GTA5 didn’t amaze me (sacrilege I know). After the initial buzz of seeing the vast, detailed world and all the things you could do in it, what was left was a somewhat crude 3rd person shooter. And most of the missions seemed to lack intensity and energy. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I’m sure the older GTA games did a better job in that regard.
It didn’t help that not long after finishing GTA5 I played Sleeping Dogs. The world wasn’t as interactive and it certainly wasn’t as big, but the action - the fighting, the car chases, the stunts - was far more exhilarating.
Some years later I randomly came across a few YouTube videos of GTA online action. What struck me was how these gamers had embraced the game’s world and all it offered. It wasn’t just some COD-style multiplayer where they were racking up kills on a scoreboard. They didn’t see getting a haircut as some boring distraction from advancing the story. They were living it, playing the part of a criminal in Los Santos.
When I got RDR2 I was worried I’d end up go through the same feelings as I did with GTA5. Sure enough, it started to happen. The first few days I was left stunned by the attention to detail. Taking that first walk through Valentine was… wow.
But then the tedium began to set in. Doing chores at camp was quite literally a chore. Having to brush and feed your horse? Yawn. If it wasn’t moving the story forward what was the point?
But that attitude actually missed the point. I finally realised that if I was to truly get the most from RDR2 I would have to embrace it not simply as a game but almost as a Wild West simulation (no, not West World).
So now when I feel like it, I’ll hop on my horse and go out into the wilderness. Camp out by a lake. Visit a trapper. Explore the mountains around Strawberry. Protect an aspiring artist from irate husbands. Do a little hunting, some fishing, some crafting. Say hi to passing locals (or rob them). Go sightseeing in Saint Denis. Pick a fight with the Lemoyne Raiders. Find a bar and play a few rounds of poker. Help a local with his debt problem…