Some early story spoilers for Red Dead Redemption 2
Didn’t play but I had a thought and, as I am sick and there are kids, there is a good chance I forget the thought by lunchtime unless I write it now so here goes.
So you said the other day that Geralt and Arthur are different in that Geralt rides into town and solves problems and Arthur rides into town and robs people and generally causes problems. I’m not so sure. After all, I haven’t caused any problems in Valentine. I agreed to help a dude, I ran down a wanted man who had killed a bunch of people (how is that different from a monster contract?), I ran off a guy who was messing with Tilly, what did I do wrong?
Even the bar fight wasn’t my fault.
And yes, robbing trains and Blackwater are not noble, while the stuff done by the orders of witchers is. True. But remember, Arthur isn’t the boss of the gang. Arthur (and lots of everyone else) keep telling Dutch to abandon Blackwater. They said not to rob the train. True, that wasn’t for altruistic reasons, but still. Arthur hasn’t done anything worse than Geralt did.
Ok, I can now forget that. Phew.
I totally agree, Arthur (as played by us, anyway) hasn’t done anything that bad. I mean, except the whole train robbery thing. Which you can excuse, I guess, by saying “he was just going along with what Dutch planned!” but I’m pretty sure that as a willing accessory, this still counts as a bad deed.
However, other than that, we’ve been pretty neutral or even helpful. I even said something like “you’re a bad guy, by profession, if not in every single interaction.” But that’s not really an excuse! No one’s evil all the time to everyone. People who commit crimes for a living don’t generally go out of their way to make sure everything they do is a crime. (Quite the opposite, one would imagine, the better to not attract the attention of the law.)
It’s still the case that, even if not everything we do to everyone we see is evil, it’s still literally OUR JOB (as in, the way we primarily make our living) to rob people and shoot the people who try to stop us from robbing, and to generally defy the established social order and not care about who gets hurt in the process.
That wasn’t Geralt’s job, and I think that makes a difference to how they are presented and perceived as characters. We can certainly debate about how MUCH of a difference, but it’s not nothing.
It’s not nothing, but, to defend Arthur and to compare, once again, to Geralt, Arthur, like Geralt, was kind of born into this mess. Witchers become witchers from, basically, birth, right? Geralt was just gonna be a witcher. Arthur, to a great extent, was in the same boat. He says, early, that he joined up with Dutch as a young boy, like, what, 13 years old, and that Dutch taught him to read. Did you see the picture of Arthur’s father? It’s a mug shot. We get a sense that Arthur’s dad was a) a bad man and b) probably hanged himself when Arthur was young. Arthur did not exactly say “You know, my banker father wants to send me to university, and I could be a hell of a good dentist, but you know? Robbin’ trains. Sounds so cool.” It sounds more like Arthur would have wound up homeless, dead or even a worse bad guy than he became without Dutch, and that those were his three choices. It’s all he knows, and all he really had a chance to know.
Gotta forgive him some for that.
Sure, sure. We’re all the products of our upbringing. The extent to which we can really take credit for our successes or blame for our failures is certainly debatable. And no doubt it’s hard to make a big change like leaving a life of crime and the only real family you’ve ever known. Understandable if one never does.
Still, in the bare bones essentials, Geralt’s job is to protect people from monsters, and Arthur’s is to steal from people. Geralt performs a necessary (if, to him, unglamorous, and frequently underappreciated) service to ordinary people and their society. Arthur and the gang prey on those people and that society. Maybe just a little, or in a really polite way, or only on people who deserve it!–all these things may be true. Maybe I sympathize with them sometimes. But that’s their job, and it’s a very different job from Geralt’s.
Which is not to say we can’t still meaningfully compare them, of course. It’s interesting that these two characters with such different fundamental purposes can look so similar in their day to day lives. It says something, maybe, about routines in life, and the dull, comforting grind of a familiar job, that no matter what it is people can just go about their days doing it. However weird or mysterious or dangerous someone’s work looks to outsiders, when you get into it it’s just going about your business. You eat, you camp, you get routine assignments. A lot of times you get filthy dirty. When you meet a merchant, you sell stuff and shop for supplies.
Basic, human functions.
And shaving. And eating. And not feeding your horse cuz you can’t figure out how.
Today sucks. Have I mentioned that? Wasted valuable game time on fitness.
I only know how to feed my horse with the directional buttons, and I don’t know how to pick WHAT I feed it. I was giving it handfuls of ginseng for a while. I…guess it liked that OK? Do horses eat ginseng? They do now!
Health is holding me back. Stupid health. Stupid fitness.
Oh, here’s another fun thing: Remember last week or whenever when I was at the car dealer all fucking day? Well, one thing they did was a safety recall on my power sliding doors on the van. Note: These doors were working just fine. This was one of those “Maybe this shit’ll happen and you’ll sue us so bring it in” deals. Now? Busted. They get fully open then close, almost crushing the kids. Yup. Perfectly fine doors rendered dangerous by a safety recall. So I have to go back. Yup. Back. To the place I spend all day at last week.
I’m starting to hate life.
Dude. DUDE. In your place, I would certainly hate it.
That’s just not-even-funny levels of irony, there.
“We recalled this van because it wasn’t crushing ENOUGH children.”
White hot rage.
Maybe I’ll go play that bounty level to cheer up.
It could hardly make things worse!
Even I would play it at this point because the white hot rage would warm me up a bit. It’s 61 degrees in my office. That’s outrageously warm for this time of year…outside.
We are not, collectively, having good weeks. And it’s only Tuesday.
But I did just play!
Did not do the bounty mission. DID go back to camp, failed entirely to find a way to clean my dirty horse, gave money to the box for some reason, gave money to the butcher for some reason, talked to Mary-Beth (did you do that? It’s interesting), and then picked a mission at random which turned out to be the O’Driscoll who was tied up and did that all the way through. Not very themey. Indeed, still rather tutorial. But did it I did, and hey! Loot!
You do that one?
I did that one! Indeed, still rather tutorial-focused. As is the one you get if you go talk to Hosea in camp.
I think you clean your horse by brushing it, but you might have to do Hosea’s thing before you ‘learn’ to do that. I could see ‘brush’ on the menu options before, but it never seemed to work. Hosea will help you learn stuff about horses. Go do that. It’s almost soothing.
As for the O’Driscolls, I think the theme was “Colm will continue to plague and evade you until you finally face him in a dramatic showdown near the end of the game.”
That and something about how people can become members of the group even after extremely inauspicious beginnings. There’s a certain sense of responsibility that Kieran appeals to: “I helped you, I can’t go back to them, you have to keep me now.”
This helps make the gang seem not ALL bad: certainly they would have lost a lot of sympathy from me if Arthur had just said “no, I’m serious, get the hell out,” or simply shot the kid.
And here’s an interesting point I’ve noticed so far: we haven’t had a whole lot of actual choice in how to play the character of Arthur. You can always choose whether to ‘greet’ or ‘antagonize’ people you meet (I always pick ‘greet,’ obviously, because I am nice and polite), but other than that?
We didn’t choose to get in that bar fight, and we didn’t choose to continue or stop beating the guy once we started. We didn’t choose to bring Kieran when we first found him, or to threaten to torture him, or to let him join the gang. These are all things that happen in the story, and Arthur does them whether or not we want him too.
At this point, it’s basically, “you can be rude to people or polite to people, but you’re going to do what the game wants you to do.”
Which is fine: it’s not a roleplaying game. No problem, not every game is. But–perhaps because it reminds us of other games!–it FEELS like a roleplaying game.
But as you said about Arthur’s profession, it’s not as if he really CHOSE this. And maybe the game means to kind of emphasize this lack of choice, because we didn’t choose it either, we don’t choose any of this, and yet here we are.
You run through the maze life sets up for you, and you can be polite about it or be a jerk to people along the way, but you’re still in the same maze.
Thanks, Rockstar. Very inspirational.
Very tutorial-esque. And…we’re getting a little late in the game for that, aren’t we? Maybe if you’re still doing tutorials, either a) you have too many systems or b) your tutorials are too long.
Ah, ok. Yes, it says “brush” but it’s greyed out. I looked all over for a brush, but nothing. Should’ve known it’s a tutorial.
Yeah. I saw the whole “he’s not there” bit coming. When he was all “He’ll be there!” I was just thinking “Dude, it’s only chapter two.”
Except, in the compendium, there are three or four gangs we’ve yet to meet, so maybe not.
Well, the themey bit was the dude saying they’re both the same. The most interesting line was from Bill: “You’re just trying to survive. We’re trying to live free!” That’s splitting hairs, no? Or, at the very least, grasping at some higher purpose to what Dutch’s gang is trying to do. I wonder if it was an intentional nod to “Live free or [don’t survive],” how a) those are two sides of the same coin [slogan] and b) that slogan is old and out of date for most people. It’s old. Even today, it’s a rallying cry for militias, living out there in the boonies, being outlaws without any real creature comforts.
I think it was supposed to be read that way. He doesn’t say “BE free,” he says “LIVE free.” Weird wording if it wasn’t supposed to be a reference to Live Free or Die.
YES! I was very much prepared for having to hit circle to recruit or something. When I didn’t have to, I was surprised.
Maybe….or maybe it’s just because we’re early and these characters are important in later chapters? I suspect Sadie is going to be important, so “Don’t take Sadie” couldn’t be an option. Kieran, I imagine, hasn’t had his last scene. I accidentally let Lenny or whoever it was die on the train when he was being held by the engineer way back then, and it was “Mission Failed: Lenny died,” so HE hasn’t had his last scene.
That said, it would be weird if the game, in, like, chapter four, all of a sudden said “Ok, choose shit!”
Something I’ve been wondering, too, is what if we don’t do some of these missions before we hit a “move the chapter along, maybe end the chapter” mission. Was this mission skipable? Was there a mission we could have done that moved things along? If so, would THAT mean that Kieran never joined the gang? We HAD to do Sadie’s bit, but…I dunno. I’ve been avoiding going down to talk to the reverend by that train station in the bottom of the map because I don’t want to end the chapter before I do all this shit, just in case, and I have a feeling that mission is a “move shit along” mission.
As for inspirational, well, here we go again. A serious, award winning, critically acclaimed game that is depressing. Did you talk to Mary-Beth in camp? Interesting. And depressing.
We’ve talked on whether fun and great art are mutually exclusive before, well, maybe not “fun” but “light hearted” and “great” are mutually exclusive. I see that here, again, developers going for an award winner did not go with light hearted.
Oooo! I forgot! I found something else!
Well, first I went to a show. Bears. Poor animals who made fun of bear. Weird.
Did you find the first bit of what looks like a hunt for a serial killer?
I did talk to her, but–this is so the thing that always happens to me–I couldn’t hear what she was saying because the console was whirring so loudly. And I even have subtitles on!–but for some reason it doesn’t subtitle conversations in camp, so that didn’t help.
So you tell me what she said.
Also, I did see the show about the bear–very weird–and I did find…SOME serial killer clue, although maybe we got them in a different order. Guy dismembered, hung/staked to a railroad bridge, “Look upon my works” written on a wall?
That was creepy as hell, I’m just riding along and then…”Is that a leg? In…a puddle of blood? And some…intestines?”
Good point about the “live free/survive” distinction. I did notice that, and wonder. Kind of splitting hairs there, aren’t we? To me it felt very self-serving, like “sure, whatever lets you feel OK about yourself, but this is an obvious and feeble attempt at justifying your own actions.”
Such as we all employ from time to time, perhaps, to let us feel OK about the things we do and don’t do to get through our lives.
Dude, you either gotta get a new PS4 or you gotta get headphones. Headphones would solve this, you know.
Well, Arthur was lamenting, or worrying, really, about their way of life coming to an end. Now, we’ve talked on how I think that this is a metaphor for the idealized Norman Rockwell midwestern idea of what “American way of life” is, right? So what was interesting is that, in this conversation, the thrust was that they deserve it, they deserve to have their way of life end. Arthur says “It’s time for us to pay for our sins.”
Now, if Arthur and the gang are that kind of life, that white bread, God and country, Live Free or Die life, the game having the game’s protagonist say “We deserve to be hunted to extinction” is quite the thing.
You need headphones.
I found the dismembered body at night. Very creepy.
‘Our sins’, eh? Hm. Interesting.
I mean, they have sinned, no doubt. And sinning (breaking the law) does tend to sometimes come with consequences (getting caught and punished by the law).
Or, we could also grandly say that they’ve disobeyed some laws and as a result they’re being hunted and driven out of this sort of ‘Eden’ of unspoiled natural landscape, or whatever. But what laws? The laws of the government that hunts them? Doesn’t quite fit, because that government isn’t really part of the unspoiled landscape, is it?
Maybe God isn’t quite part of the true unspoiled experience of Eden, either. Heh.
Or maybe they’ve sinned against some larger law (or Arthur feels they have) and are being punished by that. Some Grand Code of the Outlaws or something. Like, “we never should have tried that thing in Blackwater [that thing really feels like a downfall moment for their story], we should have stuck to the old ways, the stuff we knew,” etc.
Which is a lot like any older person’s lament for the coming of strange new days, isn’t it. Back in the old days, we knew what we were doing, we robbed the way we were supposed to rob, we followed the customs of our ancestor robbers, and things were OK, but now…
Hm. I’m honestly just throwing ideas around here because I’m about to go home, so it’s possible none of that made any sense at all.