Ask players around the world what games they’re most looking forward to in 2018, and Red Dead Redemption 2 will be a common answer. Since its predecessor’s release back in 2010, fans have been clamoring for a sequel, To find out more about its iconic characters. To capture wild horses or to play a game of Five Finger Fillet to pass the time. Or just to have another reason to explore the boundless stretches of desert surrounding the bustling metropolis’ of the Wild West in the early 20th century. Red Dead Redemption 2 will be the answer to almost all of this. Or, at least, from the very small glimpses of it we’ve seen so far, it looks set to be. But there’s something unsettling me.
Red Dead Redemption 2 was delayed in May last year to Spring 2018. Then word came from a Take-Two shareholders call that the game would only release in the publisher’s 2019 fiscal year – meaning it would release sometime after April 1, 2018. That gives Red Dead Redemption 2 a brief, two-month period to coincide with both the Spring 2018, and the 2019 fiscal year window. This is where my concern lies, though. That’s only four months away. Four months until we’ll be busy exploring the nooks and crannies of the ambitious world Rockstar has laid before us, and appreciating the improvements since the original Red Dead Redemption back in 2010. But, for a game that’s possibly four months away, there’s a disturbing level of radio silence. Even for Rockstar, who has a tendency to keep its cards close to its chest.
Feeling that the lack of news emerging about Red Dead Redemption 2 was odd, I decided to investigate. Since its initial reveal back in October 2016, we’ve had a couple of cinematic trailers – that look good, don’t get me wrong – as well as some screenshots that accompanied the news of the Spring 2018 delay. That’s all that we’ve seen of one of the biggest games of 2018 due to release in a matter of months. No gameplay trailer, no word of Red Dead Online (or if it’s even a thing, though we’re sure it will be), and no hands-on coverage.
On its own, this wouldn’t necessarily be the strangest thing to happen. Rockstar can share as much or as little information as it wants on Red Dead Redemption 2, and chances are fans of the developer would buy it anyway. But, even with Grand Theft Auto V – a game that also suffered a number of delays – we’d seen far more by the time its launch was just a matter of months away.
In the four months prior to GTA V’s original release on the Xbox 360 and PS3, we’d seen character trailers, screenshots, received a Q&A on the website, received another gameplay trailer, and several batches of further screenshots. Even over a year before the game hit store shelves, there were several drops of screenshots for the game within days of each other. Sure, some things were left until the last minute, such as the unveiling of GTA Online – and even then, the popular heists didn’t hit their initial release date – but it feels like Rockstar’s leaving a lot until the last minute if Red Dead Redemption 2 really is set for a Spring 2018 release window.
Reluctant to believe that this radio silence was abnormal, I delved into the internet archives searching for news on the original Red Dead Redemption. Though the difference in the volume of news wasn’t quite as stark, outlets were getting hands-on time with the game four months prior to its release, allowing valuable gameplay details to be shared with the loyal fanbase.
Be it through gameplay trailers, screenshots, or giving critics hands-on time with the upcoming title, the bottom line is despite Rockstar tending to keep things fairly under wraps, we’d still seen more of its two biggest previous titles than we have of Red Dead Redemption 2 by this point.
This silence surrounding Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn’t fill me with much hope for the developer meeting the Spring 2018 release window, and signposts, at least to me, that a further delay could be on the table. Rockstar has never been a studio to rush something out, as evidenced by the delay for Red Dead Redemption, two for GTA V, and the aforementioned delay to heists in GTA Online. Considering Red Dead Redemption 2’s already been pushed back froram an original Fall 2017 release window, it doesn’t look like the studio’s stance regarding delays in the name of quality has changed in recent years.
Could all of this silence be simply because Red Dead isn’t as giant as the juggernaut that is the Grand Theft Auto series? Perhaps. Do I hope this is the case and that we’ll all be wreaking havoc in an online Wild West together by the end of May? You bet your lasso I do, but I can’t shake that feeling that another delay is inevitable in the coming months.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. No Red Dead Redemption fan would want its sequel to be rushed out before it was perfectly ready. Of course, seeing it pushed back further into the year would be disappointing, but looking at Rockstar’s track record of delays and the current radio silence enveloping Red Dead Redemption 2, would it really be surprising?