Red Dead Redemption 2 review for PC

Platform: PC
Also on: Xbox One, PS4
Publisher: Rockstar Studios
Developer: Rockstar Games
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

In our review of Red Dead Redemption 2 when it launched on consoles last year, we said that it was “one of the most impressive achievements of this generation“. Touting the massive scale, incredible characters, in-depth quest system, and atmosphere as some of the highlights of the game. All of these things remain true with the PC release, but prior to launch, all eyes were on the graphics. 4K? 60 FPS? What kind of PC will be needed? These were the questions on everyone?s minds. Prior to launching, cautious optimism was the prevailing outlook, with some beautiful screenshots and an incredible 4K game trailer successfully fueling the hype train. Unfortunately, as the game launched, it was plagued by crashing, poor optimization and generally poor performance on even the highest end systems.

When I first loaded up Red Dead Redemption 2, I was running an i5-7600k for my CPU. And while it definitely wasn?t a performance powerhouse to begin with, Red Dead Redemption 2 absolute taxed the poor thing beyond any hope of manageable gameplay. I had been contemplating making the jump to Ryzen ever since the 7 and 9 series hit retail, and this was the final push I needed. Off to Micro Center I went, and after about an hour of fighting Christmas shoppers, I was on my way back home with a new Motherboard and the Ryzen 7 3700x. I won?t spend much time here praising the Ryzen 7, but I will simply point out that Intel has been put on notice. If you are looking for a new CPU, I cannot recommend the Ryzen 7 series enough.

Armed with my new components, I was ready to attack Red Dead Redemption 2. While I still ran into the occasional crash, along with some odd menu bugs, the combination of the new CPU and the constant patches that Rockstar was diligently releasing, I was able to really experience the game the way it was intended. When a game is as deep and expansive as Red Dead Redemption 2, experiencing it at the highest level possible is definitely what you want to strive for.

Deep and expansive really only scratches the surface of what Red Dead Redemption 2 has to offer. Nearly innumerable quests, varying from simply helping a man fix his wagon at the side of the road to hunting down and slaughtering entire gangs of bandits make up the majority of the focused gameplay that Rockstar has to offer here. I differentiate “focused” gameplay from the rest because if your cup of tea is wandering through a fully realized simulation of the old, wild west days of American history, Red Dead Redemption 2 has plenty for you to do as well. While it is incredibly successful as what some will call a “Cowboy GTA V”, it is equally as successful as a beautiful wilderness simulation. Riding your horse through the mountains, hunting various animals through the wild, or simply walking along a wilderness trail appreciating the scenery all have their place in Red Dead Redemption 2.

Another big change for the Red Dead Redemption 2 PC launch is the inclusion of Red Dead Online from day 1. While on console, there was a delay between the launch of the game and the online launch, PC players will have it day 1. Red Dead Online hosts a very similar slew of missions and things to do as the single-player campaign, but now you can do them with friends! And enemies, which will be NUMEROUS in Red Dead Online. It seems like everyone you meet is out to kill you in the wild, but thanks to the wide-open spaces and certain gameplay mechanics, this ends up playing more in the favor of Red Dead Online than not.

Visually, if you ARE able to run the game at max (or at least close to max) settings, Red Dead Redemption 2 is astounding. It would not be a stretch to say than this is the most visually impressive game on the PC. And as I stated earlier, the team at Rockstar has been diligently releasing patches that help the game run better, across all systems. I have several friends with varying PC builds who have all played the game and each of them has reported positive results with the patches as well, so it has been more than just my CPU upgrade.

These updates have taken some time, which is why I have waited for a month to finish this review. (That, and the massive, 60+ hour main story). And while it is definitely not great to launch a game with as many problems and performance issues as Red Dead Redemption 2 did when it hit the PC, anyone out there looking to make a purchase now can do so relatively safely. The minimum specs listed are as follows:

  • OS: Windows 7 ? Service Pack 1 (6.1.7601)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-2500K / AMD FX-6300
  • Memory: 8GB
  • Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 2GB / AMD Radeon R9 280 3GB
  • HDD Space: 150GB

With the recommended specs being:

  • OS: Windows 10 ? April 2018 Update (v1803)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-4770K / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
  • Memory: 12GB
  • Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB / AMD Radeon RX 480
  • HDD Space: 150GB

I would say that those “minimums” would not run the game in any fashion that most gamers will accept, but you should be safe at the recommended specs. Even with my fancy new parts and my already solid system, I average between 45 and 60 FPS while playing, with the occasional stutter step in gameplay or cutscenes. That aside, the game still looks substantially better than the already beautiful console version, and load times have been reduced by quite a lot. Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the greatest games of this generation, and this PC port is no different after a solid month of stumbles and patches. I am excited to see what the future of Red Dead Online holds, and excited to see how people continue to interact with this game in the future.

Rockstar Games provided us with a Red Dead Redemption 2 PC code for review purposes.

Grade: A-