Thursday, December 06, 2018

For RDR2 players...

I like open world games if they're sophisticated in terms of what you can do.  RDR2 has, so far, not disappointed me with options of things to do, and I haven't even started to explore the Online Beta yet (I may wait until it's not in Beta testing, actually.)  In our house, everyone except my wife is playing, so I have two sons and a daughter's game with which to compare my progress.  My daughter, who has more access time than the rest of us, is the furthest along, into Chapter 4.  My youngest son, who actually bought it, is about to finish Chapter 3, but he's admittedly distracted by murderizing random people and stuff like that.  My other son has the least amount of time logged both because he works a fair bit on the weekend, and because he'd prioritized playing Spiderman PS4 (including the two DLCs) first.

I actually was the least far along in terms of story progression (I just barely moved on into chapter 3) but a big part of that was because I was very distracted by side missions, challenges, and making stuff.  By this I mean the upgrades that you can get from Pearson and the trapper to your gear by hunting animals and bringing the pelts to them to make things.  A side effect of this is that I've got a lot of clothes compared to the rest of the crew, and I've become a bit of a fashionista in game.  You can save and store 4 outfits on your horse, and wear a 5th one, so I tend to do that, and change them out from time to time to keep it fresh.  You'll want at least one good cold weather outfit and one hot weather outfit, and the rest of them can kind of be whatever you want them to be.  I actually kind of like running around in weird outfits and prompting funny remarks from NPCs about my fashion choices.  So... what have I got stashed on my horse currently?  I really should find a way to get a screen cap (save a video, I guess, move it to a thumb drive, and grab it that way?  But without that, I'll just have to describe the outfits for you.  I may update this post, or make another one later.)

Outfit 1: The Indiana Jones: A white collared shirt, with the buttons opened to mid-chest, Arthur's regular hat, a brown scout jacket, the kind of orange/khaki everyday pants, and a good pair of plain brown boots (with the pants over the boots) completes this outfit.  For best results, get a lasso out too.

Outfit 2: Staying very warm: I dislike the denim and fleece normal cold weather coat, just because everyone has it and you start the game with it.  Plus, it's really bulky looking.  I have instead either a bison or a wolf fur lined coat (I actually have both, and they look very similar except for a subtle difference in color), a sheep-skin vest, fox-fur lined gloves, and some big furry chaps over my pants (I kind of prefer the ram chaps here, but I've also got bear and wolf ones that are darker brown instead, as well as the mottled sheep-skinned ones, and a couple of others.)  Putting the bandana up is cosmetic only, it doesn't actually keep your face warm, but I do it anyway when in the snow, and I top the outfit off with one of the big furry animal hats.  I've got lots of choices here, but the raccoon is kind of my favorite, because of the old Fess Parker Davey Crockett show, of course (by the way, did you know that guy was 6' 6"?)  Technically, I have two raccoon options, because I stole a raccoon hat from that irritating drunk guy in the saloon in Valentine, and then I crafted one at the trapper's too.  When I'm tired of the raccoon and want to mix it up, I've got beaver, fox, badger, and a few others to work with.  Sometimes I go with the ram hat, which looks very different, but also looks warm.

Outfit 3: The pirate!  And a good hot weather outfit in general; a simple light colored shirt, with the buttons opened and no vest, some simple pants, I run around barefoot for the heckuvit, and I have a long coat.  I've got loads of choices, and some of them do have a more Colonial rather than cowboy look to them, which works best with the pirate hat, but I mix it up with coats anyway.  Naturally, the pirate hat that you find near Clemens Point is what makes this outfit work.

Outfit 4: The Viking.  Don't wear this in the south, as it's rather warm, even though it doesn't look it with it's exposed arms.  A simple shirt (maybe even a union shirt with the buttons open and the sleeves rolled up) with one of the short, furry capes. I don't have the panther cape yet, because hunting panthers is tough and I haven't started it yet, so I use the sheep cape.  (As an aside, even though the cape doesn't look like a coat, it seems to count as one in terms of warmth.  With warm gloves, a warm vest, and warm furry chaps, this is a cold weather outfit.  It doesn't look like one, but it is.)  When I get the panther cape, it's darker, so will probably look better.  A crafted vest of some kind is optional—I've got a cougar skin one, I think, but loads of options would look good.  Some big furry, dark chaps (either the wolf chaps or the black bear chaps are best) round out the normal clothes, along with pretty much any set of relatively plain boots.  Naturally, what makes this work is the found Viking helmet and for extra authenticity, carry around the Viking hatchet with you too in your hand.

Extra outfit: The Hitman.  A white collared shirt with a red tie, a long black coat, black pants, black boots underneath the pants, and a pistol in each hand.  I haven't been willing to shave my head or my sweet gigantic mustache, which is what the outfit really needs to look like the Hitman, so my version of it isn't perfect.  Because of that, I stuck the Nevada hat and the presidential vest on, making it even less like the Hitman, but still a pretty awesome get-up, and at least I don't look like the Hitman who's not committed enough to shave my head and mustache.  Even though that's kinda what I am, I suppose.

Anyway, I'm always playing around with more options.  Like I said, because I have so many clothes, many of them crafted at the trappers from animals I've hunted, hats that I've found or stolen or made or bought, etc. I feel like it's fun to change out an outfit or two every time I'm at camp. Or at least tweak the outfits I have by making minor modifications to them; swapping out the pants or the hat or tucking or untucking the boots, etc. while still pursuing the same concept, maybe. Curiously, I've also accidentally discovered that you can get an instant "bath" by changing your outfits.  When you get dirty, bloody, muddy, or whatever, it sticks with you, but swimming, running around in the rain, or taking a bath cleans you up.  Also, if you switch outfits and then switch back again, you'll find out that Voila! Presto! You're as clean as new too.

Even when I'm going for the regular cowboy style look, I've been more fond of chaps than anyone else in the family.  I used the Nuevo Paraiso chaps because they came with the game thanks to the Deluxe Edition or Ultimate Edition or whatever version my son bought, but after finding the trapper and figuring out how to hunt successfully, I've greatly expanded my inventory of options here.  The ox fringe and bull fringe chaps are probably the best "cowboy" looking chaps, while the moose and deer pelt chaps work well too.  The furrier chaps I usually use with my cold weather outfits, or for some other unusual combination, plus they tend to be warm and my game is in the south right now.  And the half chaps—are those even a real thing?  I'd never heard of half chaps before.  (Looks of course like they are, but on Amazon all of the half-chaps I see aren't very cowboy-like; they're more like the equestrian sport uniform.  Maybe it's more of a British, fox hunting kind of thing.)

You'll notice that I have a lot of domestic animal-based gear.  Ox, bull, sheep, goat, etc.  You can't hunt these animals because there aren't any of them in the wild; you have to rustle them.  This is usually pretty easy to do, but it's best done late at night on as remote a farm as you can find (Emerald Ranch or nearby Parmody Dell and the also nearby goat farmer guy are your best bets for most domestic animals you need to steal.  They've got cows, bulls, sheep, and goats, and one of those remote farms nearby has pigs too.)  It's hard on your honor score, though.  Sigh.  You'll have to make up for it by doing extra chores around camp, or fishing and throwing it back, or just being the friendliest outlaw in the west by greeting almost every single person in the game that you pass that you're not trying to kill.

UPDATE: As an aside, my biggest frustration to date with the game, and this is a minor spoiler, is that the center of gravity for the game continually moves eastward, and the territory to the west and south of Blackwater is locked, until you get to the epilogue, which bridges this game to the first RDR.  It takes place several years after the main story, and you don't play Arthur, you play as John, which makes sense because it's halfway between the two games in chronology and helps set the stage for the John story from the earlier game to which RDR2 is the prequel.  However... this is a whole freakin' third of the territory, and several things (like hunting all of the legendary animals, for instance, or getting several types of animals that you need for crafting at the trapper's) can only be done there, which means that they can only be done after you've given up using Arthur and the camp, etc.  This is kind of frustrating.  Maybe it's surprising to Rockstar, since John Marston was a popular character in the first game, but people seem to prefer being Arthur, and having a whole third of the game as John and not Arthur sucks.  You can explore this territory in Online, but it's curiously empty, and that doesn't help you with stuff like legendary animal quests or whatnot.  They really should introduce a patch that allows you to pay off your Blackwater bounty (spoiler alert; maybe after Leviticus Cornwall is dead, which would maybe make some logical sense) and take Arthur to Blackwater, Tumbleweed, Armadillo and the rest of that territory.  I know, I know, it kind of interferes with whatever passes for pacing and whatnot in the narrative flow of an admittedly open-world game without much in the way of pacing.  A common theme of the storyline is that things continually get more and more desperate for the gang, not less, and that they're pushed further and further away from their ultimate goal, which is to recover their ill-gotten gains in Blackwater and settle down further west.  In that paradigm, it's no wonder that they decided to keep it locked until the epilogue, but at the same time, it's now just a frustration and irritant to players.  If it's supposed to be open-world, open the danged thing up and let us explore it.

Another option would be a prelude DLC that takes place before the Blackwater massacre that happens off-screen right before the game starts and lets you run around out there.  Granted, that might make less sense in some ways because your Arthur and his camp will be more and more equipped and built up, but who cares?  I think they may be overthinking and taking their story too seriously.  Just let us explore the whole open world with the character that we like, already.

For that matter, if we can customize a fair bit of Arthur's look by growing and cutting hair, beard, mustache, etc. as well as putting all kinds of crazy clothes on him as needed, why not let us actually customize his look from the get-go?  You can do this in Star Wars: the Old Republic, you can do this in Skyrim, you can even do it (somewhat) in RDR2 Online.  Why not give us the option of customizing Arthur's look?  The cut scenes are based on the models of the game anyway, to keep your haircut and clothes correct, so it shouldn't have been a hard feature to add.  Cosmetic and maybe ultimately not super important, but that's a minor thing that has relatively big dividends in customer satisfaction.

UPDATE 2: Of course, the fact that there was a glitch that allowed you to explore an empty, yet present, Nuevo Paraiso suggests that it will play some role in an upcoming DLC or some other content addition.  Cool.

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