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What We Want In Red Dead Redemption 3

It felt like it would never come.

Before Red Dead Redemption 2 arrived in October 2018, gamers had been waiting with baited breath for Rockstar's follow-up to the critically acclaimed original. The game suffered through a few delays, and fans also had to suffer, too — through secretive social media posts and spaced-out trailers. But eventually, the 2018 holiday season rolled around. Red Dead Redemption 2 arrived, players popped their discs in, and everyone discovered that the game was every bit as good as it was expected to be.


Perhaps a little too good. Maybe too big. But we'll get to all that.

Now that Red Dead Redemption 2 has been out in the wild for several months, and now that enough people have managed to complete the game, we decided to ask ourselves: what would we like to see in Red Dead Redemption 3? What could Rockstar do to improve upon what many considered to be one of the best video games of the year?

That's the journey we're taking you on below. You may not agree with all of them — you may not agree with any of them — but these are the ways we feel Rockstar could make the next Red Dead Redemption even better.


More Sadie Adler

If we're fortunate enough to get Red Dead Redemption 3 sometime in the next decade, we'll be crossing all of our fingers and toes that Sadie Adler comes back and leads the whole darn cast.

Watching Sadie's transformation from distressed widow to gun-slinging boss was nothing short of oustanding. In fact, she subverted pretty much every expectation we had when she first joined the gang. Visions of annoying companion quests accompanied her arrival, but when those quests showed themselves later down the line, they were far from annoying. There was no babysitting Sadie Adler. There was just Arthur Morgan arriving to save the day time and time again, only to find that Sadie had killed the whole lot.


And Sadie only got better when it came time for the game's epilogue. She found work as a bounty hunter, assisting the law she once ran from. And she made it very clear that she could hold her own and had been for a while — but if you were interested in partnering up to earn some extra money on the side, she'd allow it.

We can't beg you enough, Rockstar: please make Sadie Adler the lead character in Red Dead Redemption 3.

An actual fast travel system

The world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is enormous. In fact, upon reaching the end, you'll find you'll have discovered some of the map from the first Red Dead Redemption in addition to the sprawling piece of the west you start out in. You can easily get lost in Rockstar's creation, which we'd love to do, but it takes so darn long to travel from one edge of the map to the other.


Because Red Dead Redemption 2's version of fast travel is a joke.

It's pretty common to find that fast travel in open world games is limited to places you've discovered. We don't have a beef to pick with that decision. What's baffling is how punishingly limited fast travel is in Red Dead 2. You're basically stuck traveling between major locations you've visited via train or stage coach, which requires buying tickets. Want to visit that Wapiti reservation way up north? Not on a train or coach. Get on your horse.

And the camp version of fast travel is helpful but still gimped. First off, it requires an upgrade that you might not even know is there. And second, it only works one way. So you can choose to fast travel from camp to, say, Braithwaite Manor. But if you want to travel back to camp, guess what? Horse.


The next Red Dead would benefit greatly from a better fast travel system.

Less simulation

There is a lot to like about Red Dead Redemption 2. The world is simply stunning. The story, although it starts slow, eventually pays off. And you can see Rockstar's trademark attention to detail in pretty much every little bit of the game, from the catalogues you flip through in the general store to the stitching on your saddle.


But heavens, there are way too many simulation systems in Red Dead 2.

If you don't bathe, people notice. If you don't eat, your health and stamina take a hit. If you're forced to ride your horse three states over because you can't fast travel back to base, your horse gets tired. Rockstar wants you to be entirely devoted to Red Dead Redemption 2 to the point that you're expected to stop, set up camp, and spend your real life time feeding your video game character and allowing your video game horse to rest.

Red Dead 2 is a full-on Wild West cowboy simulator through and through. But in being what it is, the game doesn't do much to respect your time. If the next Red Dead does away with some of the sim aspects, it would be much better for it.


Better shooting mechanics

Here's something that we never quite figured out about Red Dead Redemption 2. As Arthur Morgan, you're supposed to be one of the best guns in the gang. In fact, everyone keeps bringing you along on missions for that reason. You often play the role of protector. You're a good shot. You deserve to have a song about how great you are, sort of like Beauty and the Beast's Gaston.


There's a problem, though. The shooting in Red Dead Redemption 2 — outside of the Dead Eye system — sucks.

It's wholly unsatisfying to die time and time again to enemies who can apparently hit you from 100 yards away while you struggle to position yourself with Red Dead 2's awful cover system, and line a shot up using the game's awful controls. Dead Eye helps when you have it, but it recharges slowly, which means you're constantly diving into your menu to use consumables that can help refill the meter.

If you don't have those consumables, you'll basically have to pop out of cover, aim, and pray. It certainly doesn't make you feel like a hero cowboy. And when your gang buddies are dying because you're too slow to gun down some O'Driscolls? That's even worse.


Hopefully Red Dead 3 comes with some better shooting mechanics. The second game could definitely use them.

Better movement

Arthur Morgan is the slowest walker in the entire universe — at least, that's likely what you'll be thinking when the game hands you control of Arthur for the very first time. His snail-paced steps through the cities and towns you visit in Red Dead Redemption 2 are just the start of the frustrating movement in the game, though.


Just wait until you get on a horse, or worse, when you try to control a wagon.

You might find some charm in how hard Rockstar pushes the realism in Red Dead 2, at first. But over time, you'll probably grow irritated by it. You'll run from point to point until the game's stamina system forces you back to a slow trot. You'll burst through a door and scare everyone in the bar because you had the nerve to add some pep to your step. You'll accidentally park your horse on top of a man in town because you couldn't quite stop in front of the hitching post. You'll send your wagon careening into a river a time or two trying not to hit other wagons with it.

And you'll die many deaths because your horse isn't smart enough to not run head-on into the nearest tree or boulder.


As great as Red Dead Redemption 2 is, the movement needs some serious work. If there's a third game, that's an area it could definitely improve in.

Real-world locations

The locales in Rockstar games are always works of art, and that didn't change one bit in Red Dead Redemption 2. Whether you're stomping through waist-high snow in the Grizzlies, taking in the nightlife in Saint Denis, throwing back shots in Valentine, or sneaking your way through the trees in Guarma, each place feels distinctive.


What's the problem, you ask? None of these places actually exist in real life.

It's sort of a time-honored tradition at Rockstar to create in-game locations that are inspired by the real world but are otherwise fiction. And that's totally Rockstar's prerogative, if the company intended to base its games in some sort of alternate universe. But throughout Red Dead Redemption 2, you hear mentions of New York, of Chicago, of Cuba. So it's as though Rockstar wants to have its cake and eat it, too. It wants to invent brand new cities and states while, at the same time, expecting us to believe that these exist right alongside the places that some of us live in, work in, or have visited.

Sadie Adler talks of visiting South America late in Red Dead Redemption 2. Maybe if she stars in the next game, we can visit an actual South American city and not a made up one.


A shorter campaign

The campaign in Red Dead Redemption 2 is not a sprint. It's not even a marathon. It is Forrest Gump running across the entirety of the continental United States, gaining and losing followers along the way. If you follow only the critical path, you're still looking at over 40 hours of story, which includes Arthur Morgan's tale plus a multi-hour epilogue starring John Marston.


It's excessive. And it doesn't need to be.

Truth be told, things really don't get rolling in Red Dead Redemption 2 until you've put in around 20 hours. That's when the story picks up its pace, and you keep playing not because you feel obligated, but because you want to see what happens next. Imagine if the campaign were shorter? Imagine if instead of gutting it out hoping for the story to get good, it just was the entire time?

We sincerely hope that Rockstar took the following lesson away from its development of Red Dead Redemption 2: more isn't always better. Had the campaign been half as long, there's a good chance Red Dead 2 would be viewed even more favorably than it already is. Perhaps Red Dead 3 can avoid making a similar mistake.


Removal of the crafting system

This may be one of the more controversial items on the list, but in a game where the systems have systems, something really needs to head to the chopping block.

In this instance, our vote goes to the crafting system in Red Dead Redemption 2. We really, really hope it doesn't make a return in Red Dead 3.


Allow us to pose a question to you. What are we robbing all of these banks for? Why are we holding up stage coaches? Why are we rustling sheep away from the fine folks outside Valentine? If it's to sail off to Tahiti and leave all of our cares behind, that ain't happening. So what exactly are we spending all of our money on? New clothes? Haircuts? Come on.

Yes, Rockstar lovingly crafted an ecosystem full of bears, birds, wolves, and fish. But something has to give. There is already some motivation for players to go out and explore the world: money. Finding side jobs to complete, for money. Finding people to rob, for money. Adding "hunt a cougar for its pelt" to the list seems like a bit much when you probably have the cash sitting around to buy that satchel upgrade.


So Rockstar, just do away with the crafting in the next Red Dead. We'll love you for it.

Another stellar soundtrack

We've hit on some of the things we'd like to see change should Rockstar decide to bring Red Dead Redemption 3 into the world. But if there is one thing — one single thing — that we don't want the Red Dead team to do differently at all, it's the soundtrack.


Red Dead Redemption 2's soundtrack is otherworldly. It's so good that you should seriously consider purchasing it when it comes out. It's that impressive.

It's hard to think of another game where the music does as much work as it does in Red Dead 2. The way it sets the mood as your crew trots up to Braithwaite Manor aside one another. The way "May I Stand Unshaken" follows Arthur upon his return from Guarma, and how it plays him out as he stares at his last sunrise. The soundtrack hits all the right notes and feels just as much a part of the experience as anything else in the game.

If the Red Dead Redemption 3 soundtrack can be half as good as the one in 2, it'll still be an amazing accomplishment.


PC support at launch

We really feel for dedicated PC gamers. While console exclusives have started to fade out, there are still some games that, for whatever reason, delay launch on PC or skip it altogether.

Not that we think there'll be any skipping here. After all, Rockstar eventually brought Grand Theft Auto 5 to PC after some time passed. And because Red Dead Online likely figures into the company's plans going forward, it would be silly to miss that audience.


But it would've been really great if Red Dead Redemption 2 had simultaneously launched on PC alongside its console counterparts.

There are obvious reasons why PC gamers should feel neglected by Red Dead 2's nonexistent PC presence. The game's been out for a few months now, which means spoilers for the campaign are all over the place (including here). And the uncertainty for fans of Rockstar's work has to be bothersome, as well. If you really want to play Red Dead 2, should you buy a console? Or should you have faith that the game will eventually come to PC?

Rockstar could make things easier for everyone by bringing Red Dead Redemption 3 to all platforms at once. Or even just letting everyone know: "Hey, we're working on the PC version."


A spring or summer release date

Let's get something straight about fall and winter seasons: in the video game world, they are all but guaranteed to be jam-packed. You can count on a Call of Duty game. You can count on either a Battlefield or a Battlefront game. And the fall and winter months always seem to host big releases from other publishers like Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Ubisoft.


That's what happened in 2018. Yet Rockstar chose to airdrop right into that window anyway, releasing Red Dead Redemption 2 at the end of October.

We'd really, really love if the next Red Dead didn't do that again — especially if Rockstar insists on making it huge.

This is likely something that all gamers can get on board with, and not just those who write about games. We all need time to play these things! Had Red Dead Redemption 2 come out in July or August, it would've been largely alone, and it would've given everyone something to play during those sparse summer months. We really hope that, should Rockstar go ahead and add a third entry to the Red Dead Redemption series, that the company chooses a release window where it can stand alone — and where we can all catch our collective breath.


It'll likely sell anyway. Why not help us out, Rockstar?

Better working conditions at Rockstar

Before Red Dead Redemption 2 even had a chance to come out, the game was already steeped in scandal. It came thanks to the reporting of Kotaku's Jason Schreier, who uncovered what he called a "culture of crunch" — an approach to making games that left Red Dead team members feeling burned out.


Once Red Dead 2 released on Oct. 27, everyone could soon see why the crunch became such an issue.

The game is massive. There is so much to it. And all of that famous attention to detail — the very attention to detail we mentioned above as something worthy of praise — came with a human toll. Writers were working 100-hour weeks to try and get the game finished in time. Some employees had their eyes on the exits when the game wrapped, feeling as though they'd been treated poorly. And when Rockstar boss Dan Houser stated in an interview that all overtime at the company was voluntary, some scoffed at the assertion.

"I didn't volunteer for it," one employee stated.

Now that some light has been shed on the work environment at Rockstar — and on the practice of crunch in development studios — we hope that more companies will do more to prevent it from occurring. And we especially hope those who work on Red Dead Redemption 3 don't have to endure it.


If it means we get a smaller game, so be it.