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"We're thieves, in a world that don't want us no more."

"Nothin' means more to me than this gang. I would kill for it. I would happily die for it. I wish things were different... But it weren't us who changed."
— Arthur Morgan
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Red Dead Redemption II is a Wide Open Sandbox game and Prequel to the 2010 Red Dead Redemption, released on October 26, 2018 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Arthur Morgan is not a good man. He has lived a life of crime for as long as he can remember, and his loyalty to the outlaw Dutch van der Linde and his gang is unmatched. John Marston, Bill Williamson, Javier Escuella and others – they're more than partners in crime. They're family. But the year is now 1899, and with the dawning of the 20th century, the age of gunslingers is coming to an end.

After a job gone wrong in the town of Blackwater leaves Arthur and company with lawmen, bounty hunters, and the Pinkerton Detectives on their tail, it seems that the Van der Linde gang is entering its final days – the law is more determined than ever to bring order to the frontier and destroy the outlaw gangs of the Wild West. Now Arthur must make a choice: remain loyal to the man who raised him and the ideals he lives by, or save himself and his friends from the fate that no doubt awaits them...

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Gameplay follows the usual Rockstar open-world formula, but with an added emphasis on environmental interactivity. A new Dialogue Tree mechanic allows Arthur to make small-talk to every single NPC in the game, such as complimenting them or picking fights. The game also features more refined hunting and crafting mechanics, and has an increased focus on realism. You can no longer hold a massive weapons wheel worth of guns, for example, but must instead equip them from your horse. The game also brings back some of the RPG-esque mechanics from Rockstar's other games like Grand Theft Auto V, allowing Arthur to increase his stats by performing activities in the world.

There are three major editions of the game. In addition to the Regular Edition, there's a Special Edition, which includes extra content for the Single-player mode for $80, and the Ultimate Edition, which includes the Special Edition's contents and exclusive multiplayer content for $100. There's also a "Collector's Box", which includes all kinds of Feelies but not the actual game, for the same price as the Ultimate Edition. Details of the various editions and Pre-Order Bonuses can be found here.

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Previews: Trailer 1,Trailer 2,Trailer 3, Gameplay trailer 1, Gameplay trailer 2.

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Provides examples of:

    Single Player # - B 
  • 100% Completion: Possible, but very challenging and time-consuming. The game helpfully keeps track of your progress in the compendium as well. Doing so unlocks the "Best in the West" achievement/trophy.
  • 100% Heroism Rating: Maxing out your Honor carries benefits including major discounts at most merchants (up to a whopping 50%), access to unique outfits, and a higher Random Drop rate for more valuable items like jewelry when looting the dead bodies of hostile enemies (such as rival gang members).
  • 20 Bear Asses: A number of challenges involve obtaining a certain number of perfect quality pelts from specific animals.
  • 24-Hour Armor: While not quite armor, everyone sleeps in their normal attire. This can include heavy leather or fur coats, vests, gun belts (with guns), boots, and spurs.
  • Abandoned Mine: One can be found northwest of Strawberry. You'll need to activate some dynamite to get inside, where you can find a unique knife and a mining helmet. Many others can be found out in the world as well.
  • Absent-Minded Professor: Marko Dragic from the "Bring Bouncing Boy" series of side missions. It ultimately costs him his life as he is killed by one of his inventions.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality:
    • While lauded for having some of the most realistic and fun horse riding mechanics in gaming, there are still quite a few breaks from reality present. It's very damaging for a horse to run on paved roads, run into a full speed gallop immediately after resting, and in general be kept at full speed for long whiles at a time. It also usually takes months to teach one to come at your whistle. Taming a wild horse also takes much more time and effort than is depicted in the game. Feeding and grooming are also much more complex in reality.
    • Keeping yourself fed and well-rested offers boosts, but isn't required. Outside of a very select few cases where doing so is required to advance a mission, you never need to eat or sleep.
    • Cleaning your firearms in-game means wiping them down with some Gun Oil. In real life, it involves taking them apart to carefully clean all of the pieces and mechanisms while using different oils on the metal parts and the wooden parts, which would be incredibly tedious.
    • While the game does have some inventory limits, you are still able to carry around far more than would be feasible in real life. Two long guns, two handguns, hundreds of rounds of ammo for each, a knife, a lasso, throwing knives, tomahawks, sticks of dynamite, fire bottles, a fishing rod, a machete, two dozen bottles of booze and medicine, horse supplies, cartons of cigarettes and multiple cigars, a week's worth of groceries...
  • Ace Custom: If you know where to look, you can get versions of certain guns with unique appearances: two unique Cattleman Revolvers, two unique Double-Action Revolvers, two unique Schofield Revolvers, one unique Mauser Pistol, one unique Double-Barrel Shotgun, and one unique Rolling Block Rifle. The only drawback is they can't be modified in any way.
  • Acoustic License: It's quite easy to have a conversation with someone while you are both on different horses thundering down a hard dirt road, sometimes even in the midst of gunfire.
  • Adventure-Friendly World: Just as one would expect from a Rockstar Wide Open Sandbox game. The world is massive and you can explore almost all of it once it opens up. The game is dotted with random encounters, rival gang camps and ambushes, Stranger side missions, animals to hunt, and points of interest to explore.
  • Aerith and Bob: There is a noticeable mix of common names (Arthur, John, Charles, Sean, Karen, Susan, etc.) as well as some rather old-fashioned ones that will seem unusual to modern players (Hosea, Micah, Josiah, Kieran, etc.) Given the time period of the game, this is rather appropriate.
  • A Father to His Men: Subverted by Dutch. He certainly seems to play it straight through the first half of the game, and will play it up when it suits him (such as leading the rescue of Jack). He calls his fellow gang members things like "brother" and "son", and preaches the virtues of the gang being like a family. However, the moment it no longer suits him, he drops this charade in a hurry, such as being willing to let a captured John hang if not for Arthur and Sadie rescuing him, then berating Arthur for doing it.
  • A.I. Breaker: Cougars and panthers are ambush predators who can deliver a One-Hit Kill to the player when they pounce. However, if you are first through from horseback (which is likely even on a fully bonded horse when a cougar/panther is close), they seem to get confused and do not pounce right away. Instead, they'll circle around you, giving you time to get to your feet, draw a weapon, and potentially kill them. Notably, this does not happen with other predators like wolves and grizzly bears, who can and will attack you immediately after being thrown from your horse.
  • A.K.A.-47: The game uses a mix of real life gun names and Bland-Name Product names for guns closely modeled on real-life guns. The first game's Winchester and Henry repeaters were renamed "Lancaster" and "Lichfield" for the second installment; it's possible those companies raised trademark issues. (Springfield Arsenal was a government installation, and the Volcanic company is long defunct).
  • The Alcatraz: Sisika Penitentiary. It's a heavily fortified prison on an island off the coast of Lemoyne. Should someone attempt escape, they would need a means of transportation back to the mainland where they'd be defenseless in swamps infested by alligators and Night Folk. Naturally, you need to break John out after he's captured during the failed bank robbery in Saint Denis.
  • The Alcoholic: Uncle is rarely found without a drink in his hand. Karen becomes one later in the story and, in the Epilogue, is presumed to have drank herself to death.
  • Alignment-Based Endings: Downplayed example as Arthur's death warrant is already signed with his tuberculosis but your honor slightly changes the final cutscene; a high honor results in Arthur being left to die somewhat peacefully watching the sunrise, while a low honor results in Micah finishing him off. The former is considered the canon ending.
  • All for Nothing:
    • The last part of the game involves Arthur doing everything he can with what little time he has left to give John and his family a future. Unfortunately, Edgar Ross will eventually come and utterly destroy that future. Although Arthur does give John, Abigail and Jack several peaceful years that they would not have otherwise gotten.
    • If the newspapers in 1907 are to be believed, the Wapiti Indian reserve had no oil under it after all, meaning that all the suffering the natives there went through was entirely pointless.
  • All-Natural Snake Oil: Present as a consumable item which actually does something, refill your Dead Eye meter.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
    • A vaudeville singer in St. Denis sings "Hello! Ma Baby!," which seems out of place in the setting. However, the song was written in 1899 (when the game takes place), and was a Tin Pan Alley hit in New York that same year. So this isn't totally unrealistic. However, the arrangement contains blues elements, which wouldn't enter popular culture until the World War I time frame, and the singer's vocal style is more appropriate to the 1940s.
    • A Mafia boss in the 19th century Deep South seems ridiculous, or Rockstar trying to inject more GTA into their Western. However New Orleans, which Saint Denis is based on, did in fact have significant Italian organized crime all the way back in the 1880s. Existing independently of their more famous Northern cousins, the New Orleans Mafia still exists today and is older than many of the more famous Mafia families.
    • While not available as chewing gum, cocaine was a commercially available stimulant in the 1890s and could be bought from drugstores.
    • Skinning a small animal quickly and cleanly with just your bare hands may seem ludicrous, but it's completely possible in real life.
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: Stashes of items can be found all over the game world. Chimneys are an oddly popular place for storing valuables. Lockboxes can be found tucked under/between all manner of furniture. Stashes of money and items can also be found out in nature, such as in tree stumps and crevasses.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: While the cause of Dutch's declining mental state throughout the game (and into first game) is up for intense debate, there is no hiding his paranoia, impulsiveness, narcissism, and delusions of grandeur. You can see it early on when he out of the blue tells Arthur that he knows he will betray him in early Chapter 2, long before he really loses control.
  • Ambiguous Situation: A bunch of these...
    • It’s not clear what exactly happened in Blackwater. The gist of it seems to be it was going well until Dutch was goaded into murdering the girl by Micah and things quickly went south from there. Javier says it was chaos but tries to downplay Dutch murdering the girl. He could very well just be trying to protect Dutch or Dutch could have needed to do it. It’s also never explicitly said what Arthur and Hosea were working on and/ or how big it’d be. Arthur makes it seem like a much safer real estate scam in his journal but not much else is stated beyond that. It’s also implied that the whole thing could have been a set up by the Pinkertons. Dutch’s speech that can be found in Horseshoe Overlook makes it sound like he knew it was going to be a bloodbath all along but the question is why he would have thought that.
    • As related to above, there’s never a definitive answer as to how long Micah has been selling out the gang. Milton says he’s been helping since after Guarma but there’s other implications he’s been doing it for longer than that. You can find Dutch’s wanted poster at his camp at Strawberry, suggesting he’s been planning to sell Dutch down the river the whole time. If Blackwater was a setup, he’d be the prime suspect and it would mean he’s been working with them for months. The campsite he suggests for Chapter 3 is also a prime location for an ambush. He also wears a white hat which is usually saved for the good guys in Westerns however this could also be a hint that he’s working with the “good guy” Pinkertons who are trying to get Dutch.
    • A lot of Dutch’s Sanity Slippage is left open to interpretation but it seems like a recent thing. Whether or not he was Evil All Along but managed to hide it or genuinely changed once the pressure started mounting is debatable but Hosea and Arthur who know him best say he’s changed pretty early on. His behavior also gets notably more erratic after he hits his head in Chapter 4. Micah’s influence on him is also ambiguous, he could be taking advantage of Dutch’s deteriorating state or he could be the one causing it.
    • The specifics of Arthur’s love life are also left very vague. It seems like he and Mary were together for quite some time, he tells Mary-Beth that she put a lot of years into him even though she knew they’d probably never be able to get married. The picture of them when they were younger doesn’t have a date on it so it’s not clear just how long they were together nor how long ago she got married. It’s also not clear if she truly was in love with her husband or if it was a Marriage of Convenience ordered by her dad. Arthur’s other confirmed relationship, with his son’s mom Eliza, is similarly left ambiguous. It seems like a fling but he never explicitly says that.
      • The life and death of his son Isaac is also left vague. All Arthur says is that he was a good kid who died of a robbery. He says Eliza was nineteen when she got pregnant which ,assuming they were the same age, would mean he would have been roughly the same age as Jack in the first game. It’s also not clear how long ago he died, Arthur tells Jack and Rains Falls that it happened a long time ago.
    • The Strange Man is back and even more ambiguous this time. He seems to have made some sort of Deal with the Devil with Herbert Moon to survive the cholera outbreak. One of the main theories about his identity in I was that he was a manifestation of John’s subconscious which is the only theory that gets Jossed. He knows stuff about Arthur too and you can talk to a guy in New Austin who’s met him. Said guy thinks he’s the grim reaper (which is another one of the main theories). He’s left so ambiguous that the Blind Seer, who otherwise gets everything right, says he doesn’t know if he’s “of this world” nor does he know what the man wants with John.
    • Why Dutch is there at Micah’s hideout in the epilogue is also not explicitly explained. He says he’s there for “The same reason as you” to John but that could mean he thinks John is there for the money or that he wants to kill Micah.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Texas Hold'em being the go-to version of poker. While it's possible that Texas Hold'em was invented by 1899 (the history of the game is rather obscure), it didn't become popular until at least 1925. Four or Five Card Stud would have been the go-to card game of the era.
    • The available firearms are an odd mix of guns which would have been obsolete for decades and guns not even invented yet in real life. For example, the Carbine Repeater (modeled after the real life Spencer Carbine) is about 30 years past its prime by 1899, and the Volcanic pistol was an obscure museum piece from before the Civil War. Meanwhile, the Semi-Auto Shotgun (modeled on the real life Browning Auto-5) was patented in 1898 but wouldn't be produced until 1902, with the in-game being a post-1950 example based on the reload animationnote . The Maxim machine guns are Model 1908s, here appearing nine years too early. Perhaps most flagrant is the Carcano Rifle, based on the Carcano 91/38. That "38" stands for 1938. It is also an Italian weapon, and finding even a period appropriate Italian rifle (such as the Modello rifle) in the American west would have been extremely unlikely.
    • The original Carcano 91 would have been around (at least in Italy), but in its 1891 form was a much longer rifle than the in-game model copied directly from the infamous "Lee Harvey Oswald" version.
    • Shotgun ammunition appears in metallic cartridges, which were more expensive, heavier, and fell out of favor following the introduction of paper shotgun cartridges in 1877.
    • While pre-rolled cigarettes were available in cartons and packs in 1899, hand-rolling cigarettes was by far the more popular method of the era. It wouldn't be until World War One (where the easier-to-ship pre-rolled cigarettes were included in solder's rations) and the subsequent advertising boom of the 1920s that pre-rolled cigarettes took over.
    • The "Open Range" era quickly came to an end with the invention of barbed wire in the 1870s and was all but completely dead by 1890. Barbed wire is extremely rare in the game and farmers leading herds of sheep through open land is a common random encounter.
    • Telegraph (and even some telephone) poles and lines were much more common in real-life 1899 than what is depicted in the game. They would have ran along pretty much every rail road track and most major roads.
    • Milton and Ross introduce themselves as Pinkerton agents acting as lawmen on behalf of the US government. This arrangement was common in the 1870s and 80s, but had been made illegal by 1899.
    • By 1899, bison were reduced to a tiny population while wolves were intentionally hunted to extinction in the real life analogues of the in-game locations where they spawn. Both, especially the wolves, are plentiful in-game. (Conservation and re-introduction efforts have brought both species back in modern times.)
    • In Chapter 6, it is possible to overhear Dutch talking to himself at camp where he seems to be running through a game of chess in his mind. He mutters "ah, yes, White to d4," which is the Algebraic Notation of for describing chess moves. However, that system of notation didn't become popular until the 1980s. During the era of the game, Descriptive Notation would have been used instead. (Ex. "White Queen's Knight 4".) As an Easter Egg, the move Dutch describes is the first in a strategy known as the "Dutch Defense".
  • An Arm and a Leg: Powerful weapons, such as shotguns, can tear limbs and even heads apart.
  • An Axe to Grind:
    • Hatchets are a powerful melee weapon.
    • Tomahawks are a throwable variant.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Like with the original game, after the protagonist dies at the end of the main story, it goes through a Time Skip to a few years later where the player takes control of a new character - this time the second playable character being none other than John himself.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The main story ends after the second Epilogue. At that point, you are free to explore the entirety of the game world as well as complete any side missions and challenges which remain.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes:
    • Your rewards for completing the Legendary Animal hunts are a trinket/talisman made out of part of the animal which grants a passive bonus and an outfit (or piece of an outfit) made from the animal's pelt/skin.
    • Getting your Honor rank to either +4 or -4 gives you unique revolver grips: the Cattleman Revolver gets a special pearl grip, while the Double-Action Revolver gets a special ebony grip. High Honor also unlocks certain pre-made outfits in the catalogue.
  • And Your Reward Is Edible: Rewards for minor missions are sometimes food items or tonics. Notably, fulfilling camp requests from your fellow gang members are usually rewarded with items you can consume, such as Jack giving your chocolate or Tilly giving you health tonics.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Averted with horse testicles that react to changes in temperature.
  • Animal Motifs: Arthur has one in the form of either a stag or a wolf depending on his honor level. It first appears when he is diagnosed by the doctor and reappears during important cut scenes as an omen of his own mortality for the rest of the game.
  • Annoying Arrows: Generally averted. The Bow can be a devastating weapon in the hands of a skilled player. Standard arrows will silently kill a human enemy with a single headshot. Improved arrows, intended for use on large game such as cougars and elk, will silently kill human enemies with a vital shot.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • While Arthur is responsible for feeding the gang, the player is in no way forced to do so. They will never die from the lack of food, although they will complain to Arthur if he returns to the camp. You can freely forget about them and do something entirely different without having to worry about them. However, it's worth mentioning that failing to keep the camp fed will result in poor interpersonal relationships with them, which in turn may lead to Arthur missing out on side missions with other characters.
    • As with its predecessor (and GTA V), if you fail a sequence enough times, the game will helpfully allow you to skip it.
    • If you lose a legendary animal pelt, it'll be automatically given to the trapper, you just won't get money for it.
    • Health items can be consumed through your bandanna.
    • In the GTA V mission The Long Stretch, one mandatory objective is to purchase a pump-action shotgun from Ammu-Nation with Franklin's own money. It is possible to trigger a Mission Failure if Franklin doesn't have enough money for it. During a mission in Chapter 2 involving a bit of livestock rustling, Arthur needs to purchase a Remington Rolling Block rifle from the Valentine gun store, again with his own funds. However, should he not have the funds to pay for the cost of the rifle himself, John will pay for it instead.
    • In the final mission you're supposed to use dynamite to flush Micah out so Sadie can get the drop on him, but nothing in game tells you to do this, and trying to shoot it out with him gets you killed. However, if you don't think to do that, then Micah will eventually move into position on his own and the cutscene will trigger without you having to do anything.
    • Unlike in Rockstar's previous attempt at the system, ignoring Arthur's basic needs isn't fatal. Instead of draining his health, once the cores are empty you'll only suffer from small penaltiesnote In addition, while in San Andreas you pretty much had to stop whatever you were doing and head to a restaurant when CJ got hungry, Arthur's needs can be satisfied by just purchasing or hunting various consumables and using them from the ever-present inventory.
    • While animal corpses left on the ground or on your horse will eventually rot, everything in your satchel is safe, meaning you don't have to worry about that perfect squirrel carcass or that food you cooked but put away, as neither will go bad if you leave them sitting in your inventory.
  • Anti-Hero: Played with in different ways regarding Arthur, depending on his Honor level. A high Honor Arthur downplays it, still being an outlaw but one who avoids needless criminal activities and frequently helps those in trouble. A neutral Honor Arthur plays it straight, still caring about the gang above all. A low Honor Arthur plays it up to the point of being a Nominal Hero, with the only thing separating him from outright evil characters like Colm O'Driscoll and Micah is his being honor-bound to Dutch and his gang.
    Arthur: Maybe when your mother's finished mourning your father, I'll keep her in black, on your behalf.
  • Anyone Can Die: Many of your fellow gang members die suddenly and messily. Most of the gang, including Arthur, will be dead or ran away by the conclusion, and even more are Doomed by Canon. By the conclusion of Red Dead I, the only gang members left alive are Jack, Sadie, Charles, Tilly, Mary-Beth, Pearson, Trelawny and Swanson, (Karen is unknown).
  • Appropriated Title: Downplayed example. While this game is technically the third Red Dead game (after Red Dead Revolver and Red Dead Redemption), since Redemption was much, much more popular than Revolver, the game drops the RDR naming convention of the first game and just goes straight with calling itself Red Dead Redemption II. However, it does end up making sense, as by the end Arthur spends what little time he has left trying to help Marston live a peaceful life, thereby redeeming himself.
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: Just like its predecessor, two guns which fire the exact same ammunition can deal wildly different amounts of damage, logic be damned. Guns with a higher rate of fire almost mostly deal less damage than slower-to-fire guns which use the same ammunition as well. To note a few specific examples:
    • The Scholfield Revolver (based on the Smith & Wesson Model 1875) would have lower damage than the Cattleman Revolver (based on the Colt Model 1873) and a faster reload speed. They fired a lower velocity and hence lower powered .45 round than the Cattleman. The top break design is a lot faster to reload than a fixed cylinder design.
    • The Carbine Repeater (based on the Spencer Repeater) should be the most powerful of the repeaters, firing by far the largest caliber round. However, it is the weakest.
    • The Bolt Action Rifle (based on Springfield Model 1892) should be the most powerful rifle, as it fired the highest velocity rounds of the four. Instead, its the single-shot Rolling Block rifle (based on the Remington Model 1871) which is treated exclusively as a sniper rifle.
    • The C93 Bordacht semi-auto pistol is depicted as more powerful than the C96 Mauser pistol, even though it should be the other way around. The 7.65×25mm Borchardt and 7.63mm Mauser rounds are dimensionally identical with each other, with the latter round carrying a more potent powder charge in its case.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Easy to miss, but it's definitely in play, likely due to AI limitations. Most missions have Arthur being assisted by a group of NPCs, but if it moves beyond 2-4 it's almost guaranteed that the group will only be that big for a riding sequence, and when the action kicks off the number will be whittled down for some reason or other, or the period of assistance will be very brief. The mission "My Last Boy" exemplifies it best, since it is enforced twice. In the beginning, seven members of the gang go to the oil field, but upon arrival Dutch takes John, Bill and Javier to distract the military from another location so that Arthur, Sadie and Charles can save Eagle Flies. The trio are then joined by six braves... most of whom die by the time the group reaches the bottom of the hill and starts fighting; any survivors will likely also perish or disappear in all the chaos. Along the way, the group picks up Eagle Flies and Paytah, and they do regroup with Dutch and the rest, for about a minute while they take out what's left of the soldiers, after which Arthur is aided only by Dutch. The most egregious example occurs in "Horsemen, Apocalypse," where despite the gang's hideout being attacked, several members (Micah, Bill, Javier, Lenny) are inexplicably missing, and their absence is never addressed afterwards, which is made all the more jarring by the fact that they have camp dialogue concerning the attack.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: The Pirate Sword, Volcanic Pistol, various Hatchets, and even the Bow are surprisingly effective weapons, even against other armed enemies. With self-crated arrows, the Bow becomes the most versatile and efficient weapon for hunting.
  • Arc Words:
    • "What choice do I have?" is a recurring quote throughout the game which reflects the fatalist views of the main characters.
    • "Revenge is a fool's game", a rule the gang goes by to discourage their members from taking things too personally. The more the gang unravels, the more they break this rule. This culminates in the final mission in the game, an act of revenge by the surviving members of the gang against Micah for his betrayal and his murder of Arthur.
    • To the first game , "Don't look back."
  • Arrows on Fire: A craftable item which naturally set targets on fire. Dynamite arrows take this to another level.
  • The Artful Dodger: Saint-Denis has a whole gang of them. During his initial time in the city, Arthur gets robbed by the children and they even lure him into a back alley and surround him with weapons.
  • The Artifact: One of the campfire songs present in the game is the real word "Ring Dang Doo", except the mention of "New Orleans" is replaced with "Ol' Bordeaux". "New Bordeaux" was the beta name for Saint Denis, the game's New Orleans stand-in, before being changed in development.
  • Artifact Title: Present on two levels:
    • The "Red" still draws from Red Harlow, the main character of Red Dead Revolver, who does not appear.
    • Arthur isn't interested in changing his ways, even if he is starting to doubt Dutch. The name "Redemption" is thus because of the game's ties to the previous game, and to make the game more recognizable to general audiences. This is ultimately subverted come the climax of the game, as Arthur fights doggedly (and gives up any hope of recovery from his tuberculosis) in order to give John and his family a future, which one could argue is his redemption.
  • Arthur Morgan Is About to Shoot You: The cover might remind you of something else you may have seen before.
  • Artificial Atmospheric Actions:
    • Fish are prone to beaching themselves if you stand near bodies of water for long enough.
    • Certain encounters can be broken for silly reasons. For example, during the recurring encounter where you can shoot the leg irons off of an escaped prisoner or the one where you rescue a woman tied to the back of the horse, you are necessarily holding your drawn weapon. When the "encounter" script ends, the person you just rescued may panic and flee from you due to your drawn weapon despite you having just helped them.
  • Artificial Brilliance: What Rockstar is wishing to accomplish. They realized that the next step in open-world games is interacting with the game world and seeing how it reacts to the player in turn, and rebuilt parts of their game engine to support this. A few examples; note that these happened in free-roam, and were not part of any mission.
    • Rob a camp while its owner is fishing nearby. A dog left to guard said camp starts barking and alerts the fisherman. You are then presented with several options, such as apologizing, threatening, or insulting the fisherman, and your actions determine what will happen next. You may attack the man, the man may attack you, the fisher may flee to alert law enforcement and put a bounty on you, or you can apologize and give his loot back, for a few examples. Additionally, how the fisherman reacts to those options depends on your Honor rating as well as your personal appearance. He'll be much more likely to accept an apology from a well-dressed and bathed character than an unkempt one in blood-stained and bullet-hole-riddled clothing.
    • Ride close to a farm. The owner picks up a shotgun and starts yelling threats to you. Again, the dialogue system allows this situation to be defused peacefully or violently, depending on your actions.
    • Animals have realistic dynamic behaviors and interactions with their environment, and frequently interact with one another. In just one example, docile herbivores will bolt if they see another animal near them running away from something, even if they don't sense what caused that other animal to flee. This makes stealth during hunts especially important, as it isn't just your quarry you have to worry about seeing you.
      • In some cases, this is taken even further. You, may occasionally happen upon a buck with its antlers entangled with another, with the latter having died some time before (likely from exhaustion), or a wolf pack fighting with a bear over a kill. Both instances are known to happen in real life.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • The whole level of interactivity with NPCs won't stop enemies from standing right in the open during gunfights. Even if they are in cover, remaining in cover yourself for long enough will cause them to run straight at you where they can be mowed down with ease. Unfortunately, this is also true of your allies during firefights. Many players have failed missions thanks to their allies (who usually must survive) charging headfirst into the crossfire of several in-cover enemies...
    • Enemy NPCs outside of plot-relevant scenarios can become complete idiots and even shoot their own partner(s)-in-crime. They may even blame you for their own idiocy.
    • Horses in real life are very careful with where they run. Even if just a small person or obstacle is on their path, they will veer off to the side rather than run into anything and will (usually) avoid trees and other creatures. Horses in the game, however, will run face-first into trees, rocks, and other horses as soon as you don't pay attention, sending themselves and Arthur tumbling.
    • Cougars and Panthers are dangerous creatures who can kill you instantly with a pounce. However, they seem bewildered if you are thrown off by your horse in their presence. They'll actually start to run away from you while you get to your feet before eventually circling back. This gives you plenty of time to shoot them.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Dutch's horse, The Count, is said to be an Albino Arabian Stallion. In real life, horses cannot carry true albinism due to Lethal White Syndrome. Albino horses are born with non-functioning colons and die within a few days of birth.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: While Oleander Sage is poisonous in real life, its lethality is greatly exaggerated in game. In reality, it would take a fairly large quantity to kill an adult human. Here, its residue on an arrowhead can kill a grizzly bear.
  • Artistic License Firearms: Some liberties were taken with how the firearms operating, but this is just standard fare for Rockstar.
    • The Carcano 91/38 is ALWAYS loaded with a full en-bloc clip, regardless of whether or not the existing en-bloc clip is still in the rifle itself, as there's no animation for ejecting and removing the existing clip.
    • The Evans Repeater's reload animation sees the wielder cycling the action every time a round is loaded into the magazine. This is correct as the weapon's helical magazine does not have a spring follower, and feeding/advancing of rounds is done by cycling the action. However, this fails to take into account scenarios where some, but not all, of the rounds in the magazine are fired. Trying to top up the magazine in this instance would result in a live round being ejected from the weapon every time the action is cycled to advance the magazine after loading a round, and would repeat until all of the existing rounds in the magazine ahead of the rounds being added in were emptied out. This is best explained in this video.
  • Artistic License – Ornithology:
    • The bird referred to in-game as a "California Quail" as actually a Northern Bobwhite. A rather inexplicable misidentification, given that actual California Quails have a rather unique and photogenic appearance compared to the relatively plain-looking Bobwhite.
    • Little Egrets can be found in the swamplands of Lemoyne, despite the fact that they are a largely Eurasian species that occasionally wanders into the eastern United States and has only recently established a population in the Caribbean. This was likely an attempt to create a less-fancy counterpart to the Snowy Egret, which in this game is always shown in its fancy breeding plumage (in reality, Snowy Egrets only have this plumage for part of the year, and throughout the rest of the year look almost identical to the Little Egret).
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: One of the game's points of interest is a compressed human skeleton completely fossilized in an exposed rock wall. Humans colonized the Americas far too recently for any such thing to actually happen by 1899.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety:
    • Arthur has a tendency to keep his finger on the trigger, even when he's not aiming at anything. Especially when you inspect any of his handguns, his finger is on the trigger. However, his second visit with a side character, Charlotte, has him trying to aim her husband's rifle downwards to the ground while she's holding it.note  She actually notices and follows along.
    • While trying to find information about Angelo Bronte in Saint Denis, Dutch puts a gun to Arthur's head after catching him off guard outside of a bar, and tells him "Stick 'em up, cowboy." Of course he's just joking and the situation is a comedic one... except he actually pulled the hammer back and had his finger on the trigger. One of the most important rules in firearm safety is that you never put your finger on the trigger unless you're going to shoot.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • The KKK was not in operation during 1899. The First Klan was shut down by the US Government in the early 1870s under the Grant administration and wouldn't be recreated until the 1910s (although a number of similarly brutal white supremacist groups remained in operation in the South), and their infamous hood and robes wouldn't be seen until much later. But who doesn't like seeing the KKK make complete fools of themselves? Since Red Dead is set in an alternate version of the United States like the GTA series note , it's possible that the KKK persisted in some form later. In one of the random encounters, a KKK leader notes that it's become much harder to operate due to the federal government, so they're probably a remnant.
    • When Arthur first meets Agent Milton, Milton claims he's "seconded to the United States Government". This is a legal impossibility in 1899, as the Anti-Pinkerton Act was passed in 1893 which prevented the USA government from hiring agents of the agency.
  • Ascended Glitch: While the "Dead Eye-powered Homing Throwables" glitch from the first game has been addressed (it still happens but only in very short range), you can craft homing varieties of the throwing knife and tomahawk in this game.
  • Ascended Meme: You can find the skeleton of the Donkey Lady in New Austin just south of Armadillo. It even wears the same clothes as the glitched character in the original video.
  • Asshole Victim: There are arguably so many to count:
    • Story mission character villains will actually die but Arthur doesn't kill them.
    • Ambushers have a frequent case where they demand a toll, pretending to ask for help, or attacking on site and you respond with a bullet to their face.
    • Certain NPCs you find will try to get your attention, but beating up some NPCs or killing them increases your honor.
    • Most of the gang's targets both during the main mission and companion side missions are these, reinforcing their Pragmatic Villainy ways. Strauss' debt collection missions are one of the few exceptions.
  • Attack Animal: Numerous groups use dogs in this fashion. Bounty hunters who come to apprehend you if you have a bounty may bring dogs, which are good at forcing you out of cover.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The highest level of Deadeye now shows a faint image of the target's vital organs, such as the brain.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Played for Laughs when French artist Charles Châtenay flees town Disguised in Dragvery obvious drag. He gets a fair few admiring comments from people before they get close enough to notice. Being who he is, he eggs them on, to Arthur's mingled exasperation and amusement. He even kisses Arthur.
  • Automaton Horses: Downplayed compared to most video games, including its predecessor, but still present. Horses can take far more abuse than in real life, bond much quicker with their riders (including freshly tamed wild horses), and the required care they need is significantly simplified from real life.
  • Autosave: Present, including during missions where manual saving is disabled.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Dynamite arrows are the equivalent of having a RPG launcher in an old west setting. However, like other flammables and explosive weapons, target NPCs cannot be looted while animals will be "ruined", meaning you can't skin them or get meat from them.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Tacitus Kilgore, one of Arthur's aliases.
  • "Awkward Silence" Entrance: You expect anything different from a Troperrific Spaghetti Western homage? When Arthur enters the Saint Denis saloon in Chapter 4, everyone freezes for a few seconds.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Bill Williamson is very much the same boorish psychopath he was in Red Dead Redemption; only he's on your side this time. He worries that he'll get the same dementia that got his dad and seems to have PTSD from his time in the army.
    • Micah Bell is erratic, explosive, and cannot resist pulling the trigger.
    • Sadie also turns into this at times, when looking for revenge.
    • All the members of the O'Driscolls, Murfree Brood, and Skinners. And how.
  • Backstab: Sneaking up on a NPC with a knife drawn will allow you to perform a "Stealth Kill" in this vein.
  • Badass Army: Deconstructed with the US Army present in the game. Drawing their attention and wrath is considered a death sentence by most of the van der Linde gang, including Arthur. However, when they are fought, they turn out to be little more than green recruits handed rifles and sent off into dangerous situations. They are also led by an incompetent Colonel looking for some last glory before retirement who even tries to have his actually competent second-in-command court marshaled and hanged for treason when he wants to sue for peace with the Wapiti. Discussed at one point by Arthur after fighting some of them when he finds one's ID card (a precursor to dog tags) and learns that he's just a "kid from New Jersey". Except when in overwhelming numbers, they're little match for hardened career outlaws.
  • Badass Bandolier: Buying one doubles the amount of rifle and repeater ammo you can carry. Once bought it, Arthur will always be wearing it and receive its benefits, even if wearing an outfit/disguise that hides it. In a nice graphical touch, as Arthur burns through his ammo stock, the number of rounds visible on the bandolier goes down.
  • Badass Beard: Arthur and John are certified badasses and will grow one as time passes if you don't shave.
  • Badass Crew: The van der Linde gang, naturally. Even the women acquit themselves rather nicely with a gun in their hands.
  • Badass Grandpa: Hosea is a veteran gunslinger who made his mark as an outlaw during the golden age of the Wild West. By the time of the game, he's up there in age (55 when average lifespan for men was about 46), but can still handle himself in a shootout. He also still serves as the "brains" of the van der Linde operation.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit:
    • Dutch, though he has his flaws, is indeed a certifiably badass gunfighter and perhaps the sharpest dresser in the game.
    • Arthur and John. There are a number of very nice outfits to put them in, right up to formalwear. Both are full blown One Man Armies.
  • Badass Longcoat: One of Arthur's clothing options are coats, ranging from waist length jackets to dusters and tailcoats.
  • Bag of Holding: Your satchel, even without upgrades, can hold far more than it should be able given its size. Taken Up to Eleven with the Legend of the East satchel, which can hold 99 of every item.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The stranger mission "He's British, Of Course" has a circus performer duo (one of them is a "woman animal wrangler" named Margaret, who's a mustached man wearing a dress) missing several animals needed for their tour: a zebra, a tiger, and two lions. Arthur will go out and fetch the animals. The zebra turns out to be a mule painted to look like a zebra. The next animals on the list are the tiger and the lion (one of the performers adding that they sent one of their best lions to hunt down the tiger), and the tiger and lion turn out to be a cougar painted like a tiger and a dog with a wig around its neck to make it look like a lion. Once the cougar and the (dead) dog are locked up, the performers ask you to look for their second lion at Emerald Ranch. Arthur (who's seen the "lion") at first declares that it's just another dog, but the beast goes wild, and it turns out to be an actual lion after all.
  • Banana Republic: Guarma, a Caribbean island belonging to Cuba governed by a brutal slaver. Arthur and the gang spend the first half of Chapter 5 there after the botched bank heist in Saint-Denis.
  • Bar Brawl: One of these occurs as a story mission in Chapter 2. You are, of course, free to start them in every saloon you come across if you so wish.
  • The Bartender: Every saloon has one to serve drinks as well as, depending on the establishment, serve food and provide rooms/bath services.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: If you go for Dutch's money, then the knife fight with Micah can become this, as there is a wall of fires in the forest.
  • Battle in the Rain: The random weather in the game can turn any battle into one of these. The rain can also be accompanied by thunder and lightning.
  • Bawdy Song: Several of the campfire songs sung by the gang, particularly those sung during celebrations such as after the rescues of Sean and Jack.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Both Black and Grizzly bears are present in the game, with Grizzlies being one of the most dangerous animals present. They are Lightning Bruisers that can shake off multiple rifle rounds.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Dutch's ultimate goal throughout most of the game is to get enough money to escape to Tahiti (or a similar tropical location) with the gang. In one part of the story, he, Arthur, Micah, Javier, and Bill do end up on a tropical island—Guarma—which is suffering from many of the same things that Dutch hates about the US, namely workers and nature getting exploited by corporations and the military.
  • Beef Gate: While you can go there at any point in the game, and at one point are required to for a Chapter 2 main story rescue mission, the endless waves of federal agents swarming all around Blackwater will prevent you from getting much accomplished. Until the Epilogue, when you live as a local, unmolested by law enforcement by default.
  • Berserk Button:
    • The half-black, half-Native American gang member Charles takes bison hunting very seriously. The beasts are a big part of his heritage, and he urges Arthur to respectfully shoot only one and claim every part of the animal for use. So when a pair of cowboys massacre an entire herd of them and just leaves the carcasses to rot, he confronts them and guns one of them down without batting an eye.
    • Arthur doesn't take too kindly to being called "pretty boy" and almost beats a guy to death for it in Chapter 2.
  • Betting Mini-Game: Several, including Poker, Five-Finger Fillet, and Dominoes.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: A high honor Arthur is downright friendly, but he can gun down an entire enemy posse in the blink of an eye.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: Colm O'Driscoll, Agent Andrew Milton, Leviticus Cornwall, and Micah Bell.
  • Big Beautiful Man: Arthur can potentially become this if the player fattens him up by eating a lot of high calorie items. Unlike C.J's obesity which is Played for Laughs, Arthur is still undeniably a major Hunk. Which makes it worse when he contracts tuberculosis and gradually wastes away, as you'll be unable to eat enough to keep his weight up due to the disease.
  • The Big Easy: Saint Denis is a stand-in for New Orleans.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Both the Grays and the Braithwaites, despite being bitter Feuding Families, have this in common. Led by an aging patriarch and matriarch, respectively, both families are well past their antebellum prime. The Braithwaites in particular keep a mentally disturbed daughter locked up in a shed and stoop to kidnapping Jack when they realize the gang is attempting to Play Both Sides.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Any time Arthur or John meet foreign people, they will usually speak with a mix between English and their native language. These include Spanish, German, Polish and Norwegian, among others.
  • Black Comedy Rape: One Stranger encounter has Arthur pass by a house on the outskirts of Saint Denis (New Orleans) where a totally-not-creepy hillbilly tries to lure him in with the promise of food. If you go inside, cue Arthur getting knocked unconscious while being told "See? Friendship ain't so tough." before waking up in the middle of a field.
  • Blaming the Railroaded Player Character: Arthur catches flak from his fellow gang members several time for botched missions over which the player had no choice but to go along in order to advance the story.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: You can disarm enemies by liberating them of their firearms with some good aim. During duels, you can do this for a bonus in Honor. There are also certain instances where you MUST do this to proceed (eg. One particular bounty that you must capture alive, Joshua Brown, will challenge you to a duel in a bid to escape, thus requiring you to disarm him in order to proceed. Similarly, Jamie Gillis will attempt to kill himself when cornered and must be stopped by disarming him in this manner.), and also instances where this won't work (eg. The Legendary Duelists).
  • Bittersweet Ending: Arthur is eventually diagnosed with tuberculosis, and Micah's betrayal of the gang results in leading each surviving member to their state in the first game. However, Arthur uses what time he has left to either help John escape with his family or get Dutch's loot, expose Micah for the traitor that he is to Dutch, and ultimately dies content in completing his goal. Years later, John, Sadie, and Charles avenge Arthur by hunting down Micah.
  • Blind Seer: The blind beggar random encounter. Giving him money results in him giving cryptic-but-accurate predictions of Arthur's (and John's) futures.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: Gun upgrades can be purchased with parts made out of gold, silver, ivory, pearl, and ebony. Combined with intricate inlays and carvings, you can create some very blingy guns.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Animals are skinned onscreen, while Arthur just tears the skin off rabbits and other small animals with his bare hands. Animals feel pain, and your horse can be crippled. Humans can lose whole limbs or their heads if hit by a powerful enough weapon.
  • Body Horror:
    • Mangey animals can be encountered, particularly around the Elysian Pool. They cannot be skinned due to the disease.
    • Kieran gets his eyeballs gouged out and head cut off, before the corpse is sent back to Dutch carrying its own head.
  • Book-Ends:
    • The game begins and ends in the snow-capped mountains in the northern section of the map. At no other point in the story are the mountains visited outside of the beginning and end.
    • The first mission introduces the player to Dutch, Arthur and Micah, three characters who'll be there when Arthur succumbs to his tuberculosis. Additionally, the mission ends with the trio rescuing Sadie from the O'Driscolls, while the game ends when Dutch and the player (Now John instead of Arthur) save Sadie from Micah.
    • The first and final robberies the player performs for the Van der Linde gang are train jobs.
    • A portion of "See the Fire in Your Eyes" plays when the gang travels to Horseshoe Overlook in the beginning of Chapter 2. The full thing plays again during the credits.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Various types of booze are available as consumable items. Each will boost/restore your Health, Stamina, and/or Dead Eye depending on the type in question.
  • Border Patrol: As in Grand Theft Auto V, trying to take a boat off the map will result in the boat sinking leaving Arthur at the mercy of the water and whatever predators lurk in it. Some edges of the game world are inclimbable cliffs and hills that are too steep to climb, causing both Arthur and his horse to slide back down.
    • Venturing into New Austin before the epilogue will result in an unseen sniper killing you.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Hunting:
      • The game features an absolutely massive array of animals to hunt, incredibly detailed and diverse in their size, appearance, and behavior, but most players looking to either make money hunting or provide meat for the camp will probably largely stick to Whitetail Deer. They're plentiful across most of the map, very easy to hunt once the player has a rifle, graze in groups so the player can usually find a pristine specimen, and fetch a fairly good price at the butcher.
      • The same applies to Alligators. They are extremely common, spawn on the coast just a bit north from Saint Denis, and barely move. If you have a heavy rifle, you can just look for a perfect specimen, shoot them in the head and bring their skin to Saint Denis for quick cash. Their only downside when compared to the aforementioned deer is that you can only store one alligator skin on your horse while deer skins are stackable (up to 10).
    • The game offers a wide variety of old west firearms, but the basic ones handed to you during Chapter 1 (the Cattleman Revolver, Sawed-Off Shotgun, and Carbine Repeater) are more than enough to carry you deep into the game. Ammo is extremely plentiful, upgrades are relatively cheap, and if you're a judicious user of Dead Eye, they'll drop nearly any humanoid enemy in the game with a single headshot.
    • You also get an assortment of various types of ammo for your guns to shoot with. For the most part, the regular ammo will do just fine, especially if you're aiming for headshots, and it is the only type of ammo carried by enemies.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Everyone but you-they do have to reload, but they never run out of bullets. When you loot their corpses, however, you will only get a handful of standard rounds of ammunition.
  • Bounty Hunter:
    • You can serve as one by taking bounties from law enforcement. Some targets must specifically be brought in alive in order to receive the bounty.
    • NPC bounty hunters may come after you if you linger in regions where you have a high bounty.
  • Breakable Weapons: Downplayed. Firearms have a "Condition" value that causes the weapon to be less effective the worse the condition gets. Frequent use and water damage are the main ways that condition goes down. You can restore it by visiting a Gunsmith or by using some Gun Oil. However, they will never break entirely, and it mostly affects the gun's firing & reload speed.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: A few in-game currency examples.
    • Every crafting recipe and Satchel can be bought from any fence once you reach the epilogue. However, If you wish to obtain them as Arthur, you have to craft and find them yourself.
    • You can obtain cigarette cards by either finding them around the world or just buying/looting premium cigarettes. Any duplicate cards can fortunately be sold to any fence.
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: The bayou around Saint Denis. It's full of stagnant water, deep mud, gators, moonshiners, and more.
  • Bullet Time: Dead Eye returns from the last two games, crossing over with Super Reflexes. There's also a kill-cam system that shows certain kills in slow-motion, similarly to Rockstar's Max Payne 3. The focus of the camera changes depending on Arthur's honor level; High honor will have the camera focus more on Arthur, while low honor focuses more on the victim.
  • Bullying a Dragon: You're an armed-to-the-teeth One-Man Army who can literally be wearing the skin of a grizzly bear you killed with a knife, and those random encounter horse thieves and rival gang members will still try to rob/attack you. A Curb-Stomp Battle usually ensues.
  • Byronic Hero:
    • Arthur himself. Based on his interactions and the writings in his journal, he is clearly intelligent, introspective, cynical, and is haunted by many things in his past (with more added over the course of the story). Even a high Honor Arthur still participates in the gang's outlaw activities and believes in the philosophy instilled by Dutch.
    Mary to Arthur: "There's a good man within you... but he is wrestling with a giant."
    • Likewise, John, taking Arthur's example more than Dutch's, struggles with his out of place philosophy on life while balancing his earnest desire to do right by others even if he has to suppress that philosophy, which - ultimately - he is unable to do completely.
    • Dutch qualifies. He's intelligent relative to the setting, highly charismatic, is extremely passionate about the gang, and has an intense drive and determination to live out his philosophy. He is, however, extremely self-centered and, while he claims the contrary and even acts on it when it benefits him, won't hesitate to sacrifice anyone or anything (gang members included) to get what he wants. His Sanity Slippage over the course of the main story puts these more negative traits into the spotlight.

    Single Player C - D 
  • Call-Forward:
    • At one point, John makes the exact same pose with a sawn-off shotgun as he does in the cover art of the original game. He's even missing his hat.
    • When John is holding Javier at gunpoint in Redemption 1, he says the following: "Now, I ain't the judge, but as it turns out, it's you or me. The way I see it, it might as well be you". In II, Dutch says nearly the same thing ("It is either us, or him! The way I see it, might as well be him.") after a shocked John admonishes him for drowning Angelo Bronte, changing the context of the original line to John deliberately quoting Dutch.
    • John's signature outfit is a gift to him from Abigail.
    • Much of the epilogue is spent on building and acquiring funding for the Marston ranch in Beecher's Hope.
    • Arthur's grave (at least on high honor) has an inscription of Matthew 5:6. Years later, John's will have an inscription of Matthew 5:9.
    • Much of the things the blind beggar tells Arthur are cryptic, but often end up becoming true. This also applies to John, to whom the old man tells about the first game's ending - not that John understands it.
    • One of the random conversations around camp is a 4 year old Jack wanting to be a gunslinger when he grows up, something both Hosea and Abigail themselves object to. He becomes this in the epilogue of the first game by his own volition.
    • In the mission "Favored Sons", Dutch informs the army men that have him and Arthur cornered that they can't fight nature, change, or gravity, before both of them turn around and plunge into the river below. In Red Dead Redemption, Dutch quotes this almost word for word to John in "Dutch's Last Stand", minutes before he willingly commits suicide by falling off a cliff.
    Dutch (Red Dead Redemption II): "You can't fight nature, captain. You can't fight change. You can't fight...gravity."
    Dutch (Red Dead Redemption I): "We can't always fight nature, John. We can't fight change. We can't fight...gravity. We can't fight nothing."
  • The Cameo:
    • There's a strange painting inside a strange hut in Bayall Edge, Lemoyne. If you visit the place every few days, the painting will eventually be finished; once this happens, you can briefly see the Strange Man in the mirror. This doesn't work until the epilogue, however.
    • Herbert Moon, still as anti-Semitic as ever, reappears as the Armadillo general store owner.
    • Bonnie MacFarlane is briefly mentioned in a love letter that can be retrieved off a corpse on a beach.
    • Harold MacDougal is mentioned a few times in a newspaper article and a side mission.
    • Nigel West Dickens is name dropped in an article praising his wares in the final newspaper.
    • Both the sheriff of Valentine and Arthur name drop Landon Rickets.
    • The player can stumble on a crashed flying machine in New Austin. Close inspection shows that "Charles Kinnear," the guy who John helped build another flying machine in the first game as part of a side quest, is written on the side of it.
    • Archer Fordham makes an appearance during the credits montage, having tracked the Marstons to Beecher's Hope with Edgar Ross.
  • Camera Lock-On: Can be used to talk to NPCs this time, much like the Trope Codifier. Using it gives you the option to press different buttons to chose different dialog options.
  • Camera Perspective Switch: You can freely switch between third-person and first-person POV, just like the eighth-generation port of Grand Theft Auto V.
  • Camp Cook: Pearson for the van der Linde gang. He was a former US Navy cook before joining the gang. Based on in-game comments, his culinary skills leave a lot to be desired.
  • Cap: One is present for Honor. Once you've reached maximum Honor, any further honorable deeds will not be counted toward it. Unfortunately, this means that a single dishonorable deed, even if unintentional such as accidentally shooting a horse during a shootout, will cause your Honor to drop one level. Somewhat mitigated thanks to the Easily Forgiven nature of the game, as you can make it back up quickly by greeting some NPCs or by doing some catch-and-release fishing.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Colm O'Driscoll. Unlike Dutch, or even the other gang leaders who have clear goals behind their disposable actions, Colm murders, steals, and rapes because he enjoys it. He makes the fact that he's a villain abundantly clear and makes no claims to the contrary.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Uncle would have you believe that his lumbago is this. Ultimately subverted in that there are implications of him being something of a lazy drunk even in his youth.
  • Cash Gate: One occurs in Chapter 2 when a main story mission to rescue Micah from the Strawberry jail results in a $300 bounty in West Elizabeth. Paying it off right away can be financially crippling so early in the game, but not doing so leaves you at the mercy of respawning groups of bounty hunters when in West Elizabeth. Ultimately Downplayed, as you can continue with the main mission without much trouble if you don't pay it, but hunting and completing Stranger missions set in West Elizabeth become more challenging if you do not.
  • Cassandra Truth: Arthur can run into a crazed man in St. Denis that is distributing pamphlets describing the industrial revolution's potential effects on the environment. While he is raving mad, he's not entirely wrong.
  • Catch-Phrase: Dutch has two - "I have a plan" and variations of "have faith".
  • Cave Behind the Falls: Several waterfalls have them. A couple have hidden treasures as long as you've found the appropriate Treasure Maps.
  • Central Theme:
    • Underestimation. Just about every major character decides something is less of a threat than it actually is, and pays dearly for it every time. Examples include Catherine Braitwaithe underestimating how violent and skilled Dutch and his men could be, Angelo Bronte underestimating how smart and vengeful they could be, Arthur underestimating how much insane Dutch really is, and so on. On a larger thematic level, this applies to the entirety of the playable area, as just about everyone underestimates how much civilization will really change things, and in particular how things like outlaws will be wiped out.
    • Loyalty. The game is especially concerned with duties that stem from loyalty and how it can be a destructive, paralyzing force. Arthur aggravates his sickness because of the love and responsibility he feels over his gang, particularly the Marstons and the women; John mans up to retire from gunslinging out of loyalty to his wife and son. The various antagonist's underlings have no real attachment to their bosses, but they still follow them to their dooms. Finally, the gang ultimately falls apart because of the members' loyalty to Dutch. Bill and Javier refuse to entertain the idea that Dutch can be wrong, which feeds his obsessions; Arthur, Hosea and John don't stand up to him out of loyalty until it's too late.
  • Character Customization: The player can combine various pieces of clothing, and you can change the saddle of your horse. Arthur's hair and beard grow in gameplay, and you cut both to specific styles, and even apply pomade. Depending on how much you eat, Arthur will also either lose or gain weight that affects your stamina.
  • Cherry Tapping: You can intentionally use weak weapons like the Varmint Rifle to torture and humiliate enemies.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: As a part of the game being Bloodier and Gorier, headshots with powerful weapons can result in kills that fall under this rule. Walking up to someone and firing a Sawed-Off Shotgun in their face, for example, works wonders.
  • Circle of Standing Stones: Cotarra Springs has a variant with a circle of stacked stones. They are involved with one of the Treasure Map missions.
  • City Guards: The Saint Denis police. They factor into several missions (typically needing to be avoided), are decently well-equipped (even having police wagons), and seem to be infinite in number.
  • City Slicker:
    • Albert Mason is a photographer out to capture the beauty of the Old West's wilderness before it is spoiled. As seen in the recurring encounters, he is utterly clueless about the dangers posed...
    • Josiah Trelawny is a pseudo member of the van der Linde gang and is much more at home scamming other city slickers than gunslinging in the untamed west.
  • Clairvoyant Security Force: No matter how far out into the wilderness you are, witnesses to a crime can report it to the law within a minute. Patrols will then swarm the roads during the search phase seemingly from thin air.
  • Climax Boss: Micah serves as the final enemy Arthur will have to fight before, depending on his honor, he either succumbs to tuberculosis or gets murdered by him.
  • Clothing Damage: A decidedly not-for-Fanservice version is present. Your clothing can become stained with mud or blood. Bullet holes and knife slashes can appear after taking those types of damage. If you survive an attack from a cougar or grizzly bear, claw marks may appear on your back. Switching outfits and then switching back will return your clothes to proper condition.
  • Collection Sidequest: Numerous examples, including dinosaur bone locations, certain perfect animal specimens, certain bird feathers, and more. Many of the Challenges also play out similar to this trope, such as collecting one of every kind of herb/plant in the game and breaking one of every wild horse breed. Finally, those going for 100% Completion will need to collect hundreds of examples of animal skins, bird feathers, and carcasses to complete every outfit and craft every item.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Excepting cases where it is required by a mission, you are perfectly free to draw a knife or gun during a fist fight and use it. You'll likely lose some Honor depending on the situation and may attract the attention of the law, but it's better than getting overwhelmed.
    • The context sensitive nature of close quarters combat can lead to this. If an enemy closes in on you, you may find your character striking them with a gun stock or PistolWhipping them. Other situations may involve you forcing the barrel of a rifle or shotgun into their torso and pulling the trigger. If you are taken down by a grizzly bear, you'll have a brief window where you can draw your knife and stab the beast while it mauls you, potentially getting it to back off or killing it outright.
  • Commonplace Rare:
    • Aside from Moonshine, which can be bought from a fence, nearly every other crafting ingredient needs to be harvested in the wild. This includes things like Animal Fat and the hides of domestic animals that logically should be for sale at a butcher.
    • Every single companion request item needs to to be found during gameplay. None of them are items that should be rare or unusual, but you can't even buy a book from the bookstore in Saint Denis.
  • Companion-Specific Sidequest: These will pop up around camp for your fellow gang members. Examples including going hunting or fishing with a specific companion, playing games like poker, dominoes, or five-finger fillet, or going on unofficial missions to rob stage coaches, homesteads, or livestock. The better the morale is around camp, the more likely these are to appear. They are also only available temporarily, and if you don't complete them soon enough, they can disappear. Naturally, another factor that can cause them to become unavailable is if the quest giving companion is killed as part of the story. While the robbery-based examples can earn you some money, they exist mostly to flesh out many of your fellow gang members who otherwise don't get much direct interaction with Arthur (and thus the player).
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: In several cases, descriptions of items in your inventory differ from the onscreen "tips" and sometimes both differ from what is stated in the compendium. Fishing bait/lures are a notable example, with the types of fish its good at catching and even where to use it (crossing over with Non-Indicative Name in the case of the lures) changing depending on where you are reading.
  • Context-Sensitive Button: Almost all buttons have differing functionality depending on where you are and what you are doing. For example, the same button is used for mounting your horse as for skinning an animal carcass. If your horse is too close while you're trying to skin an animal, a slight change in your positioning can lead to accidentally mounting your horse instead. Similarly, the same button is used for drawing/holstering your weapon as for drawing an additional weapon off of your horse. This can lead to you looking more threatening than intended when approaching a neutral stranger if you go to holster after hopping off of your horse but instead draw another gun. The button to mount your horse is also the melee button so if you're not facing the right way when trying to get on your horse, you can very easily choke someone and get the law on you. This happens in the towns a lot, especially Saint Denis.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!:
    • During missions, if you linger too long by, say, looting bodies, your fellow gang members will tell you to hurry up and repeat what you are supposed to do next.
    • In between certain missions, this will happen to you at camp. One of your fellow gang members, often Dutch, will try to get your attention to start the next mission and sometimes resorts to outright yelling "Arthur, get over here!"
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In the original Red Dead Redemption, there are mentions of a massacre that took place in 1899 in Blackwater city, which killed many, lawmen and criminal alike. This event was the reason Landon Ricketts decided to flee to Mexico, and may have killed one of Bonnie MacFarlane's brothers (who died in 1899 from a head shot). The fact that Dutch's gang is on the run after a botched robbery in Blackwater implies they caused it, accidentally or not.
    • Several pre-order and Special Edition bonuses are themed after Nuevo Paraiso, a playable Mexican region from the previous game.
    • In the first game, if you had John Marston fight wolves with only a knife, one thing he might shout was, "How do you think I got these scars!?" This game features an early mission where Arthur and Javier go searching for John who it turns out got attacked by wolves, and thus got his scars.
    • Similarly to the above, a few lines from the previous game (and the eyepatch on one of his optional outfits) implied John was blind in an eye. After Arthur rescues him, he has a bandage over an eye while recovering, seemingly confirming said blindness.
    • You can occasionally hear bits of the leitmotif from the first game when John is around.
    • In the first game Dutch gives a speech to John during Ross' raid on his fort about how you can't fight your nature, yet he has dedicated his entire life to fighting against his circumstances; both external and internal. One other thing he mentions is how you can't fight gravity foreshadowing that he's gonna jump to his death, rather than be shot by John. Here in the prequel Dutch makes a similar speech, while he and Arthur are at gun point by a host of lawmen and makes a similar allusion to gravity; except this time there is water below him, and his submission to gravity actually saves his life rather than ending it.
    • Red Harlow gets mentioned by name again by an ex-bounty hunter you can find in the wilderness.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • In the first game, John at several points describes himself as being only "semi-literate", and he and Abigail rely on their better-educated son to read complicated documents. In the epilogue, his entries in Arthur's journal are, while not as eloquent as Arthur's, well-written and perfectly legible. Although it can be taken as a combination of John still depending on lines to write on (most of his journal entries have self-drawn writing lines), making more mistakes than Arthur, and not being one for leisurely reading.
    • Also in the first game, John implies that no one in his gang cared about him and left him for dead first chance they got — in this game Arthur Morgan uses the last days of his life to ensure the Marston family can have a chance to escape and live a better life.
    • The Strange Man implied that the robbery where John was shot and left for dead was the same ferry job where Dutch shot Heidi McCourt. In II, said ferry job happens just before the game even starts, and while it's mentioned that John did take a bullet during it, he still manages to escape with the gang.
    • John's dead daughter is never seen nor referenced. It's unlikely she was born before Jack since John has issues believing Jack is his kid, and she cannot have been born after the gang breaks up since Javier knows about hernote . It is possible that Javier just assumed that John would have more kids and that she lived and died during the Time Skip from 1899 to 1907, but it's not explained in-game. However, using the "sleep" function in Beecher's hope may trigger a cutscene of John and Abigail making small talk on the bed, and once the game returns they both are in their underwear regardless of what you were wearing beforehand implying they had sex. Considering that contraceptives weren't really a thing in the Wild West, it's not too farfetched to think of it as a nod to her.
    • Venturing out to New Austin in the epilogue (which, it should be noted, is completely optional, save for a single story mission that takes place near the state's outskirts in Hennigan's Stead) makes no real sense, as John implied in Redemption 1 that he's never been in the area, seemed unfamiliar with the MacFarlane Ranch and Armadillo, and needed an escort to Fort Mercer. It's been speculated that the existence of New Austin in II at all is mainly for the multiplayer portion.
    • Speaking of New Austin, when it becomes available, the barn in MacFarlane's farm is absent. It's an error because Bonnie mentions in I that Drew built it while she was just a little girl. The epilogue takes place in 1907, meaning that she was at least 26 when it was built.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Dutch's gang numbers at nearly two-dozen people, of which only about half are dedicated fighters, including Dutch and Arthur. They're often pitted against overwhelming numbers of government agents and rival gangs like the O'Driscolls. In addition, the gang very rarely sends all of their fighters out at the same time, usually going out in pairs or in groups of four. Dutch attributes their success against such disparity in numbers to their familial bonds, which give them greater motivation to fight over the thugs who are only in it for the money.
  • Continuing Is Painful: Steps are taken to heavily downplay this trope. If you die during a mission or otherwise fail, you get the option of returning to the last "checkpoint" so that you don't have to start from the beginning. If you die during free roam, you'll respawn with a small monetary penalty. In both cases, any corpses in the immediate area despawn, so you won't be able to loot them (if human) or skin them (if animals). If you die during an "encounter", it will no longer be present and you'll have to wait for it to reoccur. Perhaps the most painful thing about continuing is that you lose any pelts and animal carcasses stored on your horse. This includes Legendary animals, however, their pelts will automatically go to the trapper for crafting, you just lose out on the money you would have gotten for selling them.
  • Controllable Helplessness: At several points in the story, you'll find yourself bound in some way. In each case, you can look around and struggle against your restraints before getting the opportunity to escape.
  • Convenient Questing:
    • Played straight for most main story missions. They typically take place relatively close to the gang's camp or the nearest town.
    • Side missions frequently avert it. For example, one of Strauss' Chapter 2 debt collection missions sends you into the mountains north of Strawberry. Another Chapter 2 side mission, "The Noblest of Men, and a Woman", has you track down four retired duelists who all live far from Valentine.
  • Cool Helmet: The Viking Helmet, which you can loot from an old Viking tomb.
  • Cool Horse: You'll become attached to your horses and start to feel this way about all of them as you bond with them, but a few truly qualify:
    • The White Arabian can be found and tamed as early as Chapter 2 west of Lake Isabella. She's better than any horse you can buy for several chapters, and comparable horses cost over $1000.
    • "The Count" is Dutch's Albino Arabian Stallion. He has elite stats across the board and bucks off anyone who tries to ride him besides Dutch. Fun fact, horses are unable to carry true albinism, making The Count (literally) impossibly cool.
  • Cool Mask: Several can be acquired or purchased ranging from an executioner's hood to gnarly metal skull looking masks. They obscure your identity while committing crimes.
  • Cool Old Guy: Hosea Matthews. He's in his late fifties, but has plenty of cunning and experience as an outlaw during the golden years of The Old West.
  • Cool Sword: One of the weapons you can acquire is the Pirate Sword. It's an old fashioned cutlass that can slice and dice enemies with ease.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Leviticus Cornwall is a railroad, oil, and sugar baron who didn't get that way by being nice. He thinks nothing of siccing his Private Military Contractors and Pinkerton Detectives on anyone who gets in his way. Oil is discovered under The Rez? Bribe the government to move the natives again so you can stake claim.
  • Cowardly Mooks: Some enemies will attempt to flee once you've either wounded them or have killed enough of their comrades.
  • Cowboy: Naturally. You can encounter them all over and even impersonate one on a few occassions.
  • Crafted From Animals: Camp upgrades, trapper outfits, satchels, saddles, trinkets, and more are all crafted from various animal parts. Hides are the most common ingredient, but teeth, claws, feathers, antlers, horns, fat, and glands are also used for some items.
  • Critical Existence Failure:
    • Very slightly downplayed for NPCs. Those hit by a non-fatal shot may limp, slowing their ability to move, but are otherwise still lethal.
    • Also downplayed for the player character. Other than some mild Interface Screw when you get low on health, you are otherwise every bit as capable with a sliver of health remaining as at full health.
  • Crossover: With GTA Online of all things.
    • As long as you are connected to Social Club, you'll receive an in-game email from "vanderlinde@eyefind.com" with a picture of a location inside. Find this place, and three more locations will be added to your map. Find them all, and one final location is added to your map. From there, you'll find a Golden Double-action Revolver from a chest, and performing 50 headshots unlocks it in RDR II. Fortunately, the quest is entirely free and the headshots can be performed on NPC characters so it can be done solo. (And awards you 250,000 GTA$ as a nice bonus.)
    • Pre-ordering the digital version from either Playstation or Xbox Store gives you extra GTA$ in GTA Online on your system. The regular one is worth 500,000$, the Special Edition is worth 1,000,000$ and the Ultimate Edition is worth 2,000,000$.
    • August 2018 saw another treasure hunt - this time the treasure was a stone hatchet.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Despite being The Alcoholic, suffering from lumbago, and coming across as rather simple, Uncle shows on a few occasions that he can still handle himself in a gunfight.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: Most of Strauss' debt collection missions are optional. However, the Thomas Downes mission – the one in which Arthur contracts tuberculosis after intimidating, if not beating up, a dying man whose family is utterly broke – is a main quest mission and is thus required to continue.
  • Cue the Sun: At the end of the final mission before Arthur dies, if you have high honor then regardless of whether you help John escape or go for the gang's loot, Arthur will die peacefully while looking at the rising sun.
  • Cult: The Chelonians are a religious cult with a particular reverence for turtles. They recruit young, able-bodied men who are then required to give up everything they own to the cult. One side mission has Arthur rescuing the brother of his Old Flame from the cult.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The assault on the O'Driscoll camp at the end of Chapter 1. The van der Linde gang kills three or four times as many O'Driscolls without a single casualty.
    • The assault on Braithwaite Manor at the end of Chapter 3. As part of the gang's Roaring Rampage of Rescue of Jack, the wipe the floor with every person present and then burn the place to the ground, again without a single casualty.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Arthur can gun down armies of men, shrug off bullets, and take down three other men in a fist fight...as long as you're controlling him. You can't help but to you roll your eyes during the numerous occasions where Arthur is knocked out, strangled, snuck-up on, escaped-from, etc. right before regaining control in a much worse situation than you would have allowed it to reach.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: The mission "Blessed are the Peacemakers". Arthur has up to this point killed dozens of O'Driscolls and survived injuries right up to gunshots. However, a trio of O'Driscolls is able to sneak up on him, knock him out with a single gun-butt strike, and then take him down again when he wakes up with a single non-lethal gunshot.
  • Cutting the Knot: An option for opening locked containers, generally performed with the stock of a gun. It's noisy, so it is likely to draw attention in stealthy situations. You can purchase a Lock Breaker from a fence, which allows this to be done relatively silently.
  • Dark Reprise: There's two different low honor-related remixes of "Unshaken" that can play during the ending.
    • If Arthur decides to go back for the money and get revenge on Dutch and Micah instead of leave with John, a threatening, bass-y, hip hop-esque beat plays as he makes his way back. The start of the song contains a snippet of Nas vocals. Rather than the humble, questioning tone of the original version of "Unshaken", they're far more aggressive and confident:
    I rise to the top
    I cannot be stopped
    I stand
    Unshaken
    • Regardless of ending choice, if Arthur has low honor at the end of the story, a version of "Unshaken" with an ethereal, spooky instrumentation and a deep, bass-y choir plays at the very end of the mission.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Mary's father despised Arthur and he's a big part of why they broke up. As seen during Mary's mission in Saint Denis, her father is a broke, drunken lout who doesn't have room to talk. You can find his body with no explanation in New Austin laying in the middle of the road just past the church outside Armadillo in the epilogue.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Companion missions allow you to interact one-on-one with your fellow gang mates. You get to learn about their pasts, their motivations, and get a better look at their personalities.
  • Death by Irony: Arthur draws beautiful sketches of places and wildlife in his journal, to the point where his fellow gang member remark upon his artistic ability. What kills him in the end isn’t his violent lifestyle, but tuberculosis. How is that ironic? TB was also historically known as ‘The Artist’s Disease’ due to a widespread belief was that tuberculosis assisted artistic talent, as witness the number of great artists who were affected. Wikipedia has an article about it here.
  • Death by Racism:
    • Each of the KKK random encounters end in this fashion, even if you don't involve yourself. In one, several members accidentally set themselves on fire trying to light a cross. In another, the cross falls, killing two of them.
    • The racist eugenicist in Saint Denis is so hated by the rest of the town that you can kill him in broad daylight without repercussions.
    • After recovering the items from the foreclosed home of an old man who turns out to have been a former slave catcher, you can kill him on the spot and actually gain honor.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Arthur at the end of the main story. Terminally ill from tuberculosis already, he decides to spend his last days making amends and helping the truly deserving, eventually giving his life to help John Marston escape from their vengeful former comrades.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Crossing over with Cherry Tapping, this can be performed using the Varmint Rifle. It holds 14 rounds and can be fired quickly thanks to its pump action. Unless you're scoring head shots, it will take about half that magazine in order to bring down human opponents.
  • Death Seeker: As revealed in the Epilogue, Sadie. She admits that she no longer cares whether she lives or dies, and keeps throwing herself into dangerous situations as a bounty hunter as a result.
  • Decade Dissonance: Larger cities like Saint Denis and Blackwater are much more advanced than more rural towns like Valentine and Rhodes, which seem to be stuck about 20-30 years in the past.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Done in Chapter 4 by the O'Driscolls with Kieran immediately before launching an assault on Shady Bell.
  • Deceptive Disciple: Micah for Dutch. In the later chapters, his kissing up to Dutch makes him Dutch's new #2. In reality, he's planning to sell the gang out to the Pinkertons.
  • Deconstruction: The outlaw life is not as fun and romantic as it seems.
    • Dutch's Idiot Hero mentality of laying low, making a big score and then leaving only gets the gang deeper and deeper into shit, and due to their destructive nature they chronically draw attention to themselves. All their efforts to lie low fail, pushing them further and further from their destination. In the end, they fail to get anywhere even remotely close to their goal.
      • As mentioned before, Dutch is a terrible leader: he may be charming and charismatic, but his poor decision-making skills combined with his Sanity Slippage eventually lead to all gang members either dying or abandoning him.
    • Also mentioned above, Dutch's whole "one big score" mentality is revealed to be woefully unworkable. The gang simply cannot make make enough money in just one job to provide for twenty-plus people, not to mention seeing their passage out of the country and set up properly in a new one. Dutch seems somewhat aware of this, but his thinking never advances beyond "just keep pulling off heists", none of which make even close to what they need, so they're trapped in the same futile cycle.
    • The West doesn't give a damn if you're a main character or not. One of the gang members, Sean, is unceremoniously sniped in an ambush. By the end Kieran, Lenny, Hosea, and even Arthur have bitten the dust.
    • Many of the gang's members have various amounts of Hidden Depths they could use to live normally or even gain wealth, but are buried by their criminal lifestyle. For a few examples, Javier knows a surprising amount about fishing and can handle a guitar really well, while Arthur and Mary-Beth can do wonders if given a pen and paper.
      • In an extension of that, the game continues its deconstruction of the first one's themes of change and moving on. John doesn't have any extra skills or hobbies and has no passion for menial work - what's really valuable about him is his gunslinging, which also repeatedly endangers Abigail and Jack. It's made abundantly clear that he abandons his old ways mostly out of love for his family and a sense of debt towards Arthur.
    • The concept of open-world games is played with in the epilogue and it even ties into the original Redemption. The gameplay and activities remain mostly unchanged but with one big difference; John has a kid he should be raising. It's established in 1 that John hasn't spent that much time with his family and has had a habit of just disappearing for long periods of time. The activities Beecher's Hope offers are menial chores, encouraging the player to explore the world and participate in some of the dozens of available activities. As a result, every time you leave the ranch to do something more interesting than milking cows and shoveling manure, you're accidentally screwing up Jack's psyche by being a Disappeared Dad.
    • Chapter 3 is a deconstruction of the Playing Both Sides plot. Hosea and Dutch both write off the Grays and the Braithwaites as dumb hicks who won't catch on to their attempt to play them off against each other to let them get at a rumored fortune of Civil War gold. Unfortunately for them, neither family is that stupid or blinded by their mutual hate for one another, and take notice when the same group of strangers show up to cause trouble for both families.
    • In the first game, Herbert Moon's bigotry was mostly Played for Laughs. However, in this game, it's shown as causing harm to himself and other around him. When John meets with him in the epilogue, he can find a letter showing that Moon ruined his relationship with daughter after she decides to marry a Jewish man.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype:
    • Sadie becomes one of the typical Action Girl. Her violent nature is a consequence of some serious emotional trauma (it's heavily implied that the O'Driscolls raped her after killing her husband), with the terminally-ill Arthur outright stating that she and him are "more ghosts than people." It eventually reaches the point that she tells John in the epilogue that she seeks out dangerous situations because she wants to die. She gets a bit better by the final mission and end credits, where she decides to leave for South America and find some measure of peace.
    • Arthur Morgan of the typical Villain Protagonist character. Sure he may not have had a choice in the beginning, but his acceptance of being the "bad guy" leaves him feeling pretty shitty about himself. Reading his journals reveals that he is also under a lot of stress and that he feels that he can't help prevent everything from spiraling out of control. After he finds out he's dying, then he's wracked with guilt; desperate to make what amends he can, having realize that all he's done has not been worth it. The final nail in the coffin is if the player chooses to help John and has good karma, his last words will be "I tried. In the end I did."
  • Deep South:
    • Scarlett Meadows, a county of mixed hills and bayous that is run by two inbred clans who hate each other's guts. Still marked by the Civil War, it is a place where lingering traces of the slave trade can be found.
    • The state of Lemoyne in general, which takes heavy cues from Louisiana, complete with its own version of New Orleans, the city of Saint Denis.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Just like the first game, the setting of II shows how different peoples attitude in the past were.
    • Racism is still prevalent during this time where anyone who is non-white is treated with hatred or seen as a savage that needs to be controlled or put down.
    • The Women's Suffrage movement is mocked by most men, who think that giving women the right to vote is absurd.
    • An optional series of missions has Arthur assisting an inventor of a prototype electric chair, which he claims is a "humane" method of execution. When it finally comes time to demonstrate the device, it turns out to be anything but.
  • Denser and Wackier: While the story is just as serious as the first game's (if not even more so), the stranger quests are less so. In 1, most of the strangers were relatively normal, with a few exceptions. note  Here, the bunch you'll meet consists of, for example, a traveling freak show (which is a tweaked version of one cut from I), a Mad Scientist, a very camp plant collector, and two brothers who willingly subject themselves to violence and life-threatening acts to win over a girl they both like. The most insane of the missions may just be a male animal tamer who disguises himself as a woman because, he (she?) believes that no-one wants to see a man tame animals. Note that he didn't even bother to shave his large mustache. The animals in question are just normal animals painted to resemble exotic animals. Well, except for the lion.
  • Determined Widow:
    • Sadie. Her homestead was attacked and her husband killed by the O'Driscoll gang, and she only survived because the Van der Linde gang saved her and took her in. Over the course of the story, Sadie becomes a badass gunslinger in her own right who seeks violent retribution against the O'Driscolls, though other characters note how much the violence has changed her, calling her a "ghost" at one point. By the epilogue, Sadie has become a well-regarded bounty hunter, but has become so hollow that she casually tells another character she "wants to die".
    • Charlotte Balfour, the widow of Willard's Rest, is a slightly more traditional example. She and her husband were wealthy folks from the city who decided to try their hand at rural life, only to find it harder than they expected. After the husband's death, Charlotte expects to starve and die herself, but Arthur teaches her a few tips on surviving in the wilderness and eventually she settles into a not-unhappy rural life. It even seems for a moment like she has romantic feelings for Arthur, but Arthur's impending death from tuberculosis puts a dampener on things.
  • Developers' Foresight: Grab some popcorn.
    • Single shot guns need to be either reloaded or the hammer has to be pulled back between shots, which is done by pressing the shoot button between shots. Revolvers allow fanning the hammer, allowing several shots in quick succession. Guns also deteriorate over time, either from soot from firing or via being submerged in water, snow, or mud for extended periods. You have to either purchase gun oil or have a gunsmith clean them to revert their stats to max if this happens. According to Rockstar, some gun-related realism had to be dialed back to keep the game fun; said "gun-related realism" is likely due to the extensive dismantling and reassembly process needed to properly clean them.
    • Your horse will occasionally take a crap, they will react to hidden snakes, and their testicles react to the temperature. Also, if you spook a horse by walking beside or behind it, or walk up to a horse that doesn't know you, it can kick you.
    • Animals you've killed will start to rot, with the weapon you use to kill them and the shot location affecting the pelt's value. Dead animals you carry bleed on Arthur, altering NPC reactions to Arthur. The rate at which animal carcasses begin to rot is affected by the temperature: slower in cold/snowy areas, faster in hot areas.
    • The environment actively affects Arthur's appearance. Water, mud, snow, and blood can accumulate on his hair and clothes, eventually drying and fading away. Arthur's skin bruises from being punched, bullet holes and cut/slash marks appear on his character model, and he gets sweaty from exertion. He also needs to eat and sleep or he'll eventually become fatigued, which affects the regeneration of both health and stamina, and causes him to become dizzy. His posture will also change, and as mentioned above, his hair and beard slowly grow. Your clothing also affects Arthur's health depending on the region, as wearing heavy clothes in the desert or light clothes in the snow and cold actually affect gameplay.
    • NPCs having a discussion may mention Arthur in their discussion if he comes close. The interaction system takes the previous lines into account, so you can first greet, then antagonize, and finally apologize to someone in the same conversation. Following an NPC long enough will eventually cause them to get freaked out about you stalking them and run for it. As mentioned above, Arthur's appearance affects how NPCs react to him. If he looks like a hobo covered in blood, some people may refuse interacting with him; if he carries someone's charred corpse around, people will be audibly appalled. If he is dressed like a gentleman, people are more likely to be nicer to him.
    • Killing someone may cause their loved ones coming after you later, and committing a crime in a city causes its inhabitants to not trust you for a few weeks, even if you leave and come back. If alerted, the law won't instantly try to kill Arthur for small crimes, instead giving him a stern warning and, if the crime is severe enough, ordering him to leave the town for a while.
    • You can encounter opossums in-game. Yes, they can play dead. The real foresight is that if you approach an opossum that's doing so, you will be given the prompt to pick it up/skin it, just like you would with a real dead animal. Of course, attempting to do either does nothing. Hell, Rockstar even made the 9th Master Hunter Challenge this to show it off.
    • Whistling for your horse too much in a short amount of time will actually cause you to run out of breath. Additionally, Arthur will curse in frustration if his horse is out of whistling range.
      Arthur: Not again!
    • The grapple move differs depending on the context; there are separate animations depending on if you're in front or behind the target, when running it turns into a tackle, and if the tackle is performed on shallow enough water, instead of the normal grab Arthur instead pushes the victim's head underwater and starts drowning them.
    • The last mission from Henri Lemieux gives you the option to either spare or kill Jean Marc Mercier. If you kill him, you'll have to dump his corpse off into the nearby swamp. Come back a day or two later at that same spot and fish there and there's a chance you'll snag up a severed arm, which Arthur remarks is Jean Marc's.
    • If you return a bounty target alive, you'll usually have a chance to watch the target be hanged the next day. You can then try to rescue the target by shooting the rope and the surrounding lawmen. If you're quick enough, you can actually save them, and can sometimes get unique dialogue from the targets in return.
    • There are two variants of each non-story related journal entry depending on which part of the game they are found. Namely, John has his own should you miss any before entering the epilogue chapters. And going with John's self-description as "semi-literate", his descriptions are much simpler than Arthur's and his drawings are poorly made. Rockstar also went the extra step and made Arthur entries for the content you can only find in New Austin, a state Arthur never canonically enters in the game. (Though this may also be a case of What Could Have Been.)
    • If you rob Algie Davison before Strauss sends you to collect his debt, then the house will be abandoned and you can take the debt money without any trouble.
  • Dialogue Tree: Arthur can chat with any NPC by aiming at them (with or without a gun on his hand). When locked on to an NPC, the game displays a list of possible interactions, such as "Defuse", which allows you to stop potential fights before they even start, "Antagonize" which can be used to start fights, and a few others others. The available options and the dialogue itself are affected by various factors, such as the current situation, location, NPC alignment, whether Arthur's gun is holstered or not, and even his appearance. Unlike in most examples, the system is omnipresent and doesn't stop the gameplay. The system is practically identical to the one Rockstar used in their previous game Bully.
  • Died Standing Up:
    • A particular glitch can cause this in both NPCs and animals. There are a number of ways to trigger it, but the most common seems to happen when making a kill shot from an extreme distance. When you get close to your target, they'll be dead but still standing. In the case of a few animals, such as mountain sheep, they may have a stream of blood pouring out of them continuously until you interact with the carcass.
    • In the spirit of the trope, given the game's physics engine, NPCs can be killed while sitting in chairs or leaning up against objects.
  • Dire Beast: The Legendary animals are all larger and more powerful versions of their standard brethren. The one that stands out the most in this regard is the Legendary Bull Gator, an alligator that's close to 40 feet long, over three times the size of the game's other, more realistic gators.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • You can find an "Arabian", an elite horse with the game's highest stats from a spawn point on the northwestern point of Lake Isabella. It may take a few visits to spawn, but you can obtain one as early as Chapter 2 once the stables unlock in one of the first story missions . It can be recognized from its snow white coat and for being pretty much the only horse that spawns on the freezing climate.
    • Several powerful guns can be acquired early in Chapter 2 by performing the right side quests around camp and in the nearby First Town of Valentine. Notable examples include Schofield Revolver (acquired by robbing the Valentine doctor), the three unique Revolvers/Pistols acquired during "The Noblest of Men, and a Woman" side-quest available at the Valentine saloon, and the Pump Shotgun (acquired during "The First Shall Be Last" side-quest given by Javier in camp). None of these weapons costs a dime to acquire and most will easily carry through the rest of Chapter and even into Chapter 3 with the right upgrades.
    • The Stage Coach Fence at Emerald Ranch becomes available early in Chapter 2. Once unlocked, it can become an easy source of nuke-level money. Simply steal stage coaches and bring them to the fence for an easy $15-$40 a pop. Emerald Ranch itself is within sight of several crossroads that are traversed frequently by stage coaches. Once you learn the most valuable/least risky wagons to look for (2+ horses, nice looking wagons, single occupant), you can easily haul in $400+ per real life hour. It's more than enough to upgrade every weapon you have available, max out your ammo, spoil your horse(s), and upgrade your camp with ease.
    • Hunting is also a very easy source of good money/updating right off the bat if you know how to do it right. In one of the first missions available in Chapter 2, the legendary animals become available. If you hunt the legendary buck just north of Strawberry, you can craft a trinket at the fence (which becomes available a bit later) that spawns more three star animals. The medium and large sized animals can be lassoed and stabbed which guarantees a perfect pelt/carcass. Deer in particular are all over the map and are very easy to find, kill, and sell . A perfect deer carcass will fetch you $10 at the butcher/trapper and you can easily do three or four of them in the span of ten real life minutes. You can also skin them to give to Pearson who can use them to upgrade your satchel. You can get the legend of the east satchel (which by most counts takes about six hours of outside work to get) that holds 99 of everything not even halfway through Chapter 2 if you want. Though it costs $225 to get the leatherworking tools to update your satchel which can be hard that early on in the game.
    • There's a gold bar , worth a whopping $500, literally (not figuratively) just down the hill from the first camp in Horseshoe Overlook. You can get it as soon as the map opens up and while you won't be able to sell it until the fence opens up a bit later, it's still a very healthy sum that early in the story.
  • Disguised in Drag: The provocative French artist Charles Châtenay goes undercover in incredibly unconvincing drag — the chest hair and beard are a bit of a giveaway — to flee town after making enemies of practially the entire population of Saint Denis.
  • Disposing of a Body: You can cover up murders by hiding the body where passers-by will be less likely to see it. Dumping them in the wilderness or into bodies of water are good options. See also: Fed to Pigs.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Strangers are very quick to resort to violence over mild slights and accidents, such as lingering too long in their wilderness camp or bumping into them.
  • Distressed Dude: At different points, you'll rescue Sean, Bill, and John for situations like this. You'll need to escape from such a situation as Arthur after he's captured by the O'Driscolls and again in Guarma.
  • Does Not Like Men: Saint Denis's Suffragette, Dorothea Wicklow. As she says:
    Once women get the vote, the whole country will stop making such a pig's ear of everything! There'll be no more wars, no hunger, no stupidity! We'll elect a woman president, within the first ten years, of course, men are such judgemental prigs, you need us women to help straighten you out! Okay? With us helping, I'm not saying there won't be trouble, I just think we'll do a better job of things.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: If Arthur is played honorably through and maintains his maximum honor by the final part of Chapter 6 (aptly titled "Red Dead Redemption"), then his final ride, with "That's the Way It Is" playing beautifully in the background, may come across as some kind of college graduation ceremony, with people complimenting on his best behavior as if he were graduating from morality school summa cum laude ("with highest praise"), even though he has only a short time before he dies from TB anyway.
  • The Don: Angelo Bronte is the mafia-esque crime lord of Saint Denis, right up to having the Saint Denis police in his pocket. He doesn't take too kindly to another crime boss, Dutch, setting up shop so close to his town and tries to have him killed in a set-up train station robbery. Dutch repays in kind later, having Bronte kidnapped before drowning him and feeding him to gators.
  • Doomed by Canon:
    • What's left of the Van der Linde gang is destined to fall apart after a failed robbery. A former member, John Marston, will be forced to hunt down other former members afterward.
    • Tumbleweed, the sole bright spot in the chaos that is New Austin, is destined to lay in ruins by 1911.
  • Downer Beginning: The story starts with the gang on the run in the mountains during a blizzard after a botched job in Blackwater. They can't get to their stash of money, several gang members are dead with one captured, they're low on food, and they have the law hot on their tails.
  • Dramatic Irony: San Denis Mayor Lemieux thinks learning will make man "put down his guns, and start living a life of relentless purity" in 50 years. Well, no, the world just used that learning to make bigger and better guns.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • Sean is unceremoniously killed with a head shot not a minute into a main story mission.
    • Kieran is captured off screen and only a single gang member mentions his absence before his beheaded body rides into camp immediately prior to an O'Driscoll attack.
    • Lenny is simply shot dead during a botched heist. No build up, no sad last words, just...shot dead.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Averted on two levels. In terms of the narrative, Deliberate Values Dissonance is at play. During the time period of the game, drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco were extremely common. Harder drugs, like cocaine, were often prescribed medicinally. In-game, all of the drugs are quite useful. Alcohol can refill your bars and cores, with the exact effects depending on the type of alcohol. Moonshine in particular temporarily maxes out and fortifies your health bar, making it a great item to take right before a big fight. Smoked tobacco refills your Deadeye core at the cost of some slight stamina, while chewing tobacco temporarily maxes out and fortifies your Deadeye bar making it extremely useful. Cocaine gum is another consumable which temporarily maxes out and forties your stamina bar.
  • Dual Wielding:
    • Once you get the off-hand pistol holder, you can do this with handguns. It potentially doubles the amount of shots you can fire before reloading, but reloading is then slower as a result.
    • Dutch and Micah are both notable dual-wielders. Dutch uses a custom pair of Schofield Revolvers while Micah uses a custom pair of Double-Action Revolvers.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Arthur is the self-described "workhorse" of the van der Linde gang, and it comes with the lack of respect one would expect. He is apparently the only gang member contributing to the camp food supply, and missing even a single day draws negative comments from Pearson and Ms. Grimshaw. Want to upgrade the camp? Arthur will be providing 90% of the necessary funds. Someone owes the gang money? Arthur collects. Another gang member needs some extra muscle on a mission? Yep, Arthur. Something goes wrong on that mission? Must be Arthur's fault.
  • Duel to the Death:
    • A possible encounter, most often in saloons, involves bumping into an ornery, drunken patron who will then challenge you to a duel. If you accept, you can meet them outside for the duel.
    • With one exception, all of the legendary gunslingers in the related side mission meet their fate with you in this fashion.
  • Drinking Game:
    • Take a shot every time a character is killed off.. Take 2 if it’s somebody you liked.
    • Take a shot every time Dutch says “I have/had a plan”.
    • Take a shot every time Uncle refuses to help by saying he lumbago.
  • Everytime Micah calls Arthur Black Lung.
  • Dummied Out: Under normal circumstances, the dinosaur bones quest can't be completed before the epilogue, since eight of the bones are located in New Austin, which Arthur can't access at all in the entire game since there's an invisible sniper that will kill him the moment he crosses the border. The quest is meant to be completed by John in the epilogue, as he's the only one that can cross into New Austin unharmed. However, you used to be able to glitch your way to New Austin as Arthur without being instantly killed and completing the quest. Arthur could still talk with the quest giver and has his own set of lines with her. This suggests that the quest was also meant to be completed by Arthur at some point in development.
  • Dump Stat: Stamina. It really only drains when sprinting or swimming, and given the amount of time you'll spend on horseback, you won't be draining it often. Most players don't think twice when using consumables such as alcohol or tobacco products which lower your stamina while increasing your health or Dead Eye. Additionally, many players will fatten up the player character which increases health at the cost of stamina, since being able to take a couple more bullets is significantly more valuable than being able to sprint or swim for a longer distance.
  • Dwindling Party:
    • The van der Linde gang. Four are mentioned as dead or dying as a result of the Blackwater fiasco and subsequent escape before the game even starts. By the end of the game, Sean, Kieran, Lenny, Hosea, Susan, Molly, Micah, and even Arthur himself lie dead.
    • In a mission specific example, the gang members who set out to rob the Saint Denis bank experience this during that mission and those immediately after. Hosea and Lenny are killed, Abigail flees, John is captured, and Charles leaves the group in order to draw off some Pinkertons. Of the five who escape on the ship to Guarma, Javier is wounded and captured there, leaving the foursome of Dutch, Bill, Micah, and Arthur.
  • Dying Town: Tumbleweed was crippled when the railroad was rerouted through nearby Armadillo instead, then suffered bandit raids and a cholera outbreak. As seen in I, it would become completely abandoned a few years later.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Pretty much the entire van der Linde gang. There isn't a single member who has been subjected to some sort of terrible loss or abuse before falling in with the gang.

    Single Player E - N 
  • Eager Rookie: Lenny has elements of this. He's only 19 and one of the most junior members of the gang, but seeks to prove himself. He initiates dangerous missions including the assault on the Lemoyne Raiders HQ to steal a weapons shipment and a stagecoach robbery which is actually a trap set by federal marshals. Arthur seems to take Lenny under his wing and he is really coming along, having greatly assisted during the botched trolley station robbery before he is gunned down without warning during the failed Saint Denis bank robbery.
  • Early Game Hell: If you're looking to do things outside of the main mission, Chapter 2 becomes this. Unless you play at least some of the main mission to unlock things, you're stuck with a very limited selection of weapons (not ideal for forays into areas with predators or possible rival gang ambushes), certain items are locked (like the Fishing Rod), and certain vendors (like the wagon and horse fences) are not available. It is also before the game's Money for Nothing comes into play, so you're often perpetually broke unless you really go out of your way. Many guides recommend playing up to the end of Chapter 2 or even into Chapter 3 before venturing deeply into the game's side content as it will be much easier once you've unlocked a greater variety of weapons and items.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Due to the Prequel nature of the game, it is a Foregone Conclusion that the van der Linde gang will break up through both internal strife and the constant pursuit of the authorities. However the epilogue reveals that Charles, Mary-Beth, Tilly, Swanson, and Sadie were able to settle down and have satisfying lives afterwards. Charles moved to Canada and raised a family, Mary-Beth became a prolific author, Tilly married a successful lawyer in Saint Denis, Swanson moved to New York and became a preacher, and Sadie becomes a Bounty Hunter and eventually decides to move to South America to pursue a more peaceful life. Also, Edith and Archie Downes if Arthur chooses to help them in the final chapters; they take his money and invest it to become the owners of a successful golf course.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • At several points during the main story, you'll shoot up entire towns and gun down dozens of lawmen. You will be wanted "Dead or Alive" afterward, but you can simply pay off your bounty at any post office with no consequences once you do. Stroll right back into any of those towns and it's as if nothing happened at all.
    • The "Honor" system. Naturally, robbing and murdering outside of where it is required for main missions causes your Honor to drop. However, you can regain Honor, right up to maxing it out, with simple activities such as greeting townsfolk or doing some catch-and-release fishing.
    • In-Universe: Bill at one point complains how any time he screws up, he gets chewed out while Arthur's fuckups are "One of them things" and he faces very little criticism. Being Dutch's first son clearly has some benefits.
  • Emergency Weapon: Even if you expend every round of ammo and toss every throwable weapon, you will still have your trusty knife.
  • Encounter Bait: Somewhat literally with Predator and Herbivore Bait. Spread them on the ground, retreat to a a spot with a good view of the bait site, and wait as they attract animals.
  • End of an Age: As with the first game, a major theme running through this prequel is how the outlaws of the "Old West" come to terms with the encroachment of law and order from the East making their way of life increasingly impossible. The prequel hammers this theme even more than the first game, as it takes place when the gang is still active.
  • Enemy Chatter: If you remain undetected near groups of enemies, you can listen in on their conversations, which are fully scripted.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: Detected hostiles show up as red dots on your radar.
  • The Enemy Weapons Are Better: Averted in most cases, as enemies will use lesser "worn" versions of guns you already have. However, in a select few cases, it is possible to acquire better weapons before they would normally unlock by getting them off of certain dead enemies. For example, one can acquire the Rolling Block Rifle from some bounty hunters who will come after you if you have a bounty. Another is that it is possible to acquire a Bolt Action Rifle early by completing bounty missions, attending the subsequent hanging of the outlaw, and then gunning down one of the police guards at the gallows who may be carrying one.
  • Epic Fail: Several Stranger encounters end in this fashion. To note:
    • One such encounter involves two thieves attempting to open a stolen safe with dynamite. It goes off before they can get back, blowing them both up. (The door to the safe does come off, so you can help yourself to its contents.)
    • Another encounter is a group of KKK members attempting to set up a burning cross. However, the cross falls onto them, crushing and burning them to death.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The van der Linde gang is easily the most diverse in the game, including several minorities and women. This is in a setting with plenty of period appropriate racism and sexism portrayed.
  • Escort Mission: A number of Stranger missions involve rescuing someone from hostiles (a rival gang, wild animals, etc.) during which they must survive in order to succeed. In a few cases, you may also need to give the rescuee a ride back to town.
  • Eternally Pearly-White Teeth: Averted. While it varies from character to character, most have realistically yellow or brown teeth.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Arthur keeps a picture of his deceased mother next to his bed. A low-honor Arthur plays this completely straight, while a high-honor Arthur downplays it (he is still an outlaw bandit after all).
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The van der Linde gang will gladly rob anything they can make a dollar on and isn't above killing anyone who gets in their way. But they take great offense to the Braithewaites kidnapping Jack. Cue the Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • As mentioned, the gang will kill if needed as part of their robberies, but Dutch frowns upon outright murder and claims (when confronted by Angelo Bronte) that they aren't murderers for hire. Arthur too gets several moments of this during some side missions, such as the one where the Saint Denis mayor asks Arthur to kill his former assistant.
  • Everybody Smokes: Standard for an "Old West" work. Countless characters throughout the game can be seen smoking. This even includes Arthur in some cut scenes.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: John Marston gets his scars from being mauled by a pack of wolves during a scouting mission goes awry.
  • Evil Debt Collector: One of Arthur's roles in the gang. No matter how honorable you play Arthur as, the loan shark missions tend to be Kick the Dog moments for him. The biggest and most tragic example is when Arthur accidentally kills a sick debtor, forcing the victim's widow to pay off the debt in his stead. Eventually Arthur cannot stand the misery such predatory usury is causing, and forcibly ejects the gang's loan shark from the camp, threatening to kill him if he returns. Said debtor ends up giving Arthur fatal tuberculosis as a result of the incident, and Arthur is so disgusted with what he did that he views it as a Karmic Death.
  • Evil Pays Better: If not better, then faster. Looting items from corpses often results in valuable junk, and robbing stores can give you more than many of the bounty hunting missions do. Stealing wagons, looting and robbing random civilians and/or robbing stores and trains for an entire day can get you a lot of cash for little work. However, you only get discounts if your honor is high enough, and getting caught means you'll be constantly harassed by bounty hunters until you A) spend some of your ill-gotten gains to pay off the bounty or B) surrender to the law and lose some of your money anyway.
  • Exact Words:
    • Before release, Rockstar mentioned that the game world is open from the start. This is technically true; you can go to West Elizabeth and New Austin before the game allows it, but you'll be faced by unlimited waves of Pinkertons that will hunt and gun you down. Every new area can be visited as soon as the prologue is over, though.
    • Several challenges can be completed much more easily if you take the wording literally. For example, some challenges require you to kill an enemy in a specific way, meaning you can't just kill some random NPC to fulfill it. However, it does not say that the enemy has to be a threat. You can tie up a rival gang member, drop them somewhere that makes it easy to complete the challenge, and then kill them while they are totally helpless. Bandit 10, which requires robbing five trains without getting caught, is a lot easier when you realize that "robbing" includes stealing a single item from the baggage car.
  • Exploding Barrels: Boxes of dynamite and barrels of moonshine will explode if shot.
  • Exposed to the Elements: A new gameplay mechanic involves your cores draining if you aren't dressed appropriately for the various environments and weather conditions. Going into the snowy peaks of the West Grizzlies without heavy winter clothing is a bad idea, as is wearing said heavy clothes in the humid bayous of Lemoyne. It's advised to always keep an outfit each for cold and hot conditions on your horse.
  • Extended Gameplay: Aside from the requisites of the Open World Sandbox genre like sidequests and other activities, the game features a rather extensive Epilogue sequence focusing on John Marston, who gets Promoted to Playable. Said Epilogue is a series of missions focusing around John and his family trying to go straight, and it ends with them building Beecher's Hope and paying it off with the money lifted from the Blackwater job. Of note is the sheer length of this part, as it technically accounts for 1/4th of the entire game. After the main storyline has been completed, the player is allowed to wander the world as John, or help take care of Beecher's Hope by doing chores.
  • Extremely Short Timespan:
    • The main story of the game takes place over a couple of months in early 1899. You can, of course, take quite a bit more time than that to actually complete the story in-game, with potentially hundreds of days passing.
    • Arthur contracts tuberculosis and dies of it in a matter of weeks. Although there was no effective treatment for TB in 1899 other than rest in a dry climate, "consumption" nonetheless was a disease which typically, in its latency period, took years slowly to consume its victims. Although it's possible that Arthur unwittingly chose to hasten the TB progression with his smoking, drinking beer, and getting beaten by physical trauma and malnutrition, all of which are risk factors for TB.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Arthur in a high Honor ending, choosing to stay behind to hold off pursuers while the Marston family escapes.
  • Fast-Forward Mechanic: You can skip ahead to Morning, Noon, or Night by sleeping in a bed, at the gang campsite, or by setting up your personal campsite from your main horse.
  • Fauxshadow: Kieran is a captured O'Driscoll who sticks with the van der Linde gang because leaving the protection they offer is basically a death sentence. In short order, he takes the gang to wipe out an O'Driscoll hideout, saves Arthur's life, offers a fun fishing companion mission, and seems to be earning the respect most of the gang. He really seems like a character who will become important down the line and who you will be rewarded for fostering a positive relationship with. Instead, he is captured by the O'Driscolls offscreen in Chapter 4, killed, beheaded, and sent into camp as an example/distraction immediately prior to an O'Driscoll attack.
  • Fed to Pigs: Pigs will chew through any corpse in their vicinity. This is a handy way for you to dispose of bodies, and there is a scenario where you can help a prostitute by disposing a dead customer in this manner.
  • Felony Misdemeanor:
    • Mark Johnson is one of the bounty mission targets. He is wanted for stage coach and train robberies from years in the past and carries a bounty of $25. No mention is made of him having killed or even seriously harmed anyone beyond robbing them. However, should you apprehend him, you can witness him being hanged in Rhodes. For a $25 bounty.
    • Law enforcement is very quick to deliver an armed response, even for non-violent or accidental offenses, such as vandalism or clipping someone with your horse.
  • Feuding Families: The Grays and the Braithwaites. Dutch and the gang hope to exploit the feud by Playing Both Sides in Chapter 3, but the feud doesn't make the families that blind and they catch on, leading to one gang member's death and forcing the gang to move once again.
  • Fictional Counterpart: The Wheeler, Rawson, & Co. Consumer Guide catalogues found in every shop is one to the Sears, Roebuck, & Co. mail order catalogues from the era, complete with the "Cheapest Supply House on Earth" and "Our Trade Reaches Around tohe World" taglines.
  • Fictional Document: The game contains hundreds of notes, letters, and even some full blown short stories in book form. You can collect them and they are neatly organized in your inventory by category.
  • Fictional Province: The game takes place in the fictional US states of New Austin, West Elizabeth, New Hanover, Ambarino, and Lemoyne. Guarma is a fictional Caribbean island visited as well.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: The Wapiti have already been moved to a new reservation once with great difficulty, and now the government wants to move them again because they believe there is oil beneath their reservation. Their leaders are fighting it, both literally and metaphorically, with the local army colonel goading them into attack with actions like stealing their horses and burning their sacred sites in hopes of wiping them out for glory.
  • Filk Song: Setting Sun, a slow and melancholic western ballad, courtesy of Miracle of Sound
  • Fire Purifies: The third trailer has a heavy emphasis on fire and its destructive nature. In the final game, it's one of the things that Reverend Swanson talks about at night around the gang's campfire.
  • Firing One-Handed: Just like John in the first game and epilogue, Arthur fires all sidearms one-handed, even the Sawed-Off Shotgun.
  • First-Person Ghost: The game can be played from a first-person perspective. Like its GTA V sister game, Rockstar opted for using separate weapon and movement animations in order to better adapt combat to a different view.
  • First-Person Shooter: Just like the eighth-generation port of GTA V, there's an option to play the game from a first-person perspective.
  • First Town: Valentine, a fairly unremarkable livestock town, is not far from the gang's first hideout at Horseshoe Overlook. Unless you really go out of your way, it will have the first gun store, general store, stables, and more that you visit.
  • Fishing Minigame: You can fish in most bodies of water, with different types of fish appearing in different areas of the map as well as depending on the body of water (lake or river). Different baits and lures also influence the type and quality of the fish you catch. You can also toss in a stick of dynamite, though this causes you to lose honor. On the flip side, catch and release fishing causes you to gain honor. Finally, just like the "legendary" animals to hunt, there are legendary fish to catch.
  • Foregone Conclusion: As would be expected from a prequel:
    • At the very least, Dutch van der Linde and part of his gang (John Marston, Bill, Javier) will survive the events of the prequel, as they appear in the events of the first game set years later.
    • Arthur obviously wasn't seen in the original Red Dead Redemption or even mentioned as one of the men John needed to hunt down. So, regardless of whatever became of him, it can already be pieced together that he didn't exactly have a big presence in New Austin by 1911.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • One of the first things Dutch and his group do in the game is save a woman from bandits... and accidentally burn down her house. Just a harbinger of how the Van der Linde gang tends to make things worse despite whatever ideals Dutch preaches.
    • Unlike all the other debt collections, the one for the Downes family is mandatory. Arthur ends up catching the same disease that afflicted Mr. Downes: tuberculosis. And it's implied he got it either from beating him up or from him coughing up blood on his face.
    • Related, Arthur will cough numerous times in cutscenes and in-game before he collapses at the end of Chapter 5. There's also numerous times where Arthur seems unusually winded, which makes no sense since he's in excellent shape and in the prime of his life. These coughs also escalate in severity throughout the game, beginning as small coughs before turning into large hacking fits.
    • Molly tries to ask Arthur at one point if he genuinely thinks Dutch loves her. She can also be seen talking to Abigail about it. This, as well as her constant whingeing and anxiety seem to set her up as a classic Hysterical Woman for Dutch, and she's killed upon drunkenly admitting that she was the one who ratted them out in Saint Denis. In reality, this is a Red Herring, and Micah was the actual mole.
    • In an early chapter, when Hosea asks Arthur how he's going to die, Arthur tells him to "Just face me west, so I can watch the sunset and think about all the times we had." These words become a contrast in the High Honor ending of Chapter 6 (if you go with John) when, instead of being a bad man who watches the sunset and reminisces about the old days of being an outlaw, Arthur becomes a good man who looks forward to a better future in store while watching the sunrise on the mountaintop and dying at peace with himself. However, it would later be revealed in the epilogue that Charles laid Arthur's body to rest on the quiet hilltop in a grave that perfectly faces the evening sun, thus fulfilling Arthur's request to Hosea.
    • "See the Fire in Your Eyes" has lyrics that foreshadow what happens to Arthur in both High Honor endings:
      Your day is done, the time has come.
      You battled hard, the war is won.
      You did your worst, you tried your best;
      Now it's time to rest.
      Now it's time to rest.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: Prior to the events of the game, John left the gang for a year and then returns, welcomed with open arms by most. Arthur is not one of them, disgusted that John had left the entire gang as well as Jack (whom at first John doesn't believe to be his son). Eventually, Arthur starts warming up to John again after the latter is determined to get Jack back from Angelo Bronte.
  • Free Rotating Camera: Present in 3rd person, like most Rockstar games. Pressing the left trigger will cause it to lock on. If you have a gun drawn, this will also point the gun using auto-aim, which also locks it onto the target.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Zig-zagged in that you cannot fire your weapon while pointing at companions during missions, and you cannot even draw your weapons under normal circumstances while in camp. However, any Splash Damage you cause, for example using fire bottles, dynamite, or by shooting explosive containers, can still harm and kill your companions.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Micah. The rest of the van der Linde gang are a group of outlaws who nonetheless view each other as a sort of family unit. All with the exception of Micah, a violent psychopath who often goes out of his way to antagonize other members of the gang and otherwise act like a massive asshole. The only reason he's able to stick around is because he's a competent gunman and he's really good at sucking up to Dutch, who goes through a steady decline as the game goes on. Eventually, by the end, he sells the gang out to the Pinkertons to save his own skin.
  • Friends with Benefits: Sean and Karen have a bit of a relationship like this.
  • From Bad to Worse:
    • The beginning of the game sees the gang in a bad spot - lost in a blizzard, two people are dead, one was captured, and the rest are hunted by the Pinkertons and other bounty hunters after a botched ferry job forces them to run off east (the opposite direction of where they wanted) without money and low on supplies.
    • The end of Chapter 4 through the beginning of Chapter 6 is basically a Trauma Conga Line of things getting worse for the gang. A bank heist in Saint Denis goes awry, resulting in the death of two gang members and the capture of a third. In order to escape, the survivors from the heist group stow aboard a ship bound for Cuba which wrecks along the way. They end up on the island of Guarma, a nightmare of a corporate police state run by a corrupt sugar baron. They are captured, one is wounded, and then the survivors must aid the local resistance in order to secure passage back to America. Finally, when they arrive and regroup with the rest of the gang, they are almost immediately beset by Pinkertons who bring a veritable army to take the gang down.
  • Full-Boar Action: Wild boars can be hunted in the southern areas of the map. They are quite hardy and can take several rifle shots to the body before going down.
  • Futureshadowing: Edgar Ross meets Jack Marston for the first time at a river bank while Jack is fishing. Jack Marston meets Edgar Ross for the last time at a river bank, although Ross is duck hunting instead of fishing.
    Ross: Enjoy your fishing, kid... while you still can.
  • The Gadfly: This is the raison d'être of the avant-garde French artist Charles Châtenay, who strives "to provoke, to challenge" his audience — primarily through nude paintings of people they'd prefer not to see nude. Even while fleeing town, he claims that there's no difference between being loved and being hated, as long as he makes an impact.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • There are reports of a few items (camera, lantern, fishing rod, throwing knives) disappearing from the player's inventory once you enter the epilogue. While throwing knives can be forced back into your inventory by crafting a special variant (you still have them, but just can't equip them), the lantern, camera, and fishing rod cannot. Unfortunately, the camera is required on the legendary duelists side mission, while the fishing rod is required to catch all of the legendary fish (some of which can only be caught in the epilogue without exploits) so these become outright impossible to complete. What triggers this is a total unknown as it doesn't affect everybody, but one possible trigger may be dying and restarting a checkpoint after Arthur gives his satchel to John.
    • Ammo will sometimes disappear from your inventory. Sometimes its just for one gun (most commonly the Varmint Rifle) and other times it is for an entire "class" of weapons (those which share the same ammo type, so repeaters, rifles, and shotguns). Exactly what causes it is unknown, but players have seemingly traced it to the upgraded bandolier which doubles your "long gun" ammo capacity. Even then, what triggers it is unknown as some players with the upgraded bandolier never experience while others experience it several times in a single play through.
    • While players are supposed to be able to fully grow out a beard, the growth system can be glitchy and they may not be able to do so. How it is even supposed to work is uncertain. The most common theory is that maximum beard length is tied to story progression, yet some report that they can grow Arthur's beard to its maximum length as early as Chapter 2, and others say they can't grow a beard past level 6 or 7 even after beating the game and drinking several hair growth potions each day. Hair growth seems to work fine, however.
  • Game Engine: Runs on Rockstar's "RAGE" engine.
  • Game Gourmet: There are two main categories of consumables - tonics and provisions. The former consists of a variety of items that restore health, stamina, or Dead Eye and are either store-bought or brewed by the player at a campfire. The latter consists mostly of actual food and drink, falling squarely into this trope, and consuming them increases one or two Cores, which govern the regeneration of the meter they're tied to. Fruits, vegetables and snacks restore the Health Core, coffee, chocolate and other stimulants restore the Stamina Core, and cigarettes, cigars and various types of alcohol restore the Dead Eye Core. Lastly, campfire-cooked meat restores all three Cores at once - the bigger the game, the bigger the recovery. Cores are always constantly draining, and while the player can't starve to death, having completely empty Cores often puts the player at a disadvantage.
  • Game Hunting Mechanic: Hunting has been made even more realistic here, with the values of the catches being dependent on the freshness of the meat and the cleanliness of the kill.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Averted. Your allies can be killed when involved with missions which results in mission failure. The game prevents you from shooting them directly, but they can still be killed by explosions you instigate.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • Once you switch to John, your ability to swim is gone. You can still save yourself if you're close to the shore, but John will go into a complete panic and his stamina, core included, will be depleted instantly.
    • It's known that Arthur has a way with words and art, as shown in his journal, while John is... Just compare his sketching and Arthur's in the epilogue.
    • Once you reach chapter 6 and Arthur is diagnosed with TB, he starts thinking about making amends, even at low honor. In turn, the game begins to nudge the player to redeem him by allowing them to reach max honor. In addition, the side quests and debt collection missions in the chapters allow forgoing rewards and absolve the debts. So to say, you unlock Arthur's conscience.
    • Also once you get to Chapter 6, Arthur's journal gets increasingly illegible due to his handwriting as his disease progresses. The entry about the "Dear John" Letter he gets from Mary in particular is pretty much impossible to read unless you use the text function.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • John starts off with whichever level of Dead Eye Arthur had, while in 1 he had to learn abilities already available here.
    • Several of the collection missions can be started as Arthur but can only be completed as John, since a few of the items needed to be collected (fossil locations, legendary fish, etc.) are only available once the rest of the map opens up in the epilogue. None of the quest-givers seem to notice that it took 8 years to collect everything, and all of the quest items are still available, with none having been found by the quest-giver themselves or any other agents the quest-giver may have. Finally, when John does complete a collection quest, all the quest-givers act as if John had done the whole thing by himself; in fact, none even observe that they had originally given the quest to someone else, or question why a random stranger they'd never met before is mailing them the things that they asked another guy for 8 years prior.
    • It's kind of a given, but it counts; you can put in 2,000... 5,000... 10,000... hell, 50,000+ dollars into the contribution box if you're willing and able. Doesn't matter. The story will truck on with Dutch and the gang insisting that they just don't have enough money to escape the outlaw life.
      • Similarly, the epilogue treats John as completely broke, even if you collected many thousands of dollars of valuables as Arthur and never sold them, thus having them carry over to John via Arthur's satchel. With the amount of money you can make from selling things at the beginning of the epilogue, John could have outright bought Beecher's Hope and not had to go on all the bounty hunt story missions with Sadie just to make the mortgage payments.
    • Taking a bath after going after Thomas Downes does absolutely nothing once after you visit him for his loan. This is the one mission where it triggers Arthur contracting tuberculosis and it is mandatory.
    • Between 1899 and 1907, the Marston family is constantly relocating thanks to John's inability to keep his revolver in his holster. Once you start playing as him, nothing stops you from committing crimes in public, as canon dictates that John and Abigail live the rest of their lives in Beecher's Hope. John could massacre the entirety of Blackwater without getting his family in trouble.
    • Health Tonics can be used to bring you back from brutal injuries, however no one seems to think of them when it comes to the story. For example, John spends weeks recovering from his injuries in Chapter 1 and no one thinks to give one to Dutch after his traumatic head injury in Chapter 4. Making this one more flagrant than most health item/story injury examples is that you can offer them injured Strangers during numerous random encounters.
  • Gang of Hats: Much like the previous installment, most of the gangs are identifiable by some physical aspects and all by unique behavior.
    • The Van der Linde gang revolves around Equal-Opportunity Evil (they are the most diverse of all gangs) and Dutch's idiosyncratic anarchist ideology.
    • The O'Driscolls are all Irish immigrants and Irish Americans, who all wear green accessories possibly as a tribute to their heritage.
    • The Lemoyne Raiders are a neo-Confederate militia that relies on robbery, moonshining, and gunrunning to finance their ongoing war; they all wear Confederate uniforms.
    • Angelo Bronte's gang are all Italians in nice suits, almost certainly an early Mafia family (though never named) or possibly Camora.
    • The Murfree Brood are severely inbred yokels who torture and cannibalize their victims; they rarely wear shirts.
    • The Night Folk wear primitive clothes and only use bows and melee weapons, they never talk and many wonder if they are fully human
    • The Del Lobos are stereotypical Mexican banditos.
    • The Laramie Gang serves as hired thugs for wealthy ranchers to bully poor homesteaders, they all wear fine clothes and red neckerchiefs.
    • The Skinner Brothers are a multiethnic gang of sadists who torture their victims much like the Murfree Brood.
  • Gargle Blaster:
    • Moonshine, much like in the real world. It is extremely flammable, meaning it is a very high proof. You can still drink it for a temporary health boost.
    • Aged Pirate Rum. Though the game takes place in the past, it is still some 200 years after the golden age of piracy. Booze that old would not be pleasant to drink.
  • Gatling Good: Mounted M1908 Maxim machine guns are used in this role. They'll be used against you in several missions, and you can sometimes take control of them. Oddly, the first game, set 12 years later, is more technologically backwards, featuring things like Gatling guns and wood-burning locomotives more appropriate to the 1870s. Of course, this was a function of RDR 1's troperific homages to Hollywood westerns, anachronisms be damned. The appearance of 1908 Maxims in 1899 is equally anachronistic, in the other direction (the US Army's MG at the time was the Colt M1895 "potato digger.")
  • Generic Ethnic Crime Gang:
    • The O'Driscolls are the primary rival of the van der Linde gang and are almost entirely Irish in terms of ethnicity.
    • The Lemoyne Raiders are made up of ex-Confederate soldiers and other southerners they've drawn to their cause.
    • Angelo Bronte is The Don of an Italian proto-mafia gang in Saint Denis.
  • Gentle Giant: Large game including Elk, Moose, Buffalo, and even Black Bears are entirely non-hostile. It is possible for them to trample you if you get in their way, but they won't intentionally attack you.
  • Genre Shift: The first half of Chapter 5 turns the game from a western sandbox to a [[Uncharted-esque jungle adventure.
  • Get It Over With: After turning in a bounty alive, you may witness them being publicly executed next time you're in town. Most are hardened career criminals who have an attitude like this.
  • Ghibli Hills: West Elizabeth to the north and west of Strawberry. It's a hilly forested area with mountain streams, peaceful lakes, plentiful wildlife, and is relatively untouched by man.
  • Ghost Town:
    • Colter is an abandoned mining town that serves as the gang's hideout during Chapter 1.
    • Limpany is a small town devastated by a fire and then abandoned.
    • Pleasance is a small community that was hit with the double whammy of a mass murder followed by a plague outbreak. Its few buildings are boarded up as a result.
  • Ghost Train: A spectral train can appear on railroad tracks.
  • Give Me Your Inventory Item: Several Stranger encounters involve giving items like Health Tonics to NPCs who are sick after eating poisonous plants or who have been bitten by a snake. While you can simply ignore them or choose not to give them the item, you'll generally take a hit to your honor.
  • Golden Ending: While still rather bittersweet, the ending you get with high Honor, a fully bonded horse, making The Atoner-style choices in Chapter 6, and choosing to hold the line to allow the Marston family to escape is generally considered the best possible ending.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: A combat option. You'll get into quite a few brawls over the course of the game where you'll fight in this fashion.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: It is a game set in the Old West, so characters of all moralities can be seen throughout the game smoking like chimneys. This even includes Arthur, who will be smoking in a number of cut scenes even if you try to actively avoid doing so in gameplay (smoking recharges your Dead Eye core at the cost of some Stamina). A high Honor Arthur gets several of the "Good Smoking" exemptions, including being a badass and (depending on who you ask) being sexy.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Rockstar seems to be actively trying to invert this.
    • Some kills activate a kill cam, which shows off the gun's moving parts and the bullet hitting the target in all its gory detail.
    • The majority of animals are skinned onscreen. For larger animals, this means plunging a knife into its stomach and peeling the skin off. For birds and small game, you pick them up and rip their skin/feathers off with your bare hands.
  • Gotta Catch Them All:
    • Several Stranger missions involve locating/collecting large numbers of items like dinosaur bones, rock carvings, specific perfect condition animal specimens, legendary fish, etc.
    • Several Challenges have requirements in this vein, such as taming one of every kind of horse or picking one of every type of plant.
  • Go Wait Outside: Numerous side missions only advance to the next stage 24 in-game hours after completing the previous mission in the chain. However, nothing is stopping you from simply setting up camp and sleeping for that time to quickly advance them. Conversely, you'll be chastised at the start of some main missions with characters making statements along the lines of "what took you so long" even if you immediately begin that mission at the conclusion of the previous.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: In the end credits, Mary visits Arthur's grave (which has a Celtic cross headstone signifying his Welsh heritage), and demonstrates that despite everything that happened between them, she still cares for him. If he was played honorably through to the very end, then his grave is also adorned with a bunch of flowers to add a bit of cheerfulness to this otherwise bittersweet scene. John Marston can also visit the graves of his fallen comrades, including Arthur, for the "Paying Respects" achievement. If the player reaches 100% Completion, John also visits said grave and writes on Arthur's journal as "Unshaken" plays in the background, and says, "Guess we're just about done, my friend."
  • Gravity Barrier: Used in several areas on the edges of the map. Slopes less that what you've climbed to get to them suddenly send you sliding back down when you try to climb them.
  • Great Escape: An early Chapter 2 mission has you breaking Micah out of the Strawberry jail. Naturally, it gets...noisy...and attracts the attention of the law.
  • Green Hill Zone: The gang's first two camps at Horseshoe Overlook and Clemens' Point qualify. Both are in green wilderness areas surrounded by plentiful non-hostile wildlife and have relatively peaceful (until the actions of the gang itself disrupt the peace) nearby towns.
  • Grim Up North: The northern areas of the map are covered in deep snow bounded by tall mountain ranges. They're home to dangerous creatures including Grizzly Bears and packs of Wolves. Naturally, the Downer Beginning Chapter 1 and the Bittersweet Ending final epilogue mission take place up here, book-ending the story.
  • Groin Attack: One sidequest features a pair of brothers trying to prove their manliness to a woman by having Arthur punch them to see who has the higher pain tolerance. You start with their faces, go down to their stomachs, and end the section by kicking them in the crotch, which causes both of them to collapse.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The only advice the game gives you in regards to disguising yourself to avoid gaining a bounty while committing crimes is to wear a mask, neglecting to mention that depending on the situation there are several other steps involved. This can bite players in the ass hard during the story and land you with at least one pretty hefty bounty. This Reddit post covers some of the finer details that even the official guide doesn't mention, but the general gist is this: disguises and masks help keep witnesses from giving a good positive ID, as lawmen that witness you will ID you no matter what, and the time it takes a witness to report to the law giving you the time to either run, hide, or change your appearance in any way before they show up to investigate. Changing your appearance can equate to getting a haircut and shave or just changing clothes to an outfit you have stored on your horse, be it a custom outfit or one of the many presets. Hanging around an investigation site makes the lawmen suspicious of you, with a good chance of them IDing you as the culprit and likely either firing on you or trying to arrest you.
    • The game doesn't tell you all of the bonuses of crafted saddles, particularly that they also include the bonuses of stirrups (which can't be changed while using a crafted saddle). For example, the best purchasable saddle has the bonuses of 16/14/16 and the best stirrups have the bonuses of +2 to top speed and acceleration and a 50% slower stamina drain rate. In comparison, the stable menu tells you that the craftable alligator saddle has the stats of 20/24/22 and a 50% slower stamina drain, with no mention of the +2 bonuses that would come with the stirrups. However, the +2 bonus is actually still present, but it can only be seen on the horse section of the pause menu.
    • Finding specific animals for hunting and fishing. The game thankfully hands you a map early on of Legendary animal spawns and reinforces these with a pop up letting you know that you've entered their territory. However, for rare standard animals, finding them can be a real challenge. Need that Perfect Panther pelt to upgrade your satchel? They only spawn in two locations, and there are numerous circumstances which may cause them to not spawn. Some of the smaller animals can be an even greater challenge due to a combination of their size and infrequent spawns, such as the badger.
    • Want to keep John's white gambler hat? You need to have someone punch it off and have John pick it up during the first half of the epilogue.
    • Want to keep Arthur's money into the epilogue? There's actually a way to do it, but it's incredibly obscure. You have to go to the Aberdeen farm and drink until you pass out, which results in the Aberdeens taking all of Arthur's money and putting it in their secret stash. Then you just leave and complete the rest of the main game, reach the epilogue, and then complete enough missions to unlock the free-roam portion of the epilogue. Then you can go back to the Aberdeen farm, kill everyone there, and take the money out of the safe.
  • Guns Akimbo: Borrowing from Rockstar's earlier work on Max Payne 3, you can dual-wield pistols for extra firepower.
  • Guns in Church: You can carry firearms with you almost everywhere. When entering camp, your long guns will typically be left on your horse, but you still keep your sidearms and knife on your person. A few story missions will require you to turn in your guns as well, averting the trope.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: NPCs can be rather irascible and don't appreciate it if the player (almost) bumps into them or, if they're even grouchier, stands too close to them for more than a moment. Those of a generally violent disposition are definitely this trope, being more than willing to start an (armed) fight over the smallest things.
  • Hammerspace: Averted in some respects, unlike in I.
    • You can carry up to two sidearms and two longarms on your person, period. Switching which weapons you're carrying requires either going into a town with a gunsmith and switching them out there if you're somehow without your main horse, or switching them out from your main horse's saddlebags.
    • You're limited with the number of animal carcasses you can strap to your horse: two moderate animals and one medium/large animal. Small animals are put in Arthur's satchel, while massive animals can only be carved on the spot. Pelts and feathers work differently: feathers and small/moderate pelts go into your satchel, medium/large pelts are draped over your horse's back and can be stacked, while massive pelts take up the medium/large carcass spot.
    • Zig-zagged with Arthur's satchel, gun belt, bandoleer, and saddlebag, which each act more like a Bag of Holding.
      • Satchel: You can carry a limited number of each item, but there appears to be no limit as to the sheer variety of stuff you can carry in each of the six categories. The carry capacity can be increased by upgrading your satchel, with the Legend of the East satchel boosting your capacity for everything to 99.
      • Saddlebags: You can initially carry only three outfits/hats/masks in them, but buying upgraded saddlebags from any of the stables will boost that limit to five. All while looking like they'd be lucky enough to store one outfit. They can also carry all of your weapons, with guns just appearing and disappearing when you take them out and put them back.
      • Ammunition: Each weapon type has a certain limit for how much ammo you can carry for each type (for example: revolvers and repeaters have caps of 200 for regular/express/high velocity ammo, 100 for split point, and 10 for explosive). Buying the upgraded gun belt (revolvers and pistols) and bandoleer (repeaters, rifles, shotguns) will upgrade your max ammo by 50%, while buying any of the reinforced gun belts and bandoleers from the Saint Denis trapper will upgrade your ammo max by 100%. Note that once you buy an upgrade to your satchnel, gun belt or bandolier, their effects are permanent, even if you don't actually wear them.
  • Hammerspace Police Force:
    • On certain missions, the lawmen sent after you will continue to spawn infinitely. Kill as many as you want, the game will keep sending more after you. In cases like this, the objective becomes escape.
    • In free roam, killing enough of the lawmen sent after you following a crime will stop them from coming after you. However, this typically results in a high bounty, after which bounty hunters will continue to spawn if you stay in the state in which you have the bounty. Played straight in and around Blackwater until the Epilogue, where federal agents will spawn infinitely if you're spotted.
  • Handicapped Badass: Despite being terminally-ill with tuberculosis, Arthur still manages to hold off a large number of Pinkerton agents and later fights the healthy Micah to a draw. Things may have turned out very differently indeed if Arthur had been in fit condition during the ending.
  • Hard-Coded Hostility: Rival gangs will be immediately hostile if you enter their camps or hideouts. A possible random encounter in their territories are ambushes set to take you out.
  • Has Two Mommies: Gender inversion. After the deaths of his biological parents, Arthur was a street urchin scooped up by Dutch and Hosea who raised him together before they started their gang. Even twenty years on, Arthur still sees them as his family, and writes in his journal that he loves both of them dearly. They are explicitly called his parents a couple times in the game.
  • Hat Damage: It is possible to remove people's hats with a well placed shot. They can also be knocked off in a melee fight. This can also happen to you as well.
  • Hate Sink:
    • The kids in Saint Denis involved in robbing Arthur's satchel. Further cementing this is the fact that it's something that can happen to anyone in real life if they're a little too trusting. The experience is probably more personal than getting shot.
    • All of the rival gangs have their negative attributes played up to instill player hatred and make the van der Linde gang look much more reasonable by comparison. The Colm O'Driscoll is a Smug Snake who believes in quantity over quality when it comes to his gang members. The Lemoyne Raiders are The Remnant of the Confederacy, complete with anti-Federalist ideals and loads of racism. The Night Folk are barely human cannibalistic monsters. The Murfree Brood are inbred Hillbilly Horrors who torture their victims and launch sneak attacks.
  • Healing Potion: Health Tonics and some alcoholic beverages work in this fashion.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Horses can be named and renamed at stables. For some reason, in a game where it's possible to decapitate someone with a shotgun, profane names are not permitted in spite of the game's dialogue being profanity ridden.
  • The Hero Dies: Arthur, already terminally ill with tuberculosis, performs a Heroic Sacrifice at the end.
  • Heroic RRoD: A high Honor Arthur in the final mission succumbs to tuberculosis worsened by overexertion.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Two examples from Arthur.
    • The first example is when Arthur gets diagnosed with tuberculosis - he is told that he may survive longer if he rests somewhere warm, but he chooses to stick the gang anyway. He continues to help others in this condition despite knowing that it will lead to his inevitable death.
    • The second example is when Arthur decides to stay and hold back the Pinkertons while John escapes with his family. Unlike John in the original RDR, Arthur manages to successfully hold off the attackers without losing his life in the process, only dying when Micah intervenes.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Arthur is very hard on himself in this regard, no matter if he's played at high or low Honor. He never misses a chance to voice his self-loathing. He constantly brushes off people whenever they compliment him or tell him how he's a good person and that they like him, and he even calls himself an "ugly bastard" when he looks at himself in a mirror.
  • He's Back: The Epilogue opens with John, now going by the name Jim Milton, working at Pronghorn Ranch for David Geddes, who's being hassled by the Laramie Gang. One night, the gang attacks the ranch and John, having had enough of them, suits up for a shootout in the mission "Jim Milton Rides Again" to show that John Marston is back!
  • He Was Right There All Along: Cougars and Panthers are ambush predators who can pull this on you. Perhaps you're sneaking through a wooded area hunting when, suddenly, you hear a growl and see a red dot appear on your mini-map. From that point, you have about one second to active Dead Eye, lock onto the creature, and fire a kill shot before it pounces, killing you.
  • Hidden Depths: Arthur engages in some surprisingly deep and interesting philosophical discussions with various characters over the course of the story, quite an accomplishment for a gunslinging outlaw with no formal education. His journal entries also provide insight into his thoughts, and are more eloquently written than how he speaks. He will get called out on this by a couple of people, most notably Dutch.
  • Hide Your Children:
    • Downplayed, as there are children present throughout the game, but not in the "open world" portions. They can only be interacted with in cut scenes, preventing you from harming them.
    • Played straight with animals, as you will only encounter adult animals.
  • Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Each rival gang wears something that makes them identifiable, ranging from Downplayed with the O'Driscolls wearing bits of green to the Lemoyne Raiders playing it straight with old Confederate uniforms. Each of these groups are outlaws who shouldn't logically want to call attention to this fact.
  • Hillbilly Horrors: There are a lot of creepy folks hanging around the woods and swamps in various areas of the map. More than one gang also have this as a theme, most notably the inbred Cannibal Clan known as the Murfree Brood.
  • History Repeats: A subtle one, but noteworthy nonetheless. John gives his life so Jack can have a normal life in the first game, only for the boy to throw it all away years later in pursuit of vengeance. In this game, Arthur does the same so that John can leave his outlaw days behind, only for the latter to ruin it by attacking Micah's gang to avenge the former and putting himself back on the law's radar.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Thomas Downes coughs on Arthur while the latter is beating him to recover a debt. There's even a particular moment where he coughs right in Arthur's face and Arthur wipes it in disgust. Downes' wife comes out and reveals that Downes is sick as he lies there coughing and struggling for breath. This is how Arthur caught TB. The music that plays in the ride back to camp clues the player into something major having just happened.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Night is always brightly lit by the full moon, so it's never more than a little dim, and shadows are still strongly apparent.
  • Hollywood Density: The gold bars found throughout the game are easily handled with one hand.
  • Hollywood History: Rockstar took great paints to Avert, Subvert, or at least Downplay, many classic-but-inaccurate "Wild West" tropes. For example, the game is realistically diverse in terms of races. Blacks, Mexicans, Asians, Native Americans, and many European nationalities (Irish, Scots, Poles, Germans, Italians, and even an instance of Scandinavians) are represented. The law, while still corrupt in places, is portrayed as more well-meaning and competent than in most media centered around outlaw main characters.
  • Holy Ground: The Native American Burial Ground is considered such a site. Shooting animals on or near it causes you to lose honor.
  • Honorary Uncle:
    • Uncle doesn't seem to be a blood relative of anyone in the gang, yet everyone still refers to him as such.
    • Jack refers to the adult male gang members as "Uncle" including Arthur and Hosea.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Several of the female members of the van der Linde gang contribute in this fashion. Abigail is retired from this life since having Jack, but a few others still actively engage and, based on the conversations you can have with them, are quite lovely people. Part of an early Chapter 2 mission has you rescue Karen when one of her Johns reacts angrily to her attempting to rob him.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: One of the vaudeville shows in Saint Denis features a strongwomen named Hortensia, who claims that no man can beat her in a fist fight and challenges anyone from the audience to do so. Climbing on stage and taking the challenge will inevitably result in you getting your ass beaten unconscious and thrown out the back door of the show. Even if you are skilled enough to knock her down it makes no difference; once you've done that, her next attack on you is guaranteed to be a One-Hit KO. The game will also not let you shoot her either.
  • Horse Archer: You've got a bow and you'll be spending a lot of time on horseback. While this can be an effective way to hunt, going after human enemies armed with actual firearms requires some real skill.
  • Hospitality for Heroes: Having a high Honor gets you discounts of up to 50% at stores. It also makes it easier to Defuse situations which may escalate to violence.
  • Hot Coffee Minigame: Downplayed but present when bathing in most hotels. You have the option for a deluxe bath in which an attractive woman helps you bathe. You can give inputs on body parts to wash and make small talk.
  • Hub City: Saint Denis is the largest and most populous city in the game. It has one of every kind of merchant, including a Trapper, and has a high volume of missions available. Its only downside is that it isn't centrally located, being at the far southern end of the map which can make trekking there tedious.
  • Human Pincushion: Arrows will stick in targets and show until you collect them. If you intentionally aim for non-vital shots with standard or small-game arrows on a human opponent, they can limp around still alive with numerous arrows stuck in them.
  • Hunk: Arthur is a very handsome and charming cowboy with rugged features. Other characters even compliment him on his good looks, depending on how well-groomed his appearance is. He starts the game off as a "bad man" and continues to believe that of himself, but other people tell him otherwise. He gets some "attractiveness points" for being polite and courteous towards women, compared to others who are dismissive and speaks to them in a condescending or derogatory way.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: Hunting any predatory animal can become this if they detect you first. However, the Legendary Panther takes the cake. Every other legendary animal has you follow a series of clues before the animal will spawn. When hunting the Legendary Panther, it spawns to ambush you after finding the third clue. You'll need to dodge its One-Hit KO pounce before you can kill it.
  • Hunter Trapper:
    • Plenty are found as NPCs. Trappers are merchants who buy hides and can craft items for you. Many are found as random encounters, such as trappers with their leg caught in their own traps and hunters in the wilderness with their fresh kills on a horse in tow.
    • This is perhaps the most lucrative honorable way to make money in the game. Find perfect animal specimens, kill them in the least damaging way possible (typically a varmint rifle or bow/arrow), skin them, and then sell their hides.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Consumables take effect instantly, and you can chow down hundreds of pounds of edibles or gallons of liquid at once if you choose. Subverted in Chapter 6 once Arthur's tuberculosis symptoms take full effect. You'll only gain benefit from eating a small quantity of food. You can still continue to consume more, but it won't have any beneficial effect.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Arthur to Dutch. Arthur even refers to himself as the "workhorse" of the gang. Virtually all of the gang's successes occur thanks to Arthur's presence, while he also helps to minimize the failures including saving the lives of nearly every other gang member at least once during the main story. Arthur is also apparently the only gang member providing food and, if you choose to do so, will contribute by far the majority of funds to the camp.
  • Hyperspace Mallet: All of the guns not currently equipped to your person are stored on your horse, though only two (plus the bow) will be visible at once.
  • I Fought the Law and the Law Won: Sleepy towns with a Sheriff and maybe a few deputies will suddenly be throwing dozens of heavily armed lawmen at you during major heists. Additionally, if you commit crimes in the countryside, witnesses will be able to report it in less than a minute and the surrounding roads will be swarmed with lawmen on horseback shortly after.
  • I Have Your Wife: In Chapter 3, the Braithwaites attempt to pull this on the gang by kidnapping Jack. Cue a Roaring Rampage of Rescue by the gang which results in the deaths of all the Braithwaite sons and their mansion burned to the ground.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Night Folk are cannibalistic.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: Just before his Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the main story, Arthur passes his hat and satchel on to John.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: The US Army, just like in the first game, are seen wielding a different weapon instead of what should be the standard service rifle at the time. In the first game, it was the Krag-Jørgensen in place of the Springfield 1903. Here, it's the Winchester Model 1866 instead of the Krag-Jørgensen. The first game got a pass simply because the Springfield isn't in the game, but they get no such excuse here, where the correct service rifle is a usable weapon.
  • Incredibly Conspicuous Drag:
    • Charles Châtenay dresses up as a woman to escape Saint Denis in his final mission. He does not shave his facial hair and wears a low-cut dress which shows off his chest hair.
    • "Margaret" the animal tamer is a buff, mustachioed man in a dress who thinks a female animal wrangler will attract a bigger audience. Making matters worse, he has an actual woman as his assistant.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Near the end of the game, Arthur is diagnosed with tuberculosis and may very well succumb to it should the player have a high enough honor to earn a relatively peaceful death. Justified, as there was no real treatment for tuberculosis at that time.
  • Indy Ploy:
    • In terms of the narrative, despite all of his reassurances that he "has a plan", it becomes more obvious over time that Dutch has devolved into this. By Chapter 6, several gang members including John and even Arthur himself begin to call Dutch out on this.
    • You can count on one hand the number of missions which actually go according to plan in the main story. When they do go off the rails, Arthur steps up in this regard. Most often, the new plan becomes "shoot your way out".
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Milliken, a Sisika Penitentiary guard, is reduced to this when he’s used as a hostage in order to bust John out of prison.
  • Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat: You can come upon campsites and homesteads which have been explicitly abandoned for several years in some cases, yet still contain consumable items. This is arguably Justified in the case of canned goods and alcohol, but is not for items like bread, crackers, and cheese.
  • Infinite Stock For Sale: All merchants carry enough stock in non-unique items to fill your inventory to the max. When you've bought up to your limit, the item will be marked as "sold out" in the catalogue. You can then immediately turn around, use or discard one of the items, re-enter the purchase screen, and the item will be available once again.
  • Informed Equipment:
    • Only two trinkets/talismans can be equipped to your character at a time, however, the effects from all of them are applied regardless of which two you are wearing.
    • Several outfits and disguises are not compatible with the bandolier, so it will not show on your character. However, its effects (doubling rifle and shotgun ammunition) are still applied.
  • Informed Flaw:
    • Arthur states on several occasions that he is a lousy fisherman. However, you can catch every fish species in the game and even all of the legendary fish without issue.
    • Wearing crafted clothing will get you funny looks and people joking about Arthur's choice of clothes (and not entirely without reason) yet some of the supposedly weird clothing looks completely normal but still causes these comments. For example, the coyote scout jacket looks almost identical to those found in stores, yet talking to people while wearing it will still cause amusement in NPCs.
  • In-Game TV: Like its predecessor, you can go to theaters and watch short projected films with narration.
  • Injured Player Character Stage:
    • During a Chapter 3 mission, Arthur is captured and tortured by O'Driscolls. Beaten and shot through the shoulder, you'll need to escape their camp.
    • During the opening of Chapter 5, Arthur washes up on Guarma following a ship wreck. He's exhausted, sunburned, and dehydrated. You'll control him as he stumbles to find the rest of the surviving gang members.
  • Inn Security: The first time you make camp in Murfree Brood territory, you'll be interrupted as you sit by the fire by two members of the brood who threaten you to leave their land. Should make camp in their territory again, it is possible that they will attack.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Had the Greys shot anyone but Sean, the first game wouldn't have happened. He was accompanied by Arthur, Bill and Micah, all of whom are important to the events of the first game.
  • Instakill Mook: Cougars and Panthers have a pounce attack which, if it lands, will instantly kill the player character regardless of health.
  • Instant Death Bullet: A headshot with most weapons on a human enemy will kill them instantly. This is also true for most animals, however, larger animals like bears and buffalo can shrug off single headshots from weaker weapons.
  • Insult to Rocks: One of the "Antagonize" conversations with Sadie:
    Arthur: I'd call you a fishwife, but I'd be insulting the fish.
  • Interface Screw: Drinking several alcoholic beverages in a short time will cause the screen to blur and your movements to become slower and more clumsy.
  • Interface Spoiler: Both actively Averted and also played straight.
    • Until the story is actually completed, the number of total story missions (the grand total being a whopping 109) on the progress tab is listed as "???".
    • The screen that shows how far you are in the story in the "Progress" tab? In an aversion, Arthur dies at 75%. The rest of the game is about John building Beecher's Hope.
    • Those with keen eyes may notice that John's equipment is stored in the exact same places as Arthur's. This is to reuse the existing character animations once you switch to John. Some people actually figured out the twist from mere screenshots because of this.
    • There's also a bizarre zig-zag of this. Wait, why does Arthur have the option to upgrade John's tent? What good does that do me? We're not playing as John....yet. However, the camp upgrades become unavailable once you actually switch to John.
    • If you browse the items that a Fence can craft, you will see that a lion paw trinket is available, which gives away a huge surprise in the "He's British, Of Course" side mission.
    • The more dishonorable players of I may recognize Micah's horse, Baylock, as being the spitting image of the "Dark Horse", which was only available in I to a low-honor John. It may come as little surprise then, that Micah is a rat and tries to sell the gang out to the Pinkertons in the end.
    • From a dialogue tree in Chapter 6: ARTHUR'S SON??? which reveals an aspect of his life he'd never brought up before.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: a few of these...
    • In the Chapter 2 mission "A Quiet Time", you can walk in on a couple having sex twice while looking for Lenny.
    • There's a random event in Valentine where you can stumble into being a peeping Tom. There's a man laying on the bed being spanked by a woman. If he sees you, he'll tell you he'll kill you if he sees you.
    • A variant on the above is a couple laying in bed in their underwear but high as a kite. They try to have sex but are too stoned to do it. The husband just ends up passing out on his wife.
  • Invisible Wall: While Rockstar is known for avoiding them, if the player tries to swim across the rivers that serve as map borders, they will eventually hit one of these.
  • Invulnerable Civilians: Averted, like all Rockstar sandbox games. You can gun down every single person in a given town if you are so obliged.
  • The Irish Mob: The O'Driscolls are a rare Western example.
  • Irrelevant Sidequest: Most Stranger missions, but in a positive way since it's up to the player to decide which quests they want to complete. The game even justifies it by having it explicitly recommended to you to go do things outside the main missions in order to earn money for yourself and the gang.
  • It Can Think: A Downplayed example with the "she-wolf" in the third "The Veteran" mission with Hamish. She leads he and Arthur into an ambush launched by the rest of her pack. Downplayed because there is no implication of human-level intelligence, but as Arthur notes, this is behavior even beyond what an intelligent animal species like wolves can normally display.
  • Item Crafting: You can craft special weapons and ammunition out of the base items by applying other items at any campfire. For example, you can create various kinds of arrow including poisoned and dynamite varieties. You can also, very simply, create "split point" ammo with no additional ingredients (as you are simply cutting the bullets with a knife to make them act as quasi-hollow point ammunition).
  • It's Always Spring: No matter how much time actually passes in-game, it will always be May of 1899 until the main mission is complete. While the northern areas of the map are covered in snow, its specifically stated to be from a late-season storm. The rest of the world is quite green and very spring-like.
  • It's Up to You: It's almost as if mission givers outside of the main missions are just waiting for you to come along to solve their problems.
  • I Want Them Alive: In a non-villainous example, the majority of the bounty missions require that you bring the target in alive.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Arthur. He is still a good man underneath his rough exterior.
  • "Join the Army", They Said: Pearson is a former Navy cook and will make complaints to this effect in his camp dialogue.
  • Just Before the End: The game tells the story of how the Van der Linde gang began its decline and how Dutch became the madman seen in the first game.
  • Just Take the Poster: When accepting bounty missions, Arthur will take the poster with him. Justified in that he wouldn't want others to know about the bounty.
  • Karma Houdini: Margaret from the side mission "He's British, Of Course". His escaped "tiger" (a painted cougar) kills his dog while his escaped lion kills two people and multiple farm animals at Emerald Ranch. The worst thing that happens to him is that he loses those animals mentioned and has to give up a $50 reward.
  • Karma Meter: The Honor system of the last game returns. High Honor brings rewards like increased payments for hunting, cleaner killcams, and discounts at merchants. Low Honor players get more money from robberies and gorier killcams, though even at maximum honor they're quite bloody.
  • Kick the Dog: Plenty of opportunity for this, from sticking up townsfolk to antagonizing homeless veterans to literally hitting dogs. For a particularly twisted example, a number of random Stranger encounters on the road have the local criminal gang robbing passers-by, a stage coach, or a stopped train. You can kill the rival gang members, which will earn you thanks from the townsfolk, then immediately turn around and rob them yourself.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Fire Bottle returns and still makes for a particularly gruesome way to dispatch enemies. Self-crafted incendiary ammo and fire arrows are also options.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Low-honor players can lean into this heavily, but even maximum-honor players can take anything with no repercussions as long as it's not owned by anyone living or on the corpse of an innocent. NPCs who notice you take their things may take offense, at which point they may run off to alert the law or just take matters into their own hands by fighting you. Unlike most games, you have several options for dealing with them, such as threatening them into not turning you in or tying them up.
  • Knife Nut: A Hunting Knife is the default melee weapon, and several unique knives can be acquired as well. It is quite useful for making stealth kills, and is used in cut scenes to skin animals and cut free hostages. Throwing knives are another option, and can be used in melee or, as the name implies, thrown to give you an option for ranged stealth kills if you don't want to take up a long gun slot with the bow.
  • Laser-Guided Karma / Tragic Mistake: The game's sense of morality, about the strength of making amends, is strong - and swings both ways. In the game's final chapters, particularly the epilogue, John struggles with the choice Arthur gave him: to live peacefully with his wife, or fall into the life he left behind. He nearly loses Abigail and Jack to it, and has to work hard to build his life back up again... but when the choice to finally kill Micah in Arthur's name comes back into his life, he can't help but take it, even as his wife is sobbing, trying to prevent him from possibly throwing their new lives away. She turns out to be right: this choice to become the gunslinger one last time, get bloody retribution and steal the windfall Micah took from the gang, despite not needing it, is then what leads Ross directly to him, spurring the plot of RDR 1 to happen and ultimately destroying his family. Much like how Jack killing Ross was not what John wanted for him, Charles points out that Arthur would not want John to do this, but like Jack, John can't help himself, and so dooms himself.
  • Land in the Saddle: It is possible to jump from up to about two stories on a horse safely. Don't try this in real life...for the horse's sake and yours.
  • The Last Dance: Arthur if you decide to help the Marston family escape at the end of the main story. After holding off waves of Pinkertons, Arthur will either be killed by Micah or succumb to his tuberculosis depending on your honor level.
  • The Leader: Kinda. Arthur Morgan, the player protagonist, is essentially the third-in-command of Dutch's gang. As Dutch is slowly losing his marbles and Hosea is killed, the more reasonable members of the gang begin to look to Arthur for orders instead of Dutch.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The mission "Jim Milton Rides, Again?" Sure, John Marston breaks his retirement to help his boss, but we all know the real meaning of the title.
  • Leave No Witnesses: It is possible to get away with crimes by killing or threatening all witnesses to it. You'll still need to leave the scene rather quickly, as any other NPCs who stumble upon it become witnesses as well.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Your allies during missions often fall into this category, especially Micah. In most cases, when the missions include your fellow gang members, they must survive or else the mission fails. Unfortunately, they often fall into some of the same Artificial Stupidity behaviors as your enemies, such as running head first toward groups of enemies entrenched in cover.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: After Agent Milton is killed, Edgar Ross descends upon Beaver Hollow and the surrounding mountainside with the full force of the Pinkertons to eradicate the Van Der Linde gang once and for all.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • While toned down a bit from the first game, cougars are still fast moving, hard-hitting killing machines that can also survive multiple shots to anywhere but their heads.
    • Bears trade a little of the cougar's speed for more raw power, but are still (realistically) quite fast moving. They too can shrug off multiple shots and can even survive headshots from weaker weapons.
  • Limited Loadout: Downplayed but present in terms of the amount of firearms you can carry on your person. You're limited to two long guns (with the bow counting as a long gun) and two sidearms. There is also a limit on the amount of ammo you can carry for each gun type, which can be increased by purchasing upgraded gear. Averted for other types of weapons, such as throwables. You are free to carry a lasso, throwing knives, tomahawks, sticks of dynamite, fire bottles, etc. all at once.
  • Littering Is No Big Deal: When consuming items from cans and bottles, Arthur just drops them wherever he is.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Downplayed. It takes about a minute to launch the game, and then another one to load up your save file, but then you don't have to look at another loading screen ever again unless you reload a save. However, you pay for it up front if you bought a physical copy, as the game has to be installed off of a separate disc before it can be played, a process that takes a few hours.
  • Loads and Loads of Sidequests: There are some 34 Stranger and Companion missions available, many of which are broken into 3-5 parts, totaling well over 100. There are also at least 25 "encounters" which pop up randomly as you travel, almost all of which can spawn repeatedly even if you've already completed them.
  • Lockpicking Minigame: Certain robbery missions have you cracking safes. Its fairly simple in that you slowly rotate a joystick in the given direction until you hear a "click", and then repeat until the safe is cracked.
  • Logo Joke: The game shows gunsmoke and two shotgun shells being loaded upon launch. The shells, marked with "ROCKSTAR GAMES EST. MCMXCVIII", are briefly seen before being fired, creating the Rockstar logo as a red silhouette.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • If you incur a large bounty, you'll need to pay it off in order to stop waves of bounty hunters from coming after you. Another option is to allow yourself to be arrested by lawmen instead. You'll go to jail and be released a short while later, with your bounty normally deducted from your cash. However, if you don't have the money to cover the bounty, you'll still be set free without having to pay.
    • Several Challenges can be completed in a significantly easier fashion than how they read. For example, one of the Marksman challenges requires killing an enemy with a tomahawk from over 80 feet away. By "enemy", it means someone automatically hostile to you, such as a rival gang member. This means no killing a random stranger camped in the wilderness. However, you can render that enemy completely helpless first by, say, tying him him up first. While he struggles helplessly, you can walk to the required distance and toss tomahawks until you hit. Similarly, the final Bandit challenge requires robbing five trains without dying or being caught. What it doesn't say is that stealthily stealing items from the baggage car qualities as a train robbery. Simply steal something, hop off, return to the train station, repeat five times.
  • Loot Command: An option to "Loot" appears when you're next to dead bodies and incapacitated individuals (either knocked out or tied up). Unlike most games, there actually is an animation of you rooting through their pockets.
  • Loveable Rogue: Sean. He makes no effort to hide the fact that he's a drinkin', shootin', robbin' outlaw, whose introduction to the gang was attempting to rob Dutch, but he's just so charming. Arthur even compares him to his "little brother" after Sean is killed.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The Gambler Challenges. Already based on games of chance, successfully completing the challenges means not just winning, but winning in specific ways which can take a lot of time and effort. Challenge 8 in particular is frustrating for many players. It requires hitting 3 times and winning a hand of blackjack. You have to do this 3 times. Even if you get five cards, the dealer could win or tie. There are players who got it in 20 minutes, and others that have spent hours with nothing to show for it. The other challenges have some degree of skill involved, but this one is entirely luck based.
  • Lured into a Trap:
    • Happens during a Chapter 3 mission where the O'Driscolls invite Dutch to discuss peace. While Colm and Dutch speak, Arthur covers them from a hill with a sniper rifle. However, several O'Driscolls sneak up on Arthur and capture him. Knowing that Dutch will go crazy trying to get Arthur back, they plan to draw him to their hideout while at the same time informing the Pinkertons of Dutch's location. Arthur is able to escape before the plan plays out.
    • Later in Chapter 3, several members of the gang are drawn into Rhodes to discuss a hot robbery lead. However, they are ambushed by the Grays and must fight their way out.
  • 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 groups 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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". Hosea is killed during the robbery, the gang is forced to run once again, and everything goes downhill from there.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 Trappers. Other than the permanent one in Saint Denis, they are found in wilderness camps where they'll buy pelts/hides and craft them into clothing or other equipment. They are the only people 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.
  • 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, Arthur says “Listen to me. When the time comes, you have to run and not 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Single Player O - Z 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 4) 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 A 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.
  • 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: Nothing is stopping you from using powerful weapons on small critters, such as the Rolling Block Rifle on a rabbit or a Dynamite Arrow on...pretty much anything. When doing this, the carcass becomes "ruined" and will not provide a pelt or meat.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 and a Lancaster Repeater colored similarly to the Winchester Repeater from the first game.
    • Dutch has a pair of custom Schofield Revolvers.
    • Bill almost exclusively uses a Bolt-Action Rifle.
    • Javier has a very unique Double-Action Revolver.
    • Micah has his custom pair of Double-action Revolvers.
    • Charles uses a Sawed-Off Shotgun and a Bow.
    • Sadie has a pair of Cattleman Revolvers and a custom Carbine Repeater.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Red Dead Online 
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The multiplayer ditches some of the more realistic features from single player for a more streamlined experience. While the cores still exist, you can whistle for your horse no matter the distance, your hair and beard don't grow and barbers work like they did in Rockstar's previous games by providing instant hairstyles, and your weight is set during the character creation screen and seems to be static in actual gameplay.
    • While they are not in the game yet, Rockstar has stated that they will add both a passive mode and passive lobbies to the game in the future.note  They will come in handy, since the current playerbase is surprisingly trigger happy. For now, players can only defend themselves with the Parlay system, which allows one to effectively go passive against a particular aggressor after getting killed by them four times.
    • When meeting a Stranger for the first time in free roam, the game silently moves the player and their Posse into their own session, presumably so they don't get harassed by griefers while learning the ropes.
    • Resting at your camp will refill your health core. As health is the only core that can debilitate anybody in combat when empty this was most likely put in there for when you can't afford food or for letting you patch yourself up after a fight if you're near your camp.
    • May not be one in the game proper, but to veterans of GTA online the mission "where your morals lead you" is much better than the heist setup where you infiltrate Merryweather. The mission encourages stealth, recommending bows, throwing knives, and stealth takedowns to avoid drawing attention. Failing that, however, your only penalty is more enemies at the shootout at the end of the mission.
  • Arc Words: "Have a heart" in story missions where an honor-affecting moral decision is involved.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: "Name Your Weapon" is about this. It's PVP with a preselected loadout. The biggest difference is those weapons that are harder to kill with during a PVP match will give you more points. That guy camping in the corner with a repeater who got 25 kills for 25 points? Well the idiot with a knife who only stabbed 4 people outranks him at 28 points. It's quite interesting, although the shotguns tend to be a bit better because they give 3 points but still work best close range.
    • The leather duster is this as well. It looks badass and you have to grind a lot to get it since it only unlocks at rank 96. It is, however, a very warm coat (obviously) and wearing it under hot weather (which consists about 90% of the map) is a good way to get your health core drained to nothing pretty fast. As such, it's more practical to buy the regular duster coat since it's relatively cheap despite only acquirable through gold bars and it still looks just as cool, without any setbacks.
  • Boring, but Practical: The varmint rifle is the go to weapon for fighting humans, both PVP and PVE, and is dirt cheap compared to other guns with the same being said for its ammo. It has good stability, fairly decent range, and a very quick cocking. This is balanced out by not doing much damage per shot but getting headshots with it, which isn't as hard with auto aim and the fast firing means you have more chances if you miss, is instantly fatal to both players and NPCs. It's not a Game-Breaker, you can be just as lethal with any other gun and the other guns have their advantagesnote , but in any kind of shootout it's good to have available if you can land headshots.
    • Bread Rolls. They only cost $0.40, can be ordered from catalog or bought at any convenience store, and restore about 1/4th of your health core. Given that the core affects regeneration and taking too much damage will drain the core directly they make a wonderful backup ration to restore your health core mid-mission if you don't want to use any of the meats or other more expensive or less effective multi-core foods (since taking too much damage will make only drain your health core).
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Level requirements for items can be skipped by purchasing the item with gold. However, purchasing items above your level requires much more gold than purchasing them after they have been unlocked, so the player is discouraged from doing so.
  • Continuity Nod: The main PVP playlist is called "Showdown", which was the name of Red Dead Revolver's online mode.
  • Disc-One Nuke: You can pick up a free unique Dual-action revolver from any fence, and an entirely free "Arabian"note  can be picked up from any stable (although you only have one slot to store horses at first, but the first horse you get is almost better sold than actually used) The only drawback is that both are timed PS4 exclusives, although only for a month. In addition, if you have the Ultimate Edition, you can get the Volcanic Pistol, Varmint Rifle and Pump-action shotgun free from any gunsmith, and a free race horse from any stable.
  • Dummied Out: All of the minigames from story mode are notably absent online. Since they all have a betting component to them, Rockstar and Take-Two likely omitted them to avoid running afoul of underage gambling laws.
  • Griefer: Whether or not this game encourages griefing is a bit up in the air. Much like its Spiritual Predecessor GTA Online, players participating in Stranger Missions are marked on the map for everyone in the session to see for the duration of the mission, obviously attracting more dishonorable players like moths to a flame. However, the game allows players to Parlay if killed repeatedly by the same player more than three times, essentially putting them in GTAO's Passive Mode against that particular player.
  • Microtransactions: After a bit of absence during the beta they were put in. Gold is a special currency you can use to both purchase special items or customization, those are all cosmetic, or in place of money to buy most items, with the addition of letting you bypass level restrictions by doing so.
  • Nerf: The best guns of the game have a notable price tag. For example, the Mauser costs $240$in single player, but costs a $600 here. ($1000 before Rockstar lowered all prices and increased selling prices) Although you could argue Microtransactions are behind it, it's also quite possible it's merely to balance things out.
  • Obvious Beta: An intentional example. It was intentionally launched as one so it's not exactly surprising that the ride isn't exactly smooth yet. At its initial launch, the servers have been horrendous, but the problems are not nearly as bad as they were with Grand Theft Auto Online back when it launched in 2013.
  • RPG Elements: Aside from the ones already introduced by the single player story mode, Online also has a rank system, much like its spiritual predecessor, as well as Ability Cards which grant one ability that is active during Dead Eye and up to three different passives at once.
  • Silent Protagonist: The game takes the GTA Online approach when it comes to the characters. The Dialogue Tree is replaced by emotes, but the character does make noises while controlling their horse even if none of them are actual words. It's actually a plot point in the story, as it, along with their ambiguous history with violence and crime, is part of the reason the player character got locked up was being blamed for a murder they didn't commit. Since they don't speak much, it was easier to blame them for a murder somebody else committed. Unlike GTA online, however, the character is plenty expressive during cutscenes this time around, instead of just going along with whatever is happening, with cutscenes painting them as more of a mercenary with good manners for dealing with their employers.
  • The Suffragette: Dorothea Wicklow who is a Suffragette in Saint Denis. She protests peacefully, has a placard and says various lines about how women deserve the right to vote as much as men or that she'll only shut up once she can vote. See here and here.

May I stand unshaken
Amid, amidst the crashing worlds

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