It is the sequel to the game 2010 game Red Dead Redemption.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a Western-themed action-adventure game. Played from a first or third-person perspective, the game is set in an open-world environment featuring a fictionalized version of the Western, Midwestern and Southern United States. The game features both single-player and online multiplayer components, the latter released under Red Dead Online. For most of the game, the player controls outlaw Arthur Morgan, a member of the Van der Linde gang, as he completes numerous missions—linear scenarios with set objectives—to progress through the story; from the game's epilogue, the player controls John Marston. Outside of missions, the player may freely roam its interactive world. The player may engage in combat with enemies using melee attacks, firearms, throwables, or explosives. Combat has been refined from the game's predecessor, and notable new mechanics consist of dual-wielding and the ability to use a bow. Unlike the previous game, the player is granted the ability to swim.
Red Dead Redemption 2's unexploited land makes up the largest portion of the game world and features diverse landscapes with occasional travelers, bandits, and wildlife. There are urban settlements in the game, ranging from farmhouses to towns and cities. Horses are the main forms of transportation, of which there are various breeds, each with different attributes. The player must either train or tame a wild horse to use it, except for stolen horses; however, they must saddle a horse to acquire ownership over it. Increased use of a horse will begin a bonding process, which can be increased by cleaning and feeding it, and the player will acquire advantages as they ride their horse. Stagecoaches and trains can also be used to travel. The player can hijack an incoming train or stagecoach by threatening the driver or passengers and then rob its contents or the passengers.
The player may also witness or take part in random events encountered from exploring the game world. These include ambushes, crimes committed by other people, pleas for assistance, ride-by shootings, public executions, and animal attacks. For example, as the player explores the Wild West, they can find specific people in distress. If the player decides to help them, they will be thankful and may reward the player if they cross them again. The player may also take part in side-activities, which include small tasks with companions and strangers, dueling, bounty hunting, searching for treasure or other collectibles around the map such as rock carvings, and playing poker, blackjack, dominoes, and Five Finger Filet. Hunting animals also plays a major role in the game, providing food, income, and materials for crafting items. When hunting, the player needs to take into account several factors, including the choice of weapon and shot placement, which affect the quality of the meat and pelt and subsequently the price traders are willing to pay. The player can either skin the animal immediately or carry the carcass, which will rot over time and decrease its value and attract predators.
The game focuses heavily on player choice for the story and missions. Certain moments in the story will give the player the option to accept or decline additional missions and lightly shape the plot around their choices. The player can communicate with any non-player character (NPC) in dynamic ways new to the series. The player can choose different dialogue trees with NPCs, such as having a friendly chat or insulting them. If the player chooses to kill an NPC, they can loot their corpse. Red Dead Redemption 2 brings back the Honor system from its predecessor by measuring how the player's actions are perceived in terms of morality. Morally positive choices and deeds like helping strangers, abiding the law, and sparing opponents in a duel will add up to the player's Honor. However, negative deeds such as theft and harming innocents will subtract from the player's Honor. The story is influenced by Honor, as the dialogue and outcomes for the player often differ based on their Honor level. Hitting milestones for the player's Honor level will grant unique benefits, such as rewarding the player with special outfits and large discounts in stores. A low Honor level is also beneficial, as the player will receive a greater number of items from looted corpses.