Guest Article: What GTA V Could Teach Red Dead Redemption 2

May 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features

Rockstar Games is an industry veteran with so many titles under its belt that, at this point, it’s safe to assume that they know what they are doing. Being the minds behind one of the most popular game franchises of all time, Grand Theft Auto, quality isn’t something they’ve been known to skimp on.

That said, such expertise comes with experience, and applying lessons learned in the past to future projects. Their next game, Red Dead Redemption 2, will be launching Spring next year. Here are a few lessons we hope the dev team learned from their time with Grand Theft Auto V.

GTA 5 has earned glowing reviews and continues to be one of the most acclaimed and popular games of both the previous and current console generations – however, it isn’t a flawless game. For all the fantastic features and mechanics it packs, there are some things which leave us wanting. While the development schedules of the two games do overlap somewhat, Rockstar has been working on Red Dead Redemption 2 plenty since the launch of GTA 5, meaning they had ample opportunity to incorporate alterations based on feedback since.

One area where GTA 5 falls short, even compared to 2010’s Red Dead Redemption, is the gunplay. The weapons don’t feel powerful and have no weight to them. There is no sensation of force when firing, no boom to the shotguns. Really, when it comes down to shooting mechanics in any game, shotguns are a good way to judge – these prolific weapons have defined gunplay in games since DOOM, and their legacy has continued in FEAR 2, Bulletstorm and others. GTA 5’s shotguns are emblematic of all the guns in the game. They’re like peashooters. Red Dead Redemption gave true strength to its guns. The animations and the sounds were spot on, and we hope this is reflected in the sequel.

Range of motion is another aspect of GTA 5 that was a tad restrictive. Player characters have two stances, standing upright and standing upright with their knees ever so slightly bent. Giving players proper standing, crouched and prone stances would grant a wider selection of ways to approach firefights. While Red Dead is hardly a military franchise, laying down while aiming long distance can benefit a cowboy as much as a generic shooter protagonist. Since the cover system will presumably make a comeback, this would also allow for greater freedom when behind full-height cover – using this while crouched would offer a different angle for aiming.

Red Dead Redemption 2 will come with a multiplayer mode not unlike GTA Online, which was to be expected considering the sweeping success of GTA 5’s “MMO-lite” addition. One major change, and this isn’t even a gameplay one, that would benefit the community would be dedicated servers. GTA Online runs on a peer-to-peer structure. While this has first and foremost caused hacking problems on PC, we know RDR2 is in no danger there. However, GTA Online has notoriously long loading screens and the servers aren’t famous for their stability, both of which can be blamed on the P2P architecture.

It’s also only a matter of time before the hardware safeguards of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are cracked and hackers make their way onto these systems too. Once the hackers are through the gates, internal servers make managing these situations much easier. PC players can tell you all about the issues a prominent hacking problem can cause, such as manipulated ranks and in-game money.

Of course, amid all of this there is plenty that GTA 5 did very well and that we hope will carry over to Red Dead Redemption 2.

The game sports one of the most vibrant open worlds in gaming. The AI powering the non-hostile NPCs is better than the AI of actual enemies in some other games, and the way the world keeps turning without player input makes it feel truly alive. Very often, especially in recent years, open world titles end up feeling shallow and empty in spite – or because – of their breadth. But in GTA 5, this isn’t an issue.

Since the open world genre is all about one-upping everyone else with size, we suspect RDR2 will feature a map bigger than GTA 5, but we’re confident that doesn’t mean it will be less lively. And of course, you have Rockstar’s notorious (and most welcome) single player cheats which they still choose to include in their games, despite most other developers shying away from that “feature” these days. We expect there will be codes to discover for Red Dead Redemption 2.

While the game’s recent delay is disappointing, such is video games development, and what’s more, it was done for all the right reasons. Rockstar know that we expect only the best from them and as they stated themselves, they need more time to deliver it.