Red Dead Redemption 2 vs. The Witcher 3: Which Is the Open World King?
The focal point of being immersed in an open world is the gameplay behind it, and these two games both manage do so with deftness and skill. Both have different focuses on gameplay and feel, but they both execute on the feeling that they want the player to identify with. Whether it be in combat, the way that the world interacts with the player, or something that’s as simple as riding a horse down the open road, both games feel exceptional.
Red Dead Redemption 2’s gameplay is all about weightiness and realism. Whether it be the impact of a punch in a drunken brawl, or a bullet breaking through a wooden cart and whizzing by your head, it all feels like a tangible interaction. The game feels less focused on the skill of Arthur Morgan as a fighter or a gunslinger, and more about the luck of the draw. Sometimes, you’ll get jumped on the road by a rival gang and end up dead; other times, you’ll dispatch them, but find yourself close to death, or worse, find that you’ll have to leave your horse dead on the side of the road. Everything in the world feels real and dangerous to Arthur Morgan, and by that, the player as well.
Traversal in Red Dead Redemption 2 is largely the same. Arthur is a heavy character that takes time to get moving in any given direction. It can be frustrating, because it gets to feeling like he just isn’t responding to inputs, but it has more to do with giving the character realism in his movement, than simply having shoddy control. Similarly, Arthur’s horse is not a race car that can turn on a dime. It takes time to get the horse moving, both in terms of speed and direction. It might be more realistic, but the game just does not feel particularly game-y in any facet of gameplay.
The Witcher 3 feels particularly different, by comparison. Geralt moves swiftly in combat making it feel less plodding and dangerous, and more like he can skillfully dispatch any typical opponents ahead of him rather handily. Fights with some of the contract monsters require preparation and can prove to be dangerous, but in moment to moment gameplay, the player should have little to no concerns with most monsters and men they come across in the world. Combat feels robust and each button tap has a direct and clear outcome.
Traversal is similar as well. The player should find little issue with getting Geralt to move around the world, whether that be on foot or on his trusty steed, Roach. You’re just a button press or the flick of a stick away from getting Geralt or Roach moving the way you want them to, and the game itself has no concern with trying to make it feel real. Moving faster on horseback or on foot is just a matter of holding a button and managing a stamina gauge. The gameplay of The Witcher 3 benefits from the lesser focus on realism, and it makes controls feels responsive in nearly any situation a player might come across.