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Why Is The Original 'Red Dead Redemption' Map Hidden But Empty In 'Red Dead 2'?

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Red Dead Redemption 2Rockstar

Before Red Dead Redemption 2 ever launched, I was hearing a rumor that the entire Red Dead Redemption 1 map was actually contained in the new game.

Once I loaded up RDR2 for myself, it did seem possible. Blackwater was visible in the southwest corner of the map, when previously it was the most northeast spot in the RDR1 map. While my gang was avoiding Blackwater like the plague because of some bad business there, I figured we’d go back down there eventually.

I waited, and waited, and waited.

We did get back to Blackwater briefly, but through all 60-70 hours of the main story, we never went southwest past it. In the unexpectedly long 6-7 hour epilogue of the game, the story details of which I will not get into, there were some events that took place near Blackwater and Tall Trees in that area, and yet we still did not venture much past that at all.

Was this just a rumor then? I finished the game, had no more quests to complete outside of challenges, and yet there was still this giant blank spot on the map. And so, I went exploring.

What I found was…strange. The rumor is true, at least a major chunk of the Red Dead Redemption 1 map is indeed in Red Dead 2. The entirety of New Elizabeth and New Austin are able to be explored, and it took me about 45 minutes to ride around revealing the map, which you can see above.

If you compare it to the original Red Dead map, you can see that one component is missing, the “Mexican” side, Nuevo Paraiso, which try as I might, I could not find a way across the river to get to it.

Red Dead Redemption 1Rockstar

And yet what is there is huge, and weirdly…empty. While there are a few points of interest in this area, it’s devoid of anything resembling actual new quests, despite being such a sprawling zone. Here’s what I encountered in my exploration:

  • One legendary animal hunt, though I didn’t stick around long enough to figure out what kind of animal I was supposed to be tracking
  • The corpse of a priest who apparently died 100 years ago with a letter in his pocket. This did not trigger a quest
  • Random ambush/help stranger events, including a few that had Del Lobo gang members trying to kill me
  • A building that randomly exploded as I rode by it, which spooked my horse. I still have no idea how or why this happened
  • Thieves Landing and Fort Mercer were filled with hostiles that reprimanded me if I came near them. I did not try to murder them all, but I suppose it’s possible

The only real “event” in this entire zone I encountered was in the town of Armadillo, where I watched a sheriff hand over a Del Lobo gang member to a posse, but I intervened to shoot them all. He thanked me, but then promptly said he was retiring and leaving, as the town was curse/dead. I spoke to a man shouting down the street who said that Armadillo was ravaged by a variety of plagues, most recently cholera. The entire town had a carriage, a post office and a saloon, that was it.

So…what the hell? Why does this part of the map exist when even in 70-80 hours of Red Dead 2’s core story and epilogue, almost nothing at all takes place there?

Red Dead Redemption 2Rockstar

Well, the most obvious answer is that this is probably in place for the launch of Red Dead Online. While the “used” map of RDR2 is big, perhaps Rockstar wanted it to be even bigger, which is why they added the sprawling section of New Austin. There are also rumors of a battle royale mode in Red Dead to come later as part of online, and perhaps this lifeless version of New Austin will be part of that. If this was another game, I’d say that perhaps this empty zone could be used for future story DLC, but given that RDR2 is a prequel that is meant to bump up into RDR1 by the time it ends, I’m not so sure such DLC would even be possible.

But even using this zone as part of RDR2 online feels a bit weird. The difference between New Austin and the rest of the map is stark. This new game has brought us snowy mountains, murky swamps and expansive forests. But this RDR1 section of the map is almost nothing but rolling plans or expansive deserts. There are tiny, tiny buildings and settlements, but it would feel like an odd place for substantive content in its current form. A battle royale taking place here, for instance, would mostly be people sniping at each other from a mile away across a totally flat desert. Though I guess it worked well enough for RDR1’s online component.

I have to assume that once RDR2 Online launches that this area will start to become more populated. Maybe fixing up Armadillo by purchasing businesses there is part of it, or something. But for now it’s a very, very strange appendage to the richly detailed and populated rest of the map. Go exploring there for yourself if you want to see how weird it is right now, but who knows what’s to come.

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