Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption is a 2010 action-adventure game developed by Rockstar San Diego and published by Rockstar Games. A spiritual successor to 2004's Red Dead Revolver, it is the second game in the Red Dead series. Red Dead Redemption is set during the decline of the American frontier in the year 1911 and follows John Marston, a former outlaw whose wife and son are taken hostage by the government in ransom for his services as a hired gun. Having no other choice, Marston sets out to bring three members of his former gang to justice.
The game is played from a third-person perspective. The player may freely roam in its interactive open world, a fictionalized version of the Western United States and Mexico, primarily by horseback and on foot. Gunfights emphasize a gunslinger gameplay mechanic called "Dead Eye" that allows players to mark multiple shooting targets on enemies in slow motion. The game makes use of a morality system, by which the player's actions in the game affect their character's levels of honor and fame and how other characters respond to the player. An online multiplayer mode is included with the game, allowing up to 16 players to engage in both cooperative and competitive gameplay in a recreation of the single-player setting.
The game's development lasted over five years, and it became one of the most expensive video games ever made. The working hours and managerial style of the studio during development was met with public complaints from staff members. Rockstar improved its proprietary game engine to increase its technological capabilities. The development team conducted extensive research, visiting historical American landmarks and analyzing classic Western films, to achieve realism while creating the game. The team hired professional actors to perform the body movements through motion capture. Red Dead Redemption features an original score composed by Bill Elm and Woody Jackson. The game's development received controversy following accusations of unethical working practices.
The game was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in May 2010. It received critical acclaim for its visuals, music, performances, gameplay, and story, and shipped over 15 million copies by 2017. It won several year-end accolades, including Game of the Year awards from several gaming publications, and is considered by critics as one of the greatest video games ever made. After the game's release, several downloadable content additions were released; Undead Nightmare, later released as a standalone game, added a new single-player experience in which Marston searches for a cure for an infectious zombie plague. A prequel, Red Dead Redemption 2, was released in October 2018.
GameplayRed Dead Redemption is a Western-themed action-adventure game played from a third-person perspective. The player controls John Marston and completes missions—linear scenarios with set objectives—to progress through the story; in the game's epilogue, the player controls John's son Jack. Outside of missions, players may freely roam the open world environment, consisting of the American states New Austin and West Elizabeth—fictionalized versions of the Western United States—and the fictional Mexican state of Nuevo Paraíso. Different breeds of horses are the main forms of transportation, each with different attributes. Horses must be tamed in the wild or stolen in order to use them. The player can utilize trains and carriages for quick travel, The game's undeveloped land makes up the largest portion of the game world, featuring various rugged and vast landscapes with occasional travelers, bandits, and wildlife. Urban settlements range from isolated farmhouses to crowded towns.
that lets the player hide behind objects and reach out to fire on people and animals.
The player can witness and partake in random events as they explore the game world, including public hangings, ambushes, pleas for assistance, encounters with strangers, ride-by shootings, and dangerous animal attacks. Optional side activities are also available, such as dueling, bounty hunting, herb collecting, gambling, and hunting. Red Dead Redemption uses an Honor system, which measures how the player's actions are perceived in terms of morality. Morally positive deeds, such as capturing an outlaw alive or saving a stranger, will add up to the player's Honor. Conversely, negative choices such as murder will subtract from the player's Honor. This works in conjunction with the Fame system, which affects how non-player characters react to the player based on their Honor. If the player has high Honor, NPCs will greet them and they will receive discounts in some stores; if low, NPCs will act insecure and establishments may close their doors. The player can disguise themselves by wearing a bandana when performing criminal acts.
Gunfights are an essential gameplay mechanic in Red Dead Redemption. The player can take cover, target a specific person or animal, blindfire, and free aim. Individual body parts can also be targeted, in order to take targets down non-lethally. Weapons consist of revolvers, pistols, rifles, shotguns, knives, explosives, and lassos. Duels utilize a gunslinger gameplay mechanic known as Dead Eye, a targeting system that allows the player to slow down time and mark targets. Once the targeting sequence ends, the player fires to all marked locations in extremely quick succession. The Dead Eye system upgrades as the player progresses and grants more abilities.
The game introduces the bounty system, a crime-governing mechanic inspired by Grand Theft Autos wanted system. When the player commits a crime, witnesses run to the nearest police station. The player can either bribe or kill them before they reach the station, negating any consequences. Once the law is alerted, the Wanted meter appears with a bounty set on the player's head. The bounty grows higher as the player commits more crimes, and more lawmen will be sent to hunt them. After committing enough crime, the U.S. Marshals or Mexican Army will be sent to the player's location. To evade law enforcement in pursuit, the player must escape a circular zone or kill all lawmen in a town. If the player escapes, bounty hunters will continue to track after them. The bounty will remain on their head until they pay it at a telegraph station or present a pardon letter.
The online multiplayer allows up to 16 players to engage in competitive and cooperative gameplay in a recreation of the single-player setting. Each game begins with a Mexican standoff, of which the survivors can move to any part of the battlefield in preparation for respawning enemies. Event types include deathmatch scenarios and capture the flag variants. Crates in the environment contain extra weapons, ammo, and other powerups. Players can level up and complete weapon challenges which earn them rewards such as new character models, golden weapon skins, new titles, and new breeds of animal mounts. Multiplayer also features open-world gameplay, wherein players can form or join a group of up to eight players in a "posse" group and partake in hunting or attack other gangs or posses. In some game modes, players are unable to kill each other.
PlotIn 1911, the family of former outlaw John Marston is kidnapped by Bureau of Investigation agents, Edgar Ross and Archer Fordham, who force him to hunt down his former gang members in exchange for his family's return. John first goes after former ally Bill Williamson, who now leads his own gang, only to be shot and left for dead. Rescued by local rancher Bonnie MacFarlane, he helps her with several jobs in exchange for her kindness, while at the same time making new allies and asking for their help in capturing Williamson: U.S. Marshal Leigh Johnson, con artist Nigel West Dickens, treasure hunter Seth Briars, and arms smuggler "Irish". After devising a plan to hit Williamson's stronghold, the group carry it out and defeat his gang, only for John to learn that Williamson has fled to Mexico to seek help from Javier Escuella, another former member of John's gang. After thanking his allies, John part ways with them and travels to Mexico.
Upon his arrival in the Mexican state of Nuevo Paraíso, John becomes involved in a local civil war between Colonel Agustín Allende, the state's tyrannical ruler, and Abraham Reyes, the leader of a rebellion against Allende's government. John works with both sides in exchange for help in tracking down his targets. When Allende decides to turn on him, John is rescued by Reyes and vows to aid the rebels in gaining an advantage. As a result, the rebels help him find Escuella during a raid on an Army fortress, who reveals that Williamson is Allende's protection. After dealing with Escuella, John reports his progress to Ross and Fordham, learning he must return to their headquarters back in the town of Blackwater once Williamson is dealt with. Reyes eventually leads an assault on Allende's palace, and John helps him chase and execute Allende and Williamson when they attempt to flee. Leaving Reyes to rule Nuevo Paraíso and lead his revolution to Mexico's capital, John returns to the United States.
Back in the U.S., John works with Ross, Fordham, and their associates to track down Dutch van der Linde, the gang's former leader and John's surrogate father, now leading a new gang made of Native Americans. Despite repeated efforts by Dutch to hinder the group's attempt to capture him, John ultimately aids the U.S. army in attacking his hideout. Chased to a cliff, Dutch concedes defeat and warns John that the Bureau will not give him peace, before committing suicide. Ross honors their agreement and allows John to reunite with wife Abigail, son Jack, and friend and former gang member Uncle back at his ranch, where he attempts to return to a normal life. However, this peace is short-lived, as Ross betrays John and leads an assault on his ranch. After Uncle is killed while holding out against Bureau agents and the Army, John sends his family away to safety and confronts the attackers. John is then shot down by Ross and his men, and lies dead as the attacking force leaves.
Three years later, in 1914, Jack buries Abigail after she dies and exacts revenge by killing the recently-retired Ross.
Developmentbegan to develop Red Dead Redemption in 2005. Development was conducted by a team of more than 800 people, including Rockstar San Diego's core team and staff from parent company Rockstar Games' studios around the world. The game runs on the proprietary Rockstar Advanced Game Engine, which was improved for the game to improve its draw distance rendering capabilities. The Euphoria and Bullet software handle additional animation and rendering tasks. Having exhausted the use of previous hardware on other projects, Rockstar felt inspired after realizing the potential power of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Analyst estimations place the game's combined development and marketing budget between US$80 million and US$100 million, which would make it one of the most expensive video games ever made. The game's development received controversy following accusations of unethical working practices at Rockstar San Diego, including twelve-hour workdays and six-day weeks, with a lower-than-the-industry-average salary increase.
The open world was created to represent iconic features of the American frontier. Key members of the game world product team took research trips to Washington and the Library of Congress in their extensive research on the American frontier. They also captured a multitude of photographs and analyzed various classic Western films. The team considered creating the open world one of the most technically demanding aspect of the game's production, in terms of filling the world with enough content to interest players. The team chose 1911 as the game's setting as they felt that exploring the transformation from "the old West" into a modern world was intriguing. The team viewed Red Dead Redemption as a spiritual successor to Red Dead Revolver, and designed it to improve upon the gameplay mechanics. They sought to maintain the shooting mechanic and expand on other game features, attempting to achieve realism with every feature of the game. In particular, the team faced a challenge in creating realistic movement for the horse, resulting in the engagement of a stunt horse to simulate movement for the designers.
The cast's performances were mostly recorded using motion capture technology, with additional dialogue and sound effects recorded in a studio. After an audition process, Rob Wiethoff was selected to portray John Marston. John was developed to be a "family man". The team created him as a nuanced character, as opposed to a straightforward hero or villain, to provide an interesting experience. Red Dead Redemption also features an original score, which was composed by Bill Elm and Woody Jackson, collaborating with each other over fifteen months. When researching music for inspiration, Jackson found that there was no "Western sound" in 1911; he felt that the soundtracks of 1960s Western films, such as Ennio Morricone's work on the Dollars Trilogy, was more representative of Western music. Rockstar also consulted musicians who played traditional Western instruments, such as harmonica player Tommy Morgan.
Though a technology demonstration was shown in 2005, Red Dead Redemption was first formally announced by Rockstar Games on February 3, 2009. The debut trailer was released on May 6, 2009, introducing the game's protagonist. The game missed its original projected April 2010 release date, pushed back to May 18, 2010 to allow for further polishing. To spur pre-order game sales, Rockstar collaborated with several retail outlets to provide pre-order bonuses. These included exclusive in-game outfits, weapons and horses, as well as the game's official soundtrack. Rockstar released a Facebook application, Red Dead Redemption: Gunslingers, in April 2010. The following month, a machinima short film directed by John Hillcoat, titled Red Dead Redemption: The Man from Blackwater, was aired on Fox.
Downloadable content for the game was released following its launch. Outlaws to the End, released on June 22, 2010, added six cooperative side missions for multiplayer. Legends and Killers was released on August 10, 2010, and added multiplayer characters from Red Dead Revolver, as well as new map locations and a Tomahawk weapon. On September 21, 2010, Liars and Cheats added competitive multiplayer modes, minigames, characters, and a weapon. Hunting and Trading, released on October 12, 2010, added a jackalope to the game's world, and some additional outfits. Undead Nightmare adds a single-player campaign, set in a non-canonical, zombie apocalypse-themed alternate reality with ghost towns and cemeteries full of zombies, wherein John searches for a cure to the zombie outbreak. It was released on October 26, 2010 as DLC and in late November as a standalone expansion pack. Myths and Maverick released for free on September 13, 2011, adding additional characters and locations to the multiplayer. A Game of the Year Edition containing all downloadable content was released for both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on October 11, 2011, in North America and on October 14, 2011, internationally. Additionally, Microsoft added the game to its backwards compatibility list for Xbox One platforms in July 2016, and Sony added it to its PlayStation Now service in December 2016.
ReceptionRed Dead Redemption received "universal acclaim" from critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic. It is among the highest-rated games on Metacritic, and is ranked as the fifth-highest rated PlayStation 3 and seventh-highest rated Xbox 360 game. Erik Brudvig of IGN described Red Dead Redemption as "a must-play" and "one of the deepest, most fun, and most gorgeous games around"; GamePros Herrig named it Rockstar's best game to date, a culmination of their previous successes. Simon Parkin of Eurogamer concluded that Red Dead Redemption was "a blockbuster video game: a string of cinematic set-pieces and flawed yet endearing characters nestled within an orthodox narrative structure, seasoned with generous pinches of extra-curricular tasks".
IGNs Brudvig identified that Red Dead Redemptions narrative themes reflected modern society, including racism, government power, and immigration; Will Tuttle of GameSpy found that they occasionally felt "preachy", but were typically more nuanced than expected. Mike Channell of Official Xbox Magazine considered the death of the Wild West a pressure that loomed over the narrative. Matt Bertz of Game Informer felt that the narrative momentum suffered from the length of the missions in Mexico, but praised the game's ending for using a "sense of immersiveness only a video game can impart". IGNs Brudvig similarly lauded the game's climax as one of the best in gaming. Herring of GamePro was surprised by the likability of John Marston, describing him as "one of the more sympathetic antiheroes in recent memory". He also felt that, despite being based on caricatures of Spaghetti Western films, the game's secondary characters were "interesting enough that they never feel contrived"; conversely, Paste reviewer Kirk Hamilton opined that the "clichéd and unlikeable" supporting characters undermined the narrative. GameSpots Justin Calvert applauded the detail of the "deeply flawed but very likable" Marston, noting that his scars and outfit made him feel more believable. Brudvig of IGN wrote that Marston's motivations were occasionally confusing and felt alienated from the narrative.
Bertz of Game Informer named Red Dead Redemption the "best-looking Rockstar game to date". IGNs Brudvig lauded the environmental details and noted that the game's dynamic events and weather provided a rich experience for players. GamePros Herring considered the game's open world superior to its contemporaries, appreciating the change from Grand Theft Auto IVs "brown, muddy 'realism' filter". Tuttle of GameSpy named the game's environment its most impressive element, praising the ecology and geography. Parkin of Eurogamer noted that the world was as dense as Grand Theft Auto IVs Liberty City while maintaining the Western theme of isolation. Edge felt that the world felt emptier than Liberty City, but "Rockstar proves far better at guiding your eye to the relevant parts". Reviewers praised the side missions that appear throughout the game world; Scott Sharkey of 1Up.com described them as "perfect little micro-dramas". Edge wrote that the variety in side content avoided the repetition present in Assassin's Creed.
Bertz of Game Informer wrote that Red Dead Redemption "tranpose the Grand Theft Auto gameplay template onto a Wild West setting". Good Game reviewer Stephanie Bendixsen felt that the game used the best elements of Grand Theft Auto IV. GameSpots Calvert lauded the bounty system for adding consequence to the player's actions. The horseback controls received praise from critics; GamePros Herring found that they added authenticity. Parkin of Eurogamer named the relationship between the player and their horse as among the game's greatest successes, but noted some awkward controls, particularly when running. Edge felt that the Dead Eye mechanic "puts gunplay on a pedestal"; Brudvig of IGN wrote that it "makes you feel like a classic gunslinger". Eurogamers Parkin compared the combat favorably to Rockstar's previous titles, particularly praising the horseback shootouts, but criticized the "sticky and outdated" cover mechanic. Bertz of Game Informer found the aiming and cover system to be as "airtight" as in Grand Theft Auto IV, and lauded the uniqueness of the weapons and animations. OXMs Channell commended the variety and handling of the weaponry. G4s Jake Gaskill opined that the Dead Eye "can feel a bit too powerful at times".
GameSpy writer Tuttle found that the minimalist score added to the world's authenticity. Herring of GamePro compared the soundtrack favorably to Ennio Morricone's work on the Dollars Trilogy. Eurogamers Parkin named it "standout", praising the use of multiple instruments. Calvert of GameStop described the soundtrack as "superb", though noted that it "occasionally swells up without reason". PSM3s Andy Hartup wrote that the music complemented the action and scenery, never feeling intrusive. Pastes Hamilton thought that the score was integrated into the world seamlessly. The game's vocal tracks also received praise; the scene wherein Marston enters Mexico was described as "beautiful" by GamesRadars Matt Cundy due to the use of the song "Far Away" by José González.
Red Dead Redemptions multiplayer received mixed commentary. Bertz of Game Informer described it as "a fully featured complement" to the single-player. GamePros Herring praised the variety of modes and open gameplay, but noted that it put more responsibility on the players for keeping the game interesting. Calvert of GameSpot felt that there was a lack in customization options for players. Sharkey of 1Up.com criticized the leveling mechanics. G4s Jake Gaskill echoed this sentiment, noting that the game often respawns players in close proximity to the opposition.
AccoladesRed Dead Redemption received multiple nomination and awards from gaming publications, winning several Game of the Year awards. At the Spike Video Game Awards in 2010, the game received ten nominations and went on to win four awards: Game of the Year, Best Song in a Game, Best Original Score, and Best DLC. The game earned eight nominations at the 14th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards and won five, including Action Game of the Year and Outstanding Character Performance for Wiethoff. At the 11th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards, Red Dead Redemption won four awards of five nominations, including Game of the Year and Best Game Design. The game was not nominated for any of the jury-based awards at the British Academy Games Awards as Rockstar did not submit it for consideration. The game appeared on several year-end lists of the best games of 2010, receiving Game of the Year wins from outlets such as 1Up.com, Computer and Video Games, Digital Spy, Gamasutra, Game Informer, GameSpot, GameSpy, GamesRadar, Good Game, The Guardian, Kotaku, and VentureBeat.
|Award||Date||Category||Recipient and Nominee||Result||Ref.|
|British Academy Video Games Awards||March 16, 2011||GAME Award of 2010||Red Dead Redemption|
|Game Developers Choice Awards||February 11, 2011||Game of the Year||Red Dead Redemption|
|Game Developers Choice Awards||February 11, 2011||Best Game Design||Red Dead Redemption|
|Game Developers Choice Awards||February 11, 2011||Best Technology||Red Dead Redemption|
|Game Developers Choice Awards||February 11, 2011||Best Audio||Red Dead Redemption|
|Game Developers Choice Awards||February 11, 2011||Best Writing||Red Dead Redemption|
|Golden Joystick Awards||October 29, 2010||Ultimate Game of the Year||Red Dead Redemption|
|Golden Joystick Awards||October 29, 2010||Action/Adventure Game of the Year||Red Dead Redemption|
|Interactive Achievement Awards||February 11, 2011||Action Game of the Year||Red Dead Redemption|
|Interactive Achievement Awards||February 11, 2011||Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction||Red Dead Redemption|
|Interactive Achievement Awards||February 11, 2011||Outstanding Achievement in Gameplay Engineering||Red Dead Redemption|
|Interactive Achievement Awards||February 11, 2011||Outstanding Character Performance|
|Interactive Achievement Awards||February 11, 2011||Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction||Red Dead Redemption|
|Interactive Achievement Awards||February 11, 2011||Game of the Year||Red Dead Redemption|
|Interactive Achievement Awards||February 11, 2011||Outstanding Innovation in Gaming||Red Dead Redemption|
|Interactive Achievement Awards||February 11, 2011||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design||Red Dead Redemption|
|Spike Video Game Awards||December 11, 2010||Game of the Year||Red Dead Redemption|
|Spike Video Game Awards||December 11, 2010||Best Song in a Game||"Far Away" by José González|
|Spike Video Game Awards||December 11, 2010||Best Original Score||Red Dead Redemption|
|Spike Video Game Awards||December 11, 2010||Best DLC||Undead Nightmare|
|Spike Video Game Awards||December 11, 2010||Studio of the Year||Rockstar San Diego|
|Spike Video Game Awards||December 11, 2010||Character of the Year||John Marston|
|Spike Video Game Awards||December 11, 2010||Best PS3 Game||Red Dead Redemption|
|Spike Video Game Awards||December 11, 2010||Best Action Adventure Game||Red Dead Redemption|
|Spike Video Game Awards||December 11, 2010||Best Graphics||Red Dead Redemption|
|Spike Video Game Awards||December 11, 2010||Best Performance by a Human Male|
|Spike Video Game Awards||December 7, 2012||Game of the Decade||Red Dead Redemption|
SalesPrior to the release of Red Dead Redemption, Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities estimated that it would need to sell at least 1.75 million units to break-even, and 3.5 million units to earn a profit. According to Joystiq, a source at Rockstar claimed that the game required four million sales to recoup development costs, but that the publisher expected to lose money and was more interested in proving the talent of Rockstar San Diego.
Red Dead Redemption was the best-selling game of May 2010, selling over 1.5 million copies, according to the NPD Group. It sold over five million copies in its first three weeks. In June 2010, distributor Take-Two Interactive CEO Ben Feder stated that the game was nearing profitability for the company. By September 2010, the game had shipped 6.9 million copies, exceeding Take-Two's performance expectations for the quarter. It was the fifth best-selling game of 2010; the Xbox 360 version was the ninth best-selling individual platform game. The game shipped 8.5 million copies in its first year, and over 11 million copies by August 2011, 2 million of which were retail units of Undead Nightmare. By February 2017, Red Dead Redemption had shipped over 15 million units.
The game topped the charts in the United Kingdom following its release, maintaining the top position until the release of in June 2010. According to GfK Chart-Track, 65 percent of UK sales in the first week were on Xbox 360. The game was the fourth best-selling game in the United Kingdom in 2010, as well as the fourth best-selling PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 title. The game sold over 95,000 units in its first week in Japan; the PlayStation 3 version was the fourth best-selling game of the week with over 70,000 sales, while the Xbox 360 version was seventh with over 25,000 sales.
LegacyCritics concurred that Red Dead Redemption was among the best games of the seventh generation of video game consoles. Eurogamers Dan Whitehead hoped the eighth generation of consoles would offer "similarly powerful experiences". In September 2013, IGN ranked Red Dead Redemption the fifth-best PlayStation 3 and seventh-best Xbox 360 game. In February 2015, GamesRadar ranked it sixth on its list of best games, recognizing its superiority in narrative over Rockstar's 2013 title Grand Theft Auto V. In July 2015, the game ranked tenth on USgamers "The 15 Best Games Since 2000" list; Jaz Rignall described it as "one of the finest open world games so far seen", praising its gameplay, visuals, soundtrack, narrative, and characterization. GamesRadar+ named it the fourth-best game of the decade in December 2019, comparing it favorably to other sandbox games Grand Theft Auto V and . The game ranked high on several best game lists determined by the public; it featured seventh on Good Games "Top 100 Games" list, and fifth on IGNs "Games of a Generation" list, as voted by the program and website's respective audiences.
A prequel, Red Dead Redemption 2, was released in October 2018 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game's main story is set in 1899, 12 years before Red Dead Redemption, and depicts John's life as part of Dutch's gang alongside Bill, Javier, Uncle, Abigail, and Jack. Players control fellow gang member Arthur Morgan.