Red Dead Redemption 2, y'all. I mean. It's happening. It's a year away, looking at a Fall 2017 launch, but this is a meaty first trailer for us to chew on for now. There's a lot going on in this trailer. It starts out understated and bright, then turns quietly sorrowful, then bursts out of the gate again—not riding into a sunset, but banging out across the vast landscape. Here's what we saw in the conglomerated images for the Wild West epic:
The scene opens on low, rolling prairie, grasses in the foreground, rising hills in the distance fading into a diffuse, bright sunlight. A lone horseman crests a ridge.
Cut to a snow-topped peak descending down into an elk-filled valley dotted with lakes and pine trees.
A steer's skull mounted on a cattle fence-line, a large home sitting sleepily in the backdrop.
Critters sift through the grasses and snatch their breakfast. Again, the ever-present sunrise, this time sending God rays between branches and tree trunks, cutting dark shadows through an evergreen woodland.
A river winds through a forested valley floor, birds ascending and descending from the heights, a thin veil of fog cooling off the morning.
Then a bold, unreal shot of a campfire nestled under the trees beside a lake, the stars of the Milky Way shining overhead, as bright as the moon.
A hunter makes his way across a golden grassland, rifle in hand, fresh game strapped to the back of his horse, on an unbeaten path back to his modest homestead marked with a tall, tall windmill with its tail to the sun.
A canoe with two passengers, one paddling, one merely along for the ride, drifts slowly past a fog-lifted river coastline.
A herd of buffalo make way for a coal-fired train engine, power-lines pushing onward toward their Manifest Destiny.
And then into town. An ornate stagecoach rolls in from the East, down a muddy main street, and past an ornate stack of goods on the porch of a "Worths General Store." No doubt this Worths is based on Woolworth, the original US-based chain of "five and dime" stores. The rich coach and the destitute-looking shop-dwellers start to draw a line between the haves and the have nots.
A ranch hand mounts a horse in a barn, the barn richly stocked with spare wagon wheels, barrels, oil lamps, ropes, and various tools. Milk cows moo on by.
After this level of world building, then we get into narration. The scene gets subtly darker. The narration goes:
"Listen to me. When the time comes, you got to run and don't look back. This is Ogun." I'm not certain about that last word, "Ogun." The narrator gets a bit indiscernible. But Ogun is a Latin American warrior and the spirit of metalwork. So hey, it's possible, but I'd need to see that in writing, or on a map, to sell me on it.
A scrawny dog tries to frighten off carrion birds chowing down in the street of what appears to be an already-decrepit brick town. A man leans up against a wagon, his rifle cradled in the crook of his arm, seemingly unsure of what to do or where to go next.
Cut to industry. The cloud cover gets bleak, the smoke piles up into the air, fires have broken out among oil rigs. A man wearing a duster and top hat holds his rifle at his side and simply surveys the burning as the sparks fly up around him.
Then boom: Seven masked riders come out of nowhere over the plains, guns drawn, ridding pell mell across a landscape that clashes desert with grassland with snowy hills.
All this time, the soundtrack is thoughtful and considerate of the onscreen action (and non-action). It strikes a tone less spaghetti western than the previous Redemption, but things are too early to tell what tone the game will take.
These seven riders, no doubt, correlate to the seven characters appearing in the Red Dead Redemption 2 key art appearing earlier this week. I'm even willing to speculate that Redemption 2 is a prequel (not sequel) to 2010's Red Dead Redemption, giving us a look at John Marston's regrettable earlier days when he rode with Dutch Van Der Linde's gang. Nothing as yet, however, makes that explicit. Just speculation on my part.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is slated for a Fall 2017 launch on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. That doesn't mean it's not coming to PC—Grand Theft Auto V didn't hit PC until a year-and-a-half after console. However, the first Red Dead Redemption is notorious for having never made it to PC at all. So, we'll see.