From the Grizzlies to Horseshoe Overlook to Clemens Point, we are back to look at the third chapter of Red Dead Redemption 2.
In the preceding chapters, we have delighted in high-thrill gunfights, ran scared from the game’s punishing wanted system, and joyfully scratched our heads at a night of debauchery.
In Chapter 3, the game continues to deliver, but now it settles into something more structured and specific.
Your gang has a plan and a target, and the chapter focuses on seeing that narrative arc through (with some delightful diversions along the way).
Additionally, Red Dead 2‘s insistence on bringing you into some of the most classic scenarios of outlaw fiction is further solidified in this chapter, and there are some wonderful moments.
Let us now dive into Chapter 3: Clemens Point.
One more piece of upkeep for those that may be skipping the preceding articles — our grading scale is as follows:
A: These are the missions that are as impressive as Red Dead Redeption 2‘s immense and nuanced world. Transcendent moments that validate video games as art.
B: Exceptional sequences, these missions create moments that leave a lasting impression.
C: *The bread-and-butter of Red Dead 2. Filled with straightforward action and character development that keeps the game moving forward and the player engaged.
D: Forgettable missions that serve just to introduce a character or mechanic without many frills.
F: Painful. The game would be better without these missions.
It’s important to note that the “C” grading is not meant to imply that a mission is average compared to other games. Rather, “C” should be considered a baseline for Red Dead 2 relative to its exceptional “A’s” and “B’s” and its lackluster “D’s” and “F’s.”
The primary goal of this investigation is to create a hierarchy within Red Dead 2‘s missions, not to provide a definitive stance on how the game stacks up against others.
Note: Mission descriptions and heavy spoilers follow.
Red Dead 2 Chapter 3: The Missions
The New South (Dutch)
With the gang moved into Clemens Point, it is time for a father(s)-and-son fishing trip with Dutch and Hosea. Unfortunately, your respite is interrupted before it has even begun due to a chance encounter with the local law enforcement.
While the subsequent gunfight is good enough, and serves to establish a very important relationship with the Rhodes sheriff, the eventual fishing is what elevates the mission.
The boys chatted and sang as I cast, and the game’s beautiful writing shone through brightly.
Many games seem to find the most basic of story writing challenging, but Red Dead 2 revels in these moments of humdrum conversation, whether they take place on a long horse ride or in a fishing boat.
I love listening to these little naturalistic chats, and it felt like this one could have continued into infinity if I had not put my rod away.
Further Questions of Female Suffrage (Pearson)
Pearson, the gang’s cook, needs some supplies and a letter mailed, and you and Sadie Adler are enlisted for the task.
This is the first formal moment you have spent with Sadie since you burned her house to the ground in the game’s first mission, and she is wonderfully rendered.
A firecracker that is fully willing to rob a general store rather than pay for the bits and bobs Pearson has requested, she gets to show-off her trigger finger when a band of Lemoyne Raiders attempts to hijack your cart.
This is a stock mission made better by Ms. Adler’s rowdy presence.
American Distillation (Dutch)
After your assistance in the chapter’s first mission, a very drunk Sheriff Gray is ready to deputize you for a raid on a moonshine still operated by the Braithwaites, one of the area’s most powerful families.
At this point, missions that are little more than gunfights are solidly established as Red Dead 2‘s filler, and this mission is a great example of Rockstar’s ability to embellish on this baseline to create something greater.
Here, we have the first mission that really has a stealth component, and the unique conceit combined with slinking through the atmospheric swamp is a delightful way to precede the shootout that occurs at the mission’s conclusion.
An Honest Mistake (Molly)
This is another mission that embellishes just enough on Red Dead 2‘s action formula for it to rise above.
After robbing a Cornwall payroll wagon, you end up tucked away in a shed, and, by the time you are found, the sun has gone down and the light is simply stunning.
The battle that follows in the shack and the surrounding woods comes close to the cinema present in Chapter 2’s “The First Shall Be Last,” pushing this mission beyond the simple action at its center.
Preaching Forgiveness as He Went (Lenny)
Lenny has finally recovered from his hangover, and he has a lead on a reclusive group of weapons dealers that are ripe for the robbing.
Another average gunfight with the welcome addition of explosives.
As foreshadowed by Chapter 2’s “A Quiet Time,” the best part of this mission is Arthur’s relationship with Lenny. Here we get to see Arthur assume the role of outlaw mentor, which gives him so depth beyond the gruff interactions he has with his peers and the devotion he shows to Dutch and Hosea.
Sodom? Back to Gomorrah (Bill)
After a long ride back to Valentine, you get to experience some serious outlaw business: a bank robbery.
Again, I love these action-focused missions with more elaborate premises, and this is among the chapter’s best — who is beyond being rapt by the ultimate in wild west criminal activity?
I was additionally happy to have the opportunity to choose my approach to the mission — there is a sufficient amount of gun blazing in Red Dead 2, and I always appreciate chances to take a quieter approach.
Of course, the calm does not last long, but the mission delivers something more than a standard gunfight, culminating with a classic “out-run a train to evade your pursuers” moment.
The Course of True Love II (Beau)
After a short build, we are now in the middle of this chapter’s main plot line: an ancient feud between the Grays and the Braithwaites.
In a tale as old as time, Beau Gray is in love with Penelope Braithwaite, and he asks you to make a delivery to her.
While I let out an impetuous groan when I realized I was entering a stealth delivery mission, I could not have been more pleased by its ultimate execution.
As is often the case in Red Dead 2, the game’s extraordinary set pieces and atmosphere take tasks that would feel wrote in a lesser game to another level.
After making a getaway by boat through a foggy moonlit night, I was ready for any other stealth mission that might come my way.
I now eagerly await Red Dead Redemption 2‘s take on the classic “clear my cellar of rats” mission.
The Course of True Love III (Beau)
Penelope’s letter back to Beau informs him of her participation in an upcoming women’s suffrage rally, and you get to play escort.
There is a nice bit of world building here, and I was struck by how impactful I found the conflict between the women and the oppressive men, but there is little else happening in this mission.
At one point, you and Beau flee the rally after Beau’s irate cousin shows up, but I am still waiting for his threats to payoff in some later mission, though I sort of expect that they will not.
Advertising, the New American Art II (Hosea)
Hosea has a hilariously bad plan for the moonshine you previously acquired from the raid on the Braithwaite still: sell it back to them.
This is your first glimpse at a dynamic pervading Chapter 3, your gang’s belief that they are duping idiots when really they are the ones behaving like buffoons.
The manors of the two warring families really are beautiful set pieces, and riding up to the Braithwaite’s with such a seemingly hair-brained scheme has a nice tinge of anxiety in it.
Further, Rockstar seems to have an affinity for delightfully odd saloon-based gameplay, as you are given control of Author as he pours drinks for the bar’s customers.
And finally, we have a great little mobile gun battle here, as Hosea takes the reins of the wagon and Arthur is allowed to lay waste to an onslaught of attacking Lemoyne Raiders.
Magicians for Sport (Dutch)
After Dutch sends you to collect information from Trelawny, you ultimately find yourself executing several men in the cornfields of Braithwaite manor.
Again the exceptional grounds of the estate sing, however, this mission marked the first time I ever felt truly agitated by Red Dead 2‘s gameplay.
At times, the game’s camera is slightly uncooperative, continually repositioning itself in an attempt to accommodate for your movement. While this is often a helpful feature, I found it a nuisance as I was attempting to meticulously comb through the crops.
Horse Flesh For Dinner (John)
Following your first encounter with the matriarch of the Braithwaite family, the gang has a plan to play both sides of the feud and make out with their riches in the chaos.
This begins with a visit to Tavish Gray who instructs you to steal some prized horses from the Braithwaite’s stables and offload them for a hefty profit.
What follows is a lackluster mission that primarily serves to introduce Horse Fences.
While the scope of NPCs available in Red Dead 2 is impressive in its ability to make all criminal activity feel purposeful, I was quite disappointed that Rockstar chose to relegate a mission with so much potential to more tutorialing.
The biggest takeaway here is the further emphasis on just how gullible and misguided your gang actually is, a nice deflation of the super savvy criminal caricatures you might expect from Dutch and his followers.
Friends in Very Low Places (Trelawny)
Here is yet another mission with the purpose of introducing you to a crime-facilitating NPC — this time around, it is a contact that can provide information on high-value stagecoaches to rob.
Fortunately, the target in this mission is unique (an opera singer carrying riches on her coach), and the theft goes down against the backdrop of an operatic serenade.
The best part of the mission is Josiah’s relationship with the informant, who seems to have fully drunk the con-man’s Kool-Aid. I appreciate Red Dead 2‘s continual focus on making more subtle manipulations viable instead of invoking violence at every turn.
The Fine Joys of Tobacco (Hosea)
After a disappointing mission for the Grays, Rockstar pulls out all the stops with this Chapter 3 highlight, which sends you to burn down the Grays’ tobacco fields at the request of the Braithwaites.
This mission is, structurally, very similar to the raid on the Braithwaite still, but expanded.
Creeping through the crops, dousing them under the moonlight. It feels wonderful, and it continues to be a treat to explore the immaculate grounds of these families’ estates.
The subsequent shootout, amidst a blazing field of tobacco, is just the icing on the cake.
The exceptionality of this mission further cements “Horse Flesh for Dinner” as an opportunity missed.
Blessed are the Peacemakers (Micah)
This mission is a bit of a curveball following the chapter’s focus on the Grays and the Braithwaites, but it keeps the O’Driscolls top-of-mind and does a nice job further instilling a point I keep referencing in this chapter: your gang is a bunch of dolts.
Despite everyone’s conviction that they are being setup, Dutch, Micah, and Arthur decide to meet with Colm O’Driscoll in an attempt to reconcile the two gangs.
Shocker, it was a setup, and Arthur is beat to hell, shot, and taken prisoner to an O’Driscoll camp.
From there, you find yourself in a main-stay “I have lost all my gear” mission — something I was actively excited about. Despite its cliche, this mission type seems extremely exhilarating under the hyper-realistic framework Red Dead 2 provides, and I was fully expecting something on the level of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild‘s beautiful incantation of the formula.
Unfortunately, I found all of my gear immediately after walking out of my cell and went along on my merry way.
While the mission is certainly suitable, the setup feels squandered, and I cannot help but think of how much better it would be with some further elaboration.
A Short Walk in a Pretty Town (Bill)
Having tried to meddle in business better left untouched, your attempt to play both sides of the Gray/Braithwaite feud comes to a head with a shootout in Rhodes.
These in-town gunfights always feel more intense due to Red Dead 2‘s looming wanted system, and I really enjoy them.
This mission even gives you a special moment of gunslinging when it introduces a new way to use the Dead Eye mechanic, and I felt like Clint Eastwood after I put four men down in the blink of an eye.
We also get a little peek at Arthur’s softer side when he mourns Sean’s death in the battle. With Arthur always seeming so endlessly combative with compatriots, it is easy to forget that his agitation is coming from the place that a brother’s might, and these moments do a nice job humanizing him.
Blood Feuds, Ancient and Modern (Dutch)
Now it is the Braithwaite’s turn to deliver some retribution for your gang’s interference, and they opt to kidnap John and Abigail’s son, Jack.
This mission finally gave me what I had been wanting since I first laid eyes on the Braithwaite mansion: to annihilate everyone inside and burn it to the ground.
Again, there is some wonderful invocation of the new Dead Eye feature, and the closing conversation with Catherine Braithwaite really drives home just how severe your response has been. You have murdered her entire family.
The Battle of Shady Belle
If Sean’s death, Jack’s kidnapping, and the crumbling of the plan you have been working on for the entire chapter are not enough, the Pinkertons have located your camp and it is again time to move.
Arthur recalls the house you visited with Lenny in “Preaching Forgiveness as He Went,” and, after clearing out some squatters, your gang moves in.
Thereafter, you visit the nearby Saint Denis, a real city, and your first encounter with it is impressive. As a player, its magnitude is quite stunning, however, Red Dead 2 immediately pulls the rug out from under this admiration.
For Arthur and Dutch, Saint Denis is not a technical marvel to fawn over. It is the death of the only lifestyle they know.
Chapter 3 Summary
With Chapter 3, it feels that Red Dead 2 has officially exited its prologue.
While the missions continue to introduce new aspects of gameplay, there is now a narrative focus that was not present in the preceding chapters.
Chapter 3 features a concise narrative arc that is not simply defined by making a camp and moving it to a new location as was done before.
This climaxes with the stunning “The Fine Joys of Tobacco,” a mission that showcases Rockstar’s ability to provide an array of compelling gameplay options and an exquisitely rendered atmosphere to accompany them.
That said, Red Dead 2 does not allow the ancillary missions to suffer as a result of this new found focus on a compacted storyline.
“Sodom? Back to Gomorrah” is the creme de la creme of outlaw fantasy, and this type of doubling back on areas we have already explored keeps us engaged with the game’s world overall, rather than getting stuck in the locales most pertinent to the chapter at hand.
Hopefully, as we continue to go deeper into Red Dead 2, this balance of contraction and expansion will be maintained and executed as well as it has been in Chapter 3.
If you want to know what we think of Red Dead 2 as a whole, be sure to check out our Red Dead Redemption 2 review. If you’re looking for tips and tricks for the Wild West epic, be sure head over to our Red Dead Redemption 2 guides page.
And if you would like to see more of our Red Dead 2 mission gradings, those that are currently available can be found at these links: