Sell, sell – where’s the sell button??Rockstar
Red Dead Redemption 2, the sprawling sandbox western from Rockstar Games that had us scrambling to comprehend the concept of testicles on video game horses, has a gun problem. Naturally, being a game that takes place in the old west, guns are as key to the concept and reality of the game as sunshine and whistling, booze and baked beans. There is no Red Dead Redemption 2 without guns. So why are they so freaking annoying?
This isn’t about the control scheme in the game, of which Paul Tassi delightfully tears apart as being one of the telltale signs you are scowling at a Rockstar game. From the control scheme to the combat system, Rockstar appears to be content with creating a world in which little things — like selection your weapon — are as much of a task as finding your horse after a shootout. Guns don’t magically appear when you select them on a controller, that’s not how life works.
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However, I actually don’t have much an issue with the combat system in Red Dead 2. While the auto-aim assist is a tad unrealistic and does create redundant firefights that tend to feel the same, that’s kind of the point. The selection wheel is exhausting and tedious, but that’s what life was like in the old west. Yes, you had to select your gun(s) before dismounting your horse, even down to the type of bullet, before engaging in yet another firefight that was pretty much like the last.
Every time you start a new mission, or end one, you have to once again choose your weapons. You have to be ready for whatever might happen, ready for the unpredictable nature of the old west. Logging this detail as a criticism of the human existence as an inhabitant of the old west seems like a spoiled reaction to playing games like Destiny and Call of Duty for so long, where you have a load-out and the weapon selection isn’t performed dozens of times during a session. This, I don’t have a problem with.
The problem lies with the sheer amount of guns that Arthur Morgan ends up carrying, very quickly, on his newly minted arsenal of a horse. Before chapter three (and probably 40+ hours into the game), my Arthur Morgan may as well have been a spokesperson for the NRA with the amount of guns he had stocked up. I don’t mind making sure my load-out is correct before dismounting my horse, but cycling through four shotguns I don’t need seems a bit stupid. In the real old west, while it does take time to select and draw a weapon, one would have sold or dropped the useless weapons at some point. A thing of which you cannot do in Red Dead Redemption 2.
Not being able to drop the weak shotgun I started the game with, or the second carbine repeater I accidentally picked up or the least powerful bolt-action rifle the game forced me to buy even though I could have afforded the entire catalog, is as big a negative for me as the combat system is for Tassi. This no-drop system (for guns and clothes) is what takes the slow-west feel of weapon selection to an annoying level. I get pissed accidentally scrolling past the particular shotgun I want in a spontaneous gunfight because in reality, I would have dropped that crap miles ago.
For all it’s open-worldness, Red Dead 2 could have taken a small hint from games like Fallout or any other RPG — don’t make me carry more than I freaking want to. If I want to carry one pistol, one long rifle and my bow — don’t make me have to scroll through an additional 20 weapons to select that load-out. Is it possible an online update could add a drop option to your weapons? You can swap them for weapons on the ground (not really changing much) so it shouldn’t be too hard to add code to drop them.
The odd thing is, and this might sound contradictory, you can accidentally drop them. You can get guns knocked out of your hand during a fight, or pick up a worn gun you don’t own yet, knocking out the current gun in that slot. Actually, it gets a bit confusing around picking up weapons, what appears back on your horse and what you are supposed to earn during a quest versus picking up in-game. The point is that at no point do you really feel like you have any power in the gun-related narrative.
Sure, most guns are as effective as the next, thanks to aim-assist and dead-eye, but that’s not the point. The point is that Rockstar going to the sheer detail of the hair growth on Arthur’s chin versus the hair growth on his sideburns should have been met by the detail of being able to drop guns versus keeping them. There is also a pedantic nature to this argument, but Red Dead 2 creates a world in which the details must be analyzed and combed through like an elementary school with a lice breakout.
The fact that you can’t lighten your horse’s load by dropping or selling weapons in Red Dead 2 just yanks you out of the sprawling west and into some sort of growling hissy fit on your couch, kicking over the ottoman and spilling your glass of Peach Schnapps mixed with banana pudding as the large red word “DEAD” appears on the screen because you kept selecting the wrong gun.