The first Red Dead Redemption has been and will always be one of Rockstar’s beloved classics, thanks to its engaging narrative, memorable characters, and an expansive open world. This 13 year old gem has finally arrived in town on the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch with a port that allows both longtime fans and newcomers to experience the Wild West adventure in a new light. While the essence of the original adventure remains intact and the game plays completely fine on the PS4, this port doesn’t offer anything substantial to fans who have played the original.
So what exactly is included in this unexpected modern-day console port of Red Dead Redemption? It features most of the previously released downloadable content, including additional language support, extra outfits, and of course the Undead Nightmare DLC. Unfortunately Rockstar decided not to add the multiplayer and online content of the original experience. You are essentially getting a bundled up single player version of the original game for a hefty price tag of $50. Yep, you heard that right: fifty bucks.
For those unfamiliar, Red Dead Redemption puts you in the shoes of John Marston, a former outlaw seeking redemption. You embark on a quest to save your family from government officials, being forced to betray your former gang members and friends in order to do so. The writing, voice acting, and character development create an emotional connection that few games can replicate, other than maybe the sequel. Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of my favorite games of all time. The nuanced moral dilemmas you face and the complex characters you encounter shape the course of the story, making each decision feel impactful and genuine.
Gameplay is what you might expect out of a Grand Theft Auto game, except with revolvers instead of assault rifles and horses instead of sports cars. The open world of Wild West America is yours, free to explore with plenty of characters to meet, money to be lost whilst gambling, and outlaws to bust through bounty missions. There’s plenty of side activities to do when you’re not busy pushing through the narrative or getting into trouble with the police, and the game does an excellent job at immersing you into its world.
So I played the PlayStation 4 version of this port on the PS5 through backwards compatibility, as there is no native PS5 version, and there are some improvements worth mentioning. For starters, there is noticeably better visual fidelity and native resolution when compared with the game’s initial release on the PS3 and Xbox 360. Rockstar has also added some great quality of life accessibility features such as toggling subtitles and help text size in-game. Load times are quite fast and you don’t need to connect to the internet to launch the game (although on Switch oddly the game will hang for a bit on startup with a slow internet connection). Lastly, even though it’s a bit of a minor change, this port does offer upgraded anti-aliasing so those outdated jagged edges of older games look a bit smoother.
The game does unfortunately run at a locked 30 frames per second on the PS5, but honestly it’s not too bad and you get used to it. Keep in mind that Red Dead Redemption 2 also runs at 30fps on the PS5. The UI, on the other hand, doesn’t even render in 1080p as it’s stuck at 720p, which is quite harrowing and disappointing. All in all, while the game looks and performs better than it ever did 13 years ago, the dated animations from the original release show its old age, and Rockstar could have put more effort into this port.
The Switch version essentially gives you the same experience as on PS4 and 5, minus the Anti-Aliasing. Putting the two side by side, they look almost identical, with the PS5 of course winning out in resolution. It looks crisp and clean in both docked and portable modes, with portable mode being a huge draw for this version. The controls are the same as well, just with A being used to confirm in menus.
This is a straightforward port, however, unfortunately there’s no added gyro aiming which can make finer movements a bit more difficult on the Joy-Con controllers. While a few more additions would have been appreciated, such as more accessibility options or a 60 fps mode, this is still a great port. Then again, that $50 price tag is difficult to shake when you can get a very similar experience for much cheaper through the Xbox’s backwards compatibility.
For fans of the original game, the port undoubtedly brings back a wave of nostalgia. Reliving iconic moments, partaking in intense gunfights, and interacting with the colorful characters is as engaging as it was on the PlayStation 3. The gameplay mechanics still hold up remarkably well, offering a satisfying blend of exploration, combat, and narrative. The signature Dead Eye mechanic, which slows down time to let you aim freely, still feels extremely slick and smooth, letting you gain an upper hand in intense gunfights.
David is the kind of person to wear his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this is a person who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him playing all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all genres, and writing about them! Here. On this website. When not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book.
David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.
Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar’s port of Red Dead Redemption on the Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch provides an opportunity for both newcomers and fans alike to experience one of gaming’s most memorable adventures once again. While there are some improvements to the visuals and performance, remnants of the game’s age still bleed through. If you can look past the outrageous price tag and some cut content, then your journey back to the Wild West is definitely one worth taking.