A New Level of Realism
Perhaps the most obvious standout from the latest Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer is simply how stunning the game looks. The three previous story and tone piece trailers have already showcased its beauty, but seeing the game properly in action has perhaps highlighted a new level of realism unseen in the open world genre. And no, it wasn’t running on a supercomputer and optimized to look as good as possible —Rockstar confirmed the game was running in 4K on a PS4 Pro. Besides, it’s the animations and nuances of the game’s physics engine that really caught the eye here. The beauty of Red Dead Redemption 2 is much more than just the glitzy textures and sparkling water effects we’re normally dazzled by in trailer reveals.
Seriously, how good do the animals look? From what little we’ve seen so far, Rockstar seems to have perfectly captured the posture, shape, and realistic motion of animal movement. No easy task, of course. It’s something that other open world games from as far back as Skyrim to more modern offerings such as Far Cry 5 have never quite prevented from appearing wooden and stiff. The manner in which Morgan’s horse bucks and weaves as pulls on the reigns (which you can visibly see), and the animal’s skittering sideways before it picks up speed and heads in the direction its commanded to is incredibly authentic. Later, Morgan is seen grooming his horse, brushing it down with a brush, and you can see small clouds of dust and hair puff from its skin.
Elsewhere, the gunplay was another area of animation that demonstrated the fidelity of each character’s animations. In particular, as Morgan primed cartridges into the chamber of his revolver, or cocked his rifle as it spewed empty rounds out of the breach. Did you notice the way the Sherif pulls his rifle off his shoulder strap and into his hands? During actual shooting sequences, too, the force of each shot rocks Marston’s shoulder back, and the cracks of gunpowder firing bursts of smoke that’s convincing beyond anything we’re accustomed to in Grand Theft Auto V. And in Red Dead Redemption 2, dead bodies fall to floor in eerily realistic fashion, crashing limp from horses without the comical ragdoll physics we’re used to being implemented to mimic lifeless motion.
These are just a handful of examples of the small details in animation that look set to immerse you in the world of Red Dead Redemption 2, but there are so many more. The snow deformation, the imprints in the mud, the raindrops, birds flying from rooftops spooked by gunfire, and then there’s the lighting… oh, the lighting!
Yes, we’ve seen other more linear games achieve some of these feats before, but Red Dead Redemption 2 is filling an enormous open world with these tiny details, which makes it all the more astonishing.