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  • 8.8:
    • GameSpot's video review has a 2:1 dislike-to-like ratio. Why? Because they scored it a 9/10, and the reviewer didn't sound enthusiastic enough.
    • Jim Sterling, despite generally liking the game and admitting the graphics are a great technical achievement, had quite a few qualms about the game's more realistic aspects, calling them superfluous extraneous details that detracts from the gameplay experience. Unsurprisingly, Jim got backlash for falling short of worshipping the game. Inverted with Jim's review of the Red Dead Online beta, where most commenters generally agreed with his disdain for the gold nugget system and the lack of decent money making options in-game.
    • Joe.ie's first review of the game caught so much flak that they got another member of staff to write up a second review after two weeks.
  • Acceptable Targets:
    • The Klan stand-in you can meet is both incompetent and, judging by the note found on their leader, extremely petty. Their random encounters always end with them killing each other in embarrassing accidents, and they refuse to even serve Spanish food at their initiation ceremonies.
    • Racists and other bigots in general, like the Eugenics advocate you meet in Saint Denis, are generally portrayed as unpleasantly as possible and can be treated by players in kind with little repercussions. It’s especially notable that the Lemoyne Raiders, a group of racist former Confederate soldiers, are something of a Butt-Monkey among the gangs, even being the first to be effectively wiped out.
  • Accidental Innuendo:
    • The mission where Arthur teaches Jack to fish is full of this. Jack pointing out that something is tugging Arthur's fishing rod is just one example.
    • The scene in the epilogue when Rufus gets bit by a snake while John and Jack are fishing is a tough scene, especially if you haven't played the first game and thus don't know that Rufus will be fine. Understandably, poor Jack is terrified, but when John is trying to suck out the venom, the drama is distracted by undercut when Jack yells "Suck it, Dad! Don't swallow it!"
  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Herbert Moon from the first game is disliked for his racist attitude, yet some felt a little bad for him when his own racism caused his personal life to fall apart as a result of a Deal with the Devil.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Dutch is a more complex character than you might think. Is he truly a good man turned bad because of the constant misery he has been through over the course of the game, or has he always been a bad person who only reveals his darker side once things no longer work out for him? Did he see his fellow gang members as family, or merely indoctrinated pawns he could discard if it suits him? John believes that it's the latter, while members like Sadie and Charles think that it's the former. Arthur, on the other hand, explicitly states he doesn't know, even after Dutch left him for dead.
      • Did Dutch truly want to help Rain Falls' tribe, believing it to be a mutually beneficial relationship, or did he just want to use them as cannon fodder so that he could rob Cornwall one last time? Dutch not giving a damn about the Native casualties and refusing to cover their escape seems to point toward the latter interpretation. But there's also hints that his mental state had gotten so bad that he couldn't even realize the danger he put the tribe in.
      • When Dutch shoots Micah in the epilogue, is it because he is deeply regretful of Arthur's death and kills Micah in revenge regardless of whether he's a rat or not, or is it because he now truly believes Micah to be a rat and kills him to correct the mistake years ago? Did he realize that Micah is doing what he himself did to Rains Fall and Eagle Flies years ago, and stopped the man trying to manipulate his only remaining son? Dutch just wordlessly wandering off and leaving Marston to loot all his gold doesn't help the matter.
      • It's entirely possible that Dutch did indeed start off a good man with high ideals but in the years since the gang's first robbery in 1887 he was progressively worn down by the rise of civilization and the pursuit of the law until he finally snapped. The botched Blackwater heist, a possible concussion from the failed trolley station robbery, the death of Hosea, all of it contributed to the destruction of of his ideals in favor of simply lashing out at a world that continually (from his perspective) had it in for him.
      • How bad was Dutch's mental state after the Saint Denis bank heist and to what extent did that play in his more questionable decisions? Dutch can never quite explain his thoughts or plans. He seems as though he's in a daze at camp with a questionable grip on reality. Did Dutch mentally slip to such a extent that he couldn't even understand what he was doing? Were the later more violent and ruthless plans that involved abandoning Rain Falls' tribe to their death after setting them against the US Army the plans of a unhinged Dutch or Micah manipulating a mentally sick man?
    • Was Arthur's choice to become a better person after his diagnosis with tuberculosis a case of a genuine Heel–Face Turn or was it more of a case of Villain's Dying Grace? The multiple alignment-based endings actually play on this, with his high-honor ending leaning towards the former and the low-honor one leaning towards the latter.
      • Likewise, his choices of if he decided to help random strangers, is it due to him being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold or Pragmatic Villainy? One example of this is the Stranger Mission, "No Good Deed", where he could help a colored doctor, whose medical wagon has been stolen. Did he help the doctor because it was the right thing to do, or because the fact that, due to being a wanted outlaw, with limited options for medical care, it might be a good idea to have a doctor who owed him a favor, in the likely event of injury or sickness?
    • Javier and Bill choosing to stay with Dutch even as the rest of the gang members left. Was it out of Undying Loyalty, or was it because both of them were afraid of being left without a purpose by abandoning the man who saved them at their lowest point?
    • Speaking of Javier, his lack of a Love Interest and fondness of Marston in both games (to the point of yelling, "I've always loved you... even now!" when John chases after him in 1) could be seen as a one-sided crush on John.
    • The are some subtle hints that John may actually be afraid of (deep) water, such as his breathing slightly intensifying near deep water in the epilogue. If he is afraid of it, is it because he can't swim, or did he never learn to swim because he's afraid of water? The latter could imply some sort of water-related Freudian Excuse.
    • Is Agent Milton a decent man whose quest to hunt the Van Der Linde gang a fully justified crusade in light of their crimes? Or a Inspector Javert-esque hypocrite who causes more pain and misery for the common people than the Van der Linde gang does?
    • With the revelation that Micah was The Mole, it raises questions of his motivations and actions over the course of the game. While Milton said that Micah only became the mole after Guarma, a lot of his actions prior to that have already given the gang more than enough trouble. Did he intend to sell the gang out right from the start, or like Milton said only did so once it's clear that things were going downhill for the gang after the botched bank heist in Saint Denis?
    • Strauss. Did he not sell out the gang out of loyalty like John believed, a realization that Arthur was right about him, or was he more afraid of the gang because they spent the majority of the story killing loads of government agents, knowing that they’d come for him if he ever spilled the beans?
    • Does Mary genuinely care for Arthur or is she just using his affection for her to get what she wants? Or is she just a woman in a bad situation in a time in which society didn’t give women in bad situations a means to get out of them by themselves so has to call on the only man she can rely on to help her? Is it a little bit of all that?
  • Anti-Climax Boss: The final showdown with Micah can be this. You're supposed to use dynamite to flush him out so Sadie can get the drop on him but nothing in-game tells you this, but, likely as an Anti-Frustration Feature, he eventually moves into position on his own without you having to do anything. As a result, Micah's earlier fight with Arthur may seem harder by comparison as you're required to put more effort.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • The honor mechanic of the last game was considered somewhat out-of place, as John was such a Nice Guy that negative-honor actions felt Out of Character for him Note (Spoilers for RDR 1) , and that it was included only so people could role-play as a desperado. Morgan's character fits both low and high honor playthroughs, as he is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
    • Also tying in with the honor system, here the honor system actually plays a role in the story beyond being a gameplay mechanic, with several late-game cutscenes and conversations, including both endings, having low and high honor variants.
    • The single-player experience was noted as a heavy focus in development, mitigating the fears that it would be overshadowed by the multiplayer mode. Multiplayer mode may become more prominent some day, but the single-player experience will always be quite meaty, with scores of hours of quality content and strong narrative.
    • Some consider Sadie Adler this, being an Action Girl and her relationship with Arthur is seen as genuinely sweet. Since Rockstar's track record when it comes to female characters is somewhat of a Broken Base, a female character who is more than Fanservice and participates in the action is seen as a breath of fresh air.
    • Previews have confirmed that Arthur can swim. While he is apparently bad at it, he can still fall into deep water without drowning, and just swim to the shore (unlike Marston who sank like a sack of bricks the moment his nose touched the water). The system is similar to the one in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, and that Arthur will still drown if he spends too much time in the water (conveniently preventing players from reaching unplayable areas in the progress).
    • It took 8 years, but (a living) John Marston is finally playable in the epilogue of a Red Dead game.
      • On a similar note, the epilogue's implication that John still very much misses the outlaw life makes the low honor playthrough of the first game more believeable.
    • The May 2019 patch added more HDR options to the game, and allows players to adjust the peak brightness of the game. Previously peak brigness was unadjustable by users, and some felt that turning HDR on resulted in worse image quality as a result.
    • The Anvilicious treatment to Native American genocide could be a response to criticisms that the first game treated the matter flippantly. The Jerkass racist doctor who helps incite the army to slaughter the tribes gets treated like a joke and ends up a Karma Houdini, while the player had to kill their way through the tribe to get to Dutch.
    • Patch 1.15 not only added a bunch of extra content to the single-player mode, but it also addressed 2 entries listed in Scrappy Mechanic below — it is now possible to fast travel from player-made camps and the player retains their weapons and stats during mission replays.
  • Award Snub: Inverted. Many people were not happy that RDR2 won a whole bunch of awards during the 2018 Game Awards, feeling that other games should have won them instead.
    • At the same time, played straight when many gamers were unhappy that RDR2 did not win Game of the Year during the 2018 Game Awards, with that honor instead going to God of War (PS4).
    • Played straight again when RDR2 lost big to God of War at the 2018 D.I.C.E. Awards. It did win over it in Technical Achievment, though.
    • Played straight once more when RDR2 was nominated for the BAFTA Awards but lost all of them, including "Artistic Achievement", which went to Return of the Obra Dinn.
  • Awesome Music:
    • "Unshaken", sung by D'Angelo, is absolutely beautiful. A haunting, stripped down, vocal heavy, guitar-backed tune that plays during the gang’s lowest point. Perfectly encapsulating Arthur's thoughts to remain strong after losing so much while making the long trek back to Shady Belle. A reprise of the song, called "Crash of Worlds" by Rocco deLuca, plays in both High and Low Honor endings in which Arthur dies fighting Micah Bell, though depending on the tone, making it a Tear Jerker.
    • Robin Koninsky (who along with her band is played by Postmodern Jukebox), a singer who works in Saint Denis' theater, is quite a good singer and has a number of songs if you visit the theater, including a cover of "Hello! Ma Baby".
    • "Cruel World", sung by Willie Nelson, which kicks off the start of the return to the open world in John Marston's storyline in the post-game chapters, as John decides to try and officially quit the gunslinger life.
    • "My Last Boy", the theme as Arthur and his allies charge down the hill to take on the US Army to save Eagle Flies, which is considered by many to be one of the most memorable scenes in the game.
    • "That's the Way It Is" manages to make Arthur's last ride an even bigger tear jerker than it already was.
    • "Jim Milton Rides, Again?" and "American Venom", both of which play in the Epilogue as John Marston goes One-Man Army, are triumphant remixes of "The Shootist" from the first game.
    • Meta example: "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X, featuring a montage of video clips from the game itself.
  • Awesome Video Game Levels: Several.
    • "A Quiet Time", where Arthur and Lenny get absolutely shitfaced, resulting in a good dose of Alcohol-Induced Idiocy and Interface Screw. The mission is absolutely hilarious to watch.
    • Both "Red Dead Redemption" and "American Venom" for providing memorable climaxes to the game's two story arcs.
      • In the former, Arthur rescues Abigail from the Pinkertons and rides his last ride to tell Dutch who sold the gang out, John returns from Disney Death, they both escape the camp and the law and Arthur dies to his wounds and disease but not before beating the traitorous Micah to an inch of his life. While the exact details of Morgan's last moments depend on his honor, every option results in more or less the same fate.
      • In the latter, John, Sadie and Charles hunt down Micah. The latter two are wounded in battle, so John has to fight his way through a mountaintop full of Micah's flunkies alone while the aforementioned "American Venom" track plays in the background. After the backstabbing bastard is dead, the game ends with John and Abigail getting married. Even better, both Sadie and Charles survive their wounds and move on to live better lives.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Mary Linton, Arthur's former sweetheart. Some think that she's a heartless monster who uses and manipulates Arthur into saving her brother and confronting her father on her behalf. Others think that she's a misunderstood former love interest who clearly wants to be with Arthur as much as he wants to be with her but can't bring herself to run away from everything she's ever known. It's abundantly clear that Mary doesn't want to have to resort to asking Arthur for help and does acknowledge that it's painful for the both of them to dig up old memories, but whether or not she's a genuinely sympathetic character depends on how you view her motivations. There’s also a contingent of people who stress that as a woman in the late nineteenth century, she has no good options and recognize the Deliberate Values Dissonance at play and think it’s unfair to hold her to modern standards.
    • Molly O'Shea. Some fans claim she's an Alpha Bitch who clearly hates not being the center of attention and does practically nothing to help the rest of the gang. Others point to her as a depressed woman who's clearly in over her head and feels justifiably ignored and despised by her lover and the others at camp. There's evidence for both sides, and her "betrayal" in Chapter 6 does nothing to help clarify these feelings.
    • Dutch. Some view him as a misunderstood Robin Hood-type fighting against the rising tide of civilization with his rag-tag family. Others see him as a manipulative bastard who strings Arthur, John, and many other members of the Van der Linde Gang along only to lose control and damn most of them by the end of the game. Other factors (stress, mental illness, Micah's influence) certainly help to sway the public opinion more towards the former, but player's opinions usually depend on how much of those factors, particularly towards the end of the game, justify any of his bad choices and actions. The reason for this is that Rockstar clearly intended to drop hints that point to either interpretation of Dutch being valid, with several pieces of dialogue in-game concerning this very topic. It also doesn't help if you played the first RDR game where, despite the atrocities he commits, R* was clearly leaning more towards making Dutch appear broken-down and more sympathetic than Bill or Javier.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The option to upgrade John's tent with a boar rug comes off as this. The other camp upgrades are either for the entire camp to enjoy or for Arthur himself, and given that Arthur and John aren't the closest of friends until chapter 6 there is no story justification for it. And since camp upgrades don't carry over to the epilogue, it's never seen again when John becomes playable. It may be intented for Abigail since Arthur feels bad for her, but the game never explains itnote .
  • Bizarro Episode: We have the Funny Moment episode called "A Quiet Time". After hearing the report that Micah has been arrested and imprisoned in Strawberry, Arthur is told to take Lenny to Smithfield's Saloon in Valentine to calm down with a beer or two. However, this is where the Mind Screw happens, because, after a drink, Arthur and Lenny end up getting wasted, leading to the Smash Cuts to Arthur losing Lenny a few times and stumbling in random places, the two of them talking trash, Arthur getting into a supposed Bar Brawl about to start right before the Smash Cut to all the guys line-dancing with each other, followed by another Smash Cut to Arthur doing the Nature Tinkling before getting back into the saloon to find that everyone looks like Lenny! It only gets more hilarious when the real Lenny finds him and they slap each other, followed by another Smash Cut to Arthur finding himself about to drown his old rival outside for no apparent reason! A few more Smash Cuts, and we now find Arthur and Lenny trying to escape the lawmen chasing after them. No matter how well or poorly your escape attempt went, they will wake up with no memory of what happened on the previous night, but with Arthur getting so sick and hung over that he'll lean over and puke on the grass with a Vomit Indiscretion Shot. This funny drunken Bizarro Episode is considered as a lube-free mind-fuck! Period! Oh, and it can only get a few mentions afterwards by talking to Lenny about the funny bits or getting drunk with beer again.
  • Broken Aesop: This is lampshaded in the Cracked article about the 6 Hilariously Awful Lessons Hidden in Famous Video Games, one of which, #6, is "Red Dead Redemption II Teaches You That Money-Lending Is Worse Than Mass Murder":
    "Remember, kids, you can kill as many people and steal as many sheep as you want, but stay the hell away from investment banking."
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • Colm's status as a Cutscene Boss is mitigated by his facial expression when he realizes that his escape plan has been foiled and that he is going to die.
    • Former gunslinger Emmett Granger spent his entire appearance bragging of all the people he's killed, being an unpleasant Jerkass towards Arthur and making the latter shovel up pig manure for him. It's extremely satisfying once Arthur has had enough and showers Granger with said pig manure before proceeding to unload his gun into the asshole's body.
    • After slowly suffering Sanity Slippage and becoming a worse and worse person, becoming more and more insufferable and eventually abandoning Arthur to die, Arthur (with high honor and helping John escape) gets Dutch "I have a speech for everything" van der Linde to finally shut the fuck up! Dutch pops in after the fight between Micah and Arthur to try and end it, still in the Van der Linde character, still with his usual demeanor of superiority; Arthur shuts all of that down with eight words. “I gave you all I had... I did.” All Dutch can manage is a weak “I...I...” before slowly walking away, clearly defeated.
    • After spending years getting away with selling out the gang to the Pinkertons, to see Micah Bell finally get what's coming to him in the epilogue is as absolutely satisfying as it is awesome, to say the least.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Micah Bell, the ultimate villain of the game, is a deranged but clever member of the Van der Linde gang and an informant for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. At first appearing to be nothing more than a cruel thug, he shows a glimpse of his true colors when arrested for murder in Strawberry; after being broken out, Micah forgoes a clean getaway to go on a killing spree, culminating in the murder of an old friend and the man's wife, all to get his favorite gun back, leaving half the town dead. Micah takes advantage of Dutch's eroding sanity to commit more immoral and destructive acts, and sells the gang out to the Pinkertons, nearly killing everyone in the gang, including the non-combatants. When exposed, Micah kills Miss Grimshaw and, depending on the player's actions, may personally murder Arthur Morgan as well. In the epilogue, Micah is running a gang of his own, and wanted for murdering an entire family. When confronted by John Marston, Micah threatens to go after John's family too. A bloodthirsty maniac who only cares about winning and living, Micah is every negative stereotype of the savagery of the Van der Linde gang given life.
    • Colonel Henry Favours, chapter 6's Arc Villain, is an elderly colonel facing retirement at the end of a long and completely undistinguished career. Seeking to erase his deserved reputation for cowardice and incompetence, Favours realizes a way to win glory. Stationed as the liaison to the Wapiti Lakota tribe, Favours begins to attempt to antagonize the tribe by having them assaulted, sending their children to reform schools, burning down their sacred shrines and taking their horses so they cannot hunt, dooming them to starvation. Favours even withholds vital vaccines and medicine to kill their children and infirm, hoping to provoke them into a war so he can gain the "glory" of wiping them out and taking their oil-rich lands. Favours even provokes an attack at supposed peace talks and frames the good-hearted Captain Monroe for treason to execute him, willing to stop at nothing to murder an innocent tribe of natives simply to enjoy his undeserved glory.
  • Contested Sequel: While scoring many perfect scores from outlets and earning praise for its open world and graphics, with Arthur and his character arc in particular earning praise, several outlets have condemned the game on a mechanical level for its strict mission structure and punishments for deviating from what Rockstar wants you to do, with Nakey Jakey even calling it "outdated". The increased realism impacting the gunplay has also led to some derision because it makes the game less fun than prior Red Dead games. It is also glitchier than the earlier games in the franchise.
  • Creepy Awesome:
    • Any paranormal entity that appears in the game tends to feed the curiosity of the players for obvious reasons: A humanoid creature in a laboratory, UFOs, a vampire, a ghost woman...
    • Some of the most twisted and disturbing characters in the game such as the Murfree Brood, the Skinners Brothers, the Aberdeens and Edmund Lowry Jr. have had an approval for how insanely terrifying they are. The fact that their missions are incredibly scary—even by the standards of the game—certainly helps.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The catalogues include boastful ads for various products, and often include Deliberate Values Dissonance. However, one stands out: an advert for white lead paint that has a picture of one kid painting a barn wall... and an another eating it from their brush.
  • Cry for the Devil: Surprisingly of all people, this game reveals that Bill Williamson had one hell of a Trauma Conga Line before he became the Ax-Crazy monster John faced in the first game. From the bits and pieces of his backstory that we hear, he is a Shell-Shocked Veteran who had to experience some awful shit while fighting the Native Americans, for his troubles he he was discharged from the army by his supposedly corrupt superior. He had a rough 2 years before Dutch came along and gave him a reason to keep going. Then in a botched robbery he has to witness at least 3 of his gang members die (if none had already died up until that point). The gang also constantly reminds him of his failures despite his best efforts to pull his own weight. His father lost his mind to dementia and he fears that he's inherited that from, so he's basically aware that he's going crazy due to a genetic disease. Finally he witnesses Dutch's descent into madness and the deaths of most of his gang members, including Lenny and Sean who were at that point in their early 20's at most. Bill may be an absolute monster of a man in the first game, but after everything the guy has been through it's hard not consider his death in the first game as a Mercy Kill.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Since it's a prequel, we know something terrible happens to most of the gang, since only 4 of them appear in the original game. Since Ross was pretty adamant in ensuring every member of the gang died and wasn't above breaking his own promises, the chances of survival for any member of the gang is pretty low. Even if they managed to find a hiding place, they are still hunted by the entire country's law enforcement. Thankfully, it's downplayed by the end; while we know that some of the members who survive this game won't be so lucky in the future thanks to the original RDR, there are actually seven gang members who are shown or at least implied to have successfully escaped the law and lived reasonably happy lives (since they are doing so at the end of this game and don't appear in the first RDR), these being Charles, Sadie, Mary-Beth, Tilly, Pearson, Swanson, and Josiah.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Cougars, bears, and wolves are back only this time, they can be encountered as early as Chapter 2. Have fun being overpowered by packs of wolves, sneaky cougars, and a giant bear that can practically oneshot you.
    • Introducing this game are the alligators, which combines the sneakiness of cougars if you are in the swamp waters, the power of bears, and can be as numerous as wolves. They don’t move on land which may seem like an upside but if you are on a horse and there are a lot of them, it will buck you down, allowing the alligators to slowly come over to you and one shot you.
    • Panthers are also introduced in this game and they're even worse than cougars. They will always one-shot you no matter how much health you have and can sometimes not even appear on the minimap until it's too late. If you're trying to hunt them, prepare to be the hunted.
  • Die for Our Ship: Hoo boy, is Mary Linton a victim of this, given how fans prefer to ship Arthur with many other characters. It doesn’t help that fans saw the relationship itself as manipulative on Mary’s part, with Mary continuously asking Arthur for favours to help her with her family troubles and leads him on with hopes of restoring their relationship.
  • Disappointing Last Level:
    • Many players have criticized Chapters 5 and 6 for being the point where the game starts to bog down. The former for mostly taking place on Guarma where you're deprived of most of your equipment and can barely free roam, meaning that players would try to rush it ASAP, while the latter is criticized for its story missions for being repetitive in nature.
    • Arthur also contracts tuberculosis near the end of chapter 5 and you're forced to spend the remainder of his story (which could take up to a whopping 10-15 more hours or so) with both a large permanent hit to your stat recovery and having to watch this formerly proud man slowly and painfully waste away and inch towards death. As at least one critic has pointed out, while this may make for a very gripping narrative, it really does kill the desire to further explore the world and arguably makes you just want to end the story already. Who wants to hunt legendary animals or start stranger missions while Arthur is visibly emaciated and dying?
    • A common sentiment (although not an universal one) is that the final region the player visits in the game - New Austin - is very underutilized. It has less random encounters than the other states, Thieves Landing is a gang hideout and only Tumbleweed offers town services (Armadillo has general store and a saloon, but that's it), leading many players to question why the area is locked down for most of the game other than Fake Longevity.Note (Spoilers) 
  • Draco in Leather Pants: You could call the main characters Draco's gang. While practically everyone in the gang is likeable, they are still dangerous criminals, and by the end of the game, the number of dead lawmen the gang leaves in their wake must be in the hundreds, even without random violence in free-roam. While the story does focus on the growing violent instincts of some members of the gang, many missions require you to murder lawmen by the dozen; with this in mind, Ross's treatment of John in the first game is much more understandable, if still dickish.
  • Ending Fatigue: The game has two epilogue chapters from John's perspective after Arthur dies, containing perhaps 10 to 15 hours of more story content, longer than the entire story of many games. The epilogue covers John's attempts to lead a peaceful life and build the ranch at Beecher's Hope after an eight year Time Skip, but - while it does have some touching moments between John, his family, and several surviving gang members - it doesn't have the kind of drama of the game's six main chapters. The early epilogue missions in particular can be extremely frustrating because of how slow and uneventful they are. Arthur's story ends ends with a great deal of action and emotion, and almost immediately afterward, the player is essentially required to sit quietly and complete errands that feel far more like a tutorial than something you need to do 80% of the way through a game. Even when John has to fight, it's only against generic thugs, gangs, and bounty hunters until the final mission, when the player finally gets to kill Micah.
  • Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game: While the story of the game has received unanimous praise for its interesting characters and plot that properly fleshes out events alluded to in the first game, the gameplay has been more divisive. Many players enjoy the gameplay's slow and deliberate pace, which pairs well with the beautifully realized Wide Open Sandbox and the story's maturity. A few other players think the game is overly obsessed with realism and detail at the expense of being fun to play.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Sadie Adler has gained several pre-release fans for being an Action Girl who is One of the Boys, and her interactions with Morgan are seen as Heartwarming Moments. Fans have even floated the idea of the next Red Dead game continuing Sadie's story from her perspective, and let's face it, she would be a fantastic choice for Rockstar's first ever female protagonist.
    • Charles Smith is also beloved by fans for his Nice Guy personality and loyalty to Arthur, while at the same time being badass.
    • Sean MacGuire is also pretty popular, especially among Irish fans, for his being such a Motor Mouth and Fun Personified. Players were left devastated when his death comes out of left field.
    • The lion you encounter in the side mission "He’s British, of Course" for being such an unexpected twist that many were upset that there was no way you could save the lion or at least skin it to create an outfit.
    • Mr. Bullard is probably the best example, since he's only seen in a single mission yet is universally beloved by the fandom due to his charming wit. Even Arthur admits he "kinda liked him" and, like many players, was a bit torn up by his unfortunate death.
    • Returning in the prequel, Uncle is much jollier than the grouch he was in the first game. His interactions with both Arthur and John, plus his lumbago, provide the more hilarious moments of the game.
    • Lenny is beloved by the fans for his close friendship with Arthur, not to mention their drunken shenanigans together in "A Quiet Time", considered to be among the funniest moments in the game. His death was shocking to many players.
  • Epileptic Trees:
    • Before release, there was a popular theory that John Marston would become the Player Character at some point of the story after Morgan... disappears. Depending on the timing, John may or may not have started his path to redeeming himself yet and he canonically didn't spend much time with his family before the first game so both karmic paths could still fit his character. Further evidence for this came in the form of an otherwise accurate leak from 2016 that had info which later proved out to be true, the fact that Marston in some screenshots holds his gear in the exact same place as Morgan doesnote  and the fact that many people wanted to keep playing as John in the epilogue of RDR1. This was proven correct; John becomes the protagonist in the Playable Epilogue following Morgan's death. A large portion of the world from the first game is included as well, with playable areas in West Elizabeth.
    • Players have taken several small things as evidence that a RDR remaster on the RDR2 engine is on the works.
      • New Austin is only unlocked in the epilogue and seems to be there for the sake of being there, and Mexico is not explorable (without glitches) but has a genuinely surprising amount of detail put into it. The players are guessing the latter will be added to the game as a playable area in the future, either in both SP and MP or only in Red Dead Online (a 2019 patch seems to have made changes to Sepulcronote , supporting this theory) New Austin does have a larger role in Online, however.
      • The discovery of a seemingly real glitch that gives the player adult Jack's voice - which is never heard in this game due to his age - with entirely new lines. The possibilty of them being online-only have been dismissed since RDO takes place before II's story, meaning Jack may not even have been born yet. The fact that patches have added more lines with matching subtitles and proper lipsyncing has only fueled the flames.
      • Rockstar famously said that a remaster or a PC port of the first game would be next to impossible due to issues with the game's coding; they now have a new engine to recreate the first game on, allowing those who never played the first game to experience a (potentially slightly altered) version of the first game.
      • The limitations of the setting and a smaller playerbase mean that the game's online mode may not be as monetizable as GTA Online is has fans believing that there may be a traditional Single player DLC instead.
    • The gameplay trailer has a brief clip of Morgan saving a stranger from a bear trap. The guy looks suspiciously like Theodore Roosevelt, who once (supposedly) stepped into a bear trap while hunting. This raised some interesting theories, but it turned out he's just a random hunter. (There is a Theodore Roosevelt analogue in the Red Dead Redemption universe named Thaddeus Waxman who is referenced in several newspaper articles and even appears on a cigarette card, but other than that he has no role in the game).
    • The unmarked missing princess mystery has inspired a lot of these, especially after someone asked Rockstar if she actually was in the game, something they answered with a Shrug of God. Theories range from claims that one of the Van Horn's saloon's prostitutes looks like her, to claims that the fertility statues you can find belonged to a couple who kidnapped her to get a child, moved to New Austin and possibly died in the cholera outbreak.
    • The Houser's offhand comment about the removal of about 5 hours of content has fans guessing just what and how much was cut. Popular suggestions are playable segments in New Austin as Arthur has Dummied Out content there and the official guidebook mentions the book Jack left behind in a hurry is in New Austin both heavily imply he was meant to go there at one point, another one involves getting more info about Arthur's dead girlfriend and son and another theory guesses that the Plot Hole of Micah becoming a rat only after Guarma despite the gang being sold out before that would have been explained with someone else who ended being merged to Micah in the final product (although it's also hinted that the gang's pre-Guarma were simply the result of the gang failing to keep a low profile and the Pinkertons being clever and tenacious.
  • Even Better Sequel: While Contested Sequel is also in play, the game does improve on the previous ones with its improved free-roam activities, the better ending to Arthur's storyline and a larger and more varied map. It seems to be a common opinion that the best parts of this game are better than I's best parts, while the worst parts of this game are also worse than anything in I.
  • Evil Is Cool: Although Micah Bell is not intended to get this effect, he has a fanbase who enjoy the character for his badassery, cool weapons, well-groomed gunslinger image, and the fact that he's exceptionally skilled, competent and talented at shooting, especially in the gang's gunfights. The fact that he's considered one of the best Rockstar antagonists thanks to Peter Blomquist’s performance certainly helps. In fact, he's less hated than Edgar Ross and it's not difficult to find in forums or in YouTube comments people who really like Micah despite his awful actions.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Tammy Aberdeen. She may be a crazy murderer who's way too close with her brother, but there's no denying that she's quite the looker.
    Single-player, F - O 
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Once you beat the epilogue, you can do various farming chores to fill a wagon with various animal products, and earn money selling it. Thing is, a full day's worth of chores is worth 8-10 bucks. It's much more profitable to be an absent father/husband who gambles with his (family's) money, goes around robbing and possibly murdering people, or spends his days in the woods hunting very dangerous animals. The only real benefit is the boost in honor for every chore you do. Hard Work Hardly Works, indeed.
  • Fandom-Specific Plot: authors almost always find a way to spare Arthur at the end of chapter 6, often by having another character nurse him back to health or just eliminating the tuberculosis plot thread altogether.
  • Fanfic Fuel:
    • How would the surviving members of the gang react to John's death in 1911? Since Landon Ricketts training Jack was never confirmed and appears to be a case of Fanon, it's possible that Sadie and/or Charles trained Jack instead. Maybe the Time Skip from 1911 to 1914 wasn't as bleak as it once seemed to be. On the other side of the spectrum, since they obviously never appeared in I, Jack could be avenging them as well.
    • For that matter, the Marstons spent ~8 years in Yukon; How did that go? Did their unseen daughter die there, since we never see her grave anywhere?
    • Furthermore, what were the surviving members of the gang (such as Charles, Sadie, Javier, Bill, and Dutch) doing in the eight year time gap? Why is Charles in Saint Denis when John and Uncle find him? How did Javier escape to Mexico after being wanted there for the murder of a high-ranking political official? How did Bill and Javier ultimately break with Dutch, and what was Dutch doing on Mount Hagen?
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Pre-release, Arthur and Sadie, due to their close relationship. Even the discovery of a (wedding?) ring on her hand didn't stop this, since she doesn't have it in every screenshot leading many to speculate she becomes Sadie Morgan at some point in the story.note  note 
    • Arthur and Mary-Beth Gaskill also gained traction upon post-release, given to the occasional Ship Tease the two would have with each other. They even share a dance together while the gang celebrates Sean's return.
    • Arthur and Charlotte the widow (seeing a trend here?) as well. Much like with Sadie, fans like to ship them together due to their interactions being seen as one of the most heartwarming moments of the game, especially once Arthur comes down with tuberculosis. She even gives Arthur a kiss on the cheek at the end of her stranger Mission.
  • Fountain of Memes: A lot of Dutch’s lines in the game — and in particular those involving plans, money, faith, or Tahiti — have become a source of jokes that players like to repeatedly quote in just about every forum and video related to him. Some have even taken to calling him "Dutch Plan der Linde".
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • The van der Linde gang's portrayal here can be a lot harsher, especially for those who have played the first game. A tightly-knit group that you work, fight and celebrate together here become a mere shell of its former self years later is quite painful to see. This is quite so for Dutch himself; the charismatic and well-dressed leader of his gang reduced to a shriveled wreck by the first game.
    • Marston's interactions with Javier and Bill in this game acting all chummy with each other becomes this for those familiar with what happens between them in the first game. One conversation between John and Javier particularly stands out, where John wishes to one day visit Mexico and Javier hopes that he will. Years later, John will visit Mexico, only that he would be there to hunt down Javier dead or alive.
    • All of the epilogue showing how hard John works to build the ranch for his family, as well as his and Abigail's heartwarming moments as a couple including John's marriage proposal and their subsequent wedding is this to anyone who's played the first game and knows how it all turns out for them. It makes it hard to tell if playing the epilogue is meant to touch you or just gut-punch you several times over.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Eavesdropping dialogue from Uncle in the gang’s camp at chapter three has him mentioning the United States going to war with the Phillipines. This nod is a reference to a fairly obscure conflict known as the Phillipine-American War, or Phillipine Insurrection.
    • During the mission "Arcadia for Amateurs IV", wildlife photographer Albert Mason explains his motivation for wanting to take pictures of alligators is because they're in danger of going extinct, and that he hopes his photographs will inspire people to support conservation acts. For players who live in states where alligators are common (or those familiar with their near ubiquity in the misadventures of Florida Man) this might sound preposterous. But alligators were critically endangered, and were listed as such in 1967 under a precursor law to the Endangered Species Act. It was only through such conservation efforts that alligators were brought Back from the Brink.
    • John uses the alias "Rip Van Winkle" to avoid revealing his name to Agent Milton. It just so happens that the character whose name he is borrowing is Dutch-American.
    • You can hunt Carolina Parakeets in this game and there is a limited amount. Around the early 1900s is where the real life species were extinct in the wild due to excessive hunting.
    • Arthur's Welsh heritage is only mentioned in passing and he doesn't seem to be in touch with it at all (understandable considering he was orphaned young), however its possible his parents named him after King Arthur who is a beloved figure in Wales but is usually thought of as English.
  • Goddamned Bats: Snakes. Not to hard to kill, but they can poison you if they bite you, forcing to to eat Ginseng or some other herbs to stop it. Most damning is that they can scare your horse, which will cause it to buck you off if you don't calm it down.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • The duel against Emmett Granger is actually easier than against any of the other Legendary Gunslingers or any regular gun-wielding Joe Schmoe that challenge you to one because of a bug. For one, he makes no effort to throw off your aim (Flaco quickly sidesteps as he draws while Billy takes a knee when he draws). Secondly, he attacks by throwing a knife, which obviously has a longer travel time than a bullet. The bug part is that, as long as he is killed before his knife connects, even if an inch away from hitting Arthur, it will not result in a Mutual Kill as the knife is seemingly tied to Granger's model and will veer off-track as his body falls to the ground. This is NOT the case with any of the gun-wielding duelists. Once their gun fires, Arthur is as good as dead, even if it results in a Mutual Kill.
    • There is a glitch in a loot box hidden in the Sheriff's office in the town of Limpany, whereby if the player follows the correct instructions, they can get an infinite number of gold bars as their inventory would allow. Not only that, it's located extremely close to your first camp, meaning that you can exploit this and get rich early on in the game. This glitch is patched by the time of the 1.03 update patch.
      • Similar to this is a glitched loot box hidden in a tree stump in Mattock Pond, which contains a stack of bills worth $20 that can be looted infinitely.
      • Also, in the graveyard directly behind Shady Belle is a loot box that respawns a large jewelry bag (worth $50) and a $20 bill pile every time you load the game.
    • The game has a profanity checker when naming horses, meaning you can't give your horse a swear word as a name, though leaving the name blank also causes the profanity checker to stop you with a generic "You can't leave the name blank" error message. One player found that the game's profanity checker recognizes the name of Larry Cook, a notorious anti-vaccine advocate, as profanity.
    • The mission "Angelo Bronte, a Man of Honor" has a glitch that, if exploited correctly, actually allows Arthur to travel to Blackwater and New Austin, something that never happens in-game.
    • Another bug that players tend to run into is at the end of Jeremiah Compson's Stranger questline, where Arthur has the option of killing them, causing said person to fall into the fire in front of them and their corpse to catch alight. Which will continuously relight when the player tries to loot them even after the corpse has been charred.
    • If you toss several molotov cocktails next to a bath tub, then have a bath until you die of burning, your character will respawn without wearing any cloth. Have fun doing a Full-Frontal Assault.
    • Snakes have an odd tendency to spontaneously die while you're tracking them, leaving an undamaged skin and carcass to collect.
    • Birds are programmed to instantly die the moment they collide with anything mid-flight, no matter the speed or the obstacle. They can even die if they crash into you less than a second after they take off, your character being completely unharmed. This leaves behind fresh bird carcasses to pluck and store.
    • Similarly, fish will sometimes beach themselves. If you stand next to any body of water for long enough (with the swamp being an especially good area for it), you'll be able to collect some pristine fish carcasses as they swim ashore.
    • There was a glitch in Saint Denis where two random horses can spawn. If the player constantly reloads the game near that spot, a different breed of horse will appear every time. This allows players to get rare or expensive breeds of horses such as the Arabian or Missouri Fox Trotter as early as Chapter 2. This glitch has been patched as of Update 1.03.
    • There is also more obscure version of the aforementioned horse glitch whereby players lasso NPCs off their horses. This results in said NPC mounting a different horse from the one they were on before, allowing a rare horse breed to potentially appear.
    • There were several ways to glitch into Mexico (Glitching up certain cliffs, drinking and passing out inside caves outside map borders so the game would respawn you on top of the cave), but a patch has since made it impossible by making an invisible sniper shoot you if you go too south.
    • If real, an audio glitch occasionally causes characters to speak with wrong voices. For example, men may speak with female voices or vice versa. The glitch became famous because not only can it cause Arthur or John to speak with what sounds like Adult Jack Marston's voice, the lines are brand new and patches have seemingly added more. There's a possibility that the spoiler lines belong to an NPC, however.
    • Not a glitch as much an unintended side-effect of scripting; the second part of Marko Dragic's mission chain automatically causes heavy rainfall when you approach it. As such, not starting the mission causes the northern parts of Roanoke Ridge to have almost constant rain. Some players deliberately don't start the mission because of this.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Every time you hear Arthur wheezing a bit here and there since Chapter 2? It becomes a lot grimmer once you realize that those were probably early symptoms of tuberculosis.
    • In Red Dead Redemption, Dutch van der Linde is finally cornered at the top of a mountain with John pointing a gun at him. Jokingly, he states that they "...have got to stop meeting like this". The last time the two saw each other, they were at the top of a mountain, with John once again pointing a gun at him.
    • Remember how in I Jack kept angsting over John's constant absense from his life? We get a bit of backstory on this. Supposedly he abandoned Abigail and Jack for an entire year, and once the Marstons settle down in West Elizabeth, the player no doubt participates in John's disappearings by simply playing the game.
    • A new player may see the "Sicknesses" section of the Player menu and think "Neat, Arthur can get sick? That's a nice realistic touch." He indeed does. But instead of a randomly occurring temporary disease that goes away on its own, it's something much, much worse.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Red Dead Redemption 2 aspires to be a highly realistic, immersive Western-world where the world keeps going on around your character even if you remain idle as NPCs are given distinct behaviour to simulate actual life. It all sound familiar? Not to mention that Steven Ogg, who played Trevor Philips in Rockstar's previous game, is on the aforementioned show.
    • Before release, people didn't think Arthur would be nearly as interesting as John, and he was seen as a Replacement Scrappy. Post-release, John is a downplayed Replacement Scrappy. To add even more to this, many have pointed out that a common reaction to the first game's ending was "I want to play as John, not Jack" and here it is "I want to play as Arthur, not John".
    • This game isn't the first time that Tahiti has become a meme.
    • The fact that West Dickens' tonic upgraded your Deadeye in I meant that his potions were actually good for something after all; But since John can use Deadeye level 5 in this game, it now seems that Marston was just rustynote  and that Mr. Dickens' poison completely reset his Deadeye skills, giving John a very good reason to be angry with him.
    • Jack Marston was considered one of the worst characters in the last game for a multitude of reasons... and not only is he Rescued from the Scrappy Heap here, but since some members of the gang survive the events, many now want to see how they'd interact with adult Jack in 1914. Some even wish that if there's ever any single-player DLC, he should be the protagonist thanks to the story potential it would have. note 
    • For Bonnie Tyler: It's either this or "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, but try to watch the music video for "Holding Out for a Hero" after playing this game, especially if you get to the end of Chapter 6.
    • There's a character model of a caveman in the game files, but no-one's been able to find in the game proper — a large amount of players speculate he's frozen in ice somewhere in Ambarino. What I wanna know is where's the caveman? Is he frozen in there, and is he the sheriff?
  • Ho Yay: Among other moments, Hosea explicitly refers to himself and Dutch as being Arthur's parents by calling themselves and Arthur "the curious couple and their unruly son." Dutch doesn't object to Hosea implying, even jokingly, that they're a couple.
    • If the player chooses to have Arthur antagonize Dutch in camp, one of the lines he can pull is "Everyone sees you and Hosea 'reading'."
    • During Sean's return party, the player can find Dutch and Hosea conversing away from the others, and Dutch can be seen resting his hand on Hosea's several times.
    • The wholesome bromance between Arthur and Albert Mason is undeniable and adorable. Or between John and Albert.
    • And then there's of course the scene where Châtenay, the French painter, makes out with Arthur in public. Arthur...is indifferent towards it.
    • There's some moments between Arthur and John as well, even if the game likes to remind us immediately afterwards that they're like brothers.
    • Charles and Arthur have a decent amount of chemistry, especially towards the end of the main story. Not to mention Charles and John in the epilogue...
    • Nigel, the Englishman who is searching for his friend Gavin, gives off this sort of vibe with some of his dialogue.
  • Hype Backlash: Only natural given how much hype and praise the game has gotten. While the game has been lauded for its presentation and storytelling, some feel this resulted in a game that is too slow-paced and sometimes frustrating to actually play (see Scrappy Mechanic below for some examples). Let's leave it at that.
  • Idiot Plot: Dutch's plans can all be summed up as "Find a town to settle by, screw over everyone we can, and hope nobody finds out."
  • Iron Woobie: Poor Arthur Morgan just can't catch a break. He sacrificed the chance to live a normal life and have a family with Mary, having already lost a lover and son before. He loses more and more of his friends (including his mentor and best friend), and discovers that he's come down with a fatal disease. He is subsequently abandoned by Dutch, realizing he had just wasted his whole life constantly screwing up for a man who is never loyal in return. Despite all that, he still pushes on to the very end and ultimately dies at peace with himself.
  • Interrupting Meme: "I want to pick some Ginseng..." Said by Rains Fall cutting off Arthur as he tells the story about how he had a son and one day went back to them to find them murdered by robbers. It's the only time in the game that Arthur will talk about this, frustrating fans who wanted to hear him finish. Naturally, it became one of these.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!:
    • One complaint among some players is that this game's story is very similar to the first, where it focuses on one main character until he's killed, and they are replaced by a different character in the game's epilogue. However, some feel that the ending of this game (The Ending Fatigue and similarity notwithstanding) is handled better than the first game's. While John's death came out of nowhere and his replacement was a stubborn teenager with plenty of Wangst who didn't even appear until the final 10 missions of the game, Arthur's slow death feels more thought out and his replacement has not only been an important character with his own Character Development, he's also John Goddamn Marston, who already has a massive fanbase.
    • The shooting mechanics are the exact same as those in the first game with little change or refinement, meaning players are generally still highly reliant on the built in autoaim and Deadeye system to carry them through gunfights.
  • It Was His Sled: It's supposed to be a pretty big spoiler, but now it's fairly common knowledge that Arthur Morgan contracts TB and dies in the end.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Bill Williamson, who comes off as far more sympathetic than he was in the first game. Before joining Dutch's gang, he was dishonourably discharged from the army and lost his father to dementia, which he fears he may have inherited. During one campfire chat, he sounds genuinely broken up when talking about how Dutch gave him a new purpose in life. He tries his best to pull his weight in the gang, but everyone brings up his failures every time. Sadly, by Red Dead Redemption, he's lost all of his sympathetic qualities, becoming just as nasty as Micah.
    • Dutch himself qualifies as his Sanity Slippage becomes apparent. Towards the end of the game, he's starting to cross lines he wouldn't do before, such as murdering people needlessly or abandoning both John and Arthur to save his own skin. However, at the same time, you can see why he's full of anger as his gang moves from one disaster to the next under his flawed leadership, losing his closest friend, with the corrupting influence of Micah not helping matters.
    • Molly O'Shea. Sure, she may be an Alpha Bitch who can be insufferable to the rest of the gang, but you can't help but feel a bit bad for her if you take time to see how life is like for her in camp. She's often neglected and cheated on by Dutch who refuses to take her seriously, and neither does the rest of the gang. There's also her sorry drunken state where she fesses up being the traitor in a desperate cry for Dutch's attention, only to be gunned down by Susan Grimshaw and labelled as a traitor in death. What's worse is that it's revealed that she wasn't the traitor at all, meaning that she just died a pointless death.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Arthur Morgan has been shipped by just about every character in the game, both female and male. Most fans like to have him shipped with Sadie, Mary-Beth, Charlotte, Tilly, Marston, Charles Smith, and Dutch.
  • Love to Hate: Micah Bell. He is a despicable, sadistic psychopath, but you can't deny that he is incredibly badass, entertaining and creepy.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Arthur Morgan is getting plenty of this treatment by players. Even minutes before his death by tuberculosis, he can still kick ass.
    • Alligators, the apex predators of the swamp.
    • And then there's Bray Aberdeen; Kill or kidnap his sister and he'll chase you to the ends of the country. It helps that he's still running after you despite the obesity.
      • If you prefer to spare Tammy by hog-tying her then cutting her free, you'll get both of the Aberdeen siblings chasing you.
    • Uncle. Don't let his lumbago fool you into thinking that he's a pushover.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Leaked Red Dead Redemption 2 screenshot.Explanation 
    • Photoshopping the teaser image.
    • Dutch's Bag Explanation 
    • Realistic horse testicles Explanation 
    • Editing the character artworks to have random characters and things .
    • "You got some ____ for me, boy?" Explanation 
    • Once the game came out, Morgan's constant use of the word "boy" became this, especially since, if you ride a male horse, he'll be saying that a lot. It helps that there was another game released earlier the same year that also spawned memes based on the main characters constant saying "boy", leading many people to joke that 2018 was the year of the boy.
    • Dutchposting Explanation 
    • GAVIN? WHERE IS GAVIN? GAV! Explanation 
    • LENNY! Explanation 
    • Lumbago Explanation 
    • "Fuck Micah" Explanation 
  • Memetic Loser: Dorothea, the suffragette that you meet in Saint Denis, has become this due to Shirakko's infamous videos of him killing her in various ways which kickstarted a trend for players to torment her as well. Many players as a result found her to be the punching bag of the whole game.
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: In contrast with Irish in the first game, Sean MacGuire has been pretty well received by Irish fans. It helps that aside from him loving to party, which doesn’t really bother them, he doesn’t really have any negative Irish stereotypes, and fans found him a genuinely enjoyable character. Having an authentic Irish accent helps as well.
  • Misaimed Marketing: Other than the obvious, detailed beauty of the island, one has to wonder why Rockstar used so much footage of Guarma in the PC trailer, given how the brief segment that takes place there is often considered the worst part of the game.
  • Moe: Jack Marston as a kid is just as adorable as you would think.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • It's implied that Micah Bell crossed it a long time ago. When he was only 17, he and his father were wanted for murdering two people by cutting their throats and subsequently hanging their corpses. In the events of Red Dead 2, if him callously shooting up half a town just to get his favorite guns back didn't already have him crossing it, Micah definitely crossed it when he betrays the whole gang, eventually leading the gang to its imminent decline.
    • Milton executing an unarmed Hosea in front of Dutch, Arthur and the others out of sheer spite. If it doesn't, turning a Maxim gun on a building you know to have women and maybe children inside, just to kill a few criminals, certainly does.
    • The O'Driscolls crossed it by brutally murdering Kieran and delivering his remains to Dutch's gang.
    • Colonel Favours crossed it by deliberately provoking the native Americans into starting a war with the US Army by stealing their horses and withholding vaccines meant for their sick, all to get the glory for slaughtering people trying to defend themselves.
    • In-universe, Dutch crossed it in the eyes of some of his gang members when he abandoned the native Americans to their fate after manipulating them into a war with the US Army. Players felt he would have crossed it when he abandons both John and Arthur even though the two have served him loyally to the end.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The Pump-action shotgun's pumping sound. While the need to pull the hammer back after each shot is annoying in slow, single shot weapons, the Pump-action shotgun is powerful and fast enough to make the system actually satisfying to use.
  • Narm:
    • Unfortunately, the Wham Line where Arthur all of a sudden reveals he had a family who was massacred is completely but hilariously ruined by Rains Fall constantly interrupting him to pick herbs. The worst part is, there's no reason whatsoever Rains Fall can't simply multitask and talk to Arthur while picking herbs.
    • A powerful scene where Arthur has a conversation with a dying Eagle Flies while taking them back home on horseback is completely undercut by what is likely a bug. Other characters are following you on horseback, but will go at a steady trot and won't match the player's speed, even though the player will likely be at full gallop in order to get Eagle Flies to the reservation before he dies. This leads to Arthur getting stuck in a dialogue loop as the other characters constantly interrupt Arthur with requests to slow down. This doesn't happen if you have Arthur ride at a slower pace, however, so it appears you're not supposed to ride full speed, lest said bug happens.
    • For all the spectacular voice acting the game has, Jack's voice can stick out as the only strange performance by what is obviously an adult woman straining herself to sound like a little boy. With all of the attention to detail and vast resources that Rockstar has, it's puzzling why they didn't get an actual child actor for the part.
    • From a part in the epilogue where Jack's dog Rufus is bitten by a venomous snake, the incredibly unfortunate line from a panicking Jack: "Suck it, Dad! Don't swallow it!"
    • In the endings where Arthur helps John escape, John decides to run to a nearby cliff. Sure, it makes a dramatic place for Morgan to die in and works out in the end, but his escape plan is pretty much "we're being chased, let's run up this rock that could end in a dead end instead of disappearing into the woods".
  • Narm Charm: Arthur’s monologues after certain missions can be pretty melodramatic for someone who is a proud outlaw or for doing some relatively simple work but following the reveal that he has tuberculosis, becomes pretty powerful character development for him and excellent foreshadowing.
  • Obvious Judas: A lot of players probably would have guessed early on that Micah is the traitor, given his record of dog-kicking throughout the game that would give Bill in the first game a run for his money and his constant ass-kissing of Dutch until the reveal.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • The dialogue system as described in previews is very similar to that Rockstar used in their previous game Bully down to similar controls (Locking onto NPCs with the left trigger and using the face buttons to choose interactions).
    • The weapon degradation system, where a weapon's stats decrease with usage, is based on the one from Red Dead Revolver.
    • Also, Arthur isn't the first playable character to have suffered tuberculosis; that honor instead goes to Ukyo Tachibana from Samurai Shodown.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The Strange Man's brief cameo in the mirror inside a shack in Baygall Edge. It's very difficult to trigger unless you know how, but him, his shack, and his implied Deal with the Devil with Herbert Moon are filled to the brim with Creepy Awesome, resulting in a very memorable Easter Egg.
    • That lion in "Of Course He's British". How many were expecting to see an African big cat in a western?
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    Single-player, P - X 
  • Player Punch: Inevitable given the Foregone Conclusion of the original game.
    • During one seemingly average mission, Sean McGuire has his head blown off with zero warning in a surprise ambush.
    • Kieran Duffy has only just begun to ingratiate himself into the gang when he disappears for several days. People suspect he might've turned traitor... then his decapitated and mutilated corpse is set back to camp on horseback as a prelude to an O'Driscoll attack.
    • Hosea Matthews and Lenny Summers both die during the botched Saint Denis bank robbery. Agent Milton captures Hosea only to murder him in cold-blood to spite Dutch, then Lenny Summers is gunned down by Pinkertons. Lenny's is especially jarring given that it's the only gang member's death that occurs out of nowhere during gameplay and Arthur spends time lingering over his friend's corpse in mourning.
    • A seemingly normal journey with Arthur ends with Arthur collapsing, coughing up blood, going to a doctor, and being diagnosed with tuberculosis, confirming that the player character is not going to survive the events of the game and everything that comes after is him living on borrowed time.
    • Charlotte, the widow you find out in the woods who had recently buried her dead husband can potentially do this if you don't finish her second mission as Arthur, she's dead by the time John finds her.
    • The final mission of Chapter 6 has the player's horse being killed by Pinkertons. Especially painful if it's the horse you've had throughout the entire game. Arthur will comfort the animal until s/he is dead, giving up valuable escape time to pay his proper respects to his beloved horse.
    • The death of Arthur Morgan. Even though you know it's coming, it's still a punch. Depending on the player's honor, Morgan can have a peaceful death of his disease watching the rising sun, or be murdered in cold-blood by Micah.
    • Riding around Bayou Nwa in Lemoyne might see you run into and shoot a new bird for your compendium, and upon doing so receive the message "Carolina Parakeet: ???? Remaining" in the corner of your screen. Congratulations, you just contributed to their eventual extinction. This shares a similarity to the finite number of bison in the Great Plains of the first Redemption game.
  • Polished Porting Disaster: The game's long awaited PC port, at least at its launch, is a mixed bag. On the one hand, as Digital Foundry reports, it is certainly future proofed, such that even its lowest settings are superior to the graphics on any of the console versions. On the other, many users have reported difficulty running it, including trouble getting it to start in the first place. As if that wasn't enough, there have even been reports of a Game-Breaking Bug with the game's framerate where having it above 30 causes the mechanics that rely on time to occur faster than they should.
  • Quicksand Box: The game world is absolutely massive, with dozens of main story missions, dozens more side missions, over 100 "challenges", hundreds of random "encounters", and even more unmarked places to visit and non-mission-related things to do. It's entirely possible to get sucked in and put off a mission for hours while you stumble into many other things to do along the way.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Downplayed. While many wish Morgan was playable in the epilogue, John is far from a scrappy. Unlike Jack from the last game who was seen as this because of his Wangst, small role in the story and high-pitched voice, here John is a central character present throughout the game with his own Character Development, and he already has a large fanbase for his status as a Memetic Badass. And for being a character already knew, and loved.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • While not a full Scrappy Mechanic, RDR 1's deadeye upgrades were criticized for removing an useful ability from level 1note , and level 2 was considered to be a massive Powerup Letdown that did more harm than goodnote . The automatic tagging of Level 2 is now your starting level so it actually makes sense it's the worst one to use, and max level allows you to both manually tag enemies and shoot as many bullets as you wish without deactivating the effect, combining the best parts of level 1 and 3 from the previous game.
    • Arthur himself was at first seen as a Replacement Scrappy for John Marston due to early trailers not exactly having sympathetic moments for him and John being a really beloved character. Once the game came out however, many fans were won over by his tragic, complex background and how he kept on trying to help out the gang even during the inevitable breakdown and making his last moments a chance for John to escape the outlaw life. Fans are now claiming he’s Rockstar’s best protagonist of all time, even better than John.
    • Kid Jack Marston lacks most of the problems his teenage and adult versions had in the first game, and instead is an Adorkable textbook case of Children Are Innocent.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • You can now be too far away from your horse to whistle for it, unlike in the first game where a quick tap of the button will summon the horse to your side from anywhere. When hunting, it's scarily easy to lose track of the beast and end up stranded in the middle of the woods.
    • The new weapon wheel. Unlike the first game, you have to select the weapons you want to carry with you manually from your horse each time you are not carrying any. Furthermore, the game will sometimes automatically equip weapons to you at the beginning of or during certain parts of missions. This can even overwrite weapons you manually chose just a moment before. The most hated part is that the game also occasionally removes weapons from your inventory after you disembark your horse, and in worst cases get killed because the game removed the gun you were just holding before getting off the animal.
    • Fast travel is very limited, only being available for free from camp. (Patch 1.15 mitigates this by allowing fast travel from player-made camps as well.) If you are willing to pay a small fee, you could also board a train at a train station or grab a stagecoach in a town. But if you're stuck in the middle of the wilderness without a horse, you'll have to walk.
    • The Street Urchins in Saint Denis have already garnered hatred from some players, especially the urchin who pickpockets Arthur in "The Joys of Civilisation". They will constantly harass you which quickly becomes grating to the ears for players. Some might even trick you into getting mugged in an alleyway and if you retaliate you'll end up getting wanted by the law. Don't retaliate and go with the trick and you will lose a quarter of all your money with absolutely no way of getting it back from them.
    • The new law mechanics can be a serious headache. For starters, it's almost impossible to commit a crime without having a random witness pop up regardless of where you are and bring the law down on you. Wanted bounties are now much more expensive, and with how much less everything pays (except for dangerous activities like robbing banks or trains) it can become difficult to pay off said bounties. In addition, the game makes it really difficult to exist in areas that have bounties posted, as lawmen patrol the trails and will attack on sight. If your bounty is high enough, super persistent waves of bounty hunters will spawn in to track you down while resting, making it almost impossible to stay in one place while in a bounty zone. The bandanna also does nothing, it seems – in spite of equipping it well out of sight of NPCs, citizens will still seem to be able to know that it's Arthur Morgan specifically who robbed them and not one of the dozens of other crooks in the area. As mentioned in Guide Dang It! on the main page, there's actually a lot more steps required for a complete disguise than the game deigns necessary to tell you. All of this wouldn't really be a problem, since it adds to the fun of committing crimes and having to deal with the consequences for doing so. The problem is that the game will force bounties on the player in certain story missions. The absolute worst example of this is the mission to rescue Micah, which slaps a whopping $300 bounty on the player once the mission is complete. At such an early stage it can be difficult to pay off, and the player may divert many dollars to freeing up their forced bounties over the course of the story rather than buying more interesting things. Furthermore, when certain crimes are committed by someone other than the player (such as a wagon running over an innocent civilian), blame is put on the player for the crime.
    • The need to manually cycle the action on manual repeating weapons and/or re-cock the hammer on single-action revolvers, or in the case of the Spencer carbine BOTH!note , by pressing "fire" again after shooting. This works most of the time and is not exactly intrusive when it does, but if you wait too long to cycle the action/re-cock the hammer, when you go to actually do it, your weapon will fire IMMEDIATELY after the re-cock, which can lead to a wasted shot if you weren't actually ready to fire at that time.
    • Although the switch to John is handled fairly well (Such as the money from the Blackwater job giving you 20.000 dollars so you can rebuild your inventory once you beat the game), he still cannot swim. Instead of drowning instantly however, going too deep will destroy your stamina (core included) and John'll start splashing around in an attempt to save himself. Again, the fact that John can be controlled and thus rescued during the few seconds before he drowns means that it's not as bad as it was in the first game, but it's still a bit of a bummer to lose an actually useful game mechanic. note  Downplayed somewhat since horses can still swim.
    • Hunting:
      • Obtaining perfect skins from small animals gets frustrating very quickly. Most small animals need to be killed by either the varmint rifle or the bow equipped with small game arrows, the latter of which must be crafted. However, not only do some animals spawn already damaged, if you do find a perfect specimen but need to use more than one bullet or arrow on the thing you've already ruined the skin. Even if you do kill them with one attack, there's a good chance the skin is damaged unless you hit them in the head. And just as a reminder, you're hunting animals shorter than most grass and which are usually running away from you, meaning that more often than not their body takes the blow you meant for the head. It's slightly better with the legendary buck trinket, but not by much.
      • Big game is only marginally better: Bears, cougars, panthers etc. have very few spawn locations, and like everything else, can spawn already damaged. As a result it's possible to run around their spawn points for several real hours, hoping that A) The thing even spawns, B) It's a 3-star specimen, C) It doesn't get you first, and D) You manage to kill it with one shot.
      • Hunting in general has gotten some flack, since you can't track an animal unless you've already laid eyes on it, despite the hunting mission with Hosea hinting that you'll be able to find leavings and tracks to hunt with (this only applies to legendary animals). Whether or not a given animal spawns in it's given "habitat" is also random, unless we're talking about deer and pronghorns which are everywhere. One of the worst offenders is the American Badger, which is small, hard to see and nocturnal, so we hope you're hunting the little buggers at night! The worst offender is the moose, which only appear in certain locations making them even harder to find than the legendary animals themselves!
    • Having to start with your base loadout whenever you have to replay missions. You will lose whatever items you have on-hand, your stats will be reset to their default level, and your horse will be the weakest one. This makes it frustrating for players who want to fulfill all objectives in order to get the gold medal, since they would lack the equipment or stats that would help them. This was addressed in the 1.15 patch, as the player now keeps their weapons and stats during replays.
    • The control system in general has received complaints, with many players pointing out that the controls feel sluggish and unresponsive, making it difficult to move Arthur around.
    • Naming horses. For some reason, profanity is not allowed. In a game where you can decapitate or dismember a man with a shotgun and already has profane dialogue, you cannot name your horse "Fucker" or "Shithead". While that is an odd inconsistency, it’s at least understandable on some level. What isn’t understandable is the fact that the filter also disallows seemingly-innocuous names like “Fritz.” This baffled players until they did a bit of research and found that “Fritz” is a relatively obscure and archaic slur against German people. They were at a loss for why other names such as “Brad” and “Jerry” would also be filtered out, though. This led fans to joke that the reason the game took so long to come out was because Rockstar was spending all that time looking up every single obscure profanity.
    • Item crafting is considered an excessive chore by many for several reasons. First, you must craft an item one piece at a time, you don't have the option to tell the game to craft ten Improved Arrows at one time, you've got to select Improved Arrows in the crafting menu, then click nine more times. Second, many crafting items require materials that are hard to come by, like Animal Fat, which inexplicably can't be purchased and must be harvested from animals like wild boar, bears, or ducks. And third, the amount of a given crafting material that you can carry at one time is extremely limited. Flight feathers (needed to craft most arrows and throwing knives) max out in your inventory at 10 feathers, while only five jars of moonshine can be stored at once. While there are upgrades that improve how much can be carried at once, this still makes for an extremely annoying and unnecessary bottleneck.
      • The most egregious example of this is the crafting of split point rounds. These rounds, which are superior to regular ammo, are also crafted from regular ammunition and require no extra components, making them easy to craft. Like every other crafted item, you have to sit through an animation and can only make one at a time. The problem is that unlike almost every other crafted item, Arthur can carry up to one hundred and fifty rounds of split point ammo. This means that, if a player wants a full load of split point ammo for all available ammo types, they have to sit through this animation over three hundred times. Naturally, it's easier but more costly to simply purchase High Velocity or Express ammunition from the gun stores in bulk. The only saving grace for this is that holding the button repeats the animation, so you don't have to press the crafting button 1-400 times.
    • Several buttons are context sensitive, which can lead to frustration when the function of that button suddenly changes depending on the circumstance. To note:
      • The same button is used for both grappling and mounting your horse. Many players accidentally grab some random bystander while attempting to mount their horse, resulting in a fight and the law coming down on them.
      • The same button is used for both punching and manually topping off the ammo in your gun. You may be going to reload when a NPC (or, commonly, your horse) gets close, resulting in you throwing a punch instead.
    • The inability to run in camp. Once you get close, you'll be reduced to a brisk walking speed. Some of the campsites, like Shady Belle, are really spread out which makes it agonizing to slowly walk between the various supply caches, food stand, ledger, Arthur's bed, etc.
    • Beard growth. It's not a bad system in and of itself, but it's so glitchy players may not be able to fully utilize it, and no one is sure as to how it is supposed to work. Some players have no problem growing a maximum-length beard as early as Chapter 2; even after they beat the game, some can't make it grow longer than level 6 or 7 no matter how much hair tonic they use; some players can't get the beard to grow consistently.
    • While the gambling minigames themselves are considered to be fine, the gambler challenges are seen by many as the worst part of the game due to their luck-based nature and tendency to cause extreme amounts of frustration. The fact that most of them don't simply involve winning but winning under specific circumstances has caused annoyance even in actual gambling fans.
  • Sequel Displacement: Not this game, but very few knew that Redemption was a sequel to the 2004 title Red Dead Revolver. Those who knew this didn't like when people called the potential third game Red Dead Redemption 2, as it would be the third game in the Red Dead series, not the second game in the Red Dead Redemption series. These fans preferred to use names like "Red Dead 3", "Red Dead (fitting R-word)" etc. Then this game was revealed and was titled Red Dead Redemption 2.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: With a wide variety of side activities and stranger quests the game has to offer, players can more than often get derailed from the main story. Not only that, many players also refuse to progress with the story so that they could remain playing as Arthur.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Arthur Morgan collapsing on the streets of Saint Denis, coughing up blood all the way down. The scene is burnt into the minds of many players, due to it coming out of nowhere even after a good amount of foreshadowing, and for making it immediately clear why Arthur isn't around in 1911.
    • The discussion between Arthur and Sister Calderón at the Emerald Ranch train station is well remembered for being the one time Arthur's stoic nature breaks completely, revealing that underneath the rough exterior is a man very much afraid of dying.
    • The "High honor, Arthur went with John" ending is also well remembered for its sheer emotional impact.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The game pulls no punches when it comes to the awful treatment Native Americans had to go through.
    • Hosea brings up the subject while the gang relocates to Horseshoe Overlook, mentioning that the natives "here" have been horribly mistreated, to which Charles responses by pointing out that it's been happening everywhere, not just in New Hanover.
    • The Arc Villain of Chapter 6 is a corrupt military official trying to provoke the Wapiti tribe into attacking the so the government can seize their land. The guy is shown to be an irredeemable asshole who refuses them their basic human rights and considers their real names to be "silly", showing how he has no respect for their culture. Although he is clearly meant to be a Hate Sink, he still reflects the actual attitude many white Americans had at the time, believing that the native way of life is "savage" and needs to be erased and replaced with Euro-American culture to "save" the natives.
      • Likewise Agent Milton often talks about how much he despises the Native-Americans and wants them eradicated, showing that he's no better then Dutch's gang despite all his talk of maintaining "law and order".
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • During the mission "Friends in Low Places", which introduces players to Stagecoach robberies, Arthur can be seen inspecting whichever sidearm was in his primary pistol holster. However, the animation that plays is more suited for a revolver, leading to clipping issues if a player had any of the three pistols or the Sawed-Off Shotgun in that holster prior to that cutscene.
    • Mexico is recreated to a genuinely surprising degree... but with the exception of El Presidio, none of the towns, settlements or other buildings exist. Considering Rockstar's devotion to details like this and that you can just use the binoculars to look into Mexico, it's odd that there's not even low-poly versions of them. In fact, datamining the unpatched PS4 version reveals that low-poly versions actually exist(ed) in the game files as late as June 2018. However, as Mexico seemingly gets minor upgrades in patches, there's a good chance that the buildings were omitted for time restraints and may be added in later.
    • The landscapes are one of the game's strong points, as is its rendering of snow...except that trees covered in snow tend to look strangely flat and angular like something out of a PS 2 game.
    • The game's HDR settings have been frequently criticized, to the point where a patch including more options was added a few months after release. Even with these improved settings, some players still feel turning HDR on does more harm than good, as while colors do improve slightly the game's contrast takes a heavy hit, giving the game an oversaturated, sometimes grey look. For those interested in learning the exact nature of the issues, Digital Foundry did a 2-part series on the subject matter.
  • Spiritual Adaptation:
    • The game seems to be a spiritual adaptation of Young Guns II, The Seventh Seal, and Tombstone, with a bit of Grand Theft Auto V mixed in.
    • In another sense, the game seems to be a violent R-rated 1890s version of Night in the Woods in that both protagonists keep their journals; both go to parties by campfires and get drunk at one point; both have their ex-boy/girlfriends; both have dreams of spirit animals; both struggle to do good with finding their own identities and coping with the massive changes in the world around them; and both have come down with illnesses in their lives... and at least Mae Borowski's illness isn't terminal unlike Arthur's.
    • Interestingly, as the PC version (and now the PS4 and Xbox One versions) adds gang hideouts to Gaptooth Breach and Solomon's Folly (Twin Rocksnote  and Fort Mercer are already gang hideouts) and puts the LeMat revolver, Evans Repeater and a High-Power pistol Expy into the single-player campaign, the epilogue includes a lot of content from the first game in it, especially since John is playable. While there are some major differences such as New Austin being less active and there being no Mexico or story, it's now fairly reminiscent of the first game — especially on PC as the previous game never released on it.
  • Squick: At random moments in the game, you can see horses unloading their solid waste. And yes, that includes during cutscenes.
    • "A Quiet Time" has a few bits of this that can be gross. To whit:
      • You can catch a couple having sex in Room 1A and hear them scream a bit. This, however, can force you to go though the squicky part later if you want to "Catch Lenny in the act" for the Gold Medal.
      • Waking up outside at the rear of the saloon after a Smash to Black from the supposed Bar Brawl-turned line dancing is one thing, but then you are forced to go to first-person perspective as Arthur has to look down at his crotch and reach into his pants for his... manhood (which he cleverly manages to hide with both hands grabbing it) before taking a tinkle. And yes, that's the sight of his tinkle on the grass! You might need some Brain Bleach after that.
      • And at the end, if Arthur manages to escape being arrested, he wakes up in the forest... only to get so sick and hung over that he'll stumble over for a bit... and then gag before leaning over and barfing on the grass as the icing on the cake! This is so gross it just screams Nausea Fuel!
  • Stop Having Fun, Guys: Just like what happened with GTA V, Rockstar is developing this reputation among single-player fans: Many exploits players enjoy using, such as wall-breaching and going out-of-bounds note , the Full-Frontal Assault glitch mentioned above, and most notably going to New Austin as Arthur are actively and regularly patched out once discovered — yet actual, game- or immersion breaking glitches seem to go unadressed patch after patch and player feedback and criticism is ignored pretty much entirely (for example, John's own hair not being even an option in the epilogue). This is one of the reasons why SP and Online have developed a Fandom Rivalry, as multiplayer does actively get new content and bug fixes.
  • Tainted by the Preview: While tainted is a strong word to use at this point, the fact that a multiplayer mode was announced at the same time as the game has some fans nervous. This is because many felt that Rockstar's previous game, Grand Theft Auto V, suffered because of the multiplayer as its success led to Rockstar breaking its promise to deliver single-player DLC. Since Rockstar keeps putting out new multiplayer content, including some content that was originally intended for single-player like the Doomsday Heist, their promise to give singleplayer was abandoned because of how much money the microtransactions in online were bringing in, making people feel that Rockstar never gave a damn abut the singleplayer mode to begin with, and created the game only to get extra cash. People are afraid the same will happen to the Red Dead series.
  • That One Boss:
    • Subverted in the final mission. Surprisingly, Micah Bell is incredibly difficult to defeat to the point where you have to be quite skilled if you want to put up at least a gunfight, especially seeing as how he can counter Dead Eye. Not only that, he is very able to dodge your dynamite. However, everything changes when Sadie and Dutch help you in the fight.
    • The Legendary Giaguaro Panther for Master Hunter Challenge 10. Unlike the other Legendary Animals, this one will actively track and hunt you down like a regular panther. And like a regular panther, once it gets you, you will be instantly one-shotted and you will have to do the whole tracking process all over again.
  • That One Sidequest:
    • Achieving a gold medal for each mission in story mode, which require players to complete all optional objectives. Especially missions requiring you to complete them within a specific amount of time, but the kicker is that the cutscenes themselves are counted in the countdown, meaning that you would have to skip the cutscenes in order to meet the time limit. This is frustrating for first-time players who would likely have to replay these missions. While replayable, the player will start off with their default stats and equipment at the start of the story rather than their current loadout, which may make achieving these objectives even harder.
    • Sharpshooter challenge 8 is extremely difficult. You need to disarm 3 opponents without reloading or changing weapons. Not only has the Deadeye reload exploit been fixed from the first game and thus activating it means instant reset, aiming is more difficult than before and enemies have ridiculously tight grips, having a tendency of not dropping their gun no matter no many times you shoot at their arm. After a while you'll just grab a shotgun and start literally disarming to vent out.
    • Sharpshooter 3 can also be annoying, as it requires you to shoot 5 birds while standing on top of a moving train. The problem here is climbing on top of a train will get you a bounty after travelling for some time, which will make the train stop, and you might get really unlucky and not even encounter any birds on the train at all.
    • While most of the Gambler challenges can be frustrating since they are mostly based on luck, Gambler 8 Challenge stands out since it requires you to win three hands of Blackjack with three or more hits. It is incredibly easy to bust after just one hit, with many players pointing to it as the worst task needed to be done for 100% completion.
    • An actual sidequest is this: Going to the doctor's office in Valentine and demanding he takes you to the back room where there are three O'Driscoll mooks and their prostitute. Killing all of them (including the prostitute, who will pull a gun on you) stealthily does not work as if you're trying to do it quietly, the local law enforcement will chase after you.
    • Have fun trying to nail the two hunting-related achievements, one to study every animal in the game and one to skin them all. The number of different animals is astronomical, some (especially smaller types of bird) are difficult to spot owing to being very small and very fast, and as if that wasn’t enough, there’s a handful of species that only spawn in a scant handful of locations if they even spawn at all. While you’ll have ample opportunity to go looking through the game, if you’re going out of your way to look for a moose, for instance, you could spend hours of real-time waiting for the damn thing to show up. This isn’t even getting into the predators that ambush you; even if you manage to survive the first attack you probably won’t have enough time to study the animal before you have to kill it, so you’ll need to wait for another specimen to appear and hope you can study it before it takes your throat out. The one meager saving grace to this mess is, nothing on Guarma counts towards these achievements so you don’t have to worry about the wildlife there.
    • Horseman Challenge 9 requires you to get from Van Horn to Blackwater (essentially one side of the map to the other) in less than 17 minutes without touching water. Sounds simple enough, but for starters you'll need a horse with extremely high speed and several Horse Stimulants. And that's assuming you don't get ambushed on the road by bandits, wolves or cougars (the last of which will be guaranteed to cause your horse to buck you if you don't kill it fast enough), making. And since you'll likely be taking several shortcuts along the way, be sure to avoid rocks or ledges that are just a tad too high, because you WILL be knocked off your horse (particularly in the treacherous areas south of Strawberry).
    • Survivalist 7, "8 consecutive small game kills using small game arrows". It doesn't mention it, but they need to be one-hit kills. Translation: You'll be running around the forest of your choosing murdering every squirrel you come across, since anything bigger that them can survive a small game arrow. And with bad enough luck, even they can live through said arrows. The challenge has a simple objective, yet requires very good luck and patience. Fortunately, those who don't mind a honor loss can go kill chickens at certain towns as they tend to die from one arrow.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • Several people have expressed disappointment over the changes to the bounty hunting missions. In the previous game they were endless randomly generated missions that could be used for making money or lowering your own bounty, while here they are a handful of scripted missions that give a handful of cash each. This gives the game less post-game content.
    • Random encounters have received similar criticism; in the first game they could happen at any time and most would repeat at random forever — for example, Herbert Moon became notorious for being constantly robbed. Here most encounters only happen once at set locations and only a few have multiple encounters. Like with bounty hunting, this leaves the game with less endgame content and causes the map feel somewhat empty when they are all completed.
    • The lack of repeatable activities (such as horse breaking and nightwatch missions from the previous game) has also received criticism for the same reasons as the two above.
    • A small but vocal group of fans feel this about John Marston's design in the epilogue. In particular, the reuse of Arthur's hair is seen as the worst change, as it veers into Uncanny Valley for some people. The small changes to his cowboy outfit note  have also been contentous to some. The release of his outfit in Online got some strong reactions from people since his hair is already available there and the outfit is slightly more accurate to one seen in I, to the point where it's possible to create a more accurate version of Marston than seen in the epilogue.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Both Leviticus Cornwall and Colm O'Driscoll are major villains throughout the game, responsible for the majority of the protagonists' troubles. Colm in particular is set up as having a long history as Dutch's nemesis, is responsible for destroying Sadie Adler's life, and his first appearance sets him up as a threatening and deranged figure. Unfortunately, in a game with a 60 hour long story, neither man gets much in the way of development or screen time. They only appear in two missions each before dying.
    • The guy running the Rhodes general store is eventually replaced by Pearson in the epilogue. Seth Briars from the first game apparently owned a store before going mad. Since the first shopkeeper just disappears and never interacts with John, Seth could have easily been used to fill his role without going against canon.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Fans are disappointed that you are unable to visit West Elizabeth and New Austin as Arthur, despite many promotional trailers showing you exploring them. What's worse is that when exploiting a glitch that allows Arthur to visit them as mentioned in Good Bad Bugs above, he has his own unique dialogue from Marston's, implying that developers likely intended for Arthur to visit those locations.
    • Fans who bought the Special and Ultimate Editions that come with an exclusive heist are also disappointed that it's a rather generic bank heist in Rhodes. Some felt that the exclusive mission could have instead covered the Blackwater heist that started the events of the game.
    • That the relationship between Arthur and Sadie Adler is never explored more past friendship can feel like this to some, given how badass and likable Sadie is compared to Arthur's old flame Mary Linton, and how well Sadie and Arthur work together every time they're put together (and how much Arthur writes about her in his journal) makes it apparent that their relationship could easily have developed into something more. Interestingly, Word of God is that Arthur was supposed to have a second love interest in the game, but that it got cut for making the game several hours longer than it already was. Naturally, the most famous fan-theory is that Sadie was this love interest.note 
    Sadie: [to Arthur] Aside from my Jake... you're the best man I've known.
    • Guarma appears to have been planned to act as a secondary hub, as the island is much larger than it seems and the terrain is largely finished — the normally unreachable areas have animal spawn points and the animal A.I works therenote , and unused coding suggests you were originally able to go back to the island in the epilogue. Many who've explored the island with mods and exploits feel that there was a lot of potential for the area, but in the final product said potential is wasted entirely because of how linear, limiting and brief the Guarma segment is.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy: Among the high-tier horses, the Arabian, while having the best all-around stats, is notoriously skittish, scares easily, often bucking the player off even with maximum bonding, and is smaller compared to other horses making them less visually appealing for some players. For these reasons, players tend to gravitate towards either the Turkoman (comparable stats and doesn't scare easily) or the Missouri Fox Trotter (a bit faster than the Arabian) when they become available. With fixes to various glitches/exploits that allowed players to access high-level horses early, Arabians are now the only practical go-to for any player looking for a fast horse early on.
  • Unacceptable Targets: Native Americans. Not only is their terrible treatment discussed and shown several times during the story, the Wapiti Indian reservation is one of the few places you are not allowed to draw your weapons in, and you cannot even antagonize people there. The player will get negative honor if they desecrate native sites.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • A glitch in the mission "The Wheel" can cause John Marston to appear cartoonishly skinny. The glitch is likely caused by the game giving John Arthur's tuberculosis weight, and since he is already smaller than Arthur, his body distorts to anorexic. By skinny, we mean "his body is just a bit larger than his limbs" skinny. It's unsetteling, to say the least. The glitch seems to fix itself once you beat the first half of the epilogue, but until then...
    • Some feel John with Arthur's hair in the epilogue goes into this territory.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: While some of Abigail's complaints in the epilogue are completely justified (most notably John shooting people in front of Jack) she doesn't seem to realize she is sending some seriously mixed messages. She wants John to keep his job at the Pronghorn ranch, yet objects when John takes arms to keep their employer alive when murderous thugs come-a-knocking. She wants to live a peaceful life with John, yet doesn't like when John protects himself against people who are trying to kill him. As a result, her claim that "There's always a choice" comes off as a little hollow, since had John not made these choices, he would likely be dead and she and Jack would end up homeless. And that's not going into the fact that she's constantly insulting and assaulting him at the beginning portions of the game even though he was recovering from a wolf attack.
  • The Un-Twist: Subverted. Many players familiar with the series went to the game fully expecting Arthur to die as it was the easiest way to explain why he was never seen or heard of in the previous game. These people were of course correct, but the game still surprised most of these people with the reveal of how he dies — very few expected terminal illness.
  • Viewers in Mourning: Arthur's tuberculosis and eventual inevitable death prompted many fans who first played the game to look up on Google Search for ways to find a TB cure, in spite of the fact that there is none for Arthur (though he does get warned by the doctor to "rest somewhere warm and dry" in an attempt to slow down the infection, which is not on the cards). Also, his death became a catalyst for Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw of Zero Punctuation, Austin Hourigan of Game Theory, and Eirik Gumeny of Polygon to write their own personal experiences on the game as tributes to its fallen protagonist, and for many fans to go and vote for the game's nomination categories in awards ceremonies in his honor, with the game winning the "Fan-Favorite Fall Release" award at the Gamers' Choice Awards, both "Action-Adventure Title of the Year" and "Game of the Year" at the Australian Games Awards, and about half of the eight categories at The Game Awards 2018 (said half being "Best Audio Design", "Best Narrative", "Best Score/Music", and "Best Performance" with Arthur's voice actor Roger Clark, who indeed admitted that he looked surprised at his win).
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The game is gorgeous. From the beautiful, colourful graphics to the huge amount of detail in both the environments and character models, the game looks awesome all around.
    • And then the PC release hit, which boasts of the removal of the 30 fps lock in the consoles, along with several enhanced mods by Rockstar released following its initial glitched launch, which is saying something when even the lowest settings look absolutely gorgeous given the proper PC specs.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Hosea's plan to swipe the Yankee Gold relied on the two households being so focused on each other that they don't notice him, Arthur, and Dutch trying to play both sides. Just because two households have been rivals for decades doesn't mean they won't notice the same man attack their property days from when they met them. This gets them found out very quickly. Not that there is any Yankee Gold, anyway.
      • Also, it could’ve helped if Arthur removed his badge when committing felonies and infiltrating each mansion so that they won’t get suspicious of the gang.
    • Dutch's last act plan of "cause enough chaos and conflict across the state so we can pull off One Last Job and escape in the confusion" is this trope all over. He seems to overlook that the authorities know him and the gang are the ones responsible for said chaos, and them flooding the state with yet more soldiers, deputies, bounty hunters, and vengeful Pinkertons will just make every move they make that more difficult. All his "plan" accomplishes is getting far more people killed than just giving up. This is likely intentional however, as it perfecrly demonstrates Dutch's declining mental state.
    • During the riverboat robbery, when Arthur and Lenny escort a clerk up to the safe, they confiscate his weapon. Unfortunately, neither of them think to commit a full search of the man, and during the brief second they take their eyes off him, he pulls out a second gun, forcing Arthur to shoot him. The ensuing gunshot, or gunshots, depending on the player's aim immediately alerts the guards that something is wrong, and the robbery quickly goes downhill from there.
  • Win Back the Crowd: The sheer amount of content and details mentioned in the September previews turned many not interested in the game.
  • The Woobie:
    • Kieran Duffy. Ending up with the wrong company after the death of his parents, he is assumed to be an O'Driscoll and is captured by Arthur. He spends a good while tied to a tree, without food or water, and Dutch threatens to castrate him. Even after saving Morgan's life, his every attempt to get in good terms with the gang is met with suspicion and is constantly bullied. When people are finally starting to trust him, he is captured by the O'Driscolls, who proceed to gouge his eyes out and decapitate him, before sending his body back to Dutch's hideout to taunt and demoralize the gang.
    • The entire Downes family. Being burdened with financial troubles and debt, Thomas Downes made the mistake to loan from Leopold Strauss. Not helping matters is when he's afflicted with tuberculosis, only to get beaten up for his troubles when Arthur came to collect the debt in front of his family, leading to his death. This forces the rest of the family to move out from the farm without a husband to support them any longer, where Mrs. Downes is forced to work as a prostitute, while her son Archie has to work in the mines and is treated like crap by his co-workers. When Arthur comes across Mrs. Downes in Saint Denis, the poor woman is a broken shell of her former self when he first met her.
    • Rains Fall. All he wants is to protect his people and stop them from getting into a war with the US Army who are constantly harassing them, having lost his firstborn son in a previous skirmish with the US Army. Sadly, thanks to Dutch's manipulations, his second son Eagle Flies ends up getting killed in another pointless fight as well, and his people are still forced off their land and have to move to Canada. When Marston comes across him in the epilogue, he's a broken man with possible signs of Alzheimer's.

    Red Dead Online 
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • The multiplayer mode, as described here, will be based on the original Red Dead Redemption's MP mode, although with some narrative elements. While it'll start off as a public beta when it launches, Rockstar has already given warnings about possible server issues, and as a beta the players will likely have a larger input on the game's future (content).
    • Rockstar also has plans to re-introduce friendly free roam lobbies like its predecessor, and they also plan to have far less tolerance for Griefing (specifically spawn killing players). Lastly, passive mode from GTA Online will eventually make a return to supplement the parley and feud systems.
      • One addition they added was the ability to press charges. So long as you weren't aggressive yourself, anybody who kills you can get the bounty they obtained from randomly killing you increased and increase their hostility level so more people can see them on the map.
    • After beta testers complained about the game's stingy economy, Rockstar quickly promised that they would adjust the economy for the final release. This promise was delivered not even one week after the beta started, with the Week 1 Update rebalancing weapon prices across the board and refunding players for the price difference if already purchased (most notably, the Mauser Pistol went from $1,000 to $600), rebalanced all mission payouts for the better, and everyone who played during the first week got 15 whole gold bars and $50 for their troubles.
    • The Frontier Pursuits update to those who feel that the game is too grindy. The trader is a profitable side business, while the collector is ridiculously broken due to a lack of foresight on Rockstar's part. Instead of being a role that rewards patience and curiosity, collector players can simply look up the locations of artifacts online due to them having a predictable shifting set of locations every day. Even if one considers using the online artifact map to be cheating, the collector role is still hugely profitable and can net a patient player several thousand dollars a day. As a result, it's not uncommon to see players with tens of thousands of dollars and most non-gold things unlocked nowadays. The economy has shifted so much due to the update that several hundred dollars are no longer the lump sum it used to be.
    • Unlike in GTA Online, where bodyguards/MC members don't earn anything from sales missions, every single member of a posse gets half of what the sales mission host gets in RDOnote . This change is seen as a huge lifesaver by the community as it gives players a far greater incentive to help each other during sale missions, thus reducing the risk of griefing significantly. Not to mention, since every member of a posse can have their own business, a posse can cycle sell between each member and rack up an obscene amount of profit.
    • To fully sell your goods in GTAO, you have to deliver multiple vehicles to multiple far apart locations under a stingy time limit. This makes it virtually impossible to sell everything as a solo player. Rockstar decides to be lenient for RDO and makes it so that you only have to deliver one vehicle regardless of how full your stock is.
  • Better Than Canon: Surprisingly, a negative example. Many players were not fond of the online version of John's Cowboy outfit being slightly closer to the original than the one seen in single-player. This is because John's own hair is available in the Online as well, which means it is possible to create a character that resembles the John seen in 1899 and 1911 more than the actual playable version of John does.
  • Default Setting Syndrome: Auto Aim settings, which are enabled and at the highest strength by default. This affects Online particularly hard since, unlike GTA Online, players are not separated by their preferred aiming settings, so people who are used to playing in Free Aim lobbies in the latter game are putting themselves at a distinct disadvantage in the former game.
    • To curb this some its been changed locking on only secures bodyshots, and you can't just tilt up the camera a bit to score easy headshots anymore, removing roughly 90% of the advantage afforded by autoaim.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Zig-Zagged with bounty hunters. While normally not major threats due to being confined to specific areas in story mode, and are easy to dispatch on their own, Online takes them to new heights in online. For starters, their hunting grounds are not constrained to the state where a player has committed crimes, appear out of nowhere to pursue the player until dead, attack the player in large numbers, and have an increasingly varied array of weapons at higher bounty levels. After taking them all out, the player must escape the area to avoid death. In order to avoid being hunted, the player must pay the bounty at any post office or collection box for half of the value. If the player is killed by a hunter, the full value will be paid off instead.
    • High-level hostile players during sale missions. God helps you if you come across an entire posse of them during one. It's easier to just close the game down at that point and restart the mission than to endure the unwinnable fight those griefers will bring upon you. Even if you have a posse of your own, it's still a lopsided fight as a griefer only needs a single explosive or incendiary round to destroy your precious cargo.
  • Epileptic Trees: There is speculation that Maggie Fike, the woman who helps the player in the moonshiner update, is the sister of Black Belle, a gunslinger seen in both single- and multiplayer. Their character models are almost identical, they sound similar and Maggie mentions a sister she has not seen for years.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • Red Dead Online vs. GTA Online. The fandom is really divided here.
    • Like with GTA V, Single-player vs Multiplayer. Fans of multiplayer think it's superior due to custom characters and ability to play with others, while single-player fans feel it's boring and that the single-player mode does everything better. The fact that MP is the one receiving all post-release content is also a sore spot for some.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • The "Slow and Steady" Dead Eye Ability Card is arguably this. During Dead Eye, the player becomes unable to move any faster than a slow walk, but in exchange, incoming headshots have the same damage as bodyshots. When paired with certain passive Ability Cards, players can become killing machines. As a side bonus, it hard counters the meta PVP weapon, the Varmint Rifle, since its bodyshot damage is next to nothing, instantly negating the one advantage said rifle offers (highly accurate headshots).
      • Subsequent updates have nerfed the card and headshots now do more damage than bodyshots, making it a bit more balanced.
    • The Collector role is definitely this. You get hundreds of dollars and a thousand exp for every collection you sell. Each collection can be completed in less than half an hour if you use fast travel and have a fast horse. It's possible to earn thousands of dollars and level up several levels a day if you spend time to do all of the collections. To balance this, artifact locations are changed every day and players need to buy expensive maps to find them. However, instead of being changed randomly, artifact locations are just changed into another set of fixed locations, meaning that experienced players can accurately predict the current locations of artifacts based solely on their past locations. This trick eventually leads to multiple groups of players documenting the possible location of every artifact and create a map to show where everything is on any given date. With this map in hand, finding artifacts become a breeze and many players have accumulated money and experience in days that others have to grind in weeks. Even for players who consider the use of the map to be cheating, the collector role is still very profitable, just a bit more time-consuming and costly.
  • It's Short, So It Sucks!: The story mode, at the time of the beta was a scant eight missions, and four of them are dependent on the player's current honor level. At least this can be excused somewhat with the production values of said missions, having fully voice acted and motion captured cutscenes, which is something its predecessor GTA Online only reserved for heists and purchasing new properties (and almost all of that game's missions were prefaced with nothing but a text message).
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: The Frontier Pursuits update is this for some people as all the roles basically act as a supplement to what people were already doing prior to the update - shooting up enemy gangs (Bounty Hunter), hunting animals (Trader), and treasure hunting (Collector). The Trader role's Cripps Trading Co. is doubly this for veteran players of Grand Theft Auto Online as it recycles the "supply business to make it produce sellable goods" formula that was used in that particular game with practically every major content update.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Interestingly, some see Rockstar is doing this to themselves with their focus on Red Dead Online over the single-player campaign. RDO suffers from many of the problems present in Grand Theft Auto Online, but here the setting heavily limits what can be done with it and the GTA-like over-the-top silliness just isn't possible; as such, it comes off as boring in comparision — which is not helped by Rockstar using the same update model they used for GTO for 4-5 years. Their apathy towards the single-player mode also comes off as odd, as while many understood why this happened with Grand Theft Auto Vnote  it makes much less sense when the single-player campaign is widely seen as one of their best, causing many to wonder just why they are trying to push a So Okay, It's Average cowboy rehash of GTA Online over some of their best work, especially since the player-base of RDO is nowhere as big as the one GTO still has to this day. And this is not even mentioning the fact that GTO holds the honor of being the first game of it's scope and style, but RDO has no such novelty and as such suffers from Uniqueness Decay.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Good luck trying to find Madam Nazar if you want to sell her collectibles. She doesn't have a fixed location, meaning that she could be anywhere on the map. It wouldn't be so bad, if the game would actually show her location on the map. Oh, and she will change locations daily, meaning that players would have to be kept up to speed on where she is everyday. That being said, her location is consistent across all players, so it is very easy to look for her daily location on the internet.
  • Sequelitis: A segment of players feel this way about the game compared to Grand Theft Auto Online. As detailed under It's the Same, Now It Sucks!, the repetitive nature of Rockstar's Online DLC releases is causing people to become numb to it, which combined with the already smaller playerbase and a general disinterest in PVP means some people find the game to be too barren, grindy and barebones to stay interesting. The game also lacks the novelty and uniqueness factors of GTA Online, and as such comes of as a less interesting, cowboy rehash of it.
  • Tainted by the Preview:
    • The beta had the fandom up in arms due to what is perceived to be a massive progression grind combined with an extremely stingy economy. Players typically only earn $3-$5 per mission, and they have to constantly spend cash on survival items to keep their characters in optimum performance. Combined with the fact that unlockables can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and this means a player would have to grind for an excessive number of hours to unlock an item for cash. Not only that, but the game's premium currency, gold bars, can either be bought with real money or earned slowly in the game by collecting 100 gold nuggets. In the beta, it takes around 8 hours of gameplay to earn one gold bar, but most of the gold items cost multiple gold bars. Many fans have decried this grind as a deliberate move on Take Two and Rockstar's part to drive more microtransaction sales. This has died down considerably after the first patch which changed the economy so missions give out more and the more expensive items cost less, making the game easier for everybody involved.
    • The Moonshiner update was this to some as it seems to be an another rehash of the DLC model Rockstar has been using for the last 4-5 years. To make matters worse, Rockstar's decision to release it and GTA Online's Casion Heist just a few days apart caused some to question this decision, since the latter is a major, flashy heist that finally shakes up the formula — that no doubt will overshadow the Moonshiner update.
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