Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2 are both phenomenal games. In this scenario though, there can only be one winner. What Rockstar game has proven itself to be the better experience? What gives players more bang for their buck? All of these questions and more will weigh out the possibilities in a somewhat mathematical approach to evaluating the two games. At the end of the day, it comes down to preference and again, they are both fantastic games. This is just an interesting exercise so let’s have fun with it!
10 Gameplay: Grand Theft Auto V
In terms of gameplay options and the actual way characters are controlled, Grand Theft Auto V feels quite literally like a better experience. Having the talk and pull gun motion on the same button in Red Dead Redemption 2 took way too long to get used. Like the old west itself, everything felt a bit too rustic and cumbersome. Grand Theft Auto V is not perfect either. In fact, both of these games almost came to a tie, but the more modern setting helped.
9 Side Quests: Red Dead Redemption 2
Part of the appeal of playing a game in the wild west is the ability to explore. Sure there may be a lot of open plains with nothing in them, but when a landmark does appear, rest assured it contains something important. From the crazy cave drawings to the aliens to the serial killer, Red Dead Redemption 2 is filled with secrets. Some of which were copied from Grand Theft Auto V (like the aliens), but in this game they are a better realized as part of the world.
8 Graphics: Red Dead Redemption 2
Grand Theft Auto V launched for last gen systems in 2013 and was later ported to the new generation. Even though the PS4 version looks better, it’s still a six-year-old game. A game from just a year ago that was able to take full advantage of the new consoles is, of course, going to look better by comparison. That’s just how this industry works, but that isn’t always the case. Games still look amazing on SNES, but look like polygonal garbage on the N64 as just one example of the opposite.
7 Multiplayer: Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar fumbled the multiplayer portion of Grand Theft Auto V at the time of the game’s launch in 2013, but it is now inarguably the biggest part of that package. The game still sells today and there is no hard data to suggest people skip the campaign in order to play multiplayer, but given the amount of people still playing Grand Theft Auto Online, well, one can at least infer it. Red Dead Redemption 2’s online portion was also botched and could eventually get better, but as of right now it is not.
6 Music: Red Dead Redemption 2
This entry comes down to a matter of taste. Does one like music from Western films like the impressive score from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly? If so then this is one of the best Western scores of all time from games to movies to TV shows. If one prefers a mix of modern and classic music on, say, a radio, then that person may dig Grand Theft Auto V better. It’s a tough choice as both playlists are great, but we had to award Red Dead Redemption 2 with this victory, as the music is almost fully original.
5 Cast: Red Dead Redemption 2
If Rockstar does one thing that exceeds all other writing in video games, it’s their characters. The idea of Trevor alone being the pure embodiment of what makes a Grand Theft Auto game a Grand Theft Auto game is pure genius.
That said the appeal of a family of vagabonds traveling with each other is a lot more touching in Red Dead Redemption 2. They are all so close and when one cog doesn’t fit, the whole balance starts to topple.
4 Transportation: Grand Theft Auto V
Riding on a horse on an old town road is a dream come true for western fans. That said, getting around the giant environment without one is a pain. There is basically no fast travel. Horses also don’t come if you are too far away so if one gets stranded in the middle of nowhere then it is time to start walking. That problem is almost never apparent in Grand Theft Auto V thanks to the cellphone and the abundance of all kinds of terrain vehicles.
3 Story: Red Dead Redemption 2
If the cast was better than that of Grand Theft Auto V then of course Red Dead Redemption 2 was also going to nail the story. As it stands the former entry is a great heist flick crossed with a pure modern mob film.
It is good for what it is, but the characters just sell the drama so much better in Red Dead Redemption 2. There were never any moments in Grand Theft Auto V where we felt connected, or sadness for Michael, Franklin, or Trevor.
2 Cultural Impact: Grand Theft Auto V
This may a bit unfair to Red Dead Redemption 2, as it hasn’t even been out a year yet compared to Grand Theft Auto V. That said, time constraints or not that game is a lot more visible in society. That has always been the case with this series though. There has never been anything controversial with Red Dead Redemption 2, well, except for when it came to development practices. Even so Grand Theft Auto V has more of a cultural impact on a whole compared to both Red Dead Redemption games. That’s just the way it is.
1 The Winner: Red Dead Redemption 2
When it comes to Rockstar games the newest title is usually going to supersede the previous marvel. That’s because they keep getting better and better at their craft. It may not be pleasant to have to wait four to six years in-between projects especially when other companies like Ubisoft can pump out sequels at an alarming rate with varying degrees of quality. Point is Red Dead Redemption 2, with all of its faults, is a masterpiece. Yes, even the greatest piece of art has blemishes, but those marks prove that we are human.