Red Dead Redemption 2’s Biggest Flaws

There are so many glorious things I can say about Red Dead Redemption 2, but I keep being thwarted by the game’s biggest flaw. RDR2’s control scheme and interface are beyond bad.

I have no idea why Rockstar is still using this antiquated and horribly unfriendly setup. I completely acknowledge that there are many, many different systems in the game and the scope of what you’re doing in-game is vast beyond what we’ve seen in other games, but there’s a line that’s been crossed.

For example, I want to take that bow off my horse. Can I go up to the bow on the left side of the horse and press square to take it off and carry it with me? No. I have to hold the right button on the D-pad until a radial menu comes up. While holding that, I have to push the right stick in the direction of the radial option I want to choose, then whole holding that there I have to use R1/R2 to cycle through the various items in that type of slot until I find my bow.

I should have been able to walk up to that side of the horse, face the bow, and press square.

Swapping weapons, making sure the right items are on my and not my horse, etc., has become a full-time job.

Remembering how to open up various contextual menus, radial menus, and multipage menus has become a full-time job. My wife was watching me play and started to take notes for us after we spent 5 minutes sifting through various menus and pages to find something.

After several play sessions, I can honestly say the controls have soured many experiences in an otherwise wonderful game. Time to innovate, Rockstar.

On other more positive notes, RDR2 is such an unusually slow-pace game that I feel no desire to rush through. This could easily last me many, many months. Rather than write any sort of review, I’ll just comment on various systems and things I find enjoyable or otherwise.


It’s not Warcraft 4, but I’ll take it!

Hands down the best thing to come out of Blizzcon was the Warcraft 3 Reforged announcement. I was absolutely giddy.

If you've followed us over the years, you know that each Blizzcon comes and goes with my same gripe: No Warcraft 4. It's still coming, don't worry, but in the meantime we will soon have a completely remastered version of the greatest RTS of all time (to be replaced by Warcraft 4 which will inevitably be announced at next Blizzcon). 

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Harvesting Resources in MMORPGs

I have always loved the act of going out to gather resources. There’s something so meaningful about the accumulation of raw resources, whether it be to take those resources and create something yourself, have someone else use them to make something for you, or to simply sell. Harvesting resources can be so much more than that, though, and should be if a MMO ever hopes to create a harvesting system that’s meaningful.

My days of meaningful crafting in MMOs were few, relatively speaking. My big claim to crafting fame was in SWG where I made millions and millions of credits as a Chef back in the early days when I could make various foods and drinks to radically improve people’s stats. I took those millions and invested them into a vast network of resource gathering harvesters (by purchasing other people’s slots to use them since you could only have one character). I took them resources and either used them, flipped them raw, or converted them into items that I then resold. At one point I even opened up a tailor shop and a weapons and armor shop where other crafters sold their goods on consignment — goods they made with my resources.

I’m a believer in harvesting resources being more than smacking a random node that then disappears. That’s lame, and I don’t find it ‘fun’ at all.

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Housing in MMOs

MMO housing systems are one of those topics we used to all sit around the table and talk about. Back in the good old days, when there were half a dozen major MMOs in development and everyone was talking about mechanics and features, etc., there would inevitably be a conversation about housing. Will the game have housing?! I remember the forum posts (remember forums?) with long discourses on the pros and cons, how it could be implemented, etc.

Devs would hype their game having houses when it comes out and there would end up being no housing at all. Open-world housing would be promised and it would end up being instanced neighborhoods or “islands” off in the middle of no where. For whatever reason, it kind of became a big joke to me.

I love housing in games. I love decorating them, building them up, collecting things to store in them, and visiting other people’s houses. But I love those things when the games are built around them. Does that makes sense?

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Dialogue Options in MMORPGs

I'm a fan of dialogue trees.  I like when I have the choice of what to say in a RPG, though I know that most of the time the dialogue options have very little, if any, real meaning on the game.

One of the few MMOs to ever do dialogue options was/is SWTOR. In almost every case they were even fully voices. Like most dialogue options, however, they fell into the trappings of being super narrow in scope.

Light Side = Spare or be nice
Sith = Kill or be rude

Typically the outcome of your decision didn't reach beyond that one quest.

ESO has dialogue too, sorta. Maybe more of a faux-alogue tree because their conversation trees represent another side where the options are: (1) The option you're supposed to pick to advance the conversion, (2) the 'tell me more' option or 'small talk', and (3) 'Goodbye'

These motifs are common in games as are others.

In most RPGs -- like Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, Dragon Age Origins, etc. -- the options tend to be:

Top = Good
Middle = Neutral
Bottom = Bad

When it's so programmatic you really don't even have to think about the choices sometimes. And again, they rarely go beyond the quest or that specific hub or area. I don't like having the choices made so transparent.

Divinity Original Sin is an RPG I can think of that did a nice job with consequences for dialogue trees, and they also did a decent job having multiplayer dialogue options.

In Assassin's Creed Odyssey the quest dialogue options are pretty good. They aren't  prescribed as being good or bad. I like this. In fact, I like it so much that I get super OCD and have no idea how the person I'm talking to will respond. I want to know! So I look it up. To me, that's really cool.

However, Assassin's Creed Odyssey does the other cardinal sin of dialogue trees by having the options not reflect what the characters actually say. I have often chosen to say something because it sounds like a kinder thing to say, but then my character spouts off something snarky or rude and I wish I picked the other option.

A lot of the decisions in AC: Odyssey are also long-reaching into the game's story. If I decline to help someone, or choose not to save someone, or even choose to kill someone or offend them based on dialogue options, then that choice actually comes up later. I've seen massive world-wide ramifications of my choices. Now that's awesome!

I'd love to see the same thing in MMORPGs. That's because I like story with my MMO, and I really like when the world feels connected by choices. Where the challenge comes in is how choices have consequences, and how those would impact the world without immense phasing tech like WoW uses.  

I'd like to see dialogue options in a game like Pantheon; something more RPG old school feeling. What I'm trying to get around is my doubt in dialogue working in a game without it feeling like you're 'playing through it' rather than 'living in it'. Dialogue-heavy games are often played 'through' with a start and an end -- the end comes when the dialogue ends. That's something I'd love to get around, but I don't have a solution. Do you?


Should MMOs Be More Alt Friendly?

I haven’t felt the urge to play so many characters in a MMORPG for over a decade. I think the last time I felt this torn between characters was in Vanguard. In WoW I’m currently playing my Paladin main, a Warrior alt (who has almost caught up to my Paladin in gear), and now a Monk who is a fresh 120. I like them all.

Trying to level up alts and then subsequently gear them isn’t always the easiest activity in WoW. Taking WoW at face value and keeping all things relative to WoW, it’s not alt friendly. Since most of the end-game activities I want to participate in are gated by gear grinds, I find myself stuck in a feeling like I’m running in place. I want to go do higher M+ keys, but my luck on drops sucks. I can’t get the traits I want, or I can’t get the iLvl upgrades I want, etc.

The experience of making a new character and thriving has significant barriers to entry.

Should MMORPGs be more alt friend? If so, how?

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