How Grand Theft Auto 5 Should Leave Its Mark on Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is generating discussion for a game with no release date, no gameplay footage, no story information and only a single cinematic trailer. Nonetheless, the internet seems adamant about talking up a storm regarding this game we barely know anything about. Discussion usually runs on one of two venues – speculation, and complaining about the lack of official information from Rockstar.

That said, there are a few things we do know about the upcoming title, including the fact that it will feature an online multiplayer mode much like that of the developer’s previous major release, Grand Theft Auto 5. In fact, Red Dead Redemption 2 will be taking a lot of inspiration from Grand Theft Auto 5; much like its predecessor, Red Dead Redemption was similar to the Grand Theft Auto franchise in countless ways. Seeing as both games are vast, open-world action adventure titles based on a fictitious rendition of the United States made by the same developers, similarities can be expected.

There are a handful of ways I hope Red Dead Redemption 2 will reflect Grand Theft Auto 5 – and some ways in which we hope it abandons all similarity. Grand Theft Auto 5 has earned near-universal critical praise and with good reason. However, it would be exaggeration to say that it is a perfect game, and if Red Dead Redemption 2 is taking notes, it might as well improve on some of the issues this other game suffers from. But first, let’s look at what I hope returns, shall we?

Grand Theft Auto 5 is an absolute marvel of sandbox game design in a way no game previously made by Rockstar could ever hope to be. Los Santos and Blaine County (although, almost Japan, apparently) are incredibly lively and vibrant. “Immersive” and “truly life-like” are E3 marketing buzzwords every starry-eyed designer describes their games with during interviews, so players might have become jaded to them, but Grand Theft Auto 5 is one of the rare examples where it’s the truth.

This is a game world that lives – it does stuff on its own without player input. NPCs don’t just stand riveted to the exact same location all the time and only move or speak when the player clicks on them. GTA 5’s NPCs have conversations, they argue, they get into fights, they go to stores, beg for money, drink, eat, run each other over, sunbathe, dig through trash, and do dozens of other small activities which really breathe life into the world. I would like to see this return in Red Dead Redemption 2.

Then there’s other small “Rockstar-ish” aspects that we hope make it to Red Dead Redemption 2 too. Like the satirical humor that the Grand Theft Auto series is well-known for, we’d love to see more of that injected into Red Dead Redemption 2. Cheat codes usually feature in nearly all the single player components of Rockstar’s games too and this game should be no exception. I’d like to see the types of cheats found in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas though, versus the comparatively more limited selection found in Grand Theft Auto 5.

There are some systems in place in Grand Theft Auto 5 that make the enjoyment of its vast open world inconvenient though. While driving is a major aspect of the game, players will often find themselves on foot shooting at people who don’t like them for various reasons. The shooting itself needs to be worked on, as the guns in Grand Theft Auto 5 just have no punch to them, no real feedback. It’s like you’ve got a Nerf gun or a super soaker in your hands instead of a high-powered assault rifle.

I hope that weapons in this game have power to them. I want the blast of a shotgun to descend upon  enemies like the fists of Zeus in explosive fury. The weapon wheel could also use a revamp, since in Grand Theft Auto 5, you’re always carrying your entire arsenal, and scrolling through two dozen assault rifles to get to the only one.

Rockstar has been refining its formula for open world sandbox games for a good decade now, and I am eager to see what kind of improvements Red Dead Redemption 2 will boast based on lessons learned from Grand Theft Auto.