Red Dead Redemption 2 (PC) Review – Digital Dying West

Red Dead Redemption Review

On October 26, 2018 Rockstar Games released, or unleashed might be more appropriate, a digital experience in the guise of a game, Red Dead Redemption 2. The gaming world was left in awe for Rockstar released a game not only vast in scope but intricate in detail. Here was an experience where you could drill down into the weeds and still find something to interact with. It was a mind-boggling achievement that has set so many bars in gaming.

Nineteen months later, Rockstar is ready to release RDR2 on the PC. Rather than dwell too much on the details already covered in that review, my aim is to highlight the differences, updates, and additional content the PC version. The pitfalls of bringing the game to the heterogeneous, aka the wild west if you will, world of the PC will be looked at too.

The beauty of RDR2 is you can play the game the way you want. You can follow the main storyline or wander off tracking humans or animals. Or switch back and forth which you will likely be want to do. If there is one thing RDR2 has in spades is depth. Not just in the world but in characterization too. Rockstar has created a very layered protagonist in Arthur Morgan. Much like Eastwood’s aged gun for hire Bill Munny in Unforgiven, Morgan is a man who has seen a lot and done a lot. Some of it good and some of it bad. Through his eyes we see the beginning of the taming of the wild and the cost of such taming. Progress is part of human nature but progress is a wheel that runs roughshod over anything and everything in its path. It’s not a pretty process. Trees are cut down, crystal clear water becomes tainted, and clear air is stained with the smoke of trains and factories.

This diminishment of the untamed west is echoed in the aging Morgan. He sees not only his world breaking down but himself. You can have Morgan look in the mirror at himself and make rueful marks about the wear and tear his outlaw life has put on his body. He lives in a hard world where survival is an ever-present force that drives people to harsh lengths to make it through another day. Contrasted against this harsh life is the beauty of the outdoors. From clear running streams to rugged mountaintops to the glorious site of seeing a stag running across a landscape backlit by a rising sun; it all takes your breathe away. While you can fun with Morgan whether out carousing or playing cards or just out riding his horse and singing, there’s no escaping the undertone of sadness running throughout the game. Most of the characters you come to care about meet bad ends and this is a tale that will stick with you.

More, More, a Whole Lot More

Red Dead Redemption 2 on the PC launched on Nov 9th with the following additional material: 3 new Bounty Hunting missions, two new Gang Hideouts, two new treasure taps, a new Stranger quest, five new trinkets quests and Story Mode has five additional new weapons including the LeMat revolver. Previously this weapon was only available in the online mode. And don’t worry, the horses get some love in this version as well. Appropriate given the strong bond between a cowboy and his steed. New horses, each with their own attributes have been added to the Story Mode. They include the Warped Brindle Arabian, Few Spot Appaloosa, Perlino Andalusian and Red Chestnut Arabian, as well three new horse variations for the background horses.

So, needless to say that, the 100 hours of gameplay for the console version is extended even further here. Plus if you decide to play online – well, this could be where you spend the rest of your life. For the online mode, you can customize either a male or female character with standard paper doll selections.

red dead redemption 2 feature

Now the tech side things are a bit formidable. Minimum specs for Red Dead Redemption 2 call for an Intel i5-2500K or AMD FX-6300 CPU and for your GPU either Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 2GB or AMD Radeon R9 280 3GB cards. The recommended specs for graphics are Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB or AMD Radeon RX 480 4GB paired with either Intel i7-4770K or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X. While 8GB of RAM will work the game recommends 12GB. Obviously the minimum specs will yield one a pretty bare-bones experience. It’s often painful for the pocketbook to maintain a PC that adequately runs a huge AAA game. Speaking of size, you’ll need 112 GB of disk space for the game – 150GB during the install.

For the PC version, Rockstar has upped the ante not only for content but on the eye candy front too. The goal is to push the immersion and detail as far as possible to create the ultimate version of Red Dead Redemption 2. The game’s lighting engine has been enhanced so there are improvements in not only daytime but at night as well. Further improvements have been made to shadows. Further to increasing the sensation of a living, breathing world the draw distances go far beyond what is available on console. While giving the player the sensation of a bigger world, the game also drills down deeper with improved textures and greater detail to not only the flora and fauna but manmade items too.

Top Notch Tech

Of course to take full advantage of all the graphical upgrades you’ll need a bleeding-edge PC to do so. If you are like me and are running a machine you haven’t upgraded in the last two or three years, you’ll have to dial back the settings. My rig is an interesting mix as I run the minimum spec Intel i5-2500k CPU but have a Nvidia GTX 1070 8GB video card. I fiddled with the settings to get as close to a 60fps setting as possible which meant going with medium settings for a lot of the graphic choices. I do have the game installed on an SSD drive.

red dead redemption top

As with games this complex and resource-demanding, issues have arisen for PC players trying to play the game. Rockstar has already released one patch and they can be expected to continue to work and resolve issues. By far the most annoying bug is one where the game pauses intermittently. The video stops yet the audio continues on. So if you are in conversation with someone or in the middle of an action sequence, you can hear it playing it but you are unable to do anything until your PC catches up with the game. Rockstar recommends disabling your Windows virus protection for now to get around the issue but doing so made no difference for me.

These are early days for the PC release and hopefully, the technical issues are addressed in the coming days. As things stand now, unless you have a top-notch PC, chances are you’re running a rig like mine and will have to make graphical compromises that leave you experiencing the game in a presentation fairly similar to that on the consoles. Regardless, this is unquestionably a brilliant experience. Everything about this version is bigger and better than the console version providing you have the rig to run it on.

*** PC code provided by the publisher ***

The Good

  • Same immersive world 
  • More content and tighter controls
  • Such graphical detail

The Bad

  • Need a high-tier PC to run in all its glory
  • Technical glitches
  • Some default control scheme mappings are awkward