When I loaded up the RDR on my Xbox One for the first time since it became available as a backwards compatible title, I had no idea how long I'd play or what I wanted to do. Truthfully, I just wanted to check in, tip my hat to John Marston, confirm that the game ran well while looking dated, and then go back to my current playlist. Instead, I sat there engrossed in the introduction to the story and getting lost in the gorgeous horizon lines.

It has been 6 years since the original release of Red Dead Redemption. I regularly sit down for nostalgic play sessions for a variety of my favorite games. A majority of the time the sessions are quick one-offs or I skip ahead as fast as I can to get to my "favorite part."

As I came to, I remembered how much I appreciated Bonnie McFarland taking pity on me (John), and I just had to help her with the ranch wherever I could. Hours went by and multiple sessions later I wasn't trying to blow through missions to get to some memorable scene, instead I was wandering around the desert hunting random animals again.

I didn't want to stop and I never wanted the game to end. This is a long way from never wanting to play the game in the first place.

Red Dead Redemption

What's so special about Red Dead Redemption?

  • Ryan Billingsley - Red Dead so perfectly captured the feeling of a living, breathing Spaghetti Western. The characters were rich and meaningful, the gun fighting was fun, but nothing compared to riding on your horse through that vast wilderness, taking in all the sights and sounds of the world. So often when I would play a similar game, like Grand Theft Auto, I would eventually get derailed from the story and then mess around until I was completely bored. Red Dead kept me wanting to see more. The first time you cross the river into Mexico and have that awesome moment of ‘Far Away’ by Jose Gonzalez leading you in is one of my favorite moments in gaming. Red Dead remains one of my favorite games of all time.

  • Justin Lacey - There was also something about John Marston and his story. For the first time in a Rockstar game or an open-world game, I couldn’t be evil. I couldn’t bring myself to do dishonorable things as it just didn’t seem true to the world or the character. Even though, I enjoyed hearing the dastardly stories of my friends, the game just had a hold of me and I couldn’t play it that way.

  • Aaron McNeal - There's an achievement for lassoing up a townswoman, putting her on the train tracks and waiting for the train to arrive. I've never laughed so hard at an achievement while simultaneously feeling like the worse scumbag that ever did ride. RDR's Undead Nightmare was also some of the best DLC content at the time, getting in on the zombie fad well before it outstayed its welcome. Why wouldn't I want to collect the four Horses of the Apocalypse?

  • Cole Monroe - I was initially very hesitant to get into Red Dead. I didn’t want another GTA even if it was in a different environment/setting. How wrong I was. Sure the game controlled very similar to Red Dead but that made it easily accessible. What hooked me was John Marston, the music, and just experiencing an open world game in that setting. Oh and straight up murdering fools left and right from horseback.

  • Justin Lacey - To me Red Dead Redemption is all about the setting. There’s no other game in the last decade that evokes such an authentic western feel. I can’t think of anything else I can play that comes close to replicating it, so it’s literally the only option available. Plus, I haven’t been able to play for a couple of years so the nostalgic draw couldn't be stronger. Red Dead Redemption only gets better with age.