The Horses of Red Dead Redemption 2
While Red Dead Redemption 2 may not be the most active in the gaming world, it certainly has a lot to offer its players. I was not intrigued by Red Dead in the past even though I had plenty of friends begging me to purchase it. The whole outlaw gang life was certainly not for me. However, it had a saving grace I was not aware of at the time...
I have been riding horses for over ten years, starting when I was a little girl. Horses have always been a part of my heart and soul. It wasn't until four years back that my trainer's farm, where I had grown up foreclosed, leaving me completely devastated. For the following two years I hopped trainers and was not very happy anywhere. It was then that my family lost our house and we had to move from the country to the city area where things were totally different. I struggled with the idea of not being able to ride for yet another two years. It was beginning to become utterly unbearable. However, little did I know that a 2018 game under the title of Red Dead Redemption 2 would launch. Before the launch, all I knew Red Dead as was "the game where you run around as an outlaw and shoot people," and so I never gave it much thought. However, once I saw gameplay, and saw the equestrian aspect of the game, I became overjoyed and knew I had to have it in my grasp. For me-- I knew I'd receive some heart relief from my horse deprivation occurrence. I know some of you are now asking, "Did you?" The Answer: Yes.
Let's take a moment and dig into what satisfied my horse craving so much.
As an artist, (especially one headed into the land of 3D modeling and animation) I was always criticizing of the way ever CGI horse in existence was so anatomically incorrect. Whenever I'd see any animated horse, something was always off, especially with the back legs. However, the very first thing I noticed with the structures of the animated horses in Red Dead Redemption 2 was that they were finally anatomically correct! Nice job Rockstar!
I could not have been more pleased with extreme detail in the modeling and animation of the horses. There is a vein in the horse anatomical structure that runs from behind the front leg (armpit area), and I couldn't believe that Red Dead's horse even included that little detail of structure. I love how realistic the horses move as well. Every muscle twitch, ear twitch, facial movement, tail swish, and eye roll was exceptionally identical to that of a real life horse. As you ride, your horse begins to build a sweat that forms in the shape of the saddle pad and over the front shoulder muscles, which is also a characteristic of real life horse riding.
It's amazing to see how realistic the horses move as well from the walk, to trot, trot to canter, to a full blown gallop, sliding stop, or rear. I've heard complaints in the past about the controller to horse reaction time and how the horses side step or delay, but personally I find that amazing as that is identical to what you'd expect from real life riding. I also enjoy riding in first person as the screen shows exactly what it looks like from a real life or go-pro angle.
I'm also happy with the breed selections the game chose to start off with, although I truly hope they continue to add to the selection. My only disappointment, breed wise, is with the Tennessee Walking Horses. TWHs are vastly known for their extra/replacement gate to the trot which is defined as a four-gate running trot (usually flashy looking with wild head swaying). This was not included in the game and bugged me all throughout!
All in all, I was extremely pleased with the design of the horses in the game, and because of this I ended up playing the campaign all the way through, falling deeply in love with the story. It truly was healing to my heart to be able to interact with such realistic virtual creations, and I am so happy I chose to play. Now I am back to riding, and I am still in love with this game! If you love horses, or a good story, I totally recommend picking up a copy of Red Dead Redemption 2 even if you aren't a gamer.