By keeping the events of RDR2 in mind, the story of the original Red Dead Redemption game becomes even more depressing than it already was.
Although the original Red Dead Redemption is already a pretty sad game, the events of Red Dead Redemption 2 make it even more depressing. This isn’t just because of how RDR2 depicts the original game’s main character John Marston, but also how it introduces a fantastic new face into Red Dead Redemption’s world only to rip him away again by the end of the game. The worst thing about playing Red Dead Redemption again after completing RDR2 isn’t knowing how John will eventually die – it’s knowing no one remembers Arthur Morgan.
Of course, there’s a logical, out-of-universe reason for this. Red Dead Redemption 2 released eight years after Red Dead Redemption, and the developers couldn’t go back in time to place clues and easter eggs in Red Dead Redemption referencing characters which didn’t exist yet. Arthur Morgan, as a concept, was created after Red Dead Redemption had already shipped – which means that no one in the original game mentions him by name.
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Without that background knowledge, however, the world Red Dead Redemption depicts – one which has moved on and forgotten most of the cowboys and gunslingers – is a sad place, especially after Arthur (and players, should both of them decide to keep RDR2’s Honor levels high) did so much in his final days to help out those he had wronged. Arthur Morgan, despite his gruff exterior and short sentences, cares a lot about the people close to him. When John and Abigail talk in Red Dead Redemption, and when John bonds with Jack, it’s hard to think of any good reason by they wouldn’t bring up Arthur, especially after he did so much to help them escape. But they never do.
RDR2: Arthur & John Are Part Of The Same Broken Family
Red Dead Redemption 2 shows just how far both Arthur Morgan and John Marston were willing to follow Dutch Van der Linde, and while both characters eventually met their breaking point it was Arthur who made sure John was safe first. The ring John uses to propose to Abigail is Arthur’s old wedding ring, and after Arthur dies John begins journaling in an effort to help keep his memory alive. Unfortunately, John’s safety is compromised anyway, despite Arthur’s actions.
It’s understandable that Arthur Morgan isn’t mentioned in the original Red Dead Redemption from a logical perspective, and his exclusion in terms of the game’s universe continues to drive home a story which is told over and over again in both Red Dead Redemption titles – the Wild West is a dangerous place, one that does not care about you, and it will still be around long after you and your family are forgotten. Red Dead Redemption 2, by introducing players to a brother, mentor, and friend to John Marston only to rip him away and have his memory basically erased by the time Red Dead Redemption begins, does a lot to give backstory and context to characters from the original game – but it sure makes it a lot sadder, too.
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