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Chasing a Ghost or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Hunt


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Pacing in this game is a sensitive and divisive topic.  Some folks find the game irreparably slow, seemingly preferring the reckless and wild abandon of GTA or FPS games.

Others, like myself, are fully immersed in what R* and Take Two have done here.  The pacing is glorious; and what happened to me last night was a perfect example of how this game manages to continually surprise, delight, and keep me on the edge of sleep deprivation despite all efforts to put the controller down at a reasonable hour.

Riding down out of the mountains last night after finishing up the third leg of 


The Noblest of Men, and a Woman, and engaging Flaco Hernandez

I was heading south out of the snow covered peaks towards Lake Isabella, girding myself for the long, arduous (and somewhat boring) ride back to Valentine, when heavy fog rolled in (taking a moment aside here to acknowledge the amazing job done with the randomized weather patterns in this game--absolutely phenomenal).  I was trotting along with a newer horse that I was leveling up to sell off to the farrier, when a large, fleeting shadow flickered off to my left.  Still needing perfect elk pelts and having seen a few wandering about in the area, I paused momentarily to draw my rifle when I saw her, the elusive 


White Arabian.

Having not actively sought her out before, I was stunned.  Like a ghost in the mist, she appeared and dashed off into the vapor--I quickly dismounted and pursued on foot (again, the tooltips here did an excellent job guiding me through the process).  Continually, my exuberance got the best of me and I plunged ahead in the deep snow, regardless of the potential of scaring her off yet again.  Finally, after several missteps and repeated spooks, I settled into a slow rhythm and made my way ever so closer to her.

And then I mounted.  A minor gripe is that the experience of taming the horse is poorly explained in the tooltips, and should have been better worded for clarity.  Having not had to previously tame a horse in the game, the experience was incredibly frustrating and defeating as she bucked me off and tore into the trees with wild abandon (if there's one criticism about the experience, it's that they probably should have had this be a side job or quest somewhat early in the game--to break horses for the farrier in Valentine for money).

Down, but not defeated, I pursued her.  Two more times I got close enough to mount before she took off as I prepared to try and mount again.  I was thirty minutes in--over a day had passed in-game tracking this elusive creature by foot, being taunted and teased the whole way, but I would not be dissuaded.  I was in it to win it, no matter how long it took.

Finally, I had a revelation--instead of waiting for the tooltip to tell me when to attempt a mount, I was going to just "go for it".  I approached slowly and cautiously (yet again, for what seemed like the tenth or eleventh time), and as I got within reach, as she reared up and prepared to take off, I leaped and was met with success!

Throwing caution to the wind I trusted my gut and rode out the maelstrom as she fought to be free of me--for what seemed to be an eternity, I was locked in a contest of wills; me, or this wild, untamed horse.

And in a flash, it was over.  She settled into an amicable trot as we continued to bond back down the mountain to where I had left my other horse cold, tired, and alone for two days (I felt a little guilty about that part of it, because now that horse was "old and busted"--unlikely to be ridden again, and my recen acquisition was "the new hotness") .   Forty-five minutes of effort culminated in the capture of this beautiful, elusive creature.

It was exhilarating.  A purely random encounter that I was unprepared for turned into the most engaging and rewarding experience I've had in the game after almost three weeks of playing on a daily basis.  An experience that was more fulfilling than ENTIRE GAMES by other studios and publishers--curiously enough, an event devoid of violence or mayhem (in a game stuffed full of it), which in and of itself is a testament to the design of the game and the level of thought and detail that underpin the many and varied systems on display.

Oh, and as an added bonus, on my way back to Valentine, I also encountered 


The Legendary White Buffalo, who was almost impossible to miss, given his size

As if the day couldn't get any better.

Once I returned to Valentine, I immediately rode to the stables to sell my "old and busted" horse, and rechristen my newest acquisition "Ghost".  

After all, I've always wanted to be a "Ghost Rider".



I randomly encountered the White Arabian at Lake Isabella last night, and chasing her down and taming her was the most fun I've had in a game in over a decade.

Epilogue to the story.  After handling the horse issue, I rode to the Trapper to sell off the Legendary Hide I had acquired on my journey.  As I closed in, the 


Two idiots, some dynamite, and a safe

Stranger Mission popped up on my radar.  I had the benefit of having some foliage between us, so I approached them from behind.  When I got close enough, i just listened to them for a bit.  What happened next was nothing short of high comedy as


I entered Dead Eye with my shotgun to take them out.  While in DE, the dynamite they had put on the safe exploded, throwing them (and assorted limbs) into the air in slow motion, for a comedic ballet of hilarious misfortune.  Arthur literally called them idiots, and I had free money.  

I also remembered to capture the video of this, so once I have the time later, I'll trim it down and upload it, because it was damn hilarious!



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13 hours ago, VampireKrush said:

I rushed through the story as I intended on playing it a second time much slower to do all the little things. I can see why people prefer GTA's style over this one but you have to be able to appreciate what Rockstar did here. 

Great post btw.

Thanks.  I'm a crusty old fart who doesn't have the time or skill that these young 14-year old whippersnappers hooped up on Adderall and Redbull do to devote to "git gud".  

I've also come to appreciate craftsmanship as I age:  16-uear aged single malt scotch, charcuterie based pizza, RDR2...

When a person or group of people throw their passion fully into a project, it often creates something beautiful that should be cherished and recognized.  Anyone could have taken GTA and just reskinned it with cowboys and horses, and nobody would have batted an eye.

Instead, we have been given the culmination of a decade's worth of tireless devotion to creating a unique experience that couldn't be a bigger departure from GTA if they had tried.  And it is absolutely stunning.  There's nothing wrong with GTA or the people who prefer the experience it offers.  But this?  This is an achievement in storytelling and world building that I haven't experienced in gaming in at least a decade. 

I was never over excited for this game.  It was a simple curiosity that led me to preorder; and the promise that the single player story would be focus at launch.  GTA was never my cup of tea, but I can appreciate it for what it is.  RDR2 isn't the best game I've ever played (it may be soon, but I can't assess half a game and need to play online to make a fully formed opinion), but it's eclipsed everything else from this current console generation.

5 hours ago, houseofcantor said:

All the complaints about the pacing was actually a selling point for me. :D

It may not have been a selling point for me, bit I can't ignore how the pace allows me to just take EVERYTHING in.  And the attention to detail can't be overlooked.  I've expounded upon this at length previously, but this game has literally left NOTHING to chance; each and every aesthetic choice feels deliberately calculated, and thus far has created a unique experience (for me at least) that is unlikely to be matched by any game for the foreseeable future.

I am simply awestruck by this game.  Were I capable of cying, it would have reduced me to tears multiple times already in it's splendor and majesty.

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awesome post.  Now you can see why i was so furious when the horse glitch took that horse from me :( 

I spent my 4 hours of play time last night hunting for perfect skins for the satchels and camp upgrades.  I loved every minute of it.  even the 30 minutes when i went to Valentine for ammo and decided to try the Sharpshooter challenge i've been working on.  I failed miserably but it was still fun.

That's probably one of my favorite things about this game.  I fail a few times at what i'm doing but i've never gotten frustrated enough to turn it off or throw things.  Even failing is fun lol  

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21 minutes ago, BropolloCreed79 said:

They do.  Which reminds me: I need to do more of those "suicide by horse" videos.

you mean like running into a map glitch at the edge of a cliff and hoping you'll learn to fly before you hit the canyon floor?  lol  I wish i would have known how to record game clips when i did that.  Sadly my son just showed me how to record them last week :P

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