Releasing to critical acclaim last year and going on to win a handful of Game of the Year Awards (including my own), Red Dead Redemption 2 has made tidal waves across the gaming place, elevated as a title that truly needs no introduction. I, like the legions of fans for Rockstar’s Western epic, was then simply ecstatic once Rockstar Games officially confirmed that Red Dead Redemption 2 would hit PC on November 5th. The possibilities of such a port seemed limitless in my mind. True 4K resolution at 60 frames per second or beyond offered such an exciting proposition that my pre-order via the newly announced Rockstar Launcher was placed in hours after the announcement. After spending nearly six hours with the port over the past few days, I can confidently affirm that the Red Dead Redemption 2 PC release is nothing short of breathtaking when it works as intended, delivering magnificent spectacle and smooth action at every turn.
However, thanks to a myriad of issues encountered within the opening hours, I can’t in good conscience recommend that anyone purchase the port in its current state. It reeks as a rushed project, clearly designed as an effort to milk the global phenomenon for a brand-new audience. From multiple hard crashes to numerous glitches to frustrating nitpicks, the issues with the port have amounted to something incredibly disappointing, especially since Rockstar had over a year to smooth out any rough edges from the original version for the PC platform. It may not now be the unprecedented disaster its first hours of launch suggested thanks to multiple patches Rockstar quickly pushed out, but it does bring back the eerie, haunting memories of the 2015 Batman: Arkham Knight PC release.
The flaws with this rendition of the award-winning masterpiece are unfortunately numerous, having stretched into countless threads already on Reddit. Many of the most pressing issues, including crashes and failure to even open the game, have been resolved with a Day One patch and successive updates, but issues are still everywhere, resting mostly in the graphical settings menu. Running the benchmark proved to be an absolute pain, returning to the main menu even when the game has clearly registered the command to enter and run the benchmark. Changing key settings like texture quality required a hard restart, making the act of changing in-game settings a nightmare. However, it was adjusting the resolution for performance and quality that proved to be my biggest gripe overall. When playing on a gaming laptop, the software refused to have a resolution other than the already set screen resolution. That meant I had to change the default screen resolution within my settings in order to ensure that Red Dead on PC would actually change to that resolution. It’s an infuriating and tedious process, one that simply isn’t sustainable, a statement that goes doubly true for almost every other issue in the release.
Whilst there is a technical mess squirming on the outside, there’s also undeniably a silver lining for PC players who can get the game running. The rendered images are, as expected, absolutely beautiful even at the lower settings which many setups might have to fall back on in order to achieve optimal performance. Indeed, the fact that even the RTX 2080 TI can’t run the game at its ultra-settings in 4K at 60 FPS should be a testament to how much of a beast the game is visually. When compared to the original 2018 console release, there may not be a clearly noticeable difference, but it’s underscored by a host of new content that this package exclusively contains. From new single-player missions to a wealth of content in Red Dead Online, once the technical faults are resolved, this version of Red Dead Redemption 2 will surely be the most favored one, presented as the most definitive experience of the game on the market. Only a handful of pieces from the new content actually make a lasting impact, with the single-player additions coming off as a half-hearted effort, but their inclusion is still appreciated.
In conclusion, my first hours of gameplay with the PC rendition of Red Dead Redemption 2 have been a frustrating and fantastic roller coaster. There’s so much wrong with the port, from confusing UI menus to a weak optimization, but the quality of the original product can’t be denied, serving as a fantastic testament as to why Red Dead Redemption 2 is not only one of the best games of the generation, but quite possibly the game of the generation. Once the issues are resolved, I’m confident other members in the PC community will give it a go, but until then, the PC port of Red Dead Redemption 2 may be one to stick far away from.