Despite only releasing this week, Red Dead Redemption 2 has already been rated as the best Xbox One and PlayStation 4 game ever.
Metacritic has positioned the new Rockstar Games release atop its all-time rankings – with scores of 98/100 for the Xbox One version, and 97/100 on PlayStation 4. This positions the game above legendary titles including Grand Theft Auto V, Metal Gear Solid, and The Witcher 3.
Meanwhile, IGN has awarded the game with a solid 10/10 rating, labelling it "one of the greatest games of the modern age." Red Dead Redemption 2 follows in the wake of the original Red Dead Redemption game, which was released in 2010 to critical acclaim and a 95/100 Metacritic rating.
As with any big game release, the Red Dead Redemption 2 full map was leaked a day before the launch of the game, courtesy of Reddit users Mco_yum_yum and tomcruise_momshoes.
The leak of the map did show that Red Dead Redemption 2 contains a fair chunk of the original game's map: Flat Iron Lake is visible in the leaked image, as are Tall Trees, Armadillo, and more. Mexico doesn't appear to be included, but there are of course a number of new locations we haven't yet explored.
The Western game has stunned critics, achieving almost unwavering five-star reviews across the board, and will be feverishly installed by millions over the upcoming days – some hardened gamers might even take time off work to play it.
The game centres on Arthur Morgan, an outlaw at the end of the age of outlaws, trying to scrape out a living in the country at a time when America is becoming increasingly urbanised. The intense realism of the game gives it a strong cinematic quality, and there are more explicit efforts in pursuit of this.
There’s action too (obviously), in the form of shootouts, train robberies and frequent thrilling escapes on horseback, but these flashes of excitement punctuate a game that is largely about just being somewhere; about hunting, fishing and having long conversations on cross-country rides or around a campfire.
Rockstar Games – the creators of Grand Theft Auto and one of the most successful game developers in the world – appears to have spent seven years and hundreds of millions creating the video game equivalent of Deadwood.
There can be no doubt that this is a landmark game. It is a new high water-mark for lifelike video game worlds, certainly, but that world is also home to a narrative portrait of the wild west that is unexpectedly sombre and not afraid to take its time.
With very few exceptions, the many stories that Rockstar's writers have set out to tell about this group of outlaws land perfectly, the enjoyable twists and turns of individual missions and chapters feeding into an exciting, sophisticated and absorbing larger narrative – and the stories that you discover yourself within its world are no less compelling.
Around 2,000 people worked very hard (probably too hard, in some cases) to make this game possible. Every last one of them should be proud of their contribution.
Visually, Red Dead Redemption 2 is breathtaking and manages the kind of leap forward in graphics you don't expect at the tail-end of a console generation. (The game is available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4).
In the meantime, check out some facts you might not even know about Red Dead Redemption 2.