5 Things Red Dead Redemption It’s not controversial to acknowledge that both Red Dead Redemption games are masterpieces of gaming. The original game was an enormous success when released in 2010, and the prequel arguably topped it in 2018. Both games have their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, and as such, no game is particularly “better” than the other. Both are incredibly popular, both were critically acclaimed, and both are considered classics.

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The games’ strengths and weaknesses are interesting to parse, with some holding respective strengths and weaknesses in higher regard. For some, the first game is superior. For others, the prequel blows it away.

10RDR 2: The World

Red Dead Redemption 2 Take-Two Photorealism

Even the most vocal critics of Red Dead Redemption 2 admit that its world is drop-dead gorgeous. The prequel will obviously be better from a graphics and world-building standpoint, considering the original is eight years older. But regardless, there’s no denying that Red Dead 2‘s world is significantly better than its predecessor’s.

In fact, it’s hard going back to the original, considering its relatively small size and lack of detail and variety. Besides, the entire map is remade in Red Dead 2, so there’s really no point in doing so.

9RDR 1: The Side Challenges

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Completing 100% of the game was significantly easier in Red Dead Redemption than it was in its prequel. Rockstar has mastered of open-world design, and they perfectly integrated side challenges into the wider world throughout the first game. The challenges were…well, challenging, but also incredibly fun, and they helped expand the world and open up possibilities to players less willing to experiment with gameplay.

On the other hand, the challenges throughout RDR 2 often bordered on the nonsensical and annoying, especially the near-impossible Gambler challenges.

8RDR 2: The Bigger Cast Of Characters

The entire Van Der Linde gang from Red Dead Redemption 2 together

The first Red Dead Redemption tells a great story, but there’s no denying that it’s a significantly smaller one. The first game is like a great personal drama, whereas the second is an epic on the scale of Great American Novels.

The expansive cast of characters alone is nothing short of magnificent. Each has their own distinctive personalities, subplots, and character arcs, and simply hanging out with them around a campfire proves an engaging experience. There’s nothing like it in the first game.

7RDR 1: Faster Pace

Those looking for a more traditional video game will definitely enjoy the first Red Dead Redemption more than its successor. Red Dead Redemption 2 focused intently on realism, and for some, it was a creative direction not worth exploring.

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Everything in RDR 2 was deliberately paced and almost poetic – simply skinning an animal was an exercise in patience, and it could take 10-15 minutes riding from A to B. RDR 1 had a much faster and more “video game-y” pace in the vein of Grand Theft Auto, and for some, it was all the better for it.

6RDR 2: The More Expansive Story

red dead redemption 2 micah bell

It wasn’t only the expansive cast of characters that helped Red Dead Redemption 2 have the trappings of an epic.

The story was also far more thematic and literary, focusing on many themes often touched on in Western literature, including the concept of civilization encroaching on the outlaw lifestyle and the end of the American Frontier. These themes are told through a sweeping story stretching many different corners and locales of late 19th century America.

5RDR 1: Smoother Movement

John hides behind a rock while waiting for a carriage

One of the biggest criticisms of Red Dead Redemption 2 was its laborious movement. Not only was the game slowly-paced – often forcing the player to explore every last inch of a house to find food, alcohol, and medicine – but Arthur himself moved at a snail’s pace that could make the simple act of walking a frustrating experience.

There was also the clunky movement of picking up items, looting bodies, and more – all of which saw Arthur awkwardly positioning his body for the action. In many ways, the first Red Dead Redemption was a far smoother experience.

4RDR 2: Better Detail

Arthur and Mary talking

The first Red Dead Redemption was eight years old when the prequel was released in 2018, so of course the prequel is going to look better. It’s very difficult returning to old games, and returning to Red Dead Redemption is no different. While the graphics are by no means bad, they pale in comparison to those found in RDR 2.

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The detail found within RDR 2 is simply incredible, and Rockstar once again proved why they are considered masters of open-world design. There’s always something new to discover, and the amount of work that Rockstar put into the game’s detail is endlessly commendable.

3RDR 1: Better Gunplay

John Marston shooting two guns at once

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the gunplay of Red Dead Redemption 2. It works fine, and it does the job well enough. But it is significantly outdated, and it failed to innovate on the first game’s core gameplay mechanics. Which is a shame, considering that game was nearly a decade old.

The gunplay of Red Dead Redemption is both smooth and intuitive, and at the time, bullet time was still a somewhat interesting gameplay mechanic (even though it stretches back to the early 2000s). By the time RDR 2 rolled around in 2018, it was positively archaic.

2RDR 2: Denser Open World

While some people complained about Red Dead 2‘s slow pace, this was always Rockstar’s intent. They fully intended players to spend ten or fifteen minutes traveling from A to B, and they designed the game around its deliberate pacing. Luckily, they knew this could be a problem and subsequently filled the map with near-endless activities.

A 15-minute ride from A to B isn’t simply a 15-minute ride from A to B. The world is filled with activities and random encounters, so even a simple horse ride is guaranteed to hold some type of surprise in store.

1RDR 1: More “Western” Setting

Red Dead Redemption is intrinsically linked to the Western genre. That said, Red Dead Redemption 2 threw players a bit of a curveball, locking the most obvious Western setting behind the epilogue.

Those looking for a Western video game modeled after Mexico and Texas instead found a gorgeous game set in snowy mountains, plains, the American South, and Louisianan swamps. It wasn’t a “Western” by any sense of the imagination, whereas the first Red Dead Redemption was far more traditional in that regard.

Game Description

America, 1899. The end of the Wild West era has begun as lawmen hunt down the last remaining outlaw gangs. Those who will not surrender or succumb are killed.

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