Rockstar have us spinning our imaginary six-shooters again today with the second trailer for Red Dead Redemption II. At an all-too swift minute and a half in length, it shows precious little. But there’s enough in there for your favourite, eagle-eyed PCGN correspondents to glean a few things about the game. Nine things, in fact, which you can find handily explained in the points below.
Main character – Arthur Morgan – GTA V’s Trevor version 2?
Red Dead Redemption II’s leading character is Arthur Morgan, and what a ghastly ol’ chappie he is. The trailer opens with him demanding money from a man whose fate we wouldn’t want to guess, and the voiceover emphasises that he is a wanted man. Later he bullies the teenage son grieving for his dead father. He is part of the notorious Van der Linde gang, so that’s no real surprise, but Morgan is one of the most grim Rockstar characters we have ever seen.
It also appears that Morgan is one of the gang’s most senior members; he seems to push other characters around and call the shots. But will he remain this detestable figure for the entire game? Rockstar are sticking with ‘Redemption’ for the title, and presumably this will have to factor into the narrative. Like John Marston, will Morgan see the errors of his ways, or will he be a monstrous shit all his life akin to GTA V’s Trevor?
Dutch is back
The Van der Linde gang is back, which naturally means its leader returns, too. The vicious Dutch, complete with Daniel Day-Lewis facial hair, makes an appearance at the end of the trailer, and he clearly commands respect even from mean Mr. Morgan.
If we are seeing the return of the ‘old gang’, presumably there will also be appearances from Bill Williamson and Javier Escuella, too. Not only them, but also the key players from the original game: John and Abigail Marston.
Rob, fight and steal
The YouTube description for the trailer states that the gang will “rob, fight and steal their way across the vast and rugged heart of America,” while the video itself shows the gang doing a whole host of theft-based activities.
An early sequence shows Morgan holding a bank manager at gunpoint, while later ones show a large vault room being broken into with dynamite, as well as what appears to be an rather ambitious train heist.
Robberies in Red Dead makes a lot of sense. Not only are robberies a key component of classic Western cinema, but Rockstar were showered with praise for Grand Theft Auto V’s heists. And from what we can see here, they would follow the same patterns as GTA’s heists, starting with small local bank robberies, and working up to elaborate, multi-stage operations. And if nothing else, the planning and execution of gold thefts is even more of a perfect fit for Red Dead Redemption than they are for GTA.
It’s a prequel, but perhaps only by a couple of years
The trailer does nothing to explicitly state when Red Dead Redemption II is set, but the first game’s lore makes us think the events could take place around 1906. In that year, the Van der Linde gang botched a robbery; Dutch shot a woman named Heidi McCourt, and the gang were attacked by government agents. They retreated from the shootout, leaving the first game’s protagonist, John Marston, for dead.
It has been suspected that Red Dead Redemption II would be a prequel for some time, and the presence of Dutch in the trailer confirms it is set before the events of the first game. With the numerous heist-like activities shown, it seems a good bet that this key part of the RDR lore may be the focus for this chapter of the story.
However, there is reason to believe that it could be set closer to the 1911 of the original game. The first trailer featured the line, “When the time comes you’ve got to run and don’t look back. This is over,” suggesting that the Van der Linde gang are in trouble. Morgan is shown to be shaking down men for money in the trailer, something that wouldn’t be essential for the gang if they were still at the height of their heist successes. If they are on the run from the law, though, collecting debts is a much safer way of staying afloat.
Then there is the complete absence of John Marston in the new trailer. This could be because Rockstar are holding his reveal back, or may simply be because he is not in the game since it’s set /after/ the botched robbery that left him for dead. This would also line up with some of the technology seen in the trailer, including a candlestick-style telephone; a device that was baffling Marshal Johnson in the original game. Surely he would be used to them in 1911 if they had been around for multiple years?