Red Dead Redemption 2’s story unfolds throughout eight chapters that tell the Van der Linde gang’s story. Here’s the game’s best and worst chapters.
Red Dead Redemption 2‘s campaign has cemented itself as one of the most immersive Western RPGs ever released. Its expansive open-world, countless side missions, and endless customization options are all frosting on Rockstar Games’ enthralling narrative that details the escapades of outlaw Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang. The nearly 50-hour-long story unfolds over several lengthy chapters, which are all vastly different from one another. But which of the game’s chapters are the best, and which are lackluster in comparison?
RDR2‘s story begins in 1899 during the tail end of the American Frontier period, an era when shanty towns had turned into bustling cities like Saint Denis. This urbanization brought the rule of law over previously lawless territory where bands of gunslingers, like the Van der Linde gang, were free to roam the land and make a quick buck however they could. Throughout the Western tale, Arthur and his crew realize that modernization is shunning people like them, but it’s the only life they know.
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The gang’s troubles begin in the opening scenes of RDR2. They’re on the run after a botched heist of a steamboat has made them the most wanted criminals in the settlement of Blackwater and forces them to abandon their stash of riches, leaving the gang stranded in the snowy mountains of Coulter in the Grizzlies. The Van der Linde’s saga unravels over eight chapters, two of which are Epilogue segments that lead into the story of John Marston in Red Dead Redemption. Here are the best and worst RDR2 chapters.
[Warning: Spoilers for Red Ded Redemption 2 below.]
RDR2 Best Story Moments: Chapter 3
Chapter 2 of Red Dead Redemption 2 culminates with the gang being chased out of Valentine following a dispute with the railroad tycoon, Leviticus Cornwall, who is angry about the recent string of train robberies they’re responsible for. Arthur and the crew set up a waterside camp in the Clemens Cove area, near the town of Rhodes. The plantation town is caught up in a feud between two wealthy families, the Grays and the Braithwaites, which the Van der Linde gang also gets involved in. Chapter 3 of RDR2 gives players a taste of everything, including stellar dialogue, in-depth character development, world-building, and heart-pumping missions.
A rumor in Rhodes has it that both families have vast stashes of gold and riches hidden somewhere in the region. Dutch van der Linde and Hosea Matthew hatch a plan to warm up to both families, then sneakily escalate tensions so they can make off with the gold when the fighting reaches a climax. Arthur and the crew embark on shadowy missions to gain the favor of the Grays and Braithwaites while also sabotaging them behind their backs. When it seems that Dutch’s plot might go off without a hitch, it becomes clear that the gang was being played the whole time.
Arthur and Dutch are even made deputies of the local law enforcement, but it turns out to be an elaborate bait set by the Grays. The gang is ambushed, which ends in the death of Sean MacGuire, and Jack Marston (John’s son) is kidnapped by the Braithwaites and taken hostage. Both families are outgunned by the Van der Lindes when the dust settles, but this violent outbreak forces the crew out of town.
Players really get to know the members of the gang in Red Dead Redemption 2‘s Chapter 3. While the first couple of chapters featured the crew unsuccessfully laying low following the Blackwater incident, their stint in Rhodes sees them get gutsier with their schemes. That results in risker missions and new faces that introduce the power players within RDR2‘s massive world. The series of events that unravel in Chapter 3 loop back to the core narrative that outlaws are being left behind and foreshadow that the gang’s days could be numbered after making such powerful enemies.
RDR2 Worst Story Moments: Chapter 5
Chapter 5 of Red Dead Redemption 2 takes players to an exotic location, but is off-beat and seems rushed compared to the tens of hours of character development and world-building done in segments like Chapter 3. This portion of the story kicks off after the crew’s attempted bank robbery in San Denis ends in a disaster. Gang members like Hosea and Lenny Summers are killed, and John is arrested. Arthur and other key Van der Linde gang members escape onto a boat with all of the riches they can carry, but more disaster awaits them.
The ship they’re stowing away in sinks during a storm, and Arthur, Dutch, and Micah Bell are stranded on an island near Cuba named Guarma. They become quickly acquainted with the island’s cruel dictator, Fussar, and agree to help a rebel group in exchange for safe passage back home. The trio is momentarily involved in an all-out war but eventually helps the rebels and manages to find a boat back to Saint Denis.
Their return has a momentary silver lining when Arthur finds the remaining Van der Linde gang members camped out near San Denis. That reunion is cut short when the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, which has been chasing them from the start of the story, attacks the remnants of the gang and forces them to relocate into the mountains near a mining town named Annesburg.
While Chapter 5 provides the biggest change of scenery throughout the extent of RDR2, it’s short-lived and doesn’t feel anywhere near as fleshed out as other moments of the game. Each chapter of the Western did an excellent job at introducing new characters or places and developing them until they felt fully realized. Chapter 5 was a rare lapse in the otherwise masterclass of game, story, and art that Rockstar weaved together to create Red Dead Redemption 2.
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