Red Dead Redemption II finally hits doormats and inboxes this morning, the latest title from Grand Theft Auto developers Rockstar Games and a prequel to 2010’s Red Dead Redemption.

The Western game has stunned critics, achieving almost unwavering five-star reviews across the board (including The Independent‘s verdict), and will be feverishly installed by millions this morning – some hardened gamers even taking time off work to play it.

We’ve had RDR2 for 10 days now, and will be roaming the plains this morning, offering up any tips, tricks and things we wished we’d known when we started, along with updates on the release, the reviews and the reaction.

The game centres on Arthur Morgan, an outlaw at the end of the age of outlaws, trying to scrape out a living in the country at a time when America is becoming increasingly urbanised.

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"Cores" are essentially your health bars in the game. They're display around the map radar and aren't particularly intuitive. I wouldn't worry about them too much though – as long as you and your horse sleep and remember to eat something occasionally, you don't really need worry about health and stamina.
Keep an eye on your tonics, though. Stored in your satchel, most of them just top up health, stamina and Dead Eye (the sharpshooting ability) but one or two of them will boost these elements in perpetuity and are worth necking as soon as you get them.
 
The action on the weaponry is pretty special. Exhibit 1: The bolt-action rifle
 
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Dead Eye works in much the same way as it did in the original. As you progress, however, you will earn the ability to be able to see critical and fatal points on your enemies, such as the heart, brain and lungs. Particularly useful when hunting.

 
Please appreciate my leather upholstered tables. Took me a while to source the materials.
 
Want to rob a train? Fine, though expect a little dishonour to come with it. Don't shake it down near a station or populated area though, as the law will be able to respond quicker and in greater numbers.
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They've really thought of everything, so dressing for the weather is a thing too. You only have a select number of custom outfits, so making sure one is fit for hot weather, another for when you're up in the snowy mountains.
 
Though you'll start out in the small towns, there are some big cities in the game, including one based on New Orleans – Saint Denis.
 
A word on the cameras.
 
Cycle through and you'll find a first-person mode, which can be used for the duration of the game if you so wish, along with a "cinematic" camera mode. This one has been knocking around since GTA3 and really works quite well by this point. It's quite nice to turn on when you're in a more passive point in the game – travelling somewhere on a wagon or doing some fishing.
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There's two approaches to hunting really. Go into stealth mode and sneak up on the animal, or chase them down on horseback. The latter is a lot easier, but you'll tend to rely on auto-aim, whereas stalking the prey you have more time to line up a one-shot kill needed to harvest perfect pelts.
 
The 'RDR2: Companion' app is now live for iPhone. Will report back if it's of use.
 
Quite a few people frustrated with waiting for the game to download it seems. It's a big 'un, clocking in at 88.15GB for me. Fortunately my broadband is fairly speedy so downloading only took an hour or so. If you're on a slower connection though, be prepared for a wait.
 


Again, the wait can be mitigated by following the steps here:
 
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Red Dead Redemption II is been out for a scant few hours, but the internet is already experiencing it profound, thought-provoking ways:
 
This is Lenny Summers. When Lenny invites you for a drink down the saloon, I recommend you take him up on it.
 
 
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A nice example of the game's realistic physics here:
 

 

Hello, Andrew Griffin here – The Independent's tech editor and second (?) biggest RDR fan in the office.
 
I haven't played the game yet. (It's currently sitting on my PlayStation at home, I hope, having downloaded last night.) And so I'm here as a representative of all of us sat at work, dreaming of the Wild West, and am going to ask Chris some questions.
 
Chief among them is this, Chris: Is it fun? I read a whole load of reviews yesterday (summarised here in our review round-up) and there were a lot of words I kept encountering: vast, impressive, deep, realistic, beautiful, profound, whatever else. There was one word I didn't see much, though: fun. Nobody said they enjoyed it, they mostly said they appreciated it. So what I want to ask is: are you enjoying yourself? Am I going to enjoy myself?
Dearest colleague,

Absolutely you will! I think that maybe reviewers, myself included, didn't use the word "fun" partly because those other emotions/experiences that you mention felt more rare and therefore important to get across.

I guess also "fun" is kinda damning with faint praise these days. Assassin's Creed is a "fun" game because it prioritises cheap thrills but has nothing deeper.

That said, I've definitely had fun with the game, and for all the low-key moments I've gushed about, there are plenty of tightly-packed missions with opportunities for more traditionally fun gaming moments (read: killing dudes).
 
I hope it downloads speedily for you, have your entire street switch to 4G!
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Thank you Chris! That's good news, and makes me even more frustrated that I haven't got to play yet.
 
So here's another question. My girlfriend isn't that into this game (or the last one) because she likes to play as a woman, or at least not as a man. (We only have one PlayStation so this is both a blessing and curse.) As far as I recall from the first game, not only are there few female characters, those that were there mostly needed your help in the homesteads so that the narrative could be pushed along. Is that the same in this one? Is it an issue? If it is, it feels like a shame given, say, the great female characters in Westworld.
 
(I suppose that part of this will be addressed in online, where hopefully there will be the option to play as a woman?)
A great question!

I was quite impressed with how the game handled this, and managed to incorporate women into the narrative without trying to rewrite history.

I could drop some big spoilers here but I won't - suffice to say your girlfriend should be relieved to hear that, while the game starts out pretty male-centric, it doesn't stay that way.
 
There's a strong women's suffrage element in there, and the female members of the camp don't accept their domestic role readily. It made me chuckle when, early on, you help a female friend who was posing as a prostitute in order to con and rob a John. When things go awry and Arthur – our protagonist – intervenes, she says: "I don't take kindly to being saved. But once in a while..." It's a fun and a nicely balanced moment.

As you say, I'm sure there will be genders binary and non-binary in the multiplayer.
 
Any more questions, hit me!

The Red Dead series isn’t a household name in the way Grand Theft Auto is, but a new instalment is a huge event in gaming nonetheless, and the Wild West offshoot goes for a more sedated, atmospheric effect than its largely city-based cousin.

RDR2 is available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and you can read more about installing and pre-loading the game, and how much space it will take up on your console, here.

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