Tags

, , , , , ,

Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some reasonably significant plot spoilers for Red Dead Redemption 2

Feminina:

I played some. We’ll talk later. Just wanted to say, there was this point where some guys were all talking, on horseback, planning a job or whatever, and Arthur coughed, and I thought “damn, Butch called it.”

Because no one ever just has a cold in dramatic narratives. You and I, as parents of small children, know that in real life it is entirely possible to spend 50% of ones time coughing or wiping someone’s nose because of the common cold, but in drama? It is not common.

He coughed! He’s dooooooooooomed! It’s TB!

I still don’t know how that squares with the debt collection bits being white, optional missions…maybe not ALL the white missions are optional, only the bounties? But…I don’t know how we would ever have KNOWN that, unless we were trying to press on and ignore all the white missions and we did the yellow ones and nothing happened and finally we got frustrated waiting for something to happen and did the white ones. Which seems like a weird way to set things up. Not that I haven’t been frustrated by other things in this game, so maybe that’s one I just happily managed to avoid.

Alternatively, I suppose there are ways to get TB that don’t involve being coughed on by a guy you’re beating up for nonpayment of a debt. Maybe if we didn’t do that mission, he just caught it somewhere else. Maybe we wouldn’t even notice his doomed cough in that case.

Or, you know, maybe he just had a cold.

Except nobody ever just has a cold.

Butch:

Get. The. Fuck. Out.

No, no it is not just a cold. It’s gotta be that.

Jeez, we’ll talk. Later. But I’m taking a lot of credit cuz I swear I didn’t know. I’ve been studiously avoiding spoilers. I rule. Or I play too many video games and spend too much time tearing apart narrative. Or all of the above.

We must have misremembered about the missions. We must have. I DO remember that those differed from the other white missions (gunslingers, ignored nature guy) in that the debtor mission started with a yellow circle on Strauss. You HAD to talk to Strauss. The others started with a random white dot (at least the nature guy did), or, if I’m wrong, a big white question mark. They certainly didn’t start yellow. The coughing guy may well have been yellow, too. Just him.

Ah, we WERE wrong. I just googled. The first debtor, Wroble, is yellow. The next two are white. If you do them, Strauss goes yellow and sends you to the coughing guy, who is yellow. If you don’t do them, near the end of the chapter, Strauss turns yellow again and gives you coughing guy, who is yellow.

So it is a main story mission. There ya go. We were confused.

No one does ever just cough. No one without kids, anyway. We’ll talk. Later.

I, too, managed to play some! Did I mention I robbed the stage coach with Trelawy or whatever? Cuz I did. I should have known that an easy, relaxing, “That was it?” mission precedes a shit storm, as the last shit storm was preceded by peaceful sheep rustling.

As you may guess, I shot up Rhodes. While I certainly shared Arthur’s idea that that was a trap and we were being stupid, and, thus, the shootout that followed was not a surprise, I was pretty stunned that they actually killed Sean. That made me jump, and I did spend a good part of the shootout being all “Really?” That was cool. Having the player be under fire wondering on the fate of a friend, even starting to come to terms with the death of a friend, was very immersive and very cool. Plus, it played on the assumptions of people like us who have played a ton of video games. Sure, important characters sometimes die: see Mordin, Thane, Vesimir, your dad in FO3 (trust me), Sam in TLOU, etc. This is nothing new. However, when main characters do die in games, they do it in long, dramatic cutscenes where shit is DRAMATIC, followed by other cutscenes (or at least slow, ponderous gameplay segments) where you and the hero ponder and reflect and say DAMN man, that was DRAMATIC. They do not happen just BOOM and SHOOTOUT! Thus, while I knew I was walking into a trap, while I knew it was part of the narrative when someone might die, I didn’t expect it at that very moment, right before the shoot out, and for it to be so sudden. Mid sentence! Maybe he got shot during the shootout, lived long enough for a cutscene, etc. The timing was shocking and, thus, great.

The game certainly was saying something about the erroneous assumption that the Greys were just a bunch of dumb hicks. Grey even says “Did you think we were just dumb hicks?” Ok. That I get. What was interesting, though, was that Arthur, and ONLY Arthur, figured it out. On that walk, he’s the one saying “Wait, guys, this might be bad” and the others are still saying “What? Why are you worried? These are dumb hicks.” Moreover, it’s Bill who gets tricked, and Bill is, let’s face it, the dumb hick of camp.

The fact it’s Bill’s fuck up (and not really Arthur’s) makes me wonder: is the game saying “Ok, the Greys are dumb hicks. Arthur’s smarter than they are. But they’re slightly smarter than the Bill the dumb hick, so there’s gradations of dumb hick?” Or is the game saying “See? Just because you’re southern and drink some and seem like a dumb hick, you’re not?”

I’m not sure. It is interesting that they gave Arthur that moment of clarity before all hell broke loose.

Feminina:

Oh, thank god you’re there. I was afraid you were going to write back three days from now all “whhhaaaa? Sorry, I was playing Civ.”

Way to fight temptation!

Ah, so those WERE yellow missions. OK, sometimes we misremember. I can accept that. At least that makes sense. It seemed really weird that a key plot point would be thrown into a random skippable sidequest. But also, if those were mandatory quests, then he’s definitely dying of tuberculosis RIGHT NOW. There’s no way that’s NOT a key plot point if we had to do all those things.

Way to call it, dude. You’re full of win this morning!

I concur, the death of Sean was kind of a shock. And in a narratively/thematically appropriate way, because as you say, it kind of mirrored the way death CAN just come out of nowhere and feel like a shock and leave you thinking “OK, but is he REALLY dead?” while you’re in the middle of trying to hold off a small army in a gunfight.

You can be going about your business chatting and then all of a sudden someone’s dead. Life is dangerous, and not only for Kevin and randits.

As for the whole “what, you think we’re just dumb hicks?” bit…what I got out of it (which may or may not be what they meant it to mean) is that people are more complicated than you think and it’s not a good idea to stroll into someplace and assume you know all about the people there.

Because the game still doesn’t seem to be saying the Greys are criminal masterminds or anything–they just aren’t as dumb as Dutch (and to a large degree the rest of the gang) thought. They (and the Braithwaites) are perfectly capable of taking advantage of some gullible out-of-town adventurers who are willing to do their dirty work while hoping to get their hands on some mythical buried gold.

And we know the gang also aren’t a bunch of idiots–they’re perfectly capable of taking advantage of opportunities that come their way, planning and executing heists, etc. But that doesn’t mean they’re the smartest bunch around and magically able to size up every situation.

I think they let themselves get cocky because yeah, they assumed the people in Rhodes were a bunch of dumb hicks. But as a rule, no group of people are dumb hicks across the board, right? Most everybody’s good–or at least competent–at something, and the fact that this town is reasonably well kept and has tidy citizens who aren’t starving tells us that the system here functions well enough to keep things together. Therefore, the people managing the system are presumably competent at something (farming, building, whatever). And maybe their areas of competence include playing vicious, lethal tricks on the family with whom they’ve been feuding for 50 years, using whatever tools come to hand, even if those tools are a bunch of wandering Yankees with few moral scruples.

And the misjudgment goes both ways, doesn’t it? Because where the Greys erred was in thinking the bunch of wandering Yankees were just a gang of greedy hired guns, rather than…well, rather than the player character and his band, but in story terms, rather than a tight-knit group that was a lot more effective in combat than they assumed. Because what the gang is really competent at is killing lots and lots of people.

Making money so they can retire, not so much.

Anyway, that’s a long way of saying that the general theme I got out of that whole bit was, be careful you’re not underestimating the complexity of a situation because you’re assuming you understand it. Everybody is potentially smarter (and stupider!–and more and less capable!) than you think.

I think Arthur’s misgivings as they went to the meeting were kind of hinting at this: he’s got a vague grasp of the possible complications here (possibly because he’s talked to the young lovers–having interacted with more of the families than their main representatives, he’s had a chance to see that there are other things going on), and it makes him wisely hesitant to rush ahead, but he’s not the boss, so he’s unable to change the outcome.

Sucks to be the non-boss who maybe understands things a little better than the boss. But then, I guess it also sucks to be the boss trying to find a big score for a band of hungry adventurers counting on you to lead them to the idealized freedom you promised them.

Hm.

Butch:

I had..managed to forget about Civ……….but now that you mention it…..

I am stunned as our WILD INTERNET SPECULATION is usually completely incorrect.

I’m sure I’m gonna have a metric ton of bloggage about this. We’ll talk. Later.

It was well done, Sean’s death. This game has done a pretty good job so far of taking things that are very predictable and yet making them surprising. You kinda have to do that in a predictable game. Let’s face it: TB or not, I’d be stunned if Arthur doesn’t die. Sure, they could pull the ultimate switcheroo and say he saw the light and went off to pick apples with Mary Beth, but odds are he isn’t around for the credits, right? And yet, they still have to make the story compelling, and they’re managing to do that both in the micro and macro level.

(Note: Even we see shit coming, and we didn’t play the first game, which comes AFTER this in time. There’s millions of people out there who have far more knowledge about how this game is going to end, as they played the first game. I have no idea what the first game was about, or who was in it, save for the fact that I know Marston was the protagonist so he lives. That said, we’re in the minority. Rockstar knows this, and, thus, has to craft a story that is a compelling prequel. I think they’re doing well.)

The gang is good at killing people, and it’s worth noting that for all the “You thought we were dumb hicks” taunting, the Greys are all very dead and the gang, save for Sean, aren’t. If you count bodies, Arthur won that round going away. It’s a hollow victory to say “Yeah, we’re all very dead, rotting in the street, but we sure did trick you into stealing those horses, suckers!”

So maybe another lesson is, as good as you are at manipulation, maybe, sometimes, keep that to yourself.

And, again, everyone being more complicated than you think is a rather timely metaphor. Let’s face it, we live in a world right now where half the country is saying “Those asshats in the red hats are a bunch of dumb hicks” and the other half is saying “those coastal elites are a bunch of commie queer sheep” and both sides are failing to see the complexities of the other side. This whole chapter was about that. It’s a fitting ending that no one really wins. The Greys are dead, the gang got nothing out of it (That I know of, I’m not in chapter four yet), the Braithewaites….well, they’re still doing pretty ok. I haven’t gotten to the end of the chapter yet.

Hmm.

But wait….Bill’s not the boss either, is he? Dutch didn’t tell Arthur to do this. Trewlawhatever told Arthur “Oh, by the way, Bill wanted to see you, go there.” This was a non boss trying to talk another non boss (one who isn’t as well respected by the boss as Arthur) that he’s being dumb and failing.

Hm indeed.

Feminina:

Oh, good point, Bill’s not the boss. And Dutch wasn’t actually there, was he? I was thinking he was, but now you mention it (with your much fresher memory)…I must have been thinking of a different shootout.

Spoiler: there’s another shootout!

OK then, I withdraw my musings about how it probably sucks to the be the boss trying to live up to your promises. I will replace them with musings about how it sucks to be another non-boss trying to do your part for the gang, but totally misreading the situation. Because in general, I feel Bill means well and is trying to be helpful to the group, but that he doesn’t get a lot of respect. And rightfully so, given what happens when he tries, but…you know…dude was trying.

And while Dutch wasn’t there, when you think about it, these guys are all pretty much following Dutch’s lead here. He did say the town was a backwater full of dumb hicks.

So maybe there’s also a timely bit in there about how the errors of the boss filter down until the whole organization is badly misjudging things in the same way. On both sides, as you say–because the Greys wind up with a lot of non-boss people dead, and the gang winds up with Sean dead and with no money and having to leave yet another comfy camp. Indeed, nobody wins.

And the few people who don’t quite buy into the misjudgments, like Arthur with his misgivings and the young lovers with their scorn for family feuds, just get swept along with the tide anyway. (Although–only slightly a spoiler–I actually STILL don’t know what happens to the young lovers. I didn’t kill either of them, as far as I know, but I didn’t see them go anywhere else, either. So…maybe they didn’t get swept up! Maybe they escaped and are living happily ever after in Ohio. Heh.)

Butch:

Nope, no Dutch there. Arthur, Bill, the departed Sean, and Micah, who always seems to be around things going badly. Hmm.

Bill was trying. He means well. It doesn’t seem he knew he was leading them into a trap. Maybe he was and he’s a traitor, but I doubt it.

I think we’ll find out. I certainly got the sense that isn’t over.

Though, and this is a problem with playing prequels without playing the original, sometimes things get set up where the “end” is in the first game. Could well be with this story line (and upteen bajillion story lines in prequels), people say “Oh, THAT’S how that began!” and then have the complete story arc. It’s like if you only see the first three episodes of star wars, you may well be all “Hey, what happened to that dude once they put him in the black suit? Who are Luke and Leia and why did Padme give birth to them? Why didn’t that story line end?” Of course, everyone else knows. Maybe these lovers play a big role in the first game.

We shall never know, as I ain’t playing it and I don’t care to google. Maybe there are storylines here that don’t end, and it’s just “Hey, sometimes you never know.” Maybe there are storylines that don’t end because of lazy writing. Maybe there are storylines that end in other games. Curse of playing a prequel in a vacuum.

Feminina:

Very true, very true. Maybe they do end up being significant “later” in the first game. We shall never know, because we cannot be bothered to look it up.

That’s fine. There are many things in life that I shall never know. I can deal with this one in this game.

It’s another useful lesson games can teach us: sometimes, you just don’t know, you CAN’T know, and you have to let it go and move on.

That could be right up there with Always Be Lootin’ and Never Don’t Save. (We have seen the tragic consequences of failing to heed that second rule.)

I’ll still keep an eye out for the lovers, because you never know, but I’m not going to spend too much time fretting about it if they’re never seen again. Sometimes people come into your life, play a role, do some stuff, and then go away again and you never know what became of them after your paths diverged. I’m feeling generous enough that I’ll give this game that if in fact we never hear of them again.

Wait. What happened? I’m being generous to this game?! THIS FREAKING GAME?!

Clearly, I’ve been remembering to save lately.

Butch:

Yup. It’s how sequels do. Shit, the game led with Marston getting his facial scar, right? As facial scars tend to be permanent, I’m sure he had it in the first game, so that was probably a “No. Way. THAT’S how he got it?” moment for people who cared. I’m sure we’ve missed a dozen “No. Way. THAT’S how/when [whatever]” things, but we shall never know.

Dude, I’m just on a roll with being right. I told you you’d come around. I told you many, many times. Cowboys and save points aside, you love a good story, and, you gotta admit, this one has a good story.

Feminina:

It gives good bloggage. I will grant it that.

Along with occasional weirdness–dude, over the weekend I was playing, puttering around in camp, and I ambled over towards where the horses are hitched and I guess the game suddenly realized there should have been one more than there was, because suddenly a horse just PLUMMETED FROM THE SKY, landed on the ground smack, and lay there unmoving. Not, perhaps, dead, because its head was lifted as if it were just having a little lie-down, but not moving, couldn’t interact with it, it was just there like a feature of the landscape. After plummeting from the sky.

Possibly the freakiest thing I’ve seen in this game, even including the dismembered body. I was practically screaming at Arthur “it’s a glitch in the Matrix!”

He seemed untroubled. Probably has other things to worry about, like his imminent death from tuberculosis.

Butch:

That is eight ways of awesome.

But really, things are looking up for you! A month ago, you’d’ve been all “Ok, time to save,” and the moment before you opened the menu the falling horse would’ve killed you dead.

I’ve had a couple of visual glitches, but nothing that humorous. Just shit like floating rocks.

Every game has oddities, you must admit. Remember the dude I got in Mafia who was just standing on stage, arms out, unmoving? It happens.

Feminina:

Ha!

That is so true. “Made it back to camp after a challenging bounty, haven’t saved yet but I will right now while I’m safe–”

FLUUUUUUMMMMMP.

Death by plummeting horse. A truly unexpected end to the long saga of this grizzled gunslinger.

Butch:

It’s so absurd that you might not have been pissed.

But I’m glad we didn’t have to find out.

Today’s parenting tip: Do not take your middle child to your youngest child’s doctor’s appointment.

Feminina:

That’s a good tip! I have tried strenuously to avoid that. I’ve taken them to the same flu shot appointment, because it’s only a shot, etc., but otherwise, I try to bring only the directly relevant child.

Sadly, I’m sure there are times it’s just not possible to avoid doubling up.

Butch:

Yeah. At least you avoided a middle child.

Wise.

Feminina:

I took your advice for once.

Advertisements