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RDR2 Proves Games Should Stop Over-Equipping Players

Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption 2 arguably features the studio's most compelling combat system yet, but the decision to give players up to two primary weapons effectively undermines the game's authentic depiction of the Old West by over-equipping them. RDR2 divested from Rockstar's previous approach to combat seen in Grand Theft Auto, limiting the player's arsenal to up to two sidearms and two primary weapons as opposed to them having limitless access to every single weapon at all times. It was a welcome change of pace, but RDR2 still provides players with an excessive amount of firepower with two rifles, meaning they don't have to think as much about each encounter, which weakens Rockstar's decision to downsize the arsenal in the first place.

RDR2 works best when it's most immersive, making the player feel as though they're truly inhabiting the role of an outlaw in the Wild West. However, in single-player, the game often defaults Arthur Morgan to wielding two primary weapons even if the player unequips them before starting a mission. No other character in the game uses more than one rifle at a time (if they even have one at hand at all), and it makes both Arthur and players who choose to equip two rifles in Red Dead Online look out of place by comparison.

Related: Red Dead Online: Call to Arms Finally Delivers What Players Need

By giving players the option of using that many weapons at once, Rockstar essentially turns the player into a jack of all trades, capable of dealing maximum damage at any range while spending an insignificant amount of time reloading. If RDR2's combat is meant to work at a slower pace compared to GTA's, then it's completely undermined by a player being able to switch between four weapons on the fly. It also makes PvP combat in the game's multiplayer less interesting, as there's no tradeoff for players over-equipping their character to the teeth with Red Dead Online's many weapons, which in turn lessens the variety of engagements to be had.

RDR2 isn't the only game that has issues with over-equipping players, however. Plenty of titles have decided to open up more than just the one primary weapon slot in recent years, with this year's Aliens: Fireteam Elite another notable example. While Fireteam Elite doesn't aim for the same level of realism as RDR2, developer Cold Iron Studios seems to have striven for authenticity with the license, providing an action-packed yet atmospheric Aliens title. Fireteam Elite's class-based system ensures each player in a party of three brings something unique to the table ability-wise, but things get a little less distinguishable when it comes to weapons, with players once again having access to two primary weapon slots, plus an extra sidearm.

As with RDR2, the decision to give players more than one primary weapon lessens Aliens: Fireteam Elite's immersive qualities. Bar the exception of Michael Biehn's Corporal Hicks, who carries a shotgun in the original Aliens film, none of the other Colonial Marines ever carried more than one rifle at a time. Also, like Red Dead Redemption 2, the decision lessens the game's suspense. Rather than Fireteam Elite's players each having a weapon that excels in a given role, they're all more-or-less effective at doing everything, which in turn makes the co-op elements less engaging.

Individual players can of course choose to forego the additional primary weapon slots in both RDR2 and Aliens: Fireteam Elite, thus raising the difficulty of each game somewhat, but that doesn't stop the availability of that extra primary weapon from feeling any less obnoxious. In the case of both Red Dead Redemption 2 and Fireteam Elite, each game would benefit from committing a little more fully to its concept, and place greater trust in players to adapt when presented with a given challenge. Regardless, these titles show a growing trend of video games over-equipping players beyond what is really necessary for gameplay, narratives, and immersion.

Next: What RDR2's Iconic Western Towns Look Like In 8K With Ray Tracing

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