Red Dead

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Red Dead
Official Red Dead logo.png
Series logo, since 2010[1][2]
Publisher(s)Rockstar Games
First releaseRed Dead Revolver
May 4, 2004
Latest releaseRed Dead Redemption 2
October 26, 2018

Red Dead is a series of Western-themed action-adventure video games published by Rockstar Games. The first entry in the series, Red Dead Revolver, was released on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox on May 4, 2004. Originally developed by Capcom, Red Dead Revolver borrowed elements from their 1985 arcade title Gun.Smoke, to which it was intended to be a spiritual successor, but the game was cancelled in 2002. Subsequently, after acquiring the rights, Rockstar purchased Red Dead Revolver and expanded on it.[3][4]

Red Dead Redemption, developed by Rockstar San Diego (who also worked on its predecessor), was released in May 2010 to critical and commercial acclaim. Selling over 15 million copies by 2017 and winning many year-end accolades from multiple gaming publications, the game is considered to be one of the best games of all time. Multiple DLCs were added, including Undead Nightmare, a single-player expansion later released as a standalone game. A Game of the Year edition of the game includes all of the additional content.

Red Dead Redemption 2, developed by Rockstar Studios[a] released on October 26, 2018. The game was also widely acclaimed and a commercial success, generating $725 million in revenue in three days and selling 17 million copies in two weeks.


Timeline of release years
2004Red Dead Revolver
2010Red Dead Redemption
Undead Nightmare
2018Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Revolver[edit]

Red Dead Revolver, set in the 1880s, follows bounty hunter Red Harlow, as he uncovers the plot that killed his parents and exacts revenge.[5]

Red Dead Redemption[edit]

Red Dead Redemption takes place in the year 1911, during the decline of the American Old West and the Mexican Revolution.[6] A spiritual successor to Red Dead Revolver,[7] the game follows John Marston, a former outlaw, while he sets out to hunt down his former gang members. Marston's wife and son are taken hostage by the government in ransom for his services as a bounty hunter. Having no other choice, he sets out to bring his three former gang members to justice.

Undead Nightmare[edit]

Undead Nightmare is a non-canon expansion that follows the exploits of John Marston, as he searches for a cure for an infectious zombie plague that has swept across the American Old West.[8] A standalone disc, titled Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare Collection, which does not require the original Red Dead Redemption game to be played, was released in North America on November 22, 2010.[9][10]

Red Dead Redemption 2[edit]

Red Dead Redemption 2 follows the story of Arthur Morgan, an outlaw and a member of the Van der Linde gang in 1899, in the waning years of the American Old West and extinction of the age of outlaws and gunslingers.[11] Among returning characters are John Marston and Dutch Van der Linde.[12][13][14] The game is a prequel to the 2010 title Red Dead Redemption and the third entry in the Red Dead series.[15][16]


Head writer Dan Houser has said that Rockstar might do another installment in the series if Red Dead Redemption 2 does well financially.[17]

Common elements[edit]


In each game in the franchise, the player takes the role of an outlaw in the waning years of the American Old West. All three titles are third-person shooters (although Red Dead Redemption 2 also gives you the option to play in first-person) yet there are crucial differences between them. The first game in the series follows a linear storyline with fixed, limited locations. Red Dead Redemption however provides the player with an open world setting and gives them various options for exploration, random encounters and side-missions. Red Dead Redemption 2 is the biggest and most immersive of the three, providing far more options and activities for the player than in its previous titles. Combat and gunplay are a fundamental part in the franchise; players can cover, blind-fire, free-aim and can get into physical altercations with enemies. A large number of weapons are introduced in all three games, typically rifles and revolvers. Horses, stagecoaches and trains are the primary methods of transportation in all three games due to the period in which they are set.

Dead Eye[edit]

The trademark game mechanic of the series is the Dead Eye system, which bridges the gap between the protagonist's exceptional shooting prowess and the limitations of the human player's speed and coordination. For a short period, it allows the player to aim at his targets in slow motion for better accuracy. After painting your targets, time goes back to normal as you then attack with a flurry of bullets in rapid succession. The Dead Eye system in Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption 2 has been refined, as it levels up as the game progresses, giving the player more options when using it.[18]


Red Dead Redemption brings a new mechanic to the franchise that has been improved in Red Dead Redemption 2: a morality system where the player gains positive or negative "honor". Good deeds like saving townsfolk from danger will level up the player's honor, while malicious actions like harming innocents or committing theft will lower the player's honor. The player should be considerate of the honor system, as it can influence how the world interacts with the character.[19]


All three games have a similar Western setting, as they have canyons and towns that are pretty much alike. Red Dead Revolver‘s game setting is quite transient as Red usually moves from town to town throughout the game. Red Dead Redemption offers the player a more significant interaction with the environment, and its location is bigger than the previous game. It ranges from canyons to deserts, but the player is unable to reach to the outer limit due to the borders surrounding the area (mountains and deep ravines). There are several towns and settlements that the player can visit, each with their own citizens (with whom the player can interact). Red Dead Redemption 2’s world is greatly expanded compared to its predecessor's. It is far bigger, more immersive, lifelike and responsive, and also includes its map.[20] Each game is set in the U.S. The first two games also include Mexico.


Each protagonist in their respective games do have a particular thing in common: they are all gunslingers. Red Harlow and John Marston, while completely unrelated, share similar traits such as their facial scars, hats and their commitment to their family. Arthur Morgan and John used to run in the same gang of outlaws. Red Dead Redemption 2 shows the relationship between the two, expanding on the gang's backstory.


Red Dead Revolver[edit]

Red Harlow: The protagonist in Red Dead Revolver, Red Harlow is the only known son of Nate Harlow, a gold miner, and his wife Falling Star. Through his mother, he is a descendant of the Red Wolf Native American tribe, and one of the grandchildren of Running Moon, the tribe's current chief. Years after the death of his parents, Red trained to become a deadly gunslinger and a feared bounty hunter.

Red is also cousin to Red Wolf member Shadow Wolf, and the two of them used to play together before the deaths of Red's parents.

Governor Griffon: The main antagonist in Red Dead Revolver, Griffon was Nate's partner and co-owner of the Bear Mountain gold claim. Griffon was trying to cross a river at which General Javier Diego was engaged with the Mexican Army. Griffon was brought before Diego and was to be executed until he offered gold for his life. He offered half the gold and explained that his partner had the other half of the claim. This betrayal cost Nate his life and essentially set the plot of the game in motion. Over time, Griffon would become the governor.

Javier Diego: An antagonist in Red Dead Revolver, Diego is General of the Mexican Army.

Colonel Daren: Darren was Diego's right-hand man. Diego sent Daren and some members of his army to kill the Harlow family. Daren succeeded in killing Nate and his wife, but Nate's son, Red, took his father's burned Scorpion Revolver and shot off Daren's arm. After Daren loses his left arm, Diego paid out of his own pocket to have it replaced with a compact, shoulder-mounted mortar.

Red Dead Redemption & Red Dead Redemption 2[edit]

John Marston: The protagonist in Red Dead Redemption as well as an eventual playable character in Red Dead Redemption 2, John is a former member of the broken Van der Linde gang who has sought to leave his life of crime as an outlaw behind to live safely with his wife Abigail and son Jack. Blackmailed by the federal government as they kidnap his family, John must bring wanted people, formerly members of his old gang, to justice, in order to save his wife and son.

The events of Red Dead Redemption 2 show a younger John and how he used to live with the Van der Linde gang. In the epilogues, he's seen leaving his broken gang behind as he attempts to lead a normal life with a younger Abigail and Jack. He eventually finds former allies, kills Micah, pays off his loans with the money from his old gang and marries Abigail.

Jack Marston: The son of John Marston and Abigail Marston who becomes the playable character in the epilogue of Red Dead Redemption. He kills Edgar Ross out of revenge for what he did to his father three years ago before disappearing.

Dutch van der Linde: The leader of the Van der Linde gang in Red Dead Redemption. Red Dead Redemption 2 shows him as a younger and charismatic leader of the Van der Linde gang, the members of which he considers family. Throughout the game, he slowly grows more violent and paranoid as they keep facing numerous problems, until he finally betrays his allies and parts ways with them.

In Red Dead Redemption, he is one of the dangerous fugitives John has to hunt down.

Arthur Morgan: The protagonist in Red Dead Redemption 2, he is an outlaw, one of the first members of the Van der Linde gang as well as Dutch's right-hand man. Ever since the botched robbery at Blackwater, the Van der Linde gang has been facing several problems. As the game progresses, Arthur begins to question his loyalty to Dutch as the latter gradually descends into violent behavior.

Edgar Ross: The main antagonist in Red Dead Redemption. Formerly agent of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, and then director of the Bureau of Investigation, he holds John's family away from him, and promises to free them in condition that John tracks down former members of the Van der Linde gang. He eventually betrays John as he sends an army of men to ambush the Marstons, who fight back. John dies at the end of the attack as he is shot down by numerous men while his family escapes. Edgar is then found three years later by Jack, who kills him in a duel.[21][22]

Micah Bell: The main antagonist in Red Dead Redemption 2. He was an experienced criminal that has been in the Van der Linde gang for a couple of months. Micah was disloyal, secretly working for the Pinkertons and is the primary cause of the demise of the Van der Linde gang.

Andrew Milton: An antagonist in Red Dead Redemption 2, Milton was Ross's partner in the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Both he and Ross were hired by Leviticus Cornwall, a wealthy businessman and industrialist, to take down Dutch for robbing his train.

Colm O'Driscoll: O'Driscoll was a longtime notorious outlaw around the Old West. He had a sort of a partnership with Dutch, and they would both found gangs named after them. Their partnership soon turned to rivalry after Dutch killed Colm's brother, to which Colm retaliated by killing Annabelle, a woman Dutch dearly liked. Over the following years, Colm's gang has been largely expanded, turning into one of the largest criminal organizations in the Old West. Colm is captured by the authorities and sentenced to be hanged. Although he has some of his gang try to rescue him, Arthur dispatches them. Colm realizes his escape plan is ruined and panics before he is hanged.


Aggregate review scores
Game Metacritic
Red Dead Revolver 73/100 (PS2)[23]
74/100 (Xbox)[24]
Red Dead Redemption 95/100 (PS3)[25]
95/100 (X360)[26]
Red Dead Redemption 2 97/100 (PS4)[27]
97/100 (XONE)[28]

The Red Dead series, particularly the second and third games, are critically acclaimed. Red Dead Redemption, averaging 95% on both review aggregate websites Metacritic and GameRankings, won numerous awards, including Game of the Year by GameSpy and GameSpot,[29][30] and is considered to be one of the greatest games of all time.[31][32][33][34][35] Reviewers praised the visuals, music, acting, open world gameplay and the story. A Game of the Year edition containing all additional content was released in October 2011.[36]Red Dead Redemption 2, averaging 97% for both platforms on Metacritic, was also widely acclaimed by critics, who praised the same aspects as well as its significant level of detail,[37][38][39] winning a number of awards from publications.[40][41]


While not as best-selling as its sister franchise Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead is still a financial success. Red Dead Revolver sold 920,000 copies in North America as of July 2, 2010.[42]Red Dead Redemption broke the records of its previous game, having shipped over 11 million copies by August 2011[43] and over 15 million copies by February 2017.[44]Red Dead Redemption 2 however, marked the franchise's commercial achievement. In three days, the game generated $725 million in revenue, officially having the largest opening weekend in history of entertainment as well as being the second highest-selling entertainment launch, behind Grand Theft Auto V, another widely popular title from Rockstar Games. Two weeks after launch, the game already shipped over 17 million units, thus exceeding its predecessors' lifetime sales.[45]


  1. ^ Rockstar Studios is a collaborative effort between all of Rockstar's studios functioning as a single team.


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  2. ^ "Red Dead Redemption". Rockstar Games. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
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  6. ^ Tamburro, Paul (2 May 2018). "When Does Red Dead Redemption Take Place? RDR 2 Time Period". Game Revolution. Mandatory Media, LLC and Evolve Media, LLC. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
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  30. ^ "GameSpot Game of the Year 2010". GameSpot. CBS Interactive Inc. 2010. Archived from the original on June 19, 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
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  32. ^ "The 20 best games of Edge's lifetime". Edge. 2013. Archived from the original on 11 December 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
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  39. ^ Saed, Sherif. "Red Dead Redemption 2 reviews round-up, all the scores". VG247. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  40. ^ Sheridan, Connor. "Golden Joystick Awards 2018 winners: God of War wins big but Fortnite gets Victory Royale". GamesRadar+. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  41. ^ Grant, Christopher. "The Game Awards 2018: Here are all of the winners". Polygon. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  42. ^ Alexander Sliwinski (July 2, 2010). "NPD on the Red Dead, Alan Wake, and Split/Second retail showdown". Joystiq. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
  43. ^ Graft, Kris (August 8, 2011). "Take-Two: Red Dead Redemption Ships 11M Units". Gamasutra. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
  44. ^ Makuch, Eddie (February 7, 2017). "Red Dead Redemption Shipped 15M Copies; Take-Two Promises Major Marketing For Sequel". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
  45. ^ Sarkar, Samit. "Red Dead Redemption 2 tops 17 million copies shipped". Polygon. Retrieved 7 November 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]