I’ve just saved another member of the gang and about to rob a train with John Marston. I have to believe I’m somewhere near the end of chapter two and I’m stuck trying to figure out a simple question. How do you define fun? Red Dead, for all its Westworld like qualities, isn’t that fun. I spent most my time on my horse traveling from location to location and combat is just terrible. There was a moment when members of the O’Driscle gang ambushed and turned a simple mission to sale a horse I just caught into the scene from The Godfather. And this isn’t the first time I’ve been ambushed. It seems like every time an ambush happens it’s an automatic death sentence. You can try to run, but they’ll just chase you, and if you decide to fight back, you’ll only get killed. The mechanics in this game just don’t cut it.
And yet here I am still playing the damn game. Why? Because on some level it’s entertaining. The world itself is the draw and the interactions between characters. It’s a world that asks you to explore only to find itself crippled when you actually want to do something. But let’s get back to the question at hand. How does one define fun? This weekend I played Mark Of The Ninja, and I enjoyed it. The game was fun. It was fun in the way old school video games where fun, but Red Dead. I don’t know. So the question is how do we define what makes a game a “good game?” Because what this is teaching me is that I must better define the metrics by which I discuss the games I play and the recommendations I give to those around me.
How important is fast travel? On the one hand, it’s something you don’t know how much you’ll miss until it’s gone. On the other, fast travel eliminates some of the need to explore. In keeping with the game’s sense of western reality, I have yet to discover how to fast travel from known locations. Sometimes, it’s a pain in the ass. Like when I finished hunting a legendary bear and just wanted to fast travel back to camp. But I couldn’t, I had to ride my horse all the way back. The funny thing is, it wasn’t as boring as I thought it would be. On the way back I saved a stranger, sold the legendary pelt to a trapper that I found and even paid off a bounty at a newly discovered post office.
I never realized how much I depended on fast travel and the experience it has on gameplay. When I would play Fallout 4 I would loot until my inventory was full, fast travel back to base and then fast travel back to where I was. It was a simple exchange, but it also shrunk the map. With Red Dead, at least for now, I have to plan my trip accordingly. I can’t just hunt and fast travel to sell goods, I have to make it a point to hunt close to an area where I can sell what I kill before the animal spoils. The game has done a good job thus far making the world feel big but manageable. I never feel too far from anything, but I can see the lack of fast travel getting old. As much as I love taking in the landscapes and discovering new locations at some point it will become routine. And it’s going to be in that moment that I wish for fast travel. But for now, I’m going to continue enjoying what new things I can find. Maybe I’ll be successful in taming a new horse. My last attempt went pretty poorly.
When Microsoft and Sony introduced the current generation, I can remember being a bit underwhelmed. It wasn’t that either console performed poorly, it’s that neither of them matched the hype. They were good but not second coming good. Of course, this is partly because most of us were still using 1080p televisions. After the 3D hype, I was one of those people who decided to chill on 4K technology. As such, I had my older plasma TV and the day one Xbox One and PlayStation 4.