Jake Elmslie – Sports Editor
In a game where you can spend a majority of your time ether murdering or robbing people, the most criminal thing in “Red Dead Redemption 2” may be the way the tutorial is handled.
“Red Dead Redemption 2,” the sequel to the highly acclaimed “Red Dead Redemption,” promises the player an open-world wild west adventure. One where you are free to roam and explore any cowboy fantasies you may have, be they riding your horse at breakneck speeds to elude bounty hunters, stealing and driving a turn of the century steam engine or dominating a fist fight in the local saloon. Yet, the path Rockstar Games forces you to take to get to this level of freedom is bizarre.
“Red Dead Redemption 2” insists on forcing the player through an arduous three to four hour tutorial, ripe with slow moving dull missions and admittedly beautiful but overly long cinematics that cumulatively make the player feel like they are doing little more than watching a barely interactive movie.
The intentions of this section of the game is to both familiarize the player with “Red Dead Redemption 2”’s controls and mechanics as well as to begin to invest the player in the story of the game’s protagonist Arthur Morgan and the various members of his gang. In execution, however, the tutorial holds the players hand in an iron death grip while repeatedly forcing story beats down the players throat in a fashion that starts to make one envy the members of the gang that were lost and left behind.
All of this may be forgivable if the whole enterprise was at least entertaining, but alas, slowly following a non-playable character around a mountain side and, in a moment that feels like an actual joke, driving a horse drawn cart down an uneventful road are disappointing to the player that came in expecting an exhilarating sandbox from the get go.
In the grand scheme, the issues with this tutorial are two-fold. First, the controls for these sorts of open world games have become fairly ubiquitous in recent times. The modern gamer will usually assume the bumpers are used to shoot in much the same way a platformer player understands that the A button is used to jump without being told so. Secondly, other open world games such as Bethesda’s “Fallout 4” or more recently, Nintendo’s “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” pull off what “Red Dead Redemption 2” attempted to do in its tutorial far better.
“Fallout 4” introduces the player to the basic controls of the game in a brief opening mission. After this is completed, the player is essentially given free reign to explore the game’s world with other mechanics being explained when they become important. “Breath of the Wild” meanwhile throws the player right into things from the get go with anything that resembles a tutorial coming naturally in the game’s opening missions in a way that feels seamless in its integration. Additionally, the player is given the option to learn more about the game’s world and story through various side quests in a fashion that makes finding out this information feel like a goal as opposed to required reading.
It is important to note that after one completes the tutorial, “Red Dead Redemption 2” is the exciting, open-ended, detailed 19th century jaunt fans were expecting. However, while being forced to slog through a bloated tutorial, it’s easy to question if Rockstar Games should get off so easily for an opening act that would have made me walk out on a game I had lower expectations for.