Platform(s): Playstation 4, Xbox One
There is no other game that deserves to sit in the top spot. With Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar Games has created an 1899 America that is intimidatingly detailed. It contains neither the cynical satire of Grand Theft Auto V nor its amoral mayhem. Red Dead Redemption 2 is its own animal: an unblinking, tragic tale of doomed men and women leading doomed lives, and a damning deconstruction of the Wild West mythology. What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to be part of a family? And what does it mean to be a man in a world that seems like it’s passing you by?
In retrospect, Red Dead Redemption 2 is the thematic opposite of Spider-Man. This is no vicarious power fantasy where you soar, unfettered, over the map like a miniature god. Instead, Arthur Morgan’s life is a series of dark-humored, karmic humiliations, one after the other. You’ll get kicked into the mud by an irritable horse. Muggers steal your money. People you trust betray you and put your life at risk. And no crime you commit ever goes well; you’ll have to shoot your way out, sometimes with little to show for it.
After finishing the storyline, things loosen up a bit. You can hunt down a vampire or search for Bigfoot. You can go into a house, find blood smeared all over everything, and piece together a murder mystery. You can search the night sky for UFOs. You can track down bounties, and bring your perps in dead or alive. And that’s not even including Red Dead Online, which recently launched its beta.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is Rockstar’s first game built exclusively for the current generation of consoles, and it shows. The developers have given us a world to not only play in but to live in. And chop wood in. And tame horses in. And rob carriages in. And play blackjack in. And bathe in. The list goes on and on.