Red Dead Redemption 2 is arguably the most anticipated video game of the year. Since its 2016 reveal, fans have been anxious to play the prequel to 2010’s Red Dead Redemption. Yesterday, Rockstar Games released the latest trailer which focused on the western’s narrative. It’s obvious why the trailer is appealing to watch; the characters are fascinating, the world Rockstar Games created is intriguing, and I’m interested to find out more. With E3 coming up, I’m assuming that there will be gameplay, but I wonder why there wasn’t any in the latest trailer. It’s been nearly two years since Red Dead Redemption 2′s reveal, and we haven’t seen how the game plays. This is a standard practice in the video game industry, and I think trailers without gameplay need to stop.
Last week, Shadow of the Tomb Raider was officially revealed. It’s the final installment in Lara’s origin story, and I was genuinely excited to see the trailer. To my dismay, the fine print *Not Actual Gameplay* appeared during the opening frames of the video. Was it cool seeing Lara in action? Yes. Did I like seeing a new installment of a franchise I adore? Definitely. What turned me off entirely was not seeing the game properly represented. CGI trailers and in-engine trailers (Red Dead Redemption 2 and Star Wars Battlefront 2) just don’t cut it anymore.
Shortly after the trailer for Shadow of the Tomb Raider launched, outlets started publishing their preview impressions of Lara’s latest adventure. It’s great to read that people are playing the game (and that it’s not such a mysterious title) but why couldn’t Square-Enix, Crystal Dynamics, and Eidos Montreal show us some in-game footage? Gameplay is always more appealing to watch than a cinematic trailer. While I’m excited to see more of the game (probably during E3 next month) my hype isn’t through the roof just yet. The reveal trailer is not a full representation of what gamers will get their hands on in September.
The same goes for the latest Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer. When done right, in-engine trailers look stunning. That doesn’t change the fact that we haven’t seen a single piece of gameplay yet. With Red Dead Redemption launching in a little over five months, we should have seen a sliver of gameplay. I have faith in Rockstar Games, but I won’t lie and say it doesn’t concern me. Grand Theft Auto V is a masterpiece and my favorite installment in the iconic franchise.
The game featured plenty of new activities to do, an ocean to explore, and even three protagonists that players could switch to when they want. The most significant inclusion in Grand Theft Auto V is the immensely popular Grand Theft Auto Online. For GTA V, Rockstar release trailers showing the activities, character swapping, and the online mode. By the time Grand Theft Auto V launched, I was fully prepared for what Rockstar had in store for me. It’s no doubt that Rockstar Games have mastered its craft. I’m shocked that after so many years on the market, Grand Theft Auto V is always on the NPD Groups top-10 best selling games of the month.
Rockstar Games is a well-known studio, and Red Dead Redemption 2 will probably sell like hotcakes based on name alone. That doesn’t excuse the studio from not showing the public gameplay footage. There will no doubt be preview sessions leading up to the October 26th release date. Being in the video game journalism industry, I’ve been fortunate to play preview builds of games at trade shows like E3. Part of my job at Xbox Enthusiast is to inform readers on the quality of games. Whether through previews or reviews, playing video games and writing about them is a passion of mine. Regardless, it’s still frustrating when the public can’t see videos of individual games.
It’s an annoying practice in the video game industry that I’ve hated for over a decade. ReCore is the perfect example. When Armature Studios revealed its Xbox One exclusive title during E3 2015, the trailer looked stunning and intriguing. I wanted to know more, but unfortunately, Microsoft was silent on the game for a full year. In 2016, the game was playable at E3, and the demo disappointed me. The game I imagined in my head (after watching the reveal trailer) was nothing like the demo I was playing on the show floor. ReCore is a game that wowed with a stunning CGI trailer but dropped the ball when it mattered the most.
I expect Red Dead Redemption 2 to be a masterpiece. It’s probably not the best thing to call an unreleased game excellent already, but with Rockstar’s track record, it’s a very safe assumption. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is another story entirely. A different team is developing the latest game in the franchise, and I’m worried that it won’t live up to the caliber of the rest of the series. Trailers leave us with impressions but seeing the game in action is what really drives a player’s desire for a game. Trade shows like E3 are excellent because there’s a good chance that you’ll see some gameplay after a trailer during Microsoft or Sony’s press conference. I find it difficult to get pumped for a game that you can’t see-in-action. Studios will never stop making CGI trailers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t express dissatisfaction with this practice. I’m sure games with strictly CGI trailers may turn out great, but by not accurately presenting how a game will play, that’s a disservice to the game itself and for the people going to purchase them at launch.