I’m in the middle of Chapter 3 in Red Dead Redemption 2. I’m currently wandering the countryside trying to find a perfect woodpecker to send to an exhibit trying to display the wonders of wildlife that can be found out in beautiful nature. As I run around, I get dinosaur bones and find dreamcatchers and follow treasure maps and find perfect skins of other animals that I encounter and take them to my camp or to the trapper to make new/better outfits or accoutrements. Sometimes I act as a bounty hunter for local law enforcement and I find bad people and bring them to justice (sometimes dead, mostly alive) and law enforcement thanks me for my good work and pays me for my trouble.
While treasure hunting, I found some gold bars and I donated some of them to my campground and we purchased a chicken coop with some of the funds. With others, we bought leather tools. Using the leather tools has allowed the people in camp to help me improve the pouches that let me carry ingredients and animal skins around. With one of the other gold bars, I sold it and I purchased upgrades for my horse, my saddle, my saddlebags, and I got my various handguns, rifles, and shotguns engraved and bought little improvements like better rifling of the barrel or better sights.
My day is spent hunting, fishing, playing dominoes with friends, playing poker with strangers, and feeding the people in my campground with the meat from the game that I kill myself (and seasoned with the herbs I find myself) and I feel like a vital part of a good community of people.
Until I get back to playing the main storyline quests.
In the main storyline quests, I am an outlaw. We rob trains, we rob stagecoaches, we break people out of prison and then we kill half of the men in town trying to escape. We leave a bloody trail of corpses behind us as we travel and we are hated by the townsfolk for the damage we do and the loved ones of theirs that we kill. One of the powerful men whose train we robbed came into town and we had to shoot our way out. I can only imagine that the undertaker is pleased to see us when we ride into town for such things as getting our repeater rifle engraved.
And so when I go out and play and explore, I find myself feeling happy and part of nature and part of community and I’m even helping researchers do important work for posterity.
And when I go out and play the main storyline, I am a destructive force making the world a worse place and I understand why the law wants not only my head but the heads of those in my community on a bunch of pikes next to a sign that says “outlaws”.
I love to play the game but… my goodness, the story makes me very, very sad.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is promotional image for Red Dead Redemption 2 from Rockstar’s twitter feed.)