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Why Red Dead Redemption 3 Is Unlikely to Be Set After RDR1

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  • Posted on 08th Apr, 2022 16:40 PM

The Red Dead franchise is one that has become more impressive with each release, but as RDR2 proved, going forward is not always the answer.

p>Red Dead Redemption as a franchise has excelled in providing the definitive Western gaming experience. Over the course of almost 20 years, the franchise has consistently built upon its own success to shatter fan expectations and redefine possibilities with each subsequent release.

With the latest installment of the Red Dead Redemption franchise being one of the most well-received titles ever released, it is no wonder that fans are already wondering about the details of the next potential iteration in the gunslinging franchise. That being said, there are many implications that must be considered when discussing the setting of the next game, as going forward in time might not be the obvious choice it appears to be.

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The History of Red Dead Settings

The first game to release under the "Red Dead" moniker was Red Dead Revolver in 2004, Rockstar's first venture into the Western shooter genre that paved the way for its era-defining games. Introducing the third-person point of view that has remained a constant for the franchise, Red Dead Revolver was more linear and limited than its successors, but remains invaluable as an influence.

Red Dead Revolver boasted a unique cast of characters, who are only referenced briefly in subsequent games. The game is set in an unspecified year during the 1880s, the prime years of the stereotypical "Wild West." This setting provides the most classical version of a Western experience, with the time period in which the game is set not lending itself to the nuances and conflict of changing times and technological innovation that threaten the "cowboy" lifestyle.

The next game within the franchise is the now-iconic Red Dead Redemption. Releasing in 2010, Red Dead Redemption provided fans with a more open-ended and detailed experience in-line with the Rockstar formula that fans had come to expect through Grand Theft Auto. Red Dead Redemption is the most recently game chronologically, primarily taking place in 1911. The game places great emphasis on the taming of the Wild West and the urbanization of the frontier, with the age of outlaws becoming more archaic.

The most recent release and undoubtedly the most expansive installment in the Red Dead franchise is 2018's Red Dead Redemption 2. Crucially, the game is a prequel to Red Dead Redemption, a decision that significantly aided its positive critical reception. The game is set in 1899, and tells the story of the infamous Van Der Linde gang that featured so prominently in the first Red Dead Redemption.

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The Problem With Red Dead Redemption 3 Going Forward in Time

A point of contention in the discourse around Red Dead Redemption 3 is in what year the inevitable next installment should be set. Many fans suggest that the next logical step for Red Dead Redemption 3 would be to set the game after the events of Red Dead Redemption, following the life of Jack Marston - the son of iconic protagonist John Marston.

While this may seem an attractive prospect to many fans, going further beyond 1911 poses a serious problem that will most likely mean the next game has to go back in time instead. The next Red Dead game will have to match and exceed the detail of Red Dead Redemption 2, and requires a story and setting that facilitates this. Should Red Dead Redemption 3 follow Jack Marston after the events of RDR1, the relative modernity of the time period would completely undermine the Red Dead Redemption formula.

The advent and normalization of cars in a 1920s setting would be just one example of how a more modern setting would detract from the alluring aspects of the Red Dead franchise, not to mention the reduced necessity of things like hunting and exploration. While a game set in this time period could be interesting, it would lose the character and charm of classic Westerns that the previous games captured, and would run the risk of providing an experience more akin to the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

A more sensible option for the sequel's setting perhaps lies in again going back in time. While Red Dead Redemption 2 shows the Van Der Linde gang fully formed and nearing its demise, there is still a huge gulf in time that is left ripe for further exploration. Red Dead Redemption 3 could easily be set in the 1870s or 1880s and showcase how John Marston, Bill Williamson, and Arthur Morgan came to join the ragtag group as young men. The game could even have Dutch Van Der Linde himself as the protagonist, a younger man who is more idyllic and compassionate than the twisted and scheming one that eventually comes to be.

Although these details regarding the much anticipated Red Dead Redemption 3 are just hypothetical at this point, going further back in time may be the best way to provide an expansive story while maintaining the integrity of the Red Dead franchise as a Wild West shooter. One thing is for sure, regardless of the setting for the next Red Dead Redemption, fans will still be eager to explore it.

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