Red Dead Redemption 2 Is Beautiful on Xbox One X, Deserves PC Release
In the weeks leading up to the release of Red Dead Redemption 2, much of the focus has been on Rockstar’s labor conditions. Not only have company reps repeatedly put their feet in their mouths regarding crunch and credit, but Kotaku’s own Jason Schreier wrote up a wonderful article with dozens upon dozens of sources from both past and present Rockstar staff.
The conversation that’s been happening has been at least partially fruitful, and we’re all better off knowing more about how our games get made by real people. With the legitimate and serious concerns about the various Rockstar studios in mind, there’s no doubt that the countless devs who have worked hard for years on end are excited for the world to finally play the game. Let’s jump in, and see exactly what this worldwide team has been toiling over since the release of GTA V.
Luke Reilly, the reviewer over at our sister site IGN, was head-over-heels for the entire experience. Because of the meticulous attention to detail, top-notch performances, and an impossibly large open world, he has awarded Red Dead Redemption 2 a Masterpiece 10/10 score. No game is perfect, but it’s clear that this western will end up being a generation-defining game much like its predecessor was.
All together, the PS4 version of the game enjoys a 97/100 average score on Metacritic with 80 reviews tallied. The Xbox One release has an identical score, but with less than half the reviews. We’re mostly looking at perfect and near-perfect scores with only a few reviews that are less favorable.
New Game Network and Slant Magazine are on the low-end with some much-needed discussion of the game’s most glaring issues. With a release that is this complex, there are some aspects that simply break the immersion. When you get stopped by a glitch or bump up against a mechanic that needs some work, it’s hard to let reality melt away.
But more importantly, Steven Scaife at Slant points out how Rockstar fumbles some major themes despite offering up very enjoyable characters. While the Housers et al. attempt to tackle the specific social inequities of the time and place, it ends up being executed poorly. Black and Native characters receive more screen time this go around, but the attempts at commenting on their plight come off as amateurish and naive more often than not.
Having tested the game on both original and half-step consoles, Digital Foundry has mostly positive things to say about the tech on every iteration. In fact, DF’s John Linneman reports that effects, environments, and draw distance are all roughly the same regardless of which machine you’re using. Factor in the 360/PS3 disparity from the previous game and this is great news for everyone.
Unfortunately, resolution and performance do take a significant hit on the older machines. The stock PS4 hands in a 1080p resolution while the Xbox One S can only render at a native 864p. In the hustle and bustle of towns, performance can get pretty rough.
The PS4 Pro is substantially more stable, and sports a squashed 1920×2160 native resolution. Sadly, the method that Rockstar is using to spit out a finished 4K image causes a lot of artifacting. We’ve seen plenty of non-native 4K games drop jaws on the PS4 Pro, but this game misses the mark. It’s clearer than 1080p, but there are better implementations out there that can create a much cleaner-looking result.
Lacking a PC release, RDR 2 is best experienced on an Xbox One X. Not only does it deliver a native 3840×2160 image, but it’s also the most stable at launch. Frame drops in the towns still occur, but it’s unambiguously the superior version in every respect.