*** WARNING – Major storyline spoilers for RDR & RDR2 below, don’t read this if you haven’t finished the game/don’t already know what happens
This blog is coming much later than I would have originally expected to be writing it, for a few reasons. When RDR2 was released, I was recovering from surgery and was unable to sit in my gaming chair which meant I didn’t get to lock myself in my apartment for a week on release day with no contact to the outside world, sustaining myself entirely on Doritos and coffee until I finished the story without encountering any spoilers as I would have liked to do. Unfortunately this also gave some fucking dipshits time to go out of their way to deliberately spoil it for me, and a few “Arthur gets TB and dies and Micah was the rat” Twitter mentions and Instagram comments later I’d lost a bit of enthusiasm for the game.
A few weeks ago I decided to finally sit down and finish it despite knowing what happens, and was pleasantly surprised to find that even though the main thing had been spoiled there was still SO MUCH story I didn’t see coming (Like the whole fucking Guarma thing, what the hell). This blog is probably going to be a bit jumbled because I’m not trying to write an IGN article or anything lol I just wanna get my thoughts out somewhere and don’t wanna Tweet and risk spoiling things for someone else who hasn’t finished it.
First of all, man, what a fucking emotional rollercoaster. I REALLY struggled once Arthur got sick, and playing through it honorably and trying so hard to do good knowing he was gonna die felt like a form of masochism, like it was actually almost making me miserable. Watching him suffer while he tried to come to terms with the path he chose in life was torture, I just felt so sad throughout chapters 5 & 6. The scene after a chapter 6 mission where Arthur encounters Sister Calderon at the train station fucking BROKE ME (I believe if you’re playing dishonorably and didn’t do her stranger missions in Saint Denis you get this scene with Rev Swanson instead), the amount of raw emotion Rockstar managed to capture in Arthur’s face when he admits he’s afraid literally had me ugly crying (and actually, speaking of capturing emotion I also wanna mention another scene that stuck with me – when Colm O’Driscoll is standing on the gallows, the moment he looks up and sees Arthur on the roof instead of one of his boys and realises he’s not going to be saved from hanging, that look of fear and panic in his eyes was incredible).
Much like the ending of RDR, I spent a lot of time grappling with feelings of “It’s not fair.” It’s like yeah you know Arthur and John both did a lot of bad things but ultimately they tried to be good men in the end and neither deserved to die the way they did. Before I went into the final chapter 6 mission I spent two hours riding around eating nice food in saloons and buying Arthur nice clothes and taking photos in nice locations and bursting into tears every time I thought “this is going to be his last ever bath/meal/etc”. I got the “good” ending for Arthur, which just meant I cried myself to the point of dehydration while he succumbs to his tuberculosis peacefully on a mountain as the sun rises. The first thing I did in when I was able to free roam in the epilogue was go straight to Arthur’s grave (before I even got a gun) which made me cry again… In fact I started crying pretty much every time Arthur’s name was mentioned in the epilogue. Definitely shed a few tears as John was building the barn because if you’ve played the first game you know what happens in that barn. Cried again when John pulled out the photo of Arthur & Mary with the ring before he proposes to Abigail. I fucking lost it during the credits when we see Mary standing at Arthur’s grave. I watched the 100% completion cut scene on YouTube since I know I’ll never put those hours in and, you guessed it, I cried like a lil bitch. It’s truly insane that a video game can evoke this much emotion and make you care so deeply about fictional characters.
I loved the journal, I thought that was such a great addition into the game and it made you feel ‘closer’ to Arthur. I found John’s little drawings in the journal during the epilogue so endearing. I loved having so much ability to customise your appearance and horse. I loved a lot of the little easter eggs, like the cabin with the paintings of The Strange Man (my favourite stranger mission from RDR) and his creepy reflection, the time traveler and “Gavin’s friend” on his 7 year search for whoever Gavin is. I loved how it set the stage for RDR perfectly, other than the fact that it breaks my heart that Arthur was never mentioned at all in the original. I thought the music throughout the game was incredible. I found some of the gameplay a little slow and dreary at times but the story was so beautiful and tragic and brilliant that it more than made up for it.
The game put me through the emotional ringer but I’m so sad that it’s over, and all that’s left to do is desperately hope we get a story based DLC. Undead Nightmare from RDR is, in my opinion, one of the best DLCs ever released for any game ever and I’d love to be able to play something like that as Arthur. I wondered if the UFOs you can find around the map might hint at an alien themed DLC but who knows. I’m unsure if I’ll do a second playthrough on the main game as I already got the good ending and I don’t know if I can put myself through the sadness I felt watching Arthur suffer all over again, but I’ll be crossing my fingers for a DLC.