The prequel heavily focuses on the events and character relationships that set up the original game.
Speaking with THR, Rockstar San Diego Art Director Josh Bass and Rockstar North Director of Art Aaron Garbut finally let slip some details about the storyline that will revolve around Red Dead Redemption 2’s Van der Linde gang, which Rockstar recently revealed information about.
Bass recounted how Red Dead Redemption protagonist John Marston’s relationship with gang leader Dutch Van der Linde was central to the original game. For the second game — which, as we’ve known, is a prequel — Rockstar wanted to explore the events while Marston was part of the gang that set up Red Dead Redemption.
“In Red Dead Redemption 2 you get to see that gang, including Marston, at the peak of their notoriety and at the very moment things begin to fall apart,” explained Bass. “This story focuses on Arthur Morgan, Dutch’s most trusted enforcer. Adopted into the gang by the Dutch when he was a young boy, Arthur considers the gang to be his family – Dutch has given his life some much‐needed purpose, and the gang has served as the one positive and constant in Arthur’s life.”
While Red Dead Redemption was set during what were essentially the final days of the Old West, Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place at an earlier time. The setting is close enough to the original’s, though, that the elements of modernization that would eventually bring an end to the Wild West are already being set in motion.
“Things are changing – there’s not much room in a rapidly modernizing world for the gang’s way of life,” said Bass. “Through Arthur’s eyes, you see events begin to take a toll on the gang as they are forced to flee across America, while at the same time, Dutch’s hold on the gang begins to slip.”
Garbut added that it was important for Rockstar to continue the developer’s trend of creating a strong sense of place with its games. New technology, he said, has allowed Rockstar to do this better than it ever has before, and he believes the team has done it not just through the environments, but also through their inhabitants.
“The contrast between rich and poor, between weak and strong and between civilization and the wilderness really spoke to us,” said Garbut.
Unlike in Grand Theft Auto 5 with its multiple protagonists, however, Red Dead Redemption 2 players will witness these contrasts only through the eyes of one character, Arthur Morgan.
“Arthur lives with and fights alongside the other members of the Van der Linde gang,” said Bass, “and they are a group of fully realized characters with relationships to each other and to Arthur, but this is Arthur’s story and we are placing players firmly in Arthur’s boots as he and the gang deal with a rapidly changing world. We think people will really love the feeling of being in the gang. It isn’t like anything we’ve done before.”
Rockstar recently pulled the curtain back on more of Red Dead Redemption 2’s characters and announced a line of Red Dead Redemption 2 merchandise. Red Dead Redemption 2 will be released on Oct. 26 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Nick Santangelo is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. He loves video games and sports, but not sports video games. Follow him on Twitter.