Every Red Dead Redemption 2 Mission, Graded -- Chapter 1: Colter
The world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is filled with life. Hunting down its legendary beasts and searching for buried treasure is engrossing, while small tasks like getting your hair cut turn out to be more fun than fruitless.
But what about the game's more structured aspect, its missions? Are they as compelling as the meticulously crafted world in which they exist?
In this multi-part series, we take a look at each of the game's missions, separating those that sink from those that soar. In the end, we will have a detailed outline of Red Dead 2's highest highs and lowest lows.
We hope that you will come along with us for the ride.
Before we begin, let's have a look at the grading scale we will be using from here on out:
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'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.
And, without further adieu, let us begin by looking at the missions in Chapter 1: Colter.
Note: Mission descriptions and heavy spoilers follow.
Red Dead 2 Chapter 1: The Missions
Outlaws from the West
Red Dead 2 starts off as you might expect: a gunfight with a rival gang (the O'Driscolls) and burning a house to the ground.
While Rockstar is not winning any awards for originality here, the game's technical magnitude is immediately apparent in this mission -- tromping through the Grizzlies' snow is something I won't be forgetting any time soon.
Enter, Pursued by a Memory
John Marston is missing, and his wife has asked you to track him down.
This mission primarily functions to establish Arthur and John's relationship, but it's notable for its introduction of the game's beautiful "cinematic camera," a wonderful addition that enriches the game's more dialogue-centric passages.
Also, executing some in-pursuit wolves gives players a bloody first-taste of Red Dead's rich fauna.
The O'Driscolls are planning a train robbery, but Dutch (your gang's leader) feels like the spoils would be better in your hands. Time to invade their camp and steal the intelligence they've gathered.
A standard shootout ensues, but, as I went to loot the bloody corpses of all of my foes, I was struck for the first time by just how committed Red Dead 2 is to realism.
Emptying the pockets of a pile of bodies is a pleasant slog, and I felt as tired as Arthur must have felt after liberating the belongings of the recently departed.
The Aftermath of Genesis
It is time to bow hunt with Charles.
A tutorial mission that teaches you about tracking and stealth, I would love to have seen a bit more from this one. Although you get the bow for later hunting missions, nothing particularly stands out in this slow, plodding mission.
A more exciting target or something to throw a wrench in the works could elevate this hunt, but, without it, this standard mission falls flat.
Who the Hell is Leviticus Cornwall?
In the climax of Chapter 1, the gang is off to perform the heist the O'Driscolls had planned.
However, due to some faulty dynamite, the train robbery devolves into a shootout, which culminates with your first real role-playing decision: do you want to execute innocent men or set them free?
While the mission is a bit deflated by the defective explosives, it feels good to be making decisions that are consequential -- and doing outlaw business that is not just killing O'Driscolls.
Your gang is ready to pack up and move camp, and you will be riding with one of the head honchos, Hosea.
Some breathtaking vistas reveal themselves in this mission, and a mishap with your wagon makes it more than just a ride-along.
I was also impressed by the in-transit dialogue showcased in this mission -- a sentiment I have often while playing Red Dead 2.
Chapter 1 Summary
As is typical, Red Dead 2's beginnings are focused around teaching game mechanics. However, Rockstar finds ways to couch these lessons in missions that feel like more than just tutorials.
With "Outlaws from the West" and "Who the Hell is Leviticus Cornwall?" in the lead, Chapter 1's more action-packed missions stand out as highlights.
However, that will not be exclusively the case as the vastness of New Hanover begins to open in "Chapter 2: Horseshoe Overlook".
We hope that you will join us for a look at that next chapter in the upcoming days.
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.