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The worst things Red Dead Redemption 2 made us do

Red Dead Redemption 2 is not so much a story of the Old West as it is a cautionary tale. The label should read, "Here's what happens when you live on the wrong side of the law." You become a bad man. Don't ever let anyone tell you that there are bad men with good hearts. Men with good hearts don't do bad things. Bad men do bad things.

We did a lot of bad things in Red Dead Redemption 2.

We can't even count the number of bullets we fired when all was said and done. Or how many lives we took. How many lawmen went to heaven a little earlier than they'd anticipated, or how many innocent men and women got caught in the crossfire. They're all a blur, like a train rolling by at top speed.

And all the people on that train? We probably killed them, too.

We aren't proud of everything we did. There probably is no coming back from it. But a lot of it wasn't up to us. It was intricately planned and plotted out by some higher power. We simply followed along.

God help us.

Here are the worst things Red Dead Redemption 2 made us do.

Beat the crap out of a very sick man

Thomas Downes wasn't a bad guy. In fact, he was kind. He raised money for the Charitable Organization of New Hampshire. He could be seen in the town of Valentine, giving money to the poor. He had a wife and a son, a farm, and some land. He wasn't living a fancy life by any stretch of the imagination, but for a while, what he had was enough.

Unfortunately, hard times hit the farm, as they so often did back then. And Thomas Downes was too proud a man to let his wife and his son live in squalor. So he bet on himself. He borrowed some money so that his family was fed, and so that he could try to get things back on track. But he got sick. He couldn't work. And because he couldn't work, he couldn't pay back the loan.

We beat this man. Visciously. Because, as it turns out, the person Downes borrowed money from was Leopold Strauss, the money man in our gang. We rode up to his farm and demanded that he pay the money he owed. And when he didn't, we sent him a message.

Thomas Downes didn't survive long after that. Whether disease finally did him in or we did, we'll never know. All we do know is that we paid one hell of a price for that collection visit.

Rob a bank, kill many people

The town of Valentine was doing just fine before we got there. And it's safe to say we didn't make the best first impression when we arrived, either. We started a fight at the local saloon. We got incredibly, unforgivably drunk at that same saloon, ran from local law enforcement, and ended up spending a night in jail. And all of that was before the robbery.

Why did we rob the bank in Valentine? It was another one of Dutch's brilliant ideas. This job was going to put us on the path toward freedom, he said. We just needed to clean this bank out. And maybe rob something else, too. But this bank — it definitely needed robbing. So we did it.

It didn't go well — Dutch's ideas rarely do. Instead of slipping in and out, we caused a stir. We drew far too much attention. We had to leave the Bank of Valentine shooting and escape on horseback, hoping and praying that no one traced us back to camp. A lot of lawmen died during that robbery. Some innocent people probably did, too. But it was for the greater good. Soon we'd be long gone, living it up. Somewhere exotic.

Get an innocent child kidnapped

Little Jack Marston didn't ask to live the life of an outlaw. He didn't much have a choice. He was born into it. His daddy was an outlaw. His mama was an outlaw. And Jack Marston wasn't anything but a kid who got mixed up with the wrong people. He didn't have a choice.

We took it very personally when the Braithwaites stole him. We'd been running scams on them and the Grays in Lemoyne, trying to pit them against each other. Trying to play both sides. Another one of Dutch's schemes. But they caught on before too long. The Grays killed Sean right there in the streets, so we killed them. When we got back to camp, Abigail was a mess, and Jack was gone.

He didn't have a choice.

John Marston was far from a father at that point. He hadn't wanted to believe that Jack was even his. But something changed when he found out that the Braithwaithes had Jack. He felt responsible, and he wanted to go get him. So the gang saddled up and rode like hell to Braithwaite Manor.

Kill almost every member of a wealthy southern family

Five minutes before we got there, all was well at Braithwaite Manor. By the time we left, the place was ashes.

The Braithwaites took Jack. They crossed the line. He had nothing to do with our disagreement, but they took a child from his mama. We tied up our horses and walked up the path to the Manor in the dark of night, ready to spill blood for the kid. But it didn't have to be that way. We asked about Jack. Where was he? The Braithwaites were not in a talking mood.

So we broke the silence.

A lot of Braithwaites had to die for that transgression. We nearly wiped out the entire line. We put a bullet in just about everyone with that last name, save for the young girl and Mrs. Braithwaite herself. We even killed one of the old woman's sons right in front of her. And then we set the entire mansion ablaze.

They didn't even have Jack anymore. Mrs. Braithwaite had passed him off to a crime boss in Saint Denis. They didn't have much of a future anymore, either. The woman apparently died in the fire of her own volition. Seems she couldn't go on without her flesh and blood. There's a lesson there.

Rob a riverboat, kill many people

Somehow we got the bright idea that we could pull off something more elaborate than an old-fashioned bank heist. Riverboats are full of gamblers. Gamblers have money. And the dealers take it from them. There would be all sorts of riches aboard that boat, and with enough to our name, we could finally disappear.

Still, there were an awful lot of moving parts here. We had to lie our way in. We had to cheat without being caught. We had to have a man on the inside. A whole lot of chances for the job to go wrong.

And sure enough, it did.

Javier stole a uniform from a man, and before too long, that same man emerged in nothing but his long johns. He outed us. It wasn't long before the bullets started flying around. We did a number on that ship, and we killed a whole lot of men trying to find a way out. But sometimes, the easiest way out is the most obvious one. We were on a boat in the middle of the water. So we jumped.

We got away again. And again, by the skin of our teeth.

Let Mary go instead of running away with her

Mary Linton was like one of the many banks we'd robbed over the years. She was a piece of the past we could never quite escape, no matter much distance we put in between. Just as the law followed, so did Mary. In letters. In visits to whatever town we happened to be holed up outside of. She reminded us of what we could've been had we followed the straight-and-narrow. But unlike the law, she found room to forgive. She wanted us to leave it all behind and run away.

God, we wish we could have.

We saw what happened to Jack. Just for being around the gang, he got taken. He could've been killed. The same thing could've happened to Mary if she'd gotten caught up in everything. Not that the thought wasn't appealing — to just get on a train and vanish. Live life and be in love. But it would be a life on the run, and that wouldn't have been fair to her.

So we said no. The gang was wanted, and until that wasn't the case, there was no normal life to be had.

Mary Linton climbed aboard a streetcar and told us she'd write. Then she was gone.

Watch two of our friends get killed in Saint Denis

The outlaw life stole so much from us. It stole our freedom, making it hard to enjoy a drink without having to survey the room. For most of us, it stole our shot at love. We never did get Mary back. We never did settle down. We never had the opportunity.

But by far the worst thing it did was steal our friends. Because living life on the run meant living out of bounds. We couldn't just go from robbing banks to working at the general store. A normal job isn't an option. Robbing banks is the job. And you just keep doing it.

The job in Saint Denis was never going to pan out. The city was too big. It had way too much law. Everything had to go exactly to plan. But nothing ever goes to plan, and this didn't.

We lost Hosea. The Pinkertons shot him in cold blood, and all we could do was watch. Then we lost Lenny. We were scrambling over the rooftops, looking for a way out. Some more Pinkertons poured out one of the doors and shot him on sight. We didn't have time to mourn — not when we weren't sure we'd survive ourselves. All we could do was run. And shoot.

Cause that earlier sick man's widow to take up prostitution

Beating her husband right in front of her? That wasn't all the torture we put poor Edith Downes through. We did go back and collect the rest of that loan her husband took out. She wasn't too happy about that. But we found out much later that the Downes family was in dire financial straits — even worse than we thought.

We happened upon Mrs. Downes in Annesburg. She accidentally propositioned us. She'd turned to being a call girl to pay the bills. When we recognized her and she recognized us, she was embarrassed. She turned the cops on us and had us run out of town.

It wasn't all bad for Edith Downes. Later in life, it seems her family opened up a number of businesses, including some golf courses. They had money — far more than they used to. No thanks to us.

Rent a hot air balloon and get the operator killed

We knew Dutch was starting to lose it when he wouldn't go for John.

After our botched bank robbery in Saint Denis, John got caught by the law and locked away. There was talk that they might hang him. Abigail was understandably distraught. We weren't much sure that Jack understood. But it didn't feel right to not try and get the boy his daddy back, and maybe, just maybe, give them all a chance at something normal.

So we devised a plan with Mrs. Adler. We'd secure ourselves a hot air balloon, fly our way to the island where John was being held, and shoot every guard we had to if it meant bringing him home.

We did that, but an innocent man had to die so John could live. The balloon pilot, Mr. Bullard, seemed like a good enough guy. We got him caught up in a fight we had with the O'Driscolls. There was a lot of history there, and Mr. Bullard wasn't a part of it. But the O'Driscolls shot him dead.

We always seemed to bring death and destruction no matter where we went. This was no different.

Let Dutch use a native tribe as a pawn in one of his plans

The Wapiti should've never been a part of our mess. They were, for the most part, a people of peace. Rain Falls didn't want war. His son Eagle Flies, however, felt the noose of the US government wrapping around the tribe's neck. The army was encroaching on their territory, seizing their land. They saw an opportunity to respond, to fight back. And Dutch?

Well, Dutch just saw an opportunity.

Dutch became convinced that the only way we could shake the Pinkertons was to create a large enough distraction that the law couldn't help but let us slip away. He ginned up the Wapiti, telling them he help them fight out from underneath the oppressive fist of the government. And out of respect to Rain Falls, we trailed along — if only to make sure Eagle Flies was kept safe.

We failed. Eagle Flies lost his life saving ours. We let Dutch sacrifice Rain Falls' only remaining son so he could run another one of his scams. We had to take Eagle Flies back to his tribe's camp, and we had to see the look on his father's face.

We couldn't go on living that way.

Try to rob one last train, even though we didn't want to

We could've walked away so many times. We could've stopped after Blackwater. We could've jumped on a ship with Mary and tried to outrun our misdeeds. But we stayed — out of some kind of misplaced loyalty toward Dutch, but mostly because we wanted to see John and his family live a better life. But that required one last train robbery — and that train belonged to the US government.

The plan was simple, as so many of Dutch's were when he talked about them. We'd jump aboard the train, we'd take care of anyone who happened to be riding on it, and we'd make off with the money.

But there were problems. The train was more heavily guarded than most. There were escorts. Dutch and Micah brought some extra help that we weren't sure about. It all didn't feel right. We might've murdered more law that day than any day before, but nothing made us more sick than when John careened off the side of the train. We thought we'd lost him. In fact, Dutch told us all he was dead.

If we could've, we never would've robbed that train. We would've helped John, Abigail, and Jack get away right then and there. Luckily, we hadn't lost John. He came back to camp, wondering why Dutch had left him behind.

That should've been it.

Hold back on shooting Micah when we had the chance

You know how the story ends. The Pinkertons turned up at our last camp just before our gang could erupt into a civil war. We managed to sneak away and help John escape, sending him off to be with Abigail and Jack somewhere else. We got to see one last pretty sunset.

John Marston took care of Micah, who'd been selling us out the entire time. But that happened years later.

We should've been allowed to shoot him where he stood from the get-go.

We'd had no problem gunning down so many men whose names we didn't even know. Men who were simply trying to uphold the law that we so brazenly violated, repeatedly and without remorse. But Micah was something else. He took pleasure in it — he needed it. Everything about him — from the way he talked to the way he carried himself — stunk to high heaven. We should've known he was the traitor in our midst all along.

Had we been able to kill him sooner, we could have avoided so much heartbreak. Or maybe not.