Things are always better with friends, especially when your friends are a lot of difficult parents.
Just over two hours in Red Dead Redemption 2, Arthur has a decision to make. Van de Linde gang has moved down from the snow-capped enemies, known as Grizzlies, which acts as backdrop to the opening of the game, and has set up camp just outside the city of Valentine. The camp needs ̵
At this point, markers appear on the mini map – the location of other gang members, which Arthur can visit to experience difficulties hunting from Charles Smith or getting into a bar after Bill Williamson has done it by the local landlord. But this is an open game – with great emphasis on open – he can choose to ignore them completely and get off on their own adventure.
Rockstar has been in advance of how Arthur and Van de Linde gang go into his hand and that while he is free to come and go as he chooses, he is ultimately the Dutchman's right man. We have already covered how opening hours for Red Dead Redemption 2 unfold, but I wanted to do something different. I wanted to see the world! With just over a few dollars to my name, I drove to the nearest station and bought a single ticket (I could not afford to return) to the busy city of Saint Denis.
It's a sprawling metropolis with a harbor in the south filled with paddle steamers and fishing boats (no, you can not steal them, at least at this point, but there are other boats you can) and cobbled streets lined with shops, show and games to play. It's also expensive and promising with the law, two things that really do not interfere with a skiing license on the run, so I head out to Bayou, the area of swamp in the southeastern part of the map.
Until this point, I had only seen Red Dead 2's classic Wild West vistas. Lush pastures, rolling hills and thick forests. Bayou feels instantly very different, with wide patches of impenetrable swamp and dense trees of trees that often prevent Arthur from taking the most direct route. It was dark at this point, and soft mildew of mosquitoes that sank around were often punctured by deep, boyish ditches. Alligators, it looks and many of them, their black eyes glinting in the moonlight when they turn to Arthur, he should go too close.
A word of advice at this point: Taking a 800 pound of reptile with just one knife may seem like a good idea, but I can only land a single stroke before it lures forward and hugs its jaws around my legs, bite down and snap them in two.
It's at the time I decide I've never really been a fan of damp, insect-ridden hellholes and ride north and took some sights on my way. Given the size of Red Dead 2's map, it's never long between meetings. A poor woman had borrowed her friend's horse to ride to a nearby city for a job interview, but the night was unexpectedly falling dead on her way, and when I find them, the dead body has crushed her to the ground.
Never one to leave someone in need, I help out, push the animal so far that she can pull out her caught bones. But then what – let her be in the middle of nowhere to starve or become a victim of bandits? Or polite offer to take her home, even if it's miles out of the way? Sometimes being a good guy has its drawbacks but at least I have a companion in the next couple of minutes and the polite littletalk makes me think of the gang back in Valentine and what they can be up to. She also gives me a jewelery thank you, which I can sell in the next city.
Some of Red Dead 2 best moments are when you share stories with the rest of the gang
Going off the beaten path also gives me the opportunity to get to know the locals. I'm going to a photo postcard place called Emerald Ranch A dog barks when I approach, but is calm when I knock and rub my stomach. The owner of the ranch is not so receptive, yelling for me to get out of his country. I just wanted to iron his pooch, but The farmer is constantly agitated. Manners cost nothing as far as I'm concerned, so I pull out the revolver and put a bullet in his screaming face. Next time you can start a conversation with a respectful "howdy". By the way, his dog, who was to keep the property just moments before, do not flinch. It looks like a stomach pine makes you friends for life.
The border is a brutal place for Arthur as much as he meets. He can be a skilled gunslinger and packets probably lead to open a pencil factory, me It's also a vulnerability to him, especially without wearing the gang. Later I expected a similar meeting – where an older guy got stuck next to the road when the wheel fell off his wagon – to play the same as before, but when I bent to help two other jump from the bushes, put a gun against my head and robbed me.
From the six hours I've played by Red Dead 2, it's very clear that Arthur Morgan is not the only gritty gunslinger in the West. For every polite passant, it's a gobshite cowboy with a loose trigger finger; For all stranded travelers who need help, there is an opportunistic thief waiting to steal your belongings at gunpoint.
Over the next couple of hours, as I traveled north through the industrial city of Annesburg to the East Grizzly Islands – the slightly less cold but much tough cousin of the snowy mountains you begin – before returning to Heartlands, I can not shake it I feel that something is missing. Every sun-drenched horizon I'm drifting over is the breath, every encounter with some new unexpected, but that's not what fulfills the life I want Arthur Morgan to lead. The truth is I miss Dutch and the rest of the crew, and while it's possible to put them behind big pieces of play, life is more fun when you're surrounded by friends.
I spent just a couple of hours with the gang before I rode on my own, but already I have a condescending urge to return to Valentine to see what they've been up to. And you know what, when I go back in the last 30 minutes or so on the demo, it's an explosion. There are gunfights, hold-ups, rowdy poker games, and even a scratch with a giant bear. Van de Linde-gang can be a rag-tag with miscreants, but they are my rag-tag miscreants.
Alex is IGN's British editor and plans to spend as much time as he can with Dutch and the gang coming on October 26th. Follow him on Twitter .