Westerns are a niche interest, but Rockstar’s Red Dead series has managed to sell millions of copies thanks to its array of characters that have won the hearts of many, and its picturesque depictions of pre-industrial America that have redefined open-world gaming. The latest game in the series, Red Dead Redemption 2, was released in 2018 and remains one of the most detailed and immersive open-world games available. It follows the dastardly Van der Linde gang as they attempt to escape from the Pinkerton Detective Agency and deal with unrest within their camp.
Thanks to its massive size, in-depth NPC interaction system, and stunning visuals, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game that has stood the test of time. However, that does not mean Rockstar should not grace gamers with Red Dead Redemption 3. With a new gaming generation upon us, there are several ways the developers can take advantage of the new consoles to craft an experience that will once again make everyone rethink what is possible within open-world gaming.
Red Dead Redemption 3’s Map Can Be More Dynamic
It is quite easy to forget that there are even story missions to do in Red Dead Redemption 2 because it is engrossing enough to simply climb onto a horse and explore the American countryside, tracking wildlife and setting up camp to sleep under the stars. Interestingly, if one pays careful attention, one will notice that the map is not static and slowly and surely, as industrialization encroaches on the natural environment, things change. This is connected to Red Dead Redemption 2’s plot, as Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang are struggling against the march of time that is bringing change with it and ending their outlaw way of life.
Players can notice the environment changing, for example, with the Central Union railroad located in the Roanoke Ridge region of New Hanover. At first, the incomplete railroad is short and there is a camp of workers who are busy extending it. When Arthur Morgan encounters the camp, he helps them out with the kinds of jobs only an outlaw cowboy can solve, and gradually, the workers build the railway longer and longer. By the epilogue, the entire railroad is complete. Similarly, the Appleseed Timber Company is a logging company found in the Big Valley region of West Elizabeth, and it changes the environment significantly. Arthur discovers the loggers chopping down wood and may even witness a terrible accident. When the loggers are done, there are just tree stumps left in that area.
Red Dead Redemption 3 could also have a dynamic map, but it could feature far more radical changes thanks to the power of the current generation consoles. The events could be less scripted despite having permanent effects on the map, allowing each player’s map to be unique. This could happen through weather effects. For example, lightning strikes could trigger forest fires that leave permanent damage, and there could be entire seasonal cycles that alter how the map looks. Depending on the time-period Red Dead Redemption 3 takes place in, the map could also be affected by technological, industrial, and other human factors.
If the game is a sequel, it could track the continuing industrialization that engulfs America after Red Dead Redemption, bringing with it bigger buildings, more factories, and more policing. A prequel, however, could have a much more pristine America at its disposal, and changes to the map could be illustrated through the ways humans affect the animal populations and the natural environment. Either way, on current generation consoles like the Xbox Series X, the possibilities are massive.
Red Dead Redemption 3 Can Take the Minor Details to the Next Level
One of the things that make Red Dead Redemption 2 special is its obsessive attention to detail that, in many ways, remains unmatched. Arthur’s eyes are so detailed that they dilate in different light conditions, and as he adventures, he can accumulate so much dirt that his stink will eventually make others comment. When hunting, minute factors such as sound and even wind direction are important, and wild animals will flee if the breeze carries Arthur’s odor. The wildlife is also scarily accurate, and possums will play dead, vultures will descend upon carrion, carcasses will decompose, and pigs will feed will on almost anything thrown their way.
With Red Dead Redemption 3, Rockstar can take its love of obsessive realism even further using the power of the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5. This could be done by increasing the realism of the playable character. Red Dead Redemption 2’s Arthur Morgan was already highly detailed, but with current generation consoles, developers can take things even further. The next game’s playable character could have clothing that is subject to wear and tear, and the growth and grooming of facial and body hair could be taken to even greater detail.
More realism could also be added to NPC interactions, which are already shockingly complex. While the ability to choose whether to greet or antagonize passersby is sufficient for Red Dead Redemption 2, the next game could introduce branching dialogue options akin to what can be found in The Sims franchise. If NPCs could remember the outcome of these interactions and treat players accordingly the next time they run into each other, it would take realism to the next level.
There has been no word from Rockstar regarding whether a new Red Dead Redemption title is in the works, but after the success of Red Dead Redemption 2, it is hard to imagine the company will leave its Western IP to perish. For now, it appears that Rockstar is hard at work on the next Grand Theft Auto title, which has been anticipated for years. This will allow Rockstar to learn a lot about current generation consoles, and hopefully, that knowledge is used for the benefit of the Red Dead Redemption franchise, too.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is available now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.