My thoughts on Arthur Morgan and Red Dead Redemption 2

(SPOILERS ahead)

It’s been a couple of weeks since I completed Red Dead Redemption 2 and I’ve wanted to write about the game and its main protagonist Arthur Morgan. However, due to other commitments, I haven’t been able to post my thoughts here on my blog. Now I have the time to write up my thoughts about Arthur Morgan and Red Dead Redemption 2.

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The Van der Linde gang.

For those that don’t know, the first Red Dead Redemption was one of the best games I have ever played, I have sung its praises here on my blog a few times. One of the game’s biggest strengths was the main protagonist, John Marston. At the time, Marston was like few other characters I had ever played as. He was written very well, he was a character I could get behind pretty much from the beginning. Throughout the game, I developed a bond with the character.

I grew to love Marston, he was cool but heavily flawed and that’s what made him so likeable. Most of the people who will read this will already know what happens to Marston but for those who have yet to play the first Red Dead Redemption, I won’t spoil it.

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John Marston in the first Red Dead Redemption. Image Source: Red Dead Wiki

Since then I have said it would be impossible for Rockstar to create another character like John Marston. They nearly did it with Cole Phelps in L.A. Noire (frequent readers will know of my undying love for that game) but were unsuccessful. None of Grand Theft Auto V’s characters truly hooked me and such, I never formed some sort of bond with them.

Then two years ago, Rockstar announced Red Dead Redemption 2, a game that I wanted but one I was also scared of. Why was I scared you ask? I was worried that they wouldn’t be able to do it again, that they wouldn’t be able to create another protagonist as good as Marston and make a story as good as the first game. Was Red Dead Redemption 2 worth the wait? Was Red Dead Redemption 2 as good as the first game or was it better? Did Rockstar make a better a protagonist than John Marston?

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Red Dead Redemption 2’s main protagonist, Arthur Morgan.

Well… they did it. I thought Rockstar wouldn’t be able to make a playable character as good as John Marston from RDR1 again. I was wrong, completely and utterly wrong and I am happy to admit that.

Arthur Morgan is a fantastic, powerful and engaging protagonist. Whilst Arthur is all of those things mentioned above, he is also deeply, deeply flawed but that is also what makes him so damn good. It’s nice to play as a character who is not only flawed but one who also acknowledges those flaws and tries his damnedest to fix and/or improve them and himself.

I felt deeply connected to the character, intrigued to find out more about him. In games, I usually throw myself into the fray willingly but as I progressed through RDR2, I played the game safer. I went into cover more, I always avoided conflict if possible and that’s because I wanted to protect Arthur. I didn’t want to see Arthur get hurt because the game does such a good job building a bond between the player and Arthur Morgan.

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Arthur sitting by a campfire with fellow gang members.

Towards the end of the game, something happens to Morgan and it not only changed how I look at the character but also how Morgan perceives himself and life as a whole. Arthur Morgan, whom I already thought was a strong and well-written character, grew on me in leagues. During the latter parts of the game, you know Arthur’s fate and there’s nothing you can do to change it. I wanted to change his fate and oh boy did I try, but my search and my efforts were in vain.

So when Arthur’s journey came to an end, it hit me like a freight train. It felt like I’d been punched in the heart. I haven’t experienced that feeling much in video games. One of the other times I had this feeling was the ending of the first Red Dead Redemption. Rockstar pulled it off, they made a story that gripped me and created a character that I truly cared about.

Rockstar didn’t just make a character better than John Marston, they made one of the best characters I have ever experienced in a video game. The only other character in my opinion that is on that same level, is Kazuma Kiryu from the Yakuza series (I’ll write up my thoughts on Kiryu in the future).

Without a doubt, Red Dead Redemption 2 is my Game of the year. I’ve played many games this year and some of them I would consider being amongst the best games I have ever played. Red Dead Redemption 2 however, is something else.

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Arthur Morgan riding along as the sun sets.

I may still write up a review of Red Dead Redemption 2 but as you’d expect from reading above, it will be a glowing review. There is so much to talk about concerning Red Dead Redemption 2, the story, the bigger emphasis on realism; the vast, varied and expansive world that feels alive and the staggering amount of content the game has. Expect more Red Dead Redemption 2 related content from me in the future.


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