Among the people who played Red Dead Redemption 2 On the PlayStation 4, only 40% finished chapter 3. A month after the release of the game, most players on PS4 have not exceeded their midpoint. The game offers many alternative activities to keep people busy. But something else can prevent players from completing Arthur's story: the unrewarding power curve.
A "power curve", in the context of the game, refers to a sense of progression, particularly prevalent in open world games. The legend of Zelda: the breath of naturefor example, starts with three hearts and a swimsuit. You are weak, capable of being killed in one go by a random bokoblin. At the end of the game, you have a lot of hearts and enough armor to fill a pile of junk.
This slow progression to become a powerful Ganon killer motivates you to constantly search for new temples and dungeons. The exploration and new experiences are rewarded by an ever stronger character. The Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Assassin & # 39; s Creed series all follow this general pattern.
Rockstar's other open-world series, Grand Theft Auto, has a strong power curve. When you start Grand Theft Auto 5none of the main characters have a lot of equipment or abilities. After a few dozen hours, they can use tanks, jet airplanes and extravagant destruction machines.
Red Dead Redemption 2 his lack of jetpacks and rocket launchers. But Arthur's lack of progression (and, in some respects, regression) over dozens of hours means that fewer cores can be hung up before the player encourages them to complete scenario missions.
How the game motivates you
There are four different progression brackets in Red Dead Redemption 2: stones, weapons, horses and your camp.
The kernels progress by making casualties and sprinting on the map, whether you play the story or not. They never feel like a source of significant progress, because being able to sprint 10% longer or take an extra shot is far from giving power.
The weapons could have offered a more interesting solution to the problem of the power curve, but none of the unlocked firearms after the second chapter seems to be very different from those with which you started the game. Unlock a pistol whose scope is slightly higher than your last pistol is disappointing.
Horses also offer a potential path of progression, but the difference between an average horse and an elite horse is negligible. In addition, you can gain free access to one of the best horses in the game in the early hours of play, which completely removes this feeling of progression of the equation.
The biggest investment in the game, your side, has some decent improvements (including a fast moving system), but these also disappear in half the story. The best saddlebag available is the most difficult camp upgrade and allows you, in a comical way, to carry 99 cans of beans.
The missions of the story begin to look like homework without significant progression. This is particularly brutal given the tone of these missions, always dark and depressing. The only motivating factor is to see how ends this horror show.
On the merits of the game, the writing and performances are compelling from one scene to another, but even these positive scenes are not enough to motivate the reading of a story that may take more 60 hours and requires many trottins without joy and repetitive. the same paths. Secondary missions offer respite, with their stories of an hour and their tone clearer, even if you quickly agree that the rewards for accomplishing them are, in fact, the missions themselves.
The game rarely gives Arthur new tools, limiting even the best side missions to a handful of similar tasks, framed in a slightly different way: recovering a debt, playing a board game, driving a cart from A to B, performing cover shots and then run away before the law appears. Nothing else keeps these missions fresh beyond cinematics and dialogue.
The counter-argument of all this is that Rockstar was not trying to create a fantasy of power. It was simply trying to create a realistic adventure game in an open world, and constantly gaining new rewards goes against that. Which would make sense if there was simply no reward. But there is a ton, from treasure weapons to horses and kernels. They are just rarely significant rewards.
What about Red Dead Online?
And Rockstar has another problem: Red Dead Online. Launched five years ago, Grand Theft Auto Online has earned its audience loyalty by constantly giving players something to work on, whether owned by a military base or a jet aircraft.
One day after its launch, Red Dead Online is determined to keep the tone of Red Dead Redemption 2. I do not know how many players will grind for dozens of hours for a different shade of horse. After six hours of play, I already had 90% of the tools in my toolkit, and I no longer really wanted to give up hundreds of dollars of hard earned currency on a slightly different repeater. .
In the long run, Red Dead Online may require a major tone change, similar to that of the original. Red Dead Redemption 's Undead nightmare expansion, which opened up the potential for progression with beasts and mystical weapons.
Rockstar has created a visually realistic digital world with Red Dead Redemption 2. But the lack of new fun toys with which to play, perhaps as a nod to this realism, is one of the main things that can prevent people from seeing the story that Rockstar seems to cherish so dearly.
I guess it's ironic, I guess: players will not see the conclusion of a story about how power corrupts because they do not get the fantasy they expect.