The hunting, fishing and wildlife systems in Red Dead Redemption 2 are incredibly deep and realistic, if Rockstar’s own descriptions of these systems are anything to go by.
Revealed through the official Rockstar Games website, Red Dead Redemption 2 will be home to approximately 200 species of animals, including various mammals, birds, fish and more. All reportedly behave and react to the game’s environment in unique, logical ways.
For example, as in real life, deer, bison and pronghorn all travel in large herds, sockeye salmon swim upstream, possums play dead in order to be ignored by hunters (which may include the player), birds of prey soar on thermal updrafts, scavengers quickly seek out dead animals to feast upon, and more. It’s all an attempt to create a complex and realistic ecosystem where all members of the food chain must fight for their place.
In conjunction with general wildlife mechanics and design, Rockstar also detailed how hunting and fishing work in the game. They are essential survival skills and what players manage to snag can provide food, materials and income for the harsh realities that Arthur Morgan and the Dutch Van der Linde gang will face.
Fishing will see players attempting to hook a large variety of fish that inhabit rivers, lakes and streams throughout the game. Using the right bait or lure will be instrumental in the outcome of a fishing session.
Hunting prey on land appears to me more complex, as tracking and taking down an animal will use many of the game’s intertwining systems. Something as minor as wind direction can alert prey to your scent and if an animal is injured and escapes your first attempt, you can follow the trail of blood it leaves behind to track it down and put it out of its misery.
Still, using your strongest weapons for any given kill isn’t necessarily the right call, as weapon choice and shot placement will “affect the quality of the meat and pelt,” which can inadvertently lower the price that traders will buy them for – this makes choosing an appropriate rifle gauge paramount depending on the size of your prey. Regardless, the kill will have to be dealt with quickly, otherwise the aforementioned scavengers will do away with the carrion.
Players have an array of choices of what can be done with their prey after a successful hunt. They can be skinned and butchered on the spot, taken with you to be sold to butchers or general stores, or returned to camp to donate to the gang or to butcher and skin there – the kill can even be delivered to a trapper, who can make more exotic goods out of them.
We already knew horses were a big deal in Red Dead Redemption 2, but Rockstar is really putting in the work to make them varied and unique. There are 19 breeds of horse in the game, including Mustangs and Appaloosas, and each handles differently. They can be captured and broken in the wild, purchased from stables or stolen, depending on the player’s discretion.
Once obtained, keeping a horse groomed and well-fed will improve its stamina, performance, handling and bond. Horses even feed into the hunting system, as they are extraordinarily useful in carrying kills back to town or the campsite.
For more on Red Dead Redemption 2, check out our latest hands-on preview of the game, which we spent two hours with, and read about 79 amazing little details in Red Dead Redemption 2. If you still need something to play the game on, PlayStation 4 bundles of RDR2 were just announced.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is hitting the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on October 26.
Colin Stevens is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.