“Red Dead Redemption 2” launched this week, setting records for high review scores on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The game, eight years in the making with a staff of nearly 2,000, had a high bar to clear as the first new current generation game released by Rockstar Games. And judging by the reaction to the game on its first day, it didn’t just meet those expectations, it exceeded them.

In the lead-up to the Oct. 26 launch of “Red Dead Redemption 2,” we’ve released a trail of stories that start by examining some of the lingering, still-interesting elements of 2010’s “Red Dead Redemption.” Then we dove into the impact prequel “Red Dead Redemption 2” has had on the game industry and spoke with some of the people who made the game. In particular, we examined how a team of four writers with the help of a massive studio in the thousands, managed to flesh out the central character of the game by giving such deep, detailed life to those who surrounded him. We also covered the debate over crunch that was ignited following a statement made by co-founder Dan Houser about working 100-hour weeks. Finally, we ran our own review of “Red Dead Redemption 2,” a title we believe to be Rockstar Game’s best.

We wrapped things up with a bit of hand-holding for the avid gamers out there who might want a little helping chasing down treasure or using cheats to feel invincible. We hope you enjoyed the journey. You can find all of our main coverage in the stories below and everything else right here.

The Story Behind the Story of ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’

Red Dead Redemption 2” doesn’t deliver one story, it delivers 23 of them. And in true Rockstar Game fashion, that’s not the game’s most impressive feat.

In taking on the prequel story of what made “Red Dead Redemption’s” John Marston the redeemed vengeance-seeking gunman he became, Rockstar drops players in the role, not of Marston, but Arthur Morgan, another member of the Dutch Van der Linde Gang.

The team of nearly 2,000 spent eight years working to breath life into the 22 other members of the gang in a way that is meant to both provide depth to Morgan and give the world that he inhabits meaningful friends, all of whom have their own powerful stories.

To do this, Rockstar Games tells Variety, the studio created so many lines of dialog and AI-controlled triggers that the game does away with the need for cutscenes, overt missions and even a singular take on who Arthur is, delivering instead a living world and an Arthur shaped by developer and player. → Continue Reading

‘Red Dead Redemption 2’: Meet the Gang

While players will take on the role of Arthur Morgan in “Red Dead Redemption 2,” he’s still just one member of a large gang that shapes both the game’s narrative and gameplay experience.

Led by the charismatic Dutch van der Linde, the Van der Linde Gang is an assorted band of outlaws and outcasts bonded together by Dutch’s grand dream of living free from the law and government interference. Rockstar says the gang has “chosen to reject a corrupt system of power and live instead by their own code. As the price on their heads continues to grow, so does the struggle to remain free.”

Each of the nearly 24 members are fully-realized characters, thanks to the work of the Rockstar Games writers and developers. Once the gang finds a good location, they establish a camp which quickly becomes a living community and a big part of playing the game. Gunslingers, con artists, former revolutionaries, runaways; they all have their own reasons to join gang and once a member of it, they all need to pitch with their own form of help – be it criminal or communal. → Continue Reading

The Rockstar Effect: How Mega-Budget Games Change Release Dates For Everyone

The fall video game release schedule is usually a non-stop sprint from late August until the first week in December. Titles large and small crowd into the busy holiday shopping season, fighting for a piece of the pie. According to market research firm NPD, an average 55 percent of United States video game hardware and software retail spending happens between September and December.

In order to give games their best chance at visibility and sales (two related, but distinct metrics), developers and publishers large and small keep a weather eye on the release calendar. Even amongst AAA games, some titles have a larger footprint than others.

This year, October 26 is radioactive. As soon as Rockstar announced its plans to release “Red Dead Redemption 2”, the publisher’s first game since 2013’s “Grand Theft Auto V” (not counting re-releases on PC and current-generation consoles), everyone else scattered. → Continue Reading

Rockstar Tells Employees OT Not Mandatory After 100-Work Week Comment

At least one of the studios under the Rockstar Games umbrella held a meeting Friday to tell its employees that overtime work is not mandatory, Rockstar Games told Variety.

While overtime at Rockstar Lincoln was not mandatory, it was requested and scheduled, Rockstar’s Jennifer Kolbe said.

“Our team could let their managers know when they would not be able to work the requested extra hours so that we could plan accordingly,” she said. “Some people have said that they felt it was effectively mandatory because it was expected of them. In light of the discussion around this issue, we got the team together today to make sure it is clear to them that OT work is not mandatory.

“We are also pushing to make any OT worked more flexible in terms of schedule (i.e. “work when makes sense for you”), though since Lincoln is the one location where we have a meaningful shift pattern we do need to coordinate specific timings more than for other teams.” → Continue Reading

Tumbleweeds and Horse Stacking: Slow Life In ‘Red Dead Redemption’ Online

The aging windswept west of Rockstar Games’ original “Red Dead Redemption” is a lonesome place today, eight years past its 2010 release, and just a few days removed from its sequel’s release. If you log onto its multiplayer servers at the right time of day, you might find some cowpokes to slaughter or team up with, depending on your predilections. If you try to reach out in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, however, you’ll likely find yourself out in the dusty wastes, with nothing but the tumbleweeds to keep you company.

It might seem strange to continue playing a nearly decade-old game on previous-gen hardware in an era when bales of new games drop out of the sky every week, but there are plenty of people who do it, for a wide variety of reasons, from revisiting memories of better times to simply having a raucous night with a few friends. For “Redemption” fans, however, the nostalgia trip is a bit rougher than most, as the game’s multiplayer has become infamous for an infestation of bugs that immediately break entire servers, along with hackers and exploiters who don’t mind cheating to win. → Continue Reading

Hunting Down ‘Red Dead Redemption’s’ Ghosts in the Machine

Somewhere in the middle of Gaptooth Ridge, tucked away in the vast southwestern landscape of the original Red Dead Redemption, lies the ghost town of Tumbleweed. Its deserted saloon, church, and jail tell a story of a settlement abandoned by westward expansion, although some strange paranormal activity suggests that some residents may never have left.

On any given day as you walk through the dusty remnants of old buildings, you can hear people shouting, dogs barking, and even see footprints forming in a mansion on the edge of town. It’s a location, among several other eerie spots spread across Rockstar’s fictitious stretch of the United States and Mexico, that has captured the attention of players who’ve dedicated serious time to finding “Red Dead Redemption’s” unearthly secrets.

“It was appropriately moody to wander alone at night in Tumbleweed, and people were reporting there was a ghost in the town. I like to think that we built a convincing enough area that people’s imaginations went the extra mile to see things that weren’t there,” Rockstar San Diego’s former senior art director Daren Bader, who worked on the original “Red Dead Redemption,” tells Variety. “I have seen some online videos of footprints in the basement of the mansion mysteriously appearing. It’s either a bug that was never fixed, or it’s a ghost in the machine.” → Continue Reading

‘Red Dead Redemption 2 Review:’ One of Rockstar Games’ Best

Red Dead Redemption 2” rarely feels as big as it is.

By all accounts and the various snowballing controversies around it, “Red Dead Redemption” would seem to be the biggest game of 2018. It’s the game every other developer and publisher has moved comfortably away from, similar to developer Rockstar Games’ previous world-dominating release “Grand Theft Auto V” back in 2013. It’s the only game this year to drive breathless coverage of announcements of announcements. Make no mistake: for better and sometimes worse, “Red Dead Redemption 2” is the big game, subject to the best and worst aspects of what is colloquially known as AAAA – that’s four As, not three – game development.

And yet, playing through it, It’s hard to shake a sense that “Red Dead Redemption 2,” the video game, the object, is content to be smaller than I thought it would be. It shows a newfound restraint with regards to Rockstar’s most indulgent tendencies, both narrative and systemic, a surprise in an open world space that has, since “GTA V,” tended toward bloat and excess. But the refinement of Rockstar’s approach to action sequences and a more sober, less caricature-driven narrative style are equally surprising, and successful. → Continue Reading

‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ Cheat Codes From Circus Wagons to Heavy Weapons

By most accounts, including our own, “Red Dead Redemption 2” is a masterful, sweeping game of the dying Wild West and both an apt prequel to the original “Red Dead Redemption” as well as one of the best video games developer Rockstar Gameshas ever made.

But not everyone has the interest in meticulously role-playing their way through a 40 to 60 hour game of intertwined relationships, meaningful plot lines, and telling character growth. Sometimes you just want to slap on a holster, hop on a horse, and kick up some trouble.

Fortunately, Rockstar suspected that might be the case and included a slew of cheat codes for the game which will allow you to quickly get to the plot-free fun without having to do much in the way of character progression. → Continue Reading

How to Find ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’s’ Poisonous Trail Treasure

As with its predecessor, “Red Dead Redemption 2” is a game packed with secrets, mysteries, and a fair share of treasures.

We’ve created a whole chart of cheats for you, if that’s what you’re into. But in this post, you’ll find a fun treasure hunt, instead.

If you happened to purchase the Collector’s Box, it came with a treasure map that can be used to find the Poisonous Trail Treasure. Or, if you’d rather just get to that treasure without buying the collector’s box, we’ve walked you through the steps here, along with a copy of the starting map and some helpful tips. → Continue Reading