One thing is clear: many gamers out there were disappointed with the recent, undercooked Red Dead Redemption ‘remaster’ for PS4 and PS5. But Rockstar has just done something special to make it worth your money.
John Marston's adventure comes very close to being my favorite video game of all time. So when it comes to this, it’s kinda hard for me to be impartial. But let’s be honest, the release of John’s wondrous Wild West quest on both PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch is in no way, shape or form a proper redux.
In the former console’s case, it’s just the 2010 original running in 4K and 30 fps - though I’ll happily admit Rockstar’s sandbox classic looks great on my Switch OLED in Handheld mode.
However, there have been significant developments over the last week at time of writing. And I mean truly game-changing "developments." A few days ago, completely on the sly, Rockstar Games — or perhaps more accurately Double Eleven (the studio behind the port) — released a 60 fps update out of nowhere. It means that if you play the PS4 version on a PS5, the game now runs at double the refresh rate it did at launch.
Make no mistake, this is a big deal. This is the first time Red Dead Redemption has ever been playable at 60 frames per second. Hell, the Xbox 360 and PS3 original versions could barely hold down 30 fps at 720p.
In terms of what this technical refresh does for the gameplay experience, it’s truly transformative.
That sounds superlative, but in terms of the game’s old timey, six shooter gun battles, it’s absolutely true. Marston can now slide and slink between rocks and different types of cover in far smoother fashion, and you no longer have to rely on Red Dead’s iconic ‘Dead Eye’ slow-mo mode to consistently pull off headshots.
The boost in frame rate makes such a difference, I’d now recommend switching from the game’s default aiming mode to the fully manual ‘Expert’ option. Shootouts now play out in such buttery style playing Redemption on PS5 — especially in ‘Game Mode’ on my new LG G3 OLED TV. There’s no need to lean on the default controls that automatically snap to outlaw enemies as soon as you aim John’s rifle in their vague direction anymore.
The Price is Right(ish)
The PS4 version (again, which is fully playable on PS5 and is the only way to get that lovely frame rate boost) currently costs $50 on the PlayStation Store. If you were just to play RDR on a PS4, where 30 fps is still the only way you can currently experience the game on Sony’s older console, that price is basically unjustifiable.
Now though, I’d argue that paying 50 Big Ones for the best version of Red Dead Redemption ever released is worth it. Thanks to the 60 fps boost and implementation of AMD’s FSR 2 image up-sampling, the open-world Western masterpiece now looks and performs significantly better on PS5 than the 4K version that’s been playable on Xbox One X and Xbox Series X for the last few years.
Granted, Microsoft released that Ultra HD upgrade for free, so I’m not going to throw shade at the company for not (yet) having a 4K/60 fps version of Red Dead.
This stealth update of Rockstar’s seminal sandbox also opens up the question to whether we may see a (hopefully free) 60 fps patch for Red Dead Redemption 2 in the near future. Last year’s re-release of GTA 5 on both PS5 and Xbox Series X ran at 60 fps, and with ray tracing features no less, without much issue.
That suggests the current-gen consoles may have the graphical grunt to run Arthur Morgan’s incredible sequel at double the refresh rate of the current version 30 fps version.
In the here and now, I’m just glad I get to play one of my top five favorite games of all time at that golden 4K / 60 fps standard. Though if certain folks out there still baulk at paying $50 for playing a game that’s old enough to develop pimples, I get it.