18 Reasons 'Red Dead Redemption' is Still Great

The Old West still feels new.

Rockstar Games’ Western opus Red Dead Redemption is now officially available via Xbox One’s backward-compatibility program. That means zero bells and whistles added, and not even a touch of graphical polish applied as compared to a remaster. When news broke that John Marston’s sad sojourn would be making its way to the Xbox One, sales of the title rose 6,000 percent. That’s because the game is still fresh as hell.

When Red Dead Redemption came out in 2010, it captured an aesthetic and spirit that’s not been reached again. As exciting as it is poignant, the title has maintained a consistent place in the industry conversation, which is why it’s no surprise that it’s finally come to Xbox One, and that people are pumped to see the game playable once more.

And, just in case you needed a few more reasons why it’s so wonderful that Rockstar Games changed their minds about backwards compatibility, here are a few.

This article contains spoilers.

18. John Marston

When it comes to video game heroes, they don’t come better than John Marston, gaming’s best tragic hero. Not only is the man likable and quiet, he’s also wickedly badass.

17. Liar’s Dice

You hit a saloon, and most people are playing poker or blackjack, but liar’s dice is where it’s at.

16. Robbing a Bank

You can sneak in the back or you can ride up main street and go in guns blazing. Like that’s a choice. Clint Eastwood never went in silently.

15. The Tragedy

The gameplay is great, but the story that unfolds in Red Dead Redemption is what will stick with you. It’s a slow-motion train wreck. You know how it’s going to end, but you fight like hell to avoid it, which makes its inevitability all the more devastating. In a good way.

Your typical Old West scene.

14. The Old West

There is literally no other game out there like Red Dead Redemption. As in, if you want to play a cowboy video game (and trust me, you do), this is your option.

13. Undead Nightmare

Alongside the announcement of RDR comes the bonus gift of Undead Nightmare, the expansion pack for the original game that killed off the world and replaced everybody with zombies. The expansion’s worth the price of admission alone.

12. Duels

One of the rare bits preserved from Red Dead Revolver, RDR’s predecessor, is the art of dueling. While RDR doesn’t put a ton of influence on these interactions — it’s possible to opt out completely if you’re not into gunning men down in the streets — they’re still exciting challenges when you run across them.

11. Nigel West Dickens

Nigel West Dickens is a literal snake oil salesman. He’s the kind of conniving little shit who is absolutely delightful to watch on screen, whether he’s pulling a con or getting beat up.

10. Pissing Off the Law

No other game lets you race through a small Western town, lawmen at your back, firing over your shoulder, and praying that you have enough money to pay off the rising bounty.

9. Five Finger Fillet

Need a break from stalking the woods and shooting your way across the open plains? That’s why there’s an intense, button-prompt activity that’ll subtract you one digital finger if you lose your cool.

8. Bonnie MacFarlane

Bonnie MacFarlane is a dynamic host for the game’s tutorial sections.

7. Abraham Reyes

Reyes begins as the inspirational leader of a pack of Mexican rebels and ends up a self-mythologizing, power-hungry turd. Or maybe he was always the second thing. The fun is trying to determine which you think it is.

6. Robbing a Train

If you’re playing through the game as a shiny symbol of vigilante redemption, how can you resist the urge to ride up alongside a train, throw on a bandana for a mask, and then jump on board?

5. Dutch

Poor Dutch. He’s the man at the top of John Marston’s hit list. For 90 percent of the game, hes a ghost; a nebulous entity foreshadowed with tall tales and gossip. And then when you meet him at last, he’s just a sad, old man at the end of his short, vicious life. And it’s beautiful.

4. The Weirdest West

Is it possible to find the company of a necrophiliac grave robber enjoyable? How do you react when a person dies of dehydration, swearing all the way down that she doesn’t need to move because God will provide water? The scenarios at play in Red Dead Redemption are the weirdest.

3. Taming Horses

It’s a rare treat speeding headlong into a herd of wild horses and swinging your lasso above your head in the hopes of nabbing that rare beast that will give you an edge on the battlefield.

2. Both Hunting and Gathering

Thanks to a robust and extremely rewarding hunting and gathering mechanics, not only are Red Dead’s pastimes (trick shooting included) worth the time you invest, they’re also fun.

1. It’s 10 Bucks

Last but not least, one of the benefits of the game’s age is that if you don’t own a copy of Red Dead Redemption, it’s pretty easy to procure. Come on, waste your weekend revisiting the Old West. You know you want to.

Red Dead Redemption is on Xbox One now.

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