The pursuit of realism is something most modern games should aspire to. Simulated instances of authenticity give a game added complexity, allowing players to really integrate themselves with the environments, characters and even the narrative. Sure it’s not necessary for Mario to adhere to the laws of gravity or for Sonic The Hedgehog to run at a glacial pace, but in some cases such attention to detail can benefit an experience. Red Dead 2 exemplifies this methodology with a veracious depiction of the old West, without binding the player’s experience with mundane trivialities of real life. Such as going to the toilet, preparing meals from scratch or dying without the convenience of resurrection. But there’s one aspect of Red Dead 2 that I confess leaves me rather conflicted: Hunting wild animals.
Though I’m not opposed to its inclusion, particularly as a means of commerce, I just find the whole sordid business rather unsettling. Hunting in Red Dead isn’t vindictive or a malicious undertaken, implemented as a kind of incentivized errand arbitrarily installed to accentuate the expansive diversity of the environment, but a necessity to survive the harsh, oftentimes unpredictable climate. As a source of nourishment hunting deers, elks and even rabbits are invaluable to your little menagerie of fiends, crooks and outlaws to sustain a faction separate from the binding authority of civilised society. Not only is the meat harvested for food to feed your camp, but the Pelts can also be used. It’s an understandably popular feature that has probably enticed a number of prospective poachers to seek fabled beasts of notorious repute. But to me it’s not an attractive errand.
It’s curious as to why the simulated slaughter of animals is so deplorable to me, yet persistent explicit violence against virtual people who I’ve callously mutilated without any hint of morality is acceptable behaviour, particularly as a practiced and veteran carnivore. There is so much to do, see and be killed by that such a barbaric activity can be ignored or at least mitigated. Does it ruin my experience? No. Do I wish such an inclusion, indicative of such times was exempt? Again, no! What this demonstrates is that a game of such eminent quality and scale can provide a multitude of features to engage you that even something I find conflicting can be completely ignored and not diminish my enjoyment. Damn this game is good!