When we look at the list of AAA games set to drop in the next 12 months for the PlayStation 5 (Final Fantasy XVI, Forspoken, and Stray amongst them), one thing seems notable. There are no Rockstar Games titles on the list. Speculation is rife that the inevitable Grand Theft Auto 6 will return players to Vice City, however with no confirmed details at the time of writing, it’s still anyone’s guess as to when the franchise’s next installment will be. However, its predecessor Grand Theft Auto V was given a PS5 release earlier this year. Is Rockstar’s next move a next-gen port of Red Dead Redemption?
What is Red Dead Redemption?
Red Dead Redemption, and its sequel – or RDR and RDR2 as they’re known to fans – are sprawling open-world games set in the Old West around the turn of the 20th Century. The main character is an outlaw who must fulfill a quest via various missions, traveling from city to city, and frequently engaging in armed combat along the way. If you’re not familiar with the series, think of it as Grand Theft Auto but with horseback and trains replacing cars and airplanes (due to the historical setting).
Why is Red Dead Redemption Popular?
Rockstar has a legacy of high quality games going back to the late 90’s with the likes of Earthworm Jim 3D (N64) and Oni (PS2) through to the present day. When they drop a release, they do so on a barrowload of hype and anticipation.
RDR fulfilled the promise of an earlier PS2/Xbox game Red Dead Revolver. While the 2004 title is generally accepted as canon by fans, developer Dan Houser has hinted that Revolver may have been set ‘in a different game universe’.
As console power expanded over the generations, so did the games. RDR came to the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2010, and now boasted a much bigger map, covering two fictional US states. RDR2 (2018) upped that to five, with many more inhabited towns, characters and side quests. The Old Western pursuit of gambling came to the fore, with poker being an integral part of the game.
The series has become gaming’s definitive take on the Western genre. Earlier games like Gun and Call Of Juarez set the scene, but RDR set the benchmark. This has led to the frontier spilling over into wider gaming outside of consoles.
There are also Wild West themed games among the Ladbrokes online slots, including Cowboys Gold and King of the West. These trade heavily on the imagery from the era, with bandits, cowboy hats and six-shooters aplenty. Games like 2-Bit Cowboy and Westy West have proved popular downloads on cellphone gaming as well.
What Could Go Wrong?
There are a couple of reasons to think we might not see Red Dead on a PS5 – or perhaps not as a remaster. With an eight-year delay between RDR and RDR2, fans of the series are used to waiting. It may be that they’d prefer an entirely new installment, rather than an update, and that obviously takes more time.
As the Western theme has remained popular, other adventures have stepped in, in the interim – Sony’s 2022 Horizon Forbidden West has sold in excess of 300,000 copies. With Grand Theft Auto V hitting PS5 relatively recently (March 2022) it could be that Rockstar doesn’t see an opening in the calendar conducive to dropping another remaster for some time. And a hurried remaster that sours a legendary series’ legacy is in nobody’s interests.