The silver lining to today's announcement that Red Dead Redemption 2 will be released in the Spring of 2018, as opposed to this Fall, is that Rockstar gave us a handful of screenshots alongside it.
While players will undoubtedly spend the next few weeks analyzing every pixel of every image, it's pretty clear from a first sweep that no major reveals are hidden within them. We've done our best to try and bring you a few interesting highlights and tidbits though.
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Firstly, some characters can be seen in several images, but their faces are always obscured save for a single screenshot. For all we know, the characters could be Red Dead Online player avatars wearing various outfits. The single screen showing the faces of characters shows them in a distance around a caravan, but upon magnification it becomes clear that at least two of them are duplicates, meaning either placeholders or NPCs.
Though the shots are clearly staged, they're also in-engine giving us a good idea of what kind of graphical quality to expect, and it's the kind that would have cowboys tipping their hats in respect and awe. The graphics are a marked improvement upon Grand Theft Auto V - an advantage of having new hardware to work with.
The varied landscapes of the game are on full display, from lush forests to barren deserts, as well as busy towns and cityscapes. Something about the forest screenshot is really striking, and if you can't put your finger on it, we'll help: video games rarely depict trees to be so massive. Most likely we're looking at redwoods here, which would fit the setting of the game.
An exciting game mechanic, which wasn't present in the previous title, is also confirmed by the screenshots. Dual wielding pistols, as ineffective and inaccurate as it may be, has been a staple of Wild West fiction and it's appearing in Red Dead Redemption 2 as well if the screenshots are anything to go by.
If we're to assume that another image, which is a close up of two pistols being dual-wielded, is from the multiplayer version Red Dead Online, then it seems that weapon customization through engravings (and maybe more) will be possible. The various outfits on show also indicate that players will be able to mix and match different articles of clothing, as opposed to selecting full outfits like in the original Red Dead Redemption.
Images showing off the busy town street have sent the community into overdrive, with everyone trying to figure out its exact location. However, doing so would only be possible if this is a city we've already seen in Red Dead Redemption. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite line up with any of them, but then keeping in mind the massive changes Los Santos underwent between its two outings means that maybe Armadillo or one of the other towns simply received a redesign. On display, however, are what seem to be dynamic foot-and-wheel prints in the mud, as well as some beautiful lighting effects.
The shot of the train crossing the bridge, other than being incredibly epic, further shows off how great the graphics look with what may just be the best-looking smoke effects ever seen. The area the train is leaving looks like the one seen in the forest screenshot, indicating that locomotives may be a method of fast-travel in the world, not unlike the trains in GTA V. A single train can also be seen in the screenshot with the man wearing a blue bandana, indicating that train robberies or heists could be a feature.
Finally, the shot of the stagecoach and duplicate NPCs shows would could be a mechanic involving guarded convoy raids, evoking some GTA-like side missions no longer available in Online.
As time goes on, further analysis will no doubt bring with it new revelations which we will cover as they appear. In the meantime make sure you head over to our forums where some further investigation by the community is already taking place.