Red Dead Redemption 2 is a massive game and it's packed full of easter eggs and references that only the most dedicated of players will find. The map is so huge that you could spend hours trawling the wilderness and only find one, maybe two, of the fun secrets Rockstar tucked away.
Some of those secrets will mean a more to long-time Rockstar fans than to a casual observer. The developer has a long history of big, open-world games packed with characters and lore for the picking. They like to slip in some self-referential winks to their players now again.
10 Adventures of a Gunslinger
Landon Ricketts is a major character in the first Red Dead Redemption. He was formerly a famous gunslinger during the golden days of the American West. John Marston meets him while on the trail of Javier Escuela. Ricketts teaches him the third level of the Dead-Eye skill and the two are allies on a few missions, before parting ways.
In Red Dead Redemption 2, we don't meet Ricketts in the flesh, but there are several references to him only fans will notice. He appears on a Famous Gunslingers cigarette card, is mentioned in a few conversations, and even appears as a hero in an adventure story in "Wild West Heroes No. 132".
9 Sasquatch Hunter
Despite the realistic tone, Rockstar has never been afraid to include some absurdity. In RDR2 you can find a man claiming to be a sasquatch hunter in the Valentine saloon. He'll talk at length about the existence of Bigfoot and whether Arthur believes him or not, some fans will remember he knows what he's talking about. The same character appears in the Undead Nightmare expansion for the first game. He gives Marston the mission to hunt down the sasquatches around the area of Tall Trees. And if you do some exploring in RDR2, Arthur might just come across a skeleton that lends some truth to the man's claims.
8 Dog Eat Dog
Rockstar's 2006 hit game Bully was widely praised and many gamers are awaiting the announcement of a sequel. Clearly Rockstar hasn't forgotten about this fan favorite, since RDR2 includes a reference to the game. In the side quest "The Noblest of Men, and a Woman" you're supposed to track down several old gunslingers. The quest culminates in a duel with one of the characters and if you win, you can pick up his revolver. The gun has the Latin phrase "Canis Canem Edit" engraved on the barrel. It means "dog eat dog" and also happens to be the title of Bully's European release.
7 Meeting Agent Ross
When Arthur takes young Jack Marston fishing in the Horseshoe Overlook chapter of RDR2, their pleasant outing is interrupted by the arrival of two Pinkerton agents, Andrew Milton and Edgar Ross. Arthur obviously turns down their offer to turn in Dutch and Ross bitterly tells Jack to enjoy his fishing while he can. This is the same Agent Ross that orchestrates the events of Red Dead Redemption and manipulates John's crusade against his former gang. Little Jack Marston has his final run-in with Ross when he's nineteen years old and kills him for betraying his father.
6 Letter to Bonnie
Bonnie MacFarlane is Marston's first and one of his greatest allies during the events of Red Dead Redemption. She runs the MacFarlane Ranch on her own. She mentions that she had plans to be married but that it didn't work out. In RDR2, Arthur can find a man washed up on the shore of Flat Iron Lake, apparently dead.
If you investigate, he briefly comes out of his stupor, thrusts a letter into Arthur's hands, and collapses again to die. The letter is to Bonnie and the man was apparently her suitor. He has plans to go off and make his fortune in order to support her and raise a happy family, hoping to prove her disapproving father wrong. Unfortunately, he didn't get the chance.
5 Mask of the Undead
In the Undead Nightmare DLC, the cause of the entire zombie outbreak can be traced back to one particular green mask. It was stolen from the catacombs underneath Escalera by Abraham Reyes, triggering the horrific aftermath. The plague only lifts when John Marston finds the mask and returns it to its rightful place. This very same mask can be seen in Saint Denis on a shelf in the Fence's shop in RDR2. Why it isn't causing an outbreak then we can't say, but it's ominous nonetheless.
4 Can't Fight Gravity
Dutch is pretty good at talking his way out of unpleasant situations, right up till the end. At the end of Red Dead Redemption, when John's got him cornered, Dutch throws away his gun and gives a speech on how he knows how pointless it is to fight nature. He can't fight change, and he also can't fight his own nature. It's a thought-provoking speech, particularly when he says "they'll just find another monster," which they indeed do when turning on John.
In RDR2, fans may have been excited to realize Dutch gives a very similar speech when he and Arthur are cornered by soldiers at a cliff overlooking a river. Dutch even starts his speech the same way, with "I have a plan. This is a good one." And he ends it the same way too, by throwing himself off the cliff.
3 John Can't Swim
Many older video games have the same conceit of making their main characters unable to swim, in order to give the world natural boundaries or cut down on the number of animations needed. John Marston is one of these, immediately dying if he ventures into water. Arthur doesn't suffer from the same problem and he and other gang members can be heard to make fun of John for his inability. It might not hit home for players until they're playing as John later and try to swim, like Arthur could have, only to find John instantly struggling to stay afloat.
2 Trevor Phillips, Time Traveler
In the epilogue portion of RDR2, you'll run across a character voiced by Steven Ogg, the very same man who voices Trevor Phillips in GTA V. It isn't just his voice, though. The character has the same mannerisms and personality as the violent, hyperactive GTA protagonist. He's even also named Trevor Phillips. It could be possible this is some ancestor of Trevor's, maybe a great-grandfather. Or maybe Trevor just found a way to time travel back to the Old West.
1 The Strange Man
One of the most memorable moments of the original RDR is the side mission "I Know You" where Marston meets an NPC referred to only as the Strange Man. He seems to know more about John than he should reasonably be able to, and he can't be killed. Fans have speculated that he could be God, the Devil, or Death itself. In RDR2, Arthur doesn't ever come face to face with this individual, but can find a strange shack in Lemoyne that might belong to him. It's riddled with cryptic writing and contains paintings that change over the course of the game, one of them slowly forming a portrait of the Strange Man.