Every Red Dead Redemption 2 Mission, Graded -- Chapter 6: Beaver Hollow
Red Dead Redemption 2 offers an unusual and refreshing approach to the realm of open-world gaming. Its adherence to realism and focus on the slightest of details make it something truly remarkable to play.
With this series, we have taken a close look at the more structured aspect of Red Dead 2, its missions. We have seen them function in concert with the game's open-world, tapping its beauty and atmosphere to elevate their action and showing us new ways to engage and explore it.
Now, as we come to Red Dead 2's conclusion, I feel confident saying that Rockstar's excellent writing and commitment to gameplay variation has made these missions worthy of the world they exist within.
Does this remain true with Arthur's final chapter? Let us find out as we grade the missions of Chapter 6: Beaver Hollow.
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 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 is 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 6: The Missions
After performing some hot air balloon reconnaissance at the end of Chapter 5, Arthur and Sadie are "prepared" to break John out of prison.
As with Chapter 3's "Blood Feuds, Ancient and Modern" and Chapter 4's "Revenge is a Dish Best Eaten," this mission uses an exceptional set piece (the prison) as a backdrop to escalate the violence and elevate the gunplay.
Additionally, this mission continues Red Dead Redemption 2's trend of grounding its action in familiar troupes, as you use a guard held at gunpoint as your bargaining chip for John's release. This tendency remains effective and satisfying here.
While we have seen some hair-brained schemes go terribly awry throughout Red Dead 2, and there is plenty more to come in this final chapter, we see the flip-side as Arthur and Sadie pull off this particularly brazen plan with minimal set back. After all of their losing, it is nice to see two of the game's most appealing characters win for a change.
Just A Social Call
Something has shifted, and Micah has surpassed Arthur in the gang's hierarchy. With Arhtur's continuous questioning of Dutch, I suppose that I knew that a demotion was inevitable, but it still hurts.
Fortunately, being kept at arm's length from Dutch and his plans gives this mission an additional surprise factor. Apparently, when Dutch says "cut a deal," he means unceremoniously execute one of the world's most powerful forces, Cornwall.
This mission does not only succeed due to its slightly unexpected action, but it also features an excellent interior gunfight amidst conveyor belts of coal. Many of Red Dead 2's most memorable gun battles take place under its wide open sky, and this more claustrophobic encounter is most welcome.
Now excuse me as I go pout while Micah and Dutch plan our next move.
A Rage Unleashed
At the conclusion of the preceding chapter, I was excitedly expecting Chapter 6 to delve more formally into the creepier side of Red Dead 2. I was intrigued by the strangeness of the residents of Butcher Creek and wanted to know more about the savage Murfrees.
Somewhat disappointingly, this is not what ended up being offered by Chapter 6. Instead, the chapter focuses on the narrative arc concretized by this mission: Arthur and Dutch's varying involvement with the Natives.
That said, while I am a bit crestfallen due to the Murfree's absence from this chapter, I am not unhappy with what is offered in its place. This mission alone contains a unique assault on a boat, provides a nice entree to the increasingly violent Dutch and the violence-weary Arthur that pervade this chapter, and gives further insight into Dutch's plan.
However, if Rockstar ultimately wanted the game to conclude as it does, I would love to have seen a short chapter focusing on Red Dead 2's darker underbelly.
The Delights of Van Horn
Here we get further indication that Arthur has been moved down the totem pole, as Micah is now barking orders, sending him with Bill to commander an explosive-carrying wagon.
At this point, we are all too familiar with these stock coach robberies, and I do take some issue with the inclusion of so many middling and wrote missions in the game's final chapter.
I really began to feel the slog that is the game's finale in this mission, and while there are some sublime moments to come, I wish that Rockstar would have done some further editing to keep this chapter feeling fresh and exciting in the ways that the preceding chapters have.
The Bridge to Nowhere
We get a simple little mission here that offers a slight gameplay innovation, allowing you to operate a railroad handcar. The highlight, however, is Arthur and John's interactions throughout the mission.
While I felt that the reveal of Arthur's tuberculosis was not as powerful as it should have been, Rockstar does a nice job communicating how deeply it resonates for him throughout the chapter. There is a newfound clarity around the gang's situation, and he moves away from simply questioning Dutch's actions to direct dissent when he insists that John take Abigail and Jack and leave the gang for good.
Red Dead 2 makes certain to remind you of where Arthur's lucidity is originating, closing the mission with the dying man taking a long pause as he attempts to catch his breath.
Archeology for Beginners
Dutch's involvement with the Natives is one riddled with violence and exploitation, and Arthur's function as a nice counterpoint. This first mission with Chief Rains Fall is a meditative horse ride once again showcasing Red Dead Redemption 2's beautiful vistas.
While he may search for wisdom as he rides with the Chief, the violence that closes this mission poses the question if it is possible for anyone to really change, even when faced with their imminent demise.
Honor, Amongst Thieves
There is little left to say about these wagon robberies, and I am very surprised that Rockstar would include two in a chapter that should be cruising along to a superb climax.
The Fine Art of Conversation
Another attempt at a peaceful mission with Rains Fall, and another bloody massacre.
Colonel Favours is repugnant in ways beyond the myriad of criminals and outlaws we have encountered thus far, and Red Dead 2 does not shy away from the stains that mar United States history. Rockstar's depiction of the government's treatment of the Natives is so viscerally appalling that it has to be applauded.
Further, the mission features a nice action sequence similar to "Visiting Hours," where a gunpoint hostage is used to escape a messy situation, and a touching conversation that further illuminates the conflict between tenderness and violence that rages within Arthur.
Goodbye, Dear Friend
Now for a slight detour to see Colm O'Driscoll hanged.
The standout moment of this mission is when Sadie's rage erupts, and you get locked into sniper-mode (a la Silent Scope) for the battle. While it is a minor modification, it is refreshing to see Red Dead 2 continue to innovate its gameplay.
While I quite like this mission, it is hard not to feel like returning to the O'Driscolls (amidst your heated participation with the Natives) is partially responsible for Chapter 6's sluggishness. There is so much that still needs resolution by the time you reach the game's final moments, and concluding the O'Driscoll's arc in the preceding chapters could have alleviated some of the final act's issues with pacing.
Mrs. Sadie Adler, Widow
With Colm dead, we can now finish off the O'Driscolls and exact Sadie's final revenge for the murder of her husband.
I continue to find delight in how wonderfully rendered Sadie is, and, following a fairly standard shootout, it is perversely pleasurable to see her covered in the blood of the men that have wronged her so thoroughly.
That said, I still do not see a definitive reason that this mission needed to be held until the final chapter and think resolving this storyline earlier would have been preferable.
While Rains Fall attempts to foster peace, his son continues his shenanigans with Dutch. This plan feels especially gratuitous, as their goal is to humiliate a group of soldiers by trapping them in a valley. Dutch's involvement in something so ill-conceived feels especially heinous with the knowledge that it is purely an attempt to divert heat away from the gang toward the Natives.
Of course, things once again go awry, and Eagle Flies is captured amidst the gunfire. The novelty of fighting the armed forces keeps these missions elevated, and we get a big moment when Arthur and Dutch channel The Fugitive, plunging from a cliff to escape their pursuers.
The King's Son
It is exciting to finally have a reason to infiltrate Fort Wallace, an area that has been red on the map since the game's beginning.
The bulk of this mission offers something that I would love to have seen more of throughout Red Dead 2: motivated weapon restrictions. Here, it is only bows and stealth takedowns that can be used, but finding ways to justify limiting weapon options in more of these middling late-game missions may have added just enough variation to elevate Chapter 6.
Additionally, the lightning storm escape that closes the mission reminds us of just how beautifully atmospheric Red Dead Redemption 2 can be.
My Last Boy
This mission marks the beginning of a trilogy of high-action sequences that will take us to the end of Arthur's story. Red Dead 2 is not reinventing the wheel with these missions. Rather, it offers amped-up versions of things we have done previously, and here, we find the game's biggest gunfight.
Riding into combat with the Natives at your side is a wonderfully cinematic moment that smacks of some of film's finest battles, and the following shootout sings. But this mission is more than just action, featuring a severe act of betrayal, as Dutch leaves Arthur to nearly die, and a powerful moment where Arthur's disease causes him to collapse in the road.
Rising from this incapacitation, I was notified that Arthur was at minimum weight. We saw this type of small touch at the beginning of Chapter 5 (Arthur comes to in Guarma with all of his cores drained), and I love these little expressions of Arthur's physical state through the gameplay systems that are in place. While this is something very minor, it is a lovely indicator of just how much consideration went into Red Dead 2's smallest details.
Our Best Selves
This mission gives us a super-sized train robbery, complete with jumping between horses and the train, explosions, and the locomotive careening off the bridge we destroyed previously.
The action on the train itself does not quite match the previous mission's gun battle, but it is still serviceable, and Dutch and Micah's insistence that John has been killed gives us the setup for Red Dead 2's final mission.
Red Dead Redemption
After 82 missions we have finally arrived at Arthur's last hurrah, and this mission is a wonderful remix of some of my favorite aspects of Red Dead 2 delivered in one final punch to the gut.
To start, we get a last ride with Sadie. Throughout these mission gradings, I have continually remarked on how much I like Ms. Adler, and the missions that put her and Arthur in close proximity remain some of the most memorable.
The action of this segment also offers something I wish was more pervasive in the game: gunfights where Arthur does not have any support. As stated, I have found Red Dead 2's difficulty lacking, and the continual support you have in the action sequences is a big part of this. I really appreciate the opportunity to go in solo for this final mission.
From there, we get another original song-fueled horse ride. While not invoked as powerfully as was done in Chapter 5's "Dear Uncle Tacitus," this moment of rejoinder prior to your final confrontation with Dutch hits hard.
Then we get a final moment of brotherly connection between Arthur and John. As I have mentioned, I continually enjoyed when familial tenderness shines through the hardened exteriors of these two men, and Arthur's self-sacrifice is the ultimate offering.
And finally, I was transported back to Red Dead 2's first transcendent mission, Chapter 2's "Americans at Rest," as I engaged in a savage brawl with Micah. As Arthur was laid to rest, the full scope of what I had experienced in this phenomenal game was driven home.
Chapter 6 Summary
Arthur's final chapter proves to be Red Dead 2's most inconsistent, dragging in a way that the preceding chapters do not.
One part of this is that the gameplay is pushed to its limit by the sheer volume of missions. After 70 missions, it is, of course, challenging to offer variations that will keep them feeling fresh and exciting, and I believe that editing some of the redundancy throughout the game would allow it to have a stronger finish.
Further, a slight restructuring of the O'Driscoll arc could prove to keep this final chapter chugging along at a more even clip, something that I believe would be better for the game overall.
All of that said, the game finishes with a climax that meets all of the established expectations and more. "Red Dead Redemption" so wonderfully presents so many of the exceptional aspects of the game, and it is a finale that will not be soon forgotten.
Epilogue & Side Missions
While the two epilogue chapters are, of course, part of Red Dead 2's main story, the missions contained within operate very differently than the six chapters we have thus far graded.
Much like the game's side missions, the scale and scope varies so greatly between them (one mission might be a full-scale action sequence while another consists of cinematics almost exclusively) that it does not seem productive to try to fit them individually into this grading scale.
Indeed some of the side missions are truly wonderful, and the epilogue (functioning as something like a movie in its totality) definitely finds a home amidst the best Red Dead 2 has to offer. However, they will not be individually graded here.
If you want to know what we think of the game 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: