Red Dead Redemption 2: eight things we learned from the new trailer

After years of speculation, guesswork and vague landscape shots masquerading as teasers, we finally have our first proper look at the sequel to history’s greatest video game. A proper Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer moseyed on to the internet on Thursday evening, offering more information about the game than ever before.

So what do we know for sure about Red Dead Redemption 2? Here’s what we extracted from the new material.

1. It’s definitely a prequel

You cannot have cowboys in cars. Photograph: Rockstar

One of the most impressive things about Red Dead Redemption was how it functioned as an elegy for the wild west; towards the climax, when cars began to pootle around Blackwater, you felt a palpable sense of loss for a dying way of life. A chronological sequel would be set in an entirely different world, so it makes sense that Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel, full of all the cowboy tropes you could ever ask for. Some have suggested that it’ll be set in 1906, five years before the last game.

2. You play Arthur Morgan

Hello Arthur, nice hat. Photograph: Rockstar

This much we know; players will control Arthur Morgan, and Arthur Morgan is a crook. He’s part of the Van Der Linde gang, the same gang that once counted John Marston among its ranks. According to Rockstar, we’ll follow the gang “as they rob, fight and steal their way across the vast and rugged heart of America in order to survive”. This is why the 1906 rumours are so prevalent; that’s the year the gang botched a robbery and left Marston for dead. But even if that’s not the case, Morgan seems like a bad egg. He’s a thug and a bully, threatening to kill a young man just to keep their widowed mother in mourning. He performs his duties with a deranged look of glee on his face. Presumably this is the man who’ll find redemption along the way. But he seems like such a lost cause that it’ll be a long road back.

3. Dutch is the big bad again

A bad man, but
such shiny buttons. Photograph: Rockstar

The Van Der Linde gang would be nothing without its leader Dutch van der Linde, who pops up towards the end of the trailer. If this is a prequel – and I suppose this technically counts as a spoiler – it means he’ll definitely survive this game. He’s still a slimy piece of work, though, demanding loyalty from Morgan so pointedly that it seems likely he won’t receive it.

4. There might be heists

“This is what happens when the buffet car runs out of bourbon.” Photograph: Rockstar

The trailer hints at a couple of set pieces; a train robbery and some sort of event where the gang go into a building mob-handed and leave it in flames. This could mean that GTA V-style heists will be part of Red Dead Redemption 2. If that’s the case, it might also mean you get to play multiple characters – Bill Williamson? The woman who stabs a guy’s hand? John Marston? – and that Rockstar has big online plans for the game once the linear plot reaches its conclusion. I’ve got mixed feelings about the latter – the end of the last game was such a colossal gut-punch that hopping online afterwards cheapened the narrative a little – but it’ll probably make lots of people happy and line Rockstar’s pockets even more, so who cares?

5. The world is bigger

Could it be that the world is so big there’s a fast travel system using trains? We’ll give you a minute to recover from the use of ‘fast travel’ and ‘trains’ in the same sentence. Photograph: Rockstar

“We got lawmen in three different states after us,” Morgan says over a shot of the gang riding through the snow. “They chased us from the west, they chased us over the mountains.” This line apparently confirms rumours of a greatly expanded map this time around. Could Red Dead Redemption 2 take place over three whole states? If so, this will be terrific news for fans of long, event-free horse rides that take place over vast distances with little to no interruption.

6. There are alligators as well as bears now

‘That love scene with Leonardo di Caprio did wonders for my career.’ Photograph: Rockstar

Everyone who ever played Red Dead Redemption has a story about a bear lurching in out of nowhere and Revenanting them to death just for the petty sake of it. The bad news is that the Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer pretty comprehensively reintroduces bears into the mix. The worse news is that there are now alligators as well, which will probably lurch in out of nowhere and Lake Placid you to death just for the petty sake of it if you happen to go anywhere near water. We should just accept this now and move on. Animals are stupid.

7. There will be arrows

I’ll get you, you damn bunny. Photograph: Rockstar

Fans of the Red Dead series have long been requesting bows and arrows to play with; they were present in Red Dead Revolver, but not Red Dead Redemption. But right there in the trailer, plain as day, is Arthur firing an arrow at a deer. This could mean all sorts of things – improved hunting, an opportunity for silent kills – but it does definitely mean that we’ll all have to suffer through an interminable tutorial where you shoot an arrow at a tiny rabbit bobbing about on a hill for an hour and a half, cursing your lack of basic hand-eye coordination. Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, yay for arrows!

8. You can maybe dual wield guns

‘I know what you’re thinking punk, did I fire 12 bullets or just 11?’ Photograph: Rockstar

Twitter is going mad with excitement over the shots of Morgan dual wielding like a latter day Harvey Keitel. Lets hope he’s using double- rather than single-action revolvers or this is going to be an awfully short gun fight for him.

  • Red Dead Redemption 2 will be released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2018.

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