The developers at Rockstar Games are still among the absolute masters of the open world genre. With the globally successful and acclaimed Grand Theft Auto series and other successful titles such as Bully and Midnight Club, Rockstar Games can boast countless high-profile titles.
The developers did it back in 2010 Red Dead Redemption skillfully crossing the open world genre with a serious and merciless western setting and creating an absolute masterpiece. The title was released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 at the time. The actual origin of the Red Dead series, however, was Red Dead Revolver from 2004. However, this part was more of a third-person action game and only had a western setting little to do with the two Red Dead Redemption parts. With Red Dead Redemption 2, the hotly anticipated successor for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and later also for PCs followed in 2018. The Red Dead series is still one of the absolute milestones of the open world genre.
For a long time there were rumors about a possible remaster or a remake of the first part of the western series. Rockstar Games, as is usual with them, always kept a low profile. At the beginning of August 2023, Rockstar dropped the bomb. Red Dead Redemption should appear in a revised remastered version for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch on August 17, 2023. For the time being, the title was only released as a digital version for purchase or download in the respective stores. A physical retail version followed on October 13th. In addition to the main game itself, the fantastic DLC “Undead Nightmare” is also included with its own story campaign.
As always, you will find out whether the remastered version of Red Dead Redemption and the DLC Undead Nightmare can still be as exciting today as it was when it was first released in 2010 and whether the technical improvements are impressive compared to the original or rather limited in our detailed test.
Dear Wild West
The story of Red Dead Redemption takes place in 1911 in the United States of America. You take on the role of John Marston, a former outlaw and former member of the Van der Linde gang. A true outlaw, at least in the past he was.
John Marston now wants to leave his criminal past behind him, but is then ordered to Armadillo in the fictional US state of New Austin by law enforcement officer Edgar Ross because of the kidnapping of his wife Abigail and his son Jack. As was common at the time, Edgar Ross was also a corrupt official and only focused on his own well-being. The corrupt law enforcement officer wants to propose a shady deal to John. He is supposed to betray the members of the Van der Linde gang to the local law enforcement officers. In exchange, John is promised the well-being of his family. More like blackmail than a deal.
However, the whole plan goes terribly wrong and John Marston finds himself in an almost hopeless situation. Now he has to embark on the arduous journey to free his wife and son so that he can finally lead a normal life free of violence and crime. But will he succeed?
The perfect open world setting?
What setting is better suited for an open-world title than the Wild West setting of Red Dead Redemption? Right, none. The seemingly endless expanses of the prairie can still amaze you today and give you a real cowboy feeling at any time. The Western setting is, at least in my opinion, the perfect open world setting because it can convey the feeling of freedom incredibly well and that’s what’s important in an open world.
As is typical for GTA, you can move freely through this seemingly endless, open world, complete relatively varied missions for different clients and also pursue all sorts of sideline activities such as poker matches.
The main missions in particular are quite versatile and varied. Sometimes you attack a moving train in the classic way. Sometimes you have to save an out-of-control herd of cattle from falling into the depths. Many missions end in wild gunfights, as befits a true western adventure.
If you misbehave outside of the missions and outside the law, the law enforcement officers will immediately come after you. In the best GTA style, there are different wanted levels that show how much you are currently wanted. Basically a Grand Theft Auto in the Wild West.
When the dead rise again
»A highlight of the remastered version of Red Dead Redemption is clearly the DLC Undead Nightmare.«
A highlight of the remastered version of Red Dead Redemption is clearly the DLC “Undead Nightmare”. Packed with dark humor, this DLC tells a story independent of the main game.
When our hero John Marston returns home one evening, he already suspects nothing good. The next night Marston is woken up by an incident. The uncle has become a zombie and before John can react and reach for his weapon, his wife and son are also infected with the deadly virus.
Of course, John Marston isn’t one to give up easily, and so he ties up his wife and son in the hope of finding an antidote for this zombie virus so that he can turn them back into normal people. John now sets out to get to the bottom of this mysterious plague and, in addition to finding an antidote, also finds the cause of the plague.
Especially the missions of Undead Nightmare, some of which are really humorous, are absolutely worth playing. Unfortunately, the remastered version of Red Dead Redemption lacks multiplayer mode. Undead Nightmare in particular was able to shine with an extremely fun horde mode in which you had to defend yourself against dozens of zombie hordes.
Still attractive today
Graphically, the remaster of Red Dead Redemption is still impressive today. Of course, the textures no longer seem as fresh as they did back then. After all, we’re talking about a title from 2010. All in all, the look is still nice to look at today. The expansive landscapes in particular can still inspire.
The title runs at a stable 30 frames on Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately there is no option to increase this to 60 frames. Rockstar Games recently released an update for buyers of the PlayStation 4 version, which now allows you to enjoy the remastered version with a full 60 frames. However, this is only possible on PlayStation 5. Players who still use the PlayStation 4 have to make do with 30 frames.
What is sobering, however, are the graphical adjustments that were made for the remastered version. Unfortunately, apart from a slightly higher resolution, nothing has really been improved here. In plain language, this means that the textures, character models and effects remain unchanged. Rockstar really should have invested more effort here, because Red Dead Redemption is, after all, an absolute Rockstar milestone.
Romanticized Wild West
The soundtrack is still perfectly chosen and always accompanies the action appropriately. The title also delights with crisp sound effects, such as realistic weapon sounds, and therefore skillfully manages to immerse us in the harsh world of the Wild West at any time.
The Wild West in its purest form
The remastered version of Red Dead Redemption is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the title can still shine with great design, fantastic missions, extremely funny characters and an interesting game world.
On the other hand, there hasn’t been enough improvement on the technical level for my taste. I simply think that simply increasing the resolution a little is too simple and simplistic. Rockstar should have also polished up the textures, effects and models here. After all, we’re not talking about just any Rockstar game here. At least in terms of sound, the remaster, like the original, is beyond any doubt and creates a pure Western feeling.
Another annoying fact is that the title can only be played on Nintendo Switch with 30 frames. At least players who play the title on PS5 can now use the full 60 frames thanks to the latest update. Maybe with a little optimization 60 frames would have been possible on Switch.
For Red Dead newbies, the remastered version of Red Dead Redemption is an absolute must-buy. Players who already know the original and the DLC Undead Nightmare can safely do without the remastered version. Apart from a slightly increased resolution, the remaster unfortunately offers no clear reason to buy for players who already know and have played the original.
Image material: Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar Games