There's a Simple Reason to Take Care of Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC: Rockstar makes some of the most beautiful open worlds in games and they look best on a computer. According to the story, it's a blame game for trying to find stability and a sense of family in a violent, chaotic world. It's also a game of horseback riding at sunset, playing poker in warmly lit lounges, and getting into fist fights with drunks in mud alleys. I visited Rockstar this week to enjoy this computer atmosphere and at one point accidentally run into a dog. Sorry dog.
Let's talk about the technical stuff. The building ran a solid 60 frames at 4K resolution with a combination of high and medium graphics settings. The PC version features improved surround lighting, which means a lot of beautiful god rays in the Bayou area of the map. Improved tessellation means more detailed terrain and extremely convincing mud. The improved towing distance means you can see the shining lights of Saint Denis at night from miles away. There are smaller touches too ̵
You can capture these details in a new photo mode, which is a great addition to a game designed to create a cinematic feel. It has features you would expect. You can move the camera 25 meters away from your character, tilt, zoom in, pan, change focus, and choose from different filters.
These updates collectively combine the red-hot atmosphere of the Red Dead. I went into Saint Denis and wandered around first-person. After I was almost hit by a tram, I wandered into the salon and ordered whiskey. The nice clientele mumbled comments on my appearance as I passed, and suddenly remembered that I hadn't washed myself after my murky fist fight returned to Valentine. Rockstar's attention to detail goes beyond the finely textured wood paneling in this slippery saloon. Everywhere I go, NPCs notice me, muttering a "good day" down the aisle, warning me not to create any more problems after a quarrel on the street and trampling on this mud. Sorry again, dog.
First-person research is much better on a computer thanks to just well-designed mice. The pad controls are slowly borderline, as if giving your actions a sense of theft that fits in with the methodical pace of Red Dead Redemption 2. It's great to be able to quickly look where I want without dragging my gaze with a stick. It also means that you can play the game as a legitimate FPS. Naturally, the game switches off the automatic purpose of the pad when you start playing with the mouse, and you can switch freely between the mouse and the pad if you prefer to ride a horse with a controller.
The combination of 60 frames per second and mouse view significantly changes the way the game feels, which to me matters more than the visual enhancements of a game that already looked great. As a PC player, I am used to being able to annoy myself with my eyes and react to the gaming world with almost unconscious mouse flicks. The tampon view creates a small amount of friction between my intention and the way the game responds to that intention. Removing this friction just makes the game feel better for me.
The controls are also customizable, as you would expect. You can change the FOV settings to your liking and the directional keys. The menus for selecting radial items will take some time, and for the purpose of my fingers, I would shift the "slow dead eye" trigger from the middle mouse button to the side button. Otherwise, it looks like the Red Dead have gone over well with the computer. Implementation is a major unexplored problem. Rockstar says the game is very scalable. We look forward to testing it on several different platforms.
The game will start with a few extras. I am most excited about the addition of three new head hunting missions, one of which asks you to capture a man named Bart Cavanaugh, dead or alive from his hermit camp. There are several new raiding gang hideouts, new treasure maps, new weapons (some of which have been ported to single player from Red Dead Online), and wonderful new horses.
Rockstar confirms that Red Dead Online will be live on PC at launch, and this may prove to be the most compelling part of the release. We had a lot of fun at GTA Online, but the mode suffered from an outrageous hack on a computer. The fantasy of Red Dead Online – riding with a friend's name – has huge potential, but that potential has not yet been fully explored on the console. It has taken a year or more to find GTA Online a leg up, if Red Dead Online can do the same, I will spend an awful lot of time in the sad cowboy world.
Red Dead Redemption 2 comes out to PC only a few days, on November 5th.