Epilogue: Part II. Although Dutch’s reasons for doing so (for being a traitor, belated revenge for Arthur, or possibly even to save John to give a few examples) are left ambiguous.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • The blind beggar. His cryptic lines make a lot more sense after you know how the game ends.
    • You are much more likely to notice Arthur's ever worsening cough when replaying the game.
    • Arthur’s lingering resentment towards John for his treatment of Jack and Abigail and him taking it upon himself to help them makes a lot more sense in a second playthrough. It’s revealed late in the game that Arthur had a son named Isaac and baby-mama named Eliza who died in a robbery over $10 at some unspecified point before the events of the game. It’s implied that Arthur is trying to protect and care for Jack and Abigail the way he couldn’t for Isaac and Eliza (he provided financially for them and visited often but wasn’t there for the day to day). He’s likely resentful of John for not realizing how lucky he is to have his son with him (or alive really) while basically ignoring him for the first four years of his life. Arthur specifically tells Hosea in one of the first missions in Chapter 2 after the map opens up that he’s madder at John for running off on Jack than for running off from the gang.
  • The Rez: The game features one, home to a fictional Lakota tribe known as the Wapiti. Dutch goading them into fighting a hopeless war against the U.S. Army as an elaborate smokescreen for the gang's last big score is the final nail in the coffin for John, Arthur, and Charles, who more or less lose all faith in him afterwards.
  • Ring Menu: The Weapons, Items, and Horse menu are all present in this fashion.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: The gang after the Braithewaites kidnap Jack. They murder the Braithwaite matriarch's sons, gun down dozens of her workers, and ultimately burn her mansion to the ground. Ultimately Subverted as the Braithewaites turned Jack over to Angelo Bronte for safe keeping.
  • Robbing the Dead: Considering the number of enemies a player will kill and can loot, corpses are a steady, if not ludicrous, source of money, ammunition, and provisions. As long as a looted corpse isn't one of an innocent, it can be looted without the player's honor getting dented.
  • RPG Elements: The game introduces "Cores" to the series, which dictate how good you are at certain activities. There are five cores: Health, which governs regenerating health and is increased by completing certain activities and challenges; Stamina, which governs sprinting time and is increased by running and completing certain challenges; and Dead-Eye, which is increased throughout the story by using it and from completing certain challenges. The last two cores are Horse Health and Horse Stamina, which monitors your horses' health and stamina and have the maxes increased by increasing the bond you have with your horse. Rather than having a linear bars, Arthur needs to keep these cores filled by eating food, sleeping, drinking, and other activities. The more the cores are filled, the faster his stats regenerate. You can also imbibe tonics that "fortify" your cores, temporarily giving you much higher stats in the respective core.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Occurs toward the end of Chapter 6 with the final two choices: "Go with John" or "Go for the loot" (combined with Friend or Idol Decision). If you choose "Go with John", you'll get a bit of a boost to your Honor Meter and you'll fight off the Pinkertons while climbing up toward the mountaintop in Grizzlies East where a fistfight with Micah awaits (all of which symbolizes Heaven itself). On the other hand, if you choose "Go for the loot", you'll suffer a bit of an Honor loss,note  and you'll fight your way back down to the camp in Beaver Hollow that is being engulfed by flames as a result of the Pinkteron attack, where a knife fight with Micah awaits after you take the money from the chest (thus symbolizing Hell itself).
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Like the first game, you can purchase/craft and wear different outfits. Unlike the first game, you can also mix and match pieces from all of these different outfits. The most extreme results enter this territory, and the game will call you out with NPC comments about what you're wearing.
  • Running Gag: Several "Encounters" such as the snake-bite man and the escaped prisoner in shackles are repeatable. Arthur/John comment on them to this effect each time after the first.
  • Rust-Removing Oil: Gun Oil works this way. It is possible to find guns in extremely poor condition (including rust on the metal parts) and restore them to like-new with one application of Gun Oil.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: The O'Driscolls are all Irish born and are much more violent and evil than the Van Der Linde's. Additionally there is Angelo Bronte's proto-mafia organization, which represents the new breed of criminal.
  • Sacrificial Lamb:
    • Sean. He spends most of the first two chapters in custody before the gang frees him. His Lovable Rogue nature makes an impression in Chapter 3, but then he is unceremoniously killed in the final mission of Chapter 3. While shocking, his death has no real impact on the story overall.
    • Kieran. He is a captured O'Driscoll who works to integrate himself into the gang, but is then captured and killed offscreen near the end of chapter 4. Like Sean, his death has no major impact on the story overall.
    • Lenny. He gets the most characterization out of the three "lambs", being particularly close to the protagonist Arthur. However, he is gunned down without warning during the failed Saint Denis bank robbery. The impact of this is also lessened as it follows the death of Hosea, the Sacrificial Lion, very closely.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Hosea. He is the brains of the van der Linde operation, part of the original trio with Dutch and Arthur, and is the only voice of reason Dutch will listen to. When he is gunned down by Agent Milton during the botched Saint Denis heist, it signals the beginning of the end for the gang. Several other members die or are captured in short order, the survivors escape in a ship but are shipwrecked in Guarma, and even when they get back to the US, the gang is in much worse shape.
  • Sad Battle Music: The music that plays during the fight with Micah is "You're My Brother (Battle Theme)" (which doubles as Playing the Heart Strings!), where we know that it's never gonna end well with Arthur fighting him off while his lungs are failing him due to tuberculosis.
  • Sanity Slippage: As the first game told us, Dutch goes from a man trying to help others despite his dislike for technology and modernization to an anti-progress madman obsessed with his ultimately pointless one-man war against the future. As seen at the end of Chapter 4, he likely suffers a traumatic brain injury following a botched robbery. Give the lack of knowledge or treatment options available at the time, this likely exacerbates his condition.
    • A much lesser example, but after the eight year Time Skip in the epilogue, it turns out that Gavin's Friend is still looking for him. However he's been reduced to a gibbering, giggling loon.
  • Saved by Canon: John, Abigail, Jack, Dutch, Javier, Bill, and Edgar Ross survive the events of the game, since they appear in the first one.
  • Sawed-Off Shotgun: An option for one of your "pistol" slots. It packs a bigger punch than the other pistol options, but has a lower ammo capacity, fire rate, and range to compensate.
  • Say My Name: RDR2 has the drunken memetic "LEENNNYYYYYY!!!" Which you can repeat a lot while you're searching for Lenny while drunk. There are also other names that are shouted whenever something happens to the other characters in different scenarios.
  • Scenery Porn: The game is graphically much bigger and grander than the first game.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • Yeah, go ahead, cut down those poor guys hanging from the trees in the swamp. See what happens. Hope you like getting attacked by cannibals.
    • Some of the Strangers who approach you on the sides of the road asking for help are actually horse thieves and bandits in disguise. As soon as you get off your horse to approach, they strike.
    • Whatever you do, do not go into Sonny's cabin.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: You can go on a murderous rampage, perhaps even massacring an entire town and the dozens of lawmen sent after you, but as long as you have the money to do so, you can pay off your bounty and its like nothing happened at all. This is particularly notable because some of the Bounty missions result in the culprit getting hanged for a bounty as low as $20. note 
  • Seldom-Seen Species: As a part of the effort to make the game as realistic as possible, there is a surprisingly large variety of animals, especially birds, that are common in the wild but rarely appear in any media, let alone get referred to by their actual name. Among these are cormorants, cranes, boobies, peccaries, egrets, loons, orioles, tanagers, spoonbills, and waxwings. Some of the animals are so obscure this may their first appearance in any popular media, barring nature documentaries.
  • Selective Enforcement: Law enforcement in the game can be rather flaky and inconsistent. In obvious cases, such as gunning down a NPC in front of witnesses without a mask, you'll be easily identified and given an appropriate bounty. However, less clear circumstances can run the gamut of outcomes. For example, say you Antagonize a NPC into starting a fist fight. In some instances, you can knock the NPC out without a word for any witnesses or law enforcement. Other times, the law isn't called until you knock the person out. And yet other cases occur with the outcome being anything in between. There are entire message board posts and sub-Reddit pages dedicated to figuring out the nuances will little success to date.
  • Self-Deprecation: The gang occasionally reminds John about his inability to swim, a clear nod to the Super Drowning Skills present in RDR 1. Some of Abigail’s dialogue to Jack can also be viewed as a nod to people not liking him in the first game. She calls him an annoying brat a couple of times ( even pre-Time Skip).
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: If you can imagine it, you can do try it, and someone else probably already has. Options include some of the more standard video game variety, such as the "Dead is Dead" challenge where you have to start the game over if you die, and another where you don't buy anything that isn't required for plot related reasons, instead looting or crafting everything you use. Some of the more extreme include the Going Native challenge, where you only wear Trapper clothing and only use a bow, tomahawks, and a knife to fight except for where required by a mission/plot.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop: Cougars received a significant nerf, as they are much rarer and can be seen on the minimap when one is near. To balance this, they are now much more lethal, but the warnings the game gives you make them much easier to hunt.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike:
    • Your horse, if wounded, might start bleeding and you need medicine to save it; if it dies, you can't just whistle for a new one. (The latter was also present in the Hardcore mode of the last game) The ability to just whistle for a new free horse was removed because the devs want to make horses feel more than disposable modes of transport.
    • Hunting is now more realistic, and the price people fork out for your hunting goods depends on how fresh and clean the kill is. Getting a perfect fatal shot with a bow or the proper gun/ammo and immediately selling the meat rewards you better than using the wrong gun/ammo and waiting a week to sell whatever remains of the poor creature you annihilated. Dynamite doesn't even net you anything to harvest, unless you're using it for fishing. About the only animals you don't have to worry about ruining the pelts and carcasses of are the legendary animals, although the only person that can take their carcasses is the Trapper.
    • John was relatively Easily Forgiven in the first game, only getting a payable bounty and an occasional visit from bounty hunters or the region's law enforcement. Bounties are now harder to get rid of if you're not wanted dead or alive, and super-persistent bounty hunters will hunt the player all over the map. In 1, they would spawn every few in-game days or so, while here they have a habit of showing up if you linger around one area for 5 to 15 real minutes, forcing you to stay on the move. Fortunately, they don't spawn in states you're not wanted in.
  • Sequel Escalation: Whoo boy, Rockstar really wants to use the better hardware to its full extent.
    • For starters, the map is bigger and more detailed than the one of the last game. The graphics and environments have also been massively improved upon.
    • In the previous game, you could greet NPCs (or taunt them with low honor). In this game, the player is given more control over Arthur's dialogue depending on the context, location and NPC alignment among other things. This system also pops up in other situations, such as deciding whether to crack or blow up safes.
    • Hunting in RDR1 was limited to "Shoot animal. Skin animal. Sell goods." Here hunting goods can be used either as a way to gain money or to feed your gang, and animal carcasses can be carried on your horse for later skinning. The weapon you use to kill the animal affects its value: a bow is way better than a shotgun, for example. There was also no limit to how long you could carry around all your animal pelts and meat parts. In II, Reality Ensues as there's a limit to how many animals you can carry with you, and you need to bring the carcasses back to camp/butcher/trapper before they start decaying. Old meat, naturally, is not as valuable as fresh meat.
    • Horses were disposable in the first game, and the only benefit of using the same horse for long periods of time was a slight increase in stamina. Here, you can't just get a new horse by whistling if your ride dies, and if you manage to keep your horse alive, it will learn to stay put at command and to keep calm during firefights, among other things.
    • In the previous game, you could purchase a Rabbit's Foot to slightly improve the chances of receiving items from corpses, and Marston with good karma would eventually get a relic that lowers enemy accuracy. In this game, you can craft a number of special talismans and trinkets that give you permanent perks.
    • While in the last game, only stores and safehouses had accessible interiors, this game supposedly allows the player to waltz in to most houses on the map to add depth to the game world. The improved A.I reactions also support this, as entering someone's house uninvited may cause trouble.
    • The epilogue of the last game is basically one mission and a couple of sidequests, all of which can be completed within an hour. The epilogue of this game has multiple missions and is roughly 1/6 of the total length in terms of cutscene.
  • Sequence Breaking: By completing some ambient challenges, you can obtain a secondary holster way before Micah canonically gives you one. However, you cannot buy a second variant of the handguns you already own until Micah gives you the story-related one.
  • Serial Killer: A side mission involving one is started by coming across one of his crime scenes and piecing together a map from the clues. Once you find his hideout, you can confront him. You can also find a serial killer prostitute in Valentine.
  • Set Bonus: Completing Challenges unlocks reinforced equipment at the trapper. Each piece, in addition to being unique in appearance depending on the set, grants bonuses such as reducing the amount of wear your guns take and increasing your ammo capacity. Buying the entire set (which requires completing all 10 challenges) will give you a bonus to your health, stamina, or Dead Eye depending on the set.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: In several towns, you can meet Civil War veterans who are now crippled beggars. All of them now suffer psychological issues as well.
  • Shoot the Rope: How Arthur rescues workers who are in the middle of being executed in Guarma. Can also be done with bodies hanging in Murfree Brood country, if you want to get attacked by them.
  • Shoplift and Die: Can be played straight or averted depending on the shopkeeper in question. Some will go along with your robbery but then alert the law immediately after. Others will draw weapons and attack you.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Significantly Downplayed. Shotguns still make a chunky mess of anything at short range, but remain much more effective into the medium range than they do in most video games. Few humanoid enemies survive more than two blasts at this range, and the first is likely to knock them down, temporarily preventing them from fighting back. Upgrades are available which further increase their effectiveness at longer ranges, while still keeping their high short range lethality.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Particularly when it comes to Saint Denis, an Alternate Universe recreation of New Orleans:
      • The hitching posts shaped like horse heads actually do exist in the city, and were used for the exact same purpose around that period of time
      • New Orleans is home to many above-ground graveyards such as the one Arthur and John run through. In fact, 90% of the graves in the city are above ground.
      • Several different trolleys still runs through the city of New Orleans today—they're referred to by locals as streetcars, however
      • Many different areas of New Orleans can be identified by locals, including Rockstar's recreations of the French Quarter, Lee's Circle, Jackson's Square, and something similar to the Garden District/Uptown.
      • The vampire side-mission in Saint Denis is reflective of the huge amount of vampire lore the city has, a lot of which has made it into popular culture. (Interview with the Vampire, anyone?)
      • When greeted, some of the NPCS will address you in French-Creole.
    • Back at the end of the 19th century, tuberculosis was a pretty big deal, and there were no cures or antibiotics or vaccines back then. And although Arthur doesn't know it, it's not just the tuberculosis or its spread that does him in: according to the Game Theory video, research has shown that smoking, alcoholism, malnutrition and vitamin D deficiency, and physical injury/trauma to and/or not caring for the human body have a high risk of tuberculosis, which is no wonder Arthur succumbs to the disease at a young age (in the High Honor ending, that is).
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Possible with judicious use of Dead Eye. You can line up head shots on an entire group of enemies and, when time returns to normal, they'll all drop dead almost at once.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Arthur, a career outlaw, believes it. In a particular side mission, you gather the personal affects of an old man who has been evicted from his home. As you gather them, you learn that he is a former slave-catcher. When you return to him, Arthur, without control of the player, throws his belongings on the campfire. Killing him on the spot actually yields an Honor increase.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Like its predecessor (and most of Rockstar's games), it leans heavily toward the Cynicism side. Most people are objectively bad, the good ones are still deeply flawed, and while the outgoing world of cowboys and frontier anarchy is dark and dangerous, the incoming world of technology and federalism isn't any better.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: A few of these ...
    • Had Dutch not murdered Heidi McCourt in cold blood, they would have gotten away with the take in Blackwater. This sets off the events of this game and by proxy, those of the first. If she had lived, both games would be very different. She’s so important to the story that Strange Man (who’s implied to be the Devil, God, or the incarnation of death) brings her up in I.
    • Even though he’s mentioned three times in the game (and you can easily miss two of them), Arthur’s deceased son Isaac is one of these as well. A lot of the specifics are left vague but his death and that of his mother Eliza hardened Arthur and explains a lot of his self loathing. He thinks that the two of them dying is his karma for living the life he has and that he’s not allowed to have good things in his life. He’s also the catalyst of Arthur’s eventual Heroic Sacrafice for the Marstons. He wants John to have the life he wanted with Isaac but couldn’t have.
    • Thomas Downes dies a little way into Chapter 2 but he gives Arthur TB.
  • Smoke Out: Magnifico, a magician you need to capture in a particular side mission, uses this move repeatedly while running away from you.
  • Smoking Is Cool: By extension, since tobacco products refill your Dead Eye meter which in turn allows you to pull off cool moves like winning duels and headshotting multiple enemies before they can even draw their guns. Arthur will also smoke in several cutscenes.
  • Smug Snake: Colm O'Driscoll, leader of the O'Driscoll gang. He's arrogant, mean, and cynical, caring very little for anyone including the members of his own gang with whom he takes a "quantity over quality" approach. Driving the image home, he has a snake skin band around his hat.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: One of the Bounty missions is to bring in such a character whose snake oil has actually killed people.
  • Sniping Mission:
    • Subverted in Chapter 2 during the mission where you first gain a scoped rifle. You ride out with John to commandeer a flock of sheep on its way to market from a few ranch hands guarding it. However, instead of shooting them with it, you use it to merely scare them off.
    • Subverted again during a Chapter 3 mission to parlay with the O'Driscolls. Arthur is using it to watch over Dutch from a distance in case there is trouble, but is attacked from behind and knocked out by a group of O'Driscolls before he can use it.
    • Played straight toward the end of Chapter 6 where Arthur has to cover Sadie with a sniper rifle from the Van Horn lighthouse as she fights through Pinkertons to rescue Abagail.
    • Played straight again during the second Epilogue where John covers Sadie with a sniper rifle as they attempt to re-capture an escaped Del Lobo bounty.
    • Quite useful for hunting during free roam. Rifles won't damage large game if you make a clean head shot, and you won't have to worry about other hunting factors (your smell, the wind, noise, etc.) if you're at a sniping distance.
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: A Downplayed version occurs when going from the ending of the main story as Arthur to the Epilogue as John. All of Arthur's stats, weapons, clothing, equipment, and some satchel items (including valuables and documents) do transfer to John. However, Arthur's money, tonics, ingredients, provisions, materials, and horses, even those at the stable, do not.
  • Somewhere, an Equestrian Is Crying: While the game does better in this regard than most others, it still has several areas of horse mistreatment. Many could be considered Acceptable Breaks from Reality for the sake of keeping the game fun, but to note:
    • It's not healthy for a horse to leave it saddled and bridled 24/7. If you stick with one horse for the entire game, it will be saddled and bridled the entire time with no ill effects.
    • You can leap onto your horse from up to about two stories. In real life, jumping onto your horse from any height is very dangerous to you and the horse.
    • You can ride full gallop on paved roads, which can cause long term harm to a horse's hooves and legs. You can also ride on railroad tracks and other uneven surfaces, which puts the horse at risk of falls and injuries. Further, you can push your horse to full speed while carrying another person or several animal carcasses, which isn't healthy with the added weight.
    • Breaking in and bonding with horses, especially wild ones, happens unrealistically fast. Additionally, it usually takes months to train a horse to come to your call (like a whistle) and it can take even longer for them to be comfortable around gunfire.
  • The Song Before the Storm: A rare one in video games: "That's the Way It Is", which is played near the end of Chapter 6 when Arthur, riddled with tuberculosis, goes on his final ride to camp, where he will face the Pinkertons before meeting up with Micah for one final showdown in which he may or may not survive depending on his honor.
  • Son of a Whore: Both John and Jack.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Just like in the first game, a lot of characters talk like this and it's very charming. Who would've thought thick southern accents and backwoods dialect would mix so well with fancy words?
  • Southern Gothic: Shady Belle is this to a tee. A former plantation house, it has fallen into disrepair and was taken over as the headquarters of the Lemoyne Raiders. After the gang drives them out, they take over in Chapter 4 when they flee there from Scarlett Meadows. Scarlett Meadows and Saint Denis also have this aesthetic to a lesser degree.
  • Space Compression: Like its Grand Theft Auto sister series, the game takes place in a fictionalized version of the United States (though many references are made to real life cities and states as well) along with a few excursions outside the country. Stand-ins for the Rocky Mountains, the deserts of the American southwest, the great plains, and the bayous (including Saint Denis for New Orleans) are all present. In real life, these regions span an area over 1300 miles. In game, you can leisurely ride a horse from one edge of the map to the opposite in a single in-game-day (66 real life minutes).
  • Sprint Meter: Both you and your horse have a Stamina bar which works in this way. Running and swimming both cause it to drain. Once emptied, your Stamina core will begin to drain. Once that drains, you'll need to take action to refill it (such as eating Stamina restoring food).
  • The Squadette: While the van der Linde gang is made up of about 1/3 women, most contribute in non-combat capacities. After she proves her value in a fight, plus the attrition of some of the male gang members, Sadie moves more into this role later in the main story.
  • Stalking Mission: Numerous missions involve following a person to either have them lead you to something or in order to confront them in a less open place. If you're too far back, you may lose them and fail the mission. Follow too closely and you may be spotted, also potentially failing the mission or at least making it more difficult to complete.
  • Standard FPS Guns: All of the basic categories (knife, pistol, shotgun, rifle, sniper rifle) are present in one form or another. Dynamite and Fire Bottles cover "Grenades", while Dynamite Arrows cover the "Grenade Launcher" category. While you can't take them with you, "Gun Turret" Gattling Guns are present during some missions and can be used by you.
  • Starting Equipment:
    • You start the game with a basic Cattleman Revolver and a Carbine Repeater rifle. Shortly into the first chapter, you'll be handed a Sawed-Off Shotgun and a can pick up a Double Barrel Shotgun.
    • Those willing to go through a few hurdles will get a free golden double-action revolver upon reaching chapter 2, and those willing to pay extra and buy the special edition can go and pick up a free vulcan pistol, varmint rifle and pump-action rifle as soon as they reach a gunsmith.
  • Status Effect:
    • You can be poisoned via snake bites or through eating poisonous plants. It will slowly drain your health until healed.
    • If you aren't properly clothed, exposure to extreme cold and extreme heat will similarly drain your health core.
  • Stealth Pun: One of the quest givers in chapter four is a man named Algernon who, among other things, asks you to bring him a great deal of orchids...
  • Sticks to the Back:
    • Averted for firearms. Long guns have slings and you can carry up to two, one slung over your back and another over your shoulder. Your handguns likewise go into holsters and your knife into a scabbard.
    • Tomahawks and hatchets play it straight. "Sheathing" them if they are your active weapon has them placed near your thigh/hip where they just kind of stay. You can also see this on Charles during missions where he carries a tomahawk.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: The Lemoyne Raiders are outfitted in old Confederate uniforms and look-alike clothing.
  • Storming the Castle:
    • The Chapter 3 mission "Blood Feuds, Ancient and Modern" has the gang do this to Braithwaite Manor after the Braithwaites kidnap Jack. Its a merciless slaughter that ends with Braithewaite Manor burnt to the ground.
    • Happens again in Chapter 4 when the gang attacks Angelo Bronte's mansion after he set them up.
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability: The Bull Gator cannot be killed when it attacks during the Chapter 4 mission, "Country Pursuits". Even if you use explosive rifle ammunition, which will kill it in one vital hit during its proper legendary hunting mission, you can only drive it off as the plot demands, not kill it.
  • Strawman Political / Straw Character: Played for laughs, the game features several characters and publications with hilariously outdated and backwards politics. Like its predecessor, the game takes great relish in making fun of these characters and their views. A great example is the eugenics proponent in Saint Denis. He's so hated that you can kill him in broad daylight without drawing a bounty.
  • Stray Shots Strike Nothing: Averted, potentially leading to consequences. Missed shots can continue to carry and strike NPCs or objects behind them. It is possible to be shooting at a legitimate enemy, only to strike a non-hostile NPC behind him, gaining you a bounty for assault or murder. In some cases, it is possible to fail missions in this fashion if your stray shots attract unwanted attention. This is also exemplified by the famous .gif shortly after the game's release where a player fires their gun in the air in order to intimidate a NPC, only for a dead bird to fall from the sky nearby.
  • Stupid Crooks: Random encounter criminals, such as those who attempt to mug your or steal your horse, are this combined with Bullying a Dragon or Mugging the Monster in many cases. Your rival gangs are prone to some jaw-dropping moments of stupidity as well.
  • Suck Out the Poison: One option for dealing with the "snake bite victim" random encounter. You can also offer him medicine if you have some.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence:
    • Enemies in entrenched positions will frequently leave cover to charge you. Even if you're supposed to be attacking them.
    • Your fellow gang members will do this as well during missions. Their deaths usually lead to mission failures, making this incredibly frustrating. An especially notable example occurs during the mission with Lenny to attack the Lemoyne Raiders at Shady Belle. They have dynamite boxes around their camp which explode when shot, meaning you can thin them out quite easily by sniping the dynamite from the front gate. Lenny, one of the most intelligent members of the van der Linde gang, nonetheless charges in headfirst and can be caught in the explosions.
  • Suffrage and Political Liberation: The women of Rhodes are suffragettes, rallying and trying to gain the right to vote.
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy: Dutch keeps pouring more money into another One Last Job when he has $150k (worth a little over $4 million today when adjusted for inflation) stashed in Blackwater. The worse straights they find themselves in, the more money he has to pour into it. He’s also bringing more and more attention to all of them when they’ve got all sorts of people hot on their trail. The more logical decision would have been to wait a year or two once it’s not as hot while they keep up operations as usual and then either go back for the money himself or pay someone to do it for him.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Zig-Zagged. Arthur can swim, although poorly. Swimming rapidly drains his stamina, but he can still swim. Once you switch to John, this ability is gone, and stepping too deep will instantly set your stamina to zero. You do have a few seconds to save him if this happens however, unlike in the first game.
  • Super-Persistent Predator:
    • When Arthur and Javier rescue John Marston, they are set upon by wolves. No matter how many Arthur guns down, the wolves keep attacking the group wave after wave.
    • Bounty Hunters are relentless. They have a habit of appearing if you stay too long in one area (10-20 minutes in real time), meaning that while you are somewhat safe while on the move, camping and exploring on foot is a risk in states where you're wanted.
  • Super Reflexes: Dead Eye, crossing over with Bullet Time. At high levels, you can go from drawing your gun to pulling off multiple head shots in an in-game blink of an eye.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Almost every gang member death is one of these. Sean is killed by a headshot before you even realize you're under attack. Hosea is captured by the Pinkertons and shot in cold blood in front of the gang. Lenny is gunned down by an agent out of nowhere during the escape after the failed Saint Denis bank robbery.
  • Tag Line: Outlaws for life.
  • Take a Third Option: The mission where you break Micah out of jail gives you two options right up front, blow the jail window up with dynamite or pull it out with a hook from a nearby steam donkey. The third option is simply stealing the keys from the sheriff and breaking Micah out from inside the jail by unlocking the jail door, which triggers a different set of lines from Micah for when he kills his jailmate.
  • Take Your Time:
    • As is standard for open-world games. However, the severeness of Arthur's tuberculosis is only affected by the story.
    • Missions with a white marker can expire and will no longer be available if you wait too long. "Gold" main story missions will be available until you complete them, as they are required to advance the story. When in doubt, always knock out the "white" missions first to avoid losing them.
  • Talk to the Fist: Possible to do during "encounters" which do not shift to cut scenes. Want to shut up the eugenics supporter or the KKK members setting up a cross? You can!
  • Talking to Themself: Dutch can be heard doing this starting in late Chapter 4 following his head injury during the trolley crash. Unlike the usual "muttering to yourself" version that Arthur (and most people in real life) does at times, Dutch talks in pieces of full conversations, at one point even playing a verbal game of chess despite being alone.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • When Jack tells John about how his fishing trip with Arthur was interrupted by two Pinkerton agents, John responds by saying that no city man will show up near their ranch. Guess what will happen a few years from then.
    • A random roadside Stranger encounter involves two men attempting to open a (presumably stolen) safe with dynamite. You can probably guess what happens next...
    • Abigail tells Jack that he can become a gunslinger over her dead body. Jack literally becomes a gunslinger after Abigail's death 15 years later.
  • There Are No Tents: Averted. You can set up camp to cook, craft, and sleep from your main horse (the one with your saddle) anywhere in the wilderness. Actually setting up the tent is optional, unless it is raining in which case your character will automatically set it up.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Dynamite, Fire Bottles, Dynamite Arrows, explosive shotgun rounds...the list goes on of weapons/ammunition which will make bloody/burnt-up chunks of your human adversaries.
    • Using too powerful of weapons on smaller animals, such as a Rolling Block Rifle on a rabbit, will mutilate the carcass and prevent you from getting any pelts or meat.
  • Thriving Ghost Town: In 1899, New Orleans had a population of almost 300,000, and an area of 350 square miles. Saint Denis doesn't exceed a hundred people or five square miles.
  • Time Skip: Eight years pass between the end of the main story and the start of the Epilogue.
  • Title Drop:
    • The final mission of Chapter Six is called “Red Dead Redemption”.
    • Several missions are named after quotes stated during the mission.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Even for a member of a gang of outlaws, Micah comes across as an Obviously Evil Psycho for Hire. It is perhaps the least surprising plot point of the game that Micah turns out to be the one ratting out the gang to the feds.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Several homesteads quality, such as the Aberdeen Pig Farm which is run by an incestual brother and sister who drug, rob, and murder visitors.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • Pre-release screenshots prominently showed John wearing his classic denim vest and hat from the previous game, which he doesn't even obtain until the epilogue.
    • Eagle-eyed viewers noticed in screenshots that John carries his equipment and holds his weapons in the exact same manner as Arthur, the most obvious reasoning being that John would be playable and thus share animations with Arthur. This was proven true in the final release.
  • Train Job:
    • The final mission of Chapter 1 is a train job on a train owned by Leviticus Cornwall. After failing to stop the train with dynamite, Arthur and Lenny have to fight to the front of the train against Cornwall's Private Military Contractors.
    • Another takes place during Chapter 2, organized by John. It involves using an explosive oil wagon to stop the train. Naturally, it doesn't go as smoothly as planned and the law shows up not long after.
    • A final one takes place toward the end of Chapter 6. The gang seeks to rob a army train full of payroll. They succeed, but John is shot and left for dead by Dutch. This is the final straw for Arthur, who sends Tilly and Jack away with a large take while he rescues Abigail and then confronts Dutch along with a wounded-but-alive John.
    • One of the "Bandit" challenges is to rob five trains without getting caught.
  • Trash the Set: Near the end of Chapter 6, the Pinkertons attack the Van der Linde gang and force them to evacuate their camp at Beaver Hollow. If you choose to go for the loot, when Arthur returns to the camp, he finds it being engulfed in flames, with the Pinkertons being the reason for the destruction.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: Notice how all of Micah's missions tend to devolve into massive slaughters with rival gangs, lawmen, and sometimes both at once? When looking back after The Reveal, it makes sense. He is trying to get Arthur, the most competent member of the gang and the one trusted most by Dutch, killed.
  • Treasure Map: Several can be found leading to large hauls of loot.
  • Trick Arrow: Several types are craftable, including less-damaging Small Game arrows, increased damage Improved Arrows, Poisoned arrows, and even explosive Dynamite arrows.
  • True Companions: Arthur's relationship with Dutch and his gang appears to be this, judging by how Arthur replies that he will always have Dutch's back. The player can also build similar relationships between Arthur and the other gang members.
  • Twilight of the Old West: Though the game is set earlier than its predecessor, it insists even more on the idea than the first one. Dutch believes in some ideals of the Wild West with men living without interference from the government away from civilization. However, the federal government tightens its grip on the lands as the country becomes more and more developed, with industry occupying more of the landscape. One side mission has you track down several aging duelists and gunslingers from the heyday of the Old West, most of whom have been forced into hiding from the law or drinking their lives away.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Charles is half black, half Native American. This is an example of Truth in Television as Native Americans and African Americans have a close and complex historical relationship. A fair few Native American tribes, like the Seminole, welcomed escaped and freed slaves and engaged in cultural exchange and intermarriage. Charles' ancestry would not be exceptional in 1899.
  • Undertaker: There is one in Rhodes. His assistant borrows money from Strauss in Chapter 3, so naturally Arthur is sent to collect.
  • Undignified Death: Arthur, with exactly how depending on your actions during the final mission and your Honor level. We learn in Chapter 5 that Arthur has contracted tuberculosis, a bacterial infection of the lungs that, while treatable today with a course of antibiotics, was a death sentence in 1899. So Arthur, the badass One-Man Army, survivor of countless rival gang attacks, law enforcement attacks, and wild animal attacks, gradually wastes away to Nothing but Skin and Bones, coughs up bloody mucus, and looks like death. During the final mission, if you have high Honor, Arthur will die from the TB after overexerting himself. Otherwise, he'll be gunned down by Micah.
  • Undying Loyalty: The gang towards Dutch. Best shown when agents Milton and Ross personally come to make a deal with Dutch. If he turns himself in, the gang will be spared from the wrath of the Pinkertons. When Dutch's about to take up on that offer, the gang instantly ready their weapons and chase the agents away without Dutch doing as much as saying a word. This erodes by the end as most of the gang gets alienated and/or, in a Deconstruction, killed by Dutch's Sanity Slippage. By the end, the only ones who are truly loyal to Dutch are Bill and Javier.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay:
    • Showing up into town covered in blood, unbathed, and looking like a deranged hobo with long unwashed hair and beard will have townsfolk react with disgust and horror. Trying to get information out of them while in this state will be challenging.
    • While, in line with Guns in Church, you still carry your sidearms nearly everywhere you go, drawing them and waving them around will cause anyone nearby you to react appropriately. Some may flee, some may shout at you, and some may draw their own weapons to fight back.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Some minor characters, such as shopkeepers, may return to life if killed.
  • Unflinching Walk: In the second trailer, a moment occurs where a masked, longcoat-wearing Arthur Morgan casually walks away, rifle in hand, as he blows open a bunch of safe deposit boxes in a bank he's robbing.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Dutch has elements of this toward Arthur, especially as the main story progresses. Despite being his most reliable and competent gang member dating back two decades, Arthur is the target of Dutch's infamous "have faith" speeches and begins siding with dangerous newcomer Micah simply because Micah sucks up to Dutch and tells him what he wants to hear. The deaths of prominent senior gang members like Hosea only make Dutch worse in this regard.
  • Universal Ammunition: Downplayed in that ammo is placed into several different categories (ex. Revolver, Repeater, Rifle, etc.) but that ammo can be used by any firearm in that category. This is notable because the real life basis for many of the firearms used different calibers of rounds. For example, compare the round of a Spencer Carbine (the basis of the Carbine Repeater) to that of the Winchester Rifle (the basis of the Lancaster Repeater).
  • Universal Poison: Oleander Sage is used to make both Poison Arrows and Poison Throwing Knives.
  • Unorthodox Holstering: Different characters have unique ways of holstering their pistols, especially characters who carry them in pairs. Dutch and Sadie, for example, carry their pairs of revolvers in standard straight draw holsters, while Micah prefers the "Cavalry Draw" that "Wild" Bill Hickok was famous for. Arthur and later John carries one pistol in a traditional straight draw holster and later a second in an off-hand holster across the belly in the manner that Lee Van Cleef was famous for.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment:
    • Generally averted for guns and hats, which you can then pick up and use/wear. In fact, some hats can only be acquired by taking them from NPCs, such as the fancy women's hats in Saint Denis.
    • Played straight for outfits. There is no way to loot clothing from dead bodies.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Downplayed for your outfits and equipment. You can run around in garb made from a white buffalo, wearing a Revolutionary War era tri-corner hat, wielding an antique (even for the era of the game) Volcanic Pistol and a Pirate Sword, and the only comments you'll get are the standard generic negative remarks about your attire which NPCs make regardless of what you're wearing.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake:
    • A series of missions done in a certain order during Chapter 2 can bug Abigail's dialogue, meaning that she'll never give you the mission to take Jack fishing. This locks you out of continuing and prevents you from getting the fishing rod item.
    • As mentioned under Game-Breaking Bug, a glitch in the epilogue can remove a few semi-important items from your inventory, meaning you cannot finish certain side-missions. Some of them allow you to skip checkpoints that require the missing item, but others dont.
  • Urban Segregation: Present and clearly evident in Saint Denis, where the city center areas (with the shops and entertainment) are populated by more well-to-do NPCs. The areas near the dock as well as the northeastern area heading into the bayou are much more run down and have poorer looking NPC residents.
  • The Usual Adversaries: Each region has a local gang whose members you'll encounter over and over as they respawn for encounters. Western New Hanover and northern West Elizabeth have the O'Driscolls, Lemoyne has the Lemoyne Raiders as well as the Night Folk in the swampy areas, while the areas near Annesburg and Van Horn have the Murfree Brood. Other different groups appear in the Epilogue as well.
  • Vendor Trash: Subverted for items looted from corpses and sometimes given for completing Stranger missions, like rings and belt buckles. You can't sell them to any old merchant, but dedicated fences will still buy however many have.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: In chapter 6, while Arthur is very glad to see Colm O'Driscoll finally hanged, he ultimately doesn't care that much; not only because he's gone through so much crap by that point, but because the other problems he and the gang in general are facing are so much worse. He also notes that Colm was never truly his gang's fight, it was Dutch's.
  • [Verb] This!: During the camp interaction, Micah starts antagonizing Charles by sneering, "Hey redskin, go get me something to eat!" Charles, usually stoic, dares him to repeat it again, and Micah does repeat it...only for Charles to flat-out knock him down while growling, "Eat that!"
  • V-Formation Team Shot: Happens twice. The first is when the gang storms the Braithwaite manor after the Braithwaite family kidnap Jack. And the second occurs when Arthur, Sadie, Charles, Dutch, and some Wapiti warriors storm the US Army settlement to rescue Eagle Flies.
  • Victorian Novel Disease: Arthur's tuberculosis definitely averts the "has no effect on attractiveness" aspect, as he loses weight rapidly, his complexion becomes paler, and his eyes become sunken and bloodshot. It also extends to the gameplay, as your cores drain much faster than normal.
  • Video Game Caring Potential:
    • Arthur can bring food and supplies to the camp which improves camp morale and makes companion side missions more likely to appear. Ignoring the gang negatively affects camp morale and dialogue, but they'll never die from the lack of food.
    • As with everything else, the horse features have been greatly expanded and so it is even easier to get attached to your horse: They act a lot more like living, breathing creatures, and will respond better to a dangerous situation if your bond is strong. If your horse gets wounded, you can treat it with medicine, but if you're too late, it will die, and you can no longer simply whistle for a new one. The creators figured the feature of calling a new horse immediately after your previous one died (after a bug in the new game made the same happen) undercut the "sadness" of losing your horse and was otherwise too unrealistic for the new kind of immersive gameplay they wanted. It also makes the ending much sadder when Arthur's horse dies and he says goodbye.
    • Assisting certain NPCs during stranger encounters not only raises your honor, but you may encounter the NPC you helped in town afterward where he or she will offer to buy you an item of your choice.
    • The dialogue system allows the player to be quite courteous, greeting anyone they pass and being nice to people in conversations. Once their reputation for being honorable gets established, most people will reciprocate the gesture.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • Wounded animals bleed, and can even start writhing and screaming in pain until you put them out of their misery. You can use this to your advantage by "Studying" the wounded animal, since it is technically still alive, to fill out your compendium.
    • The highest level of Deadeye shows where the target's vital organs are located. As such, you can intentionally avoid hitting them to inflict extra pain to your victim. Worse, you can shoot those vitals to provoke heavy bleeding into your victims. This means that they'll fall over, get up, try to run away while leaving a trail of gushing blood behind, fall down again and agonize on the floor while a huge red puddle forms under them, until they're finished off or perish from lack of blood.
    • The dialogue system allows for the player to "Antagonize" nearly anyone. Given the game's setting and cast of characters, such antagonism can be perfectly justified, but when it's directed at some people it's just cruel, spiteful, and/or abrasive.
    • Using the lasso, you can tie up anyone from hostile enemies to neutral NPCs. You can then load them onto your horse and take them away to torture them in any number of ways. You can drop them in water and watch them drown. Or leave them on railroad tracks to get killed by a train. Or you can drop them and let predatory wildlife kill them for you. You can even use them to your advantage, such as using them to complete challenges that are difficult to pull off on a mobile NPC like the extreme range scope kill Sharpshooter challenge and the 80 foot tomahawk kill challenge.
  • Video Game Time: One in-game day lasts about 66 real-life minutes. Additionally, daylight hours are about 2.5 times longer than nighttime hours.
  • Violation of Common Sense: The game allows you to do, and in some cases even rewards you for doing, numerous things that any sane person in reality would avoid. Examples include drinking a mystery substance from a bubbling cauldron in an abandoned wilderness hut, eating a poisonous plant a nearby NPC specifically warns you not to eat, and killing a certain number of grizzly bears as they charge at you.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: There are several dozen outfits available to wear. Further, you can mix and match pieces of the outfits to create entire new looks. Add in hats, bandoliers, gun belts, and holsters, and you get into exponential outfit combination territory. The outfit system also differs from the first game, in that while full outfits are available, you can also mix-and-match individual items. This ranges from obvious things such as shirts, coats, and pants all the way down to minuscule details such as spurs and ties. Outfits can be further modified; whether the sleeves are rolled up, top buttons opened or not, pants legs over or under boots.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: At the end of "A Quiet Time", if Arthur successfully escapes the law, he will wake up feeling sick and hung over and lean over onto the tall grass to projectile vomit. Believe us, it sure ain't pretty.
  • Wallet of Holding: You can walk around with tens of thousands of dollars with no ill effect. In this era, coinage was still quite a bit more popular than paper currency for average folk.
  • Wall of Weapons: Several gun stores display their available firearms in this fashion. Fully justified as this is the preferred method even in modern times.
  • The Wandering You: While you can pay to take trains or stage coaches between destination, and there is a Fast Travel map which can be unlocked at your camp, the game still largely requires you to manually travel to most destinations. This is also the best way to trigger random events, which often come in the form of encounters along roads (such as the Strangers who want to race you on horseback, the snake bite victim, the escaped prisoner, rival gang ambushes, etc.)
  • "Wanted!" Poster: The source of Bounty missions, and what you need to take down to start helping Mr. White and Mr. Black.
  • War Is Hell: Any characters who experienced the Civil War first hand tend to have this view. Arthur too will make comments along these lines the first time you visit Bulger Glade, a Civil War battlefield.
  • The War Just Before: The game takes place 34 years after the end of the US Civil War. The effects of the war can still be felt, especially in areas directly impacted like Lemoyne where pro-Confederate raiders still operate.
  • Warp Whistle: There are a few ways to fast travel. As most of them rely on public transportation, they cost a few dollars.
    • Every major town has a stage coach post. Even if the coach isn't present, you can purchase a ride to other posts in other cities. The only drawback is that if you have a bounty, the coachmen refuse to drive you around.
    • While it is possible to ride trains without fast traveling by simply boarding one, you can purchase tickets from the various train stations around the world. Fortunately, as every track eventually goes through Saint Denis, all stations are connected. The only downside is that while the tracks allow fast travel around the new parts of the map, New Austin and Blackwater cannot be reached this way as the tracks there are still unfinished.
    • Once you upgrade the camp enough, you can use a map at Arthur's tent to travel to any already discovered major location. This is completely free, but also a one-way trip; you cannot travel to the camp.
  • Weapon of Choice: Most members of the gang have a weapon they prefer to use.
    • John has a unique Cattleman Revolver, Hunting Knife, and a Lancaster Repeater colored similarly to the Winchester Repeater from the first game. When John becomes controllable in both Epilogue chapters, the player can use both his unique revolver and knife. They are fittingly labeled "John's Cattleman Revolver" and "John's Knife". The unique "Winchester" can be attained by coloring a generic Lancaster Iron metal and Rosewood varnish at any Gunsmith.
    • Dutch has a pair of custom Schofield Revolvers.
    • Bill uses a custom Schofield Revolver, as well as a custom Bolt-Action Rifle (likely kept from his days in the army).
    • Javier has a very unique Double-Action Revolver.
    • Micah uses his custom pair of Double-action Revolvers.
    • Charles almost always uses a Sawed-Off Shotgun, Tomahawk, and a Bow.
    • Sadie has a pair of custom Cattleman Revolvers and a custom Carbine Repeater.
    • Hosea uses a pair of custom Cattleman Revolvers.
    • Uncle has a custom Schofield Revolver.
    • Lenny and Kieran each have their own customized Cattleman Revolver.
  • Weapon Stomp: In the final part of the fistfight with Micah in the "Go with John" part of the final story mission, Arthur manages to kick one of Micah's revolvers from his holster and send it flying onto the ground further out of reach. The hard part is that he has to painfully crawl over toward the revolver while Micah is chasing after him. Once Arthur reaches out for the revolver in his attempt to shoot Micah with it, a foot belonging to Dutch steps on the weapon with Arthur's hand still on it, thus ending the battle.
  • We Buy Anything: Generally averted. In fact, many stores, such as tailors and saloons, won't buy anything from you at all. The ones that do will only buy items in line with their business.
  • Weight Loss Horror: The player is treated to watching the tall, broad-shouldered, and tough-as-nails cowboy Arthur Morgan gradually waste away to nothing from tuberculosis, a bacterial infection that was a death sentence for anyone who contracted it in 1899. It's actually possible for him to become more underweight than the game normally allows.
  • Weird West: The Old West was even weirder back in the day, containing, among other things, ghosts, giants, odd statues, aliens, dinosaur bones, viking burial grounds, mad scientists, time travel, robots, and incest.
  • We Need a Distraction: The gang likes to use these immediately prior to large heists to draw the attention of the authorities away. Prior to the Valentine bank robbery, Karen will provide a distraction with exactly what she does up to you. The Saint Denis bank robbery starts off with Hosea and Abigail triggering an explosion several blocks away. This one goes less well, however, as the Pinkertons are tipped off beforehand. They capture Hosea, kill Hosea in front of the gang members inside the bank, and then lay siege, forcing the gang to flee.
  • We Sell Everything: Also generally averted. While you can buy a few items from a General Store that are typically found in more specialized stores, such as fishing lures and ammunition, these are in the minority.
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: Arthur makes a comment along these lines the first time he approaches Bolger Glade, the site of a Civil War battle, in free roam.
  • Wham Mission: "A Fork in the Road", during which Arthur learns he has tuberculosis.
  • Wham Line:
    • During the Saint Denis trolley heist, the trolley the gang uses to escape crashes, with Dutch taking a nasty blow to the head. As the game goes on, Dutch's personality begins to shift, becoming more and more like the ruthless Straw Nihilist we see in the first game. Take into account the idea that the crash might have given him a concussion, and this seemingly innocuous line becomes far more sinister:
    • Unique in that it's actually in the form of the interface's Dialogue Tree. During the Chapter 6 mission where you assist Rain Falls, one of the dialogue options simply reads "ARTHUR'S SON?"
    • "You've got tuberculosis."
  • Wham Shot: In Chapter 5, if you walk back into Saint Denis (which you need to in order to progress the story), Arthur will suddenly collapse in a coughing fit and pass out. This begins the mission "A Fork in the Road", and reveals to the player that Arthur is very sick.
  • What a Drag: You can lasso NPCs and drag them behind you while on horseback. One of the game's challenges is to do this and then drag the poor victim a specific distance. Going too fast will kill them outright.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?:
    • Charles Châtenay speaks in a very over the top French-accented-English.
    • Downplayed with German speaking characters. While a bit stilted, they've drawn praise for being grammatically correct.
    • Zig-zagged with most of the French spoken in Saint Denis. It sounds very off to those versed in Parisian French, but this is justified because it is based on the Creole dialect of French. However, zagging back, it is interspersed with more traditional French, which makes it sound incorrect once again.
  • What the Hell, Player?:
    • The van der Linde gang preaches and (mostly) practices Pragmatic Villainy, only stealing from those who can "afford to share" and never killing anyone that "doesn't need killing". When on missions with the gang, going out of your way to harm or kill non-hostile NPCs will draw reactions from your fellow gang members in this regard.
    • Your fellow gang members will call you out if you aren't hunting and providing meat for the camp. They'll survive without your help, but it depresses camp morale which means fewer donations and less chance of companion missions appearing.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: During the credits, various scenes show what happened to the various surviving characters, ending with Ross and Fordham tracking the Marstons to Beecher's Hope.
    • Charles goes to Canada, having expressed the desire to start a family there after seeing how happy John's is.
    • Sadie moves to South America to live a quieter life.
    • Mary-Beth becomes a successful romance author under an assumed name.
    • Tilly married a lawyer and now lives in Saint Denis.
    • Pearson goes straight, gets married, and assumes ownership of the general store in Rhodes.
    • Karen's fate is uncertain, but in Tilly's letter to John, she assumes that her alcohol addiction killed her.
    • Trelawny's fate is also unknown, but he presumably went back to his family in Saint Denis.
    • In a newspaper John can read, it's revealed Swanson moved to New York and became a priest there with a large congregation.
  • Whispering Ghosts: Native American Burial Grounds have a sound effect like this.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The latter part of Arthur's story follows the plot of The Seventh Seal, albeit in a less spiritual/metaphorical way. After years as a good soldier in Dutch van der Linde's libertarian crusade, Arthur learns he's dying of a disease, and after a lot of soul searching he tries to help his fellow outlaws find better lives rather than stay and be killed by the encroaching forces of law and order. Arthur eventually sacrifices himself to ensure that a family can escape and start a new life.
  • The Wild West: The game takes place during the final years of the Wild West, with federal marshals attempting to stamp out the last of the old western styled gangs like the van der Lindes.
  • William Telling: One of the Stranger missions involves two brothers trying to impress a girl who have Arthur shoot bottles from their heads or their arms.
  • A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Leopold Strauss may look like a harmless, kindly old grandfather, but he's a vicious loan shark who will order debtors beaten, threatened, or even killed without batting an eye.
  • Would Hurt a Child: From the Epilogue, Micah. He's wanted for several crimes including murdering a little girl. He also tried to kill Cleet, one of his gang members, when he objected to killing said girl. It's heavily implied that, if he survived, he would kill John's family as well.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Some of the unarmed moves qualify. If you are close enough to grab your opponent by the throat, you can then perform a two-handed choke slam to the ground. If you get a running start, you can also spear your opponent.
  • Wretched Hive:
    • Saint Denis, an industrial town overrun with crime. Between pickpockets, crooked politicians, and an early example of the mafia running the city, it may be worse off than the Far West.
    • Annesburg in Roanoke Ridge isn't any better, being dominated by a ruthless coal mining company that has gun-toting guards everywhere, works its employees literally to death in wildly unsafe conditions, and brutally crushes any labor disputes. Leviticus Cornwall is a major shareholder in said mine, which would certainly explain most of that. Oh, and if you stray outside of town, you run the risk of being killed and eaten by a cave-dwelling hillbilly family.
    • The Van Horn Trading Post just south of Annesburg may top those both in terms of sheer lawlessness, being a squalid little port full of people who clearly aren't very nice, with most of the buildings abandoned and boarded up, prostitutes soliciting men in broad daylight, and the sheriff's office being a burnt-out ruin. To drive it home, a random event involves two people picking a fight outside the tavern. If you intervene, there's a good chance one of them will pull a gun on you. And if you pull yours to defend yourself? You've suddenly got everybody in town shooting at you.
    • The Wapiti Indian Reservation is one of these by design, the U.S. government sticking the tribe on land they cannot farm, cut off from decent hunting territory, no way to find gainful employment, and now they'll be moved to an even worse place because oil has been discovered under it. More than that, the local army commander is hideously abusing the Wapiti, tacitly ordering assault, rape, arson, murder and withholding medicine from the sick, all to provoke the tribe into a rebellion he can crush so he can look good.
    • The entirety of New Austin, with the sole exception of Tumbleweed. Once you reach it, you can see why it took so long for civilization to get there. To wit: Armadillo, the only other significant settlement in the territory, has been devastated by a cholera plague, and the surrounding desert and countryside is the domain of the Del Lobo gang.
  • You Don't Look Like You:
    • A landscape example. The area around Aurora Basin and Nekoti Rock look very different from their RDR counterparts. They are still recognizable, but the lack of snow and changes in design can make a player look twice before realizing it. For example, the waterfall east of the basin is missing entirely, and Nekoti rock doesn't appear to be climbable anymore. The areas north of Blackwater and around the Flat Iron Lake are also different, but that's much more understandable since they were not originally designed with gameplay in mind.
    • Javier Escuela looks completely different, having gone from a dingy two-bit thug in a poncho and a sombrero to a Dashing Hispanic in a Waistcoat of Style and Nice Hat.
  • Young Gun: The Wild West setting means that a number of the Van der Linde gang are this, particularly Lenny Summers. Both John Marston and Arthur Morgan start off as this, with the former committing his first murder at the age of eleven while the latter was inducted to the Van der Linde gang at fifteen.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Scoring a headshot with a shotgun or explosive ammo will result in the unfortunate target's head exploding in a shower of blood.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Arthur survives countless gunfights and near-death experiences only to contract tuberculosis, a disease which, at the time this game is set in, was a death sentence. Even worse, he contracted it because of his own impatience in dealing with a sick debtor, who coughed all over Arthur after getting beaten up. His death is slow, painful, and completely unavoidable, but he makes damn well sure whatever time he has left isn't for nothing.
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already/No Fair Cheating:
    • Ironically enough, with the cheat codes that can be entered in the cheat menu for various effects. The game will not accept certain codes, even if it's a valid one, that you haven't personally discovered in-game. So yes, you can't cheat the system by looking up the codes online, because they don't work unless you find the code in-game first.
    • The same applies to Treasure Maps. Even if you know where to go to get the treasure, either by having done a previous play-through or by looking it up online, the treasure won't be there unless you've found the associated in game maps.
  • Zebras Are Just Striped Horses: Played With, Lampshaded, and Subverted in "He's British, Of Course", in which the player finds a zebra belonging to a traveling circus show headed by a moustahioed British man named Margaret. The zebra sounds like a mule, and worse, turns out to be one painted as a zebra.
  • Zip Mode: Trains and Stage Coaches offer a more traditional version, taking you between cities and stations for a fee. Once you've upgraded your camp enough, you gain access to a Fast Travel map. However, you can only use it to leave from camp. It's still useful if you're heading out to the far end of the map to save on time.


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