My history with Rockstar games has been a mixed bag. I've played every game in the GTA series, but have only finished one, GTA5. Sometimes they feel like too much of a grind and I lose interest.
I've also played the first RDR, but didn't finish it. I remember getting to about 60% completion and never playing it again. I was distracted by overtime for work, forgot what was happening in the story, and never got around to catching up and continuing. Purely no fault of the game itself, I remember it being fun.
With RDR2 I was determined to prevent this scenario from happening. I booked two weeks of vacation and plowed through the entire campaign and epilogue. My thoughts are below.
The game is very slow paced and relaxing. I love that Rockstar picked a play style, and consistently stuck to it throughout the game. At some points, I was pretty much forced to take in the scenery while riding my horse across the map. Fast travel is very limited. This doesn't sound all that great at first, but over time it put me into a mood where I was expecting long and scenic horse rides, and began to take in all the small details that were implemented.
On the topic of the small details, Rockstar really delivered. Throughout my 60ish hours of gameplay, I continually picked up on things that no other game has really implemented to this level of detail. A realistic weapon selection system with heavy longarm rifles stored on your horse, picking up loot items one by one, hats falling off, tons of realistic and cool animations for small trivial things. It was refreshing and nice to just appreciate how much work must have gone into this game.
Other than the small details, with this game the real focus is the story. Rockstar really wants players to experience what it's like to be part of a gang of outlaw cowboys (and cowgirls), slowly being pushed out of their comfort-zone by modern civilization encroaching on their lifestyle. The character development and storytelling is as good as GTA5, or better. At times I really enjoyed missions with certain characters, only to have my opinion of them flipped a couple hours later. It really is an amazing story that ends with a satisfying conclusion.
With this game, even though there is a huge open world with lots of variety and things to do, parts of the main story do sometimes feel like a passive movie movie watching experience. At times I was sick of the cut-scene wide angle bars showing up on the screen, and all control of my character being taken away. A strange thing is, you do actually control your character during some cutscenes but not others.
My only real gripe with this game, is that although the story was amazing, I felt like there were only limited ways to make my mark on the huge, beautiful open world. I was imaging something like Fallout 4's building mechanic and gangs attacking my homestead. Building a farm and raising livestock. Hiring gunmen in town to help defend my cattle or crops. Other than the story and side missions, there isn't really a way to make a meaningful, lasting impact on the game world.
This is an amazing game well worth the money. I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout the entire campaign, doing side quests, hunting, fishing, and exploring. The slow paced nature of the game was something I grew accustomed to, and eventually really started to enjoy.
It could have been better with some type of building mechanic I think, but this is a Rockstar game after all, they don't usually include that in their games. I understand and respect that.
Overall an amazing game! 9.5/10