Recently, I completed the campaign of Red Dead Redemption 2. The open-world western thriller tells the story of Arthur Morgan and the Van Der Linde gang as they attempt to preserve a lifestyle long forgotten by the rest of organized society. The game is tied for my favorite release of 2018, having a quality matched only by Insomniac Games’ Spiderman title out of all of the games I was able to experience.
Whilst the emotional rollercoaster that is the campaign of Red Dead 2 made me cry, laugh, smile and gasp, I was left wanting more. Whilst we wait for a potential Red Dead Redemption remaster DLC inside of Red Dead 2, I thought I would share my idea for a third installment in the series. This one would be fitting considering today’s social atmosphere, would tell a gripping and awe-inspiring story and would offer a new take on the open western genre that hasn’t been seen before in the series….
The Fall of the Wapiti Tribe
To explain my vision, we have to take a look at the inspiration for my theory in the form of Red Dead 2’s Wapiti tribe. In Chapter IV we are introduced to these Native American inhabitants of New Hanover, and learn that they have been moved to a secluded reservation in Ambarino, the northernmost county in the game’s map.
You first formally get introduced to them in the mission American Fathers, which takes place in the New Orleans-esque city of San Denis. There you can find Eagle Flies and his father Rains Fall with Evelyn Miller standing across from the police station, and they need your help stealing a document. This document proves that the federal government is trying to steal the Wapiti land in hopes of harvesting its oil. You agree (for a price, of course), and sneak into Cornwall Kerosene and Oil Factory to snatch it from the workers there (bloodshed may or may not be involved). This leads to Eagle Flies causing an explosion in the factory, which draws the attention of the local army stationed at Fort Wallace. Later on in the game, Dutch pushes Eagle Flies to rebel against the oppressive army, and the Van Der Linde gang gets caught in the middle of a brutal conflict between the Wapiti tribe and the soldiers stationed at Fort Wallace. This conflict leads to the death of a significant portion of the tribe, including Eagle Flies himself. It is one of the many displays of tragedy that the Van Der Linde gang experiences throughout the campaign.
Native American Cowboy?
Ever since I first met Eagle Flies back in Chapter Four, I was intrigued by his character and story. The young, fiery, and passionate Native American who wishes to fight for his life and his tribe rather than see it all be taken away by the greed of the white man. In the game, Eagle Flies acts as a foil in many ways to his father Rains Fall, who is much older, (and therefore much wiser) than Flies. Rains Fall is head chief of the Wapiti tribe and in many ways a pacifist when we encounter him in-game. He says that he has seen war, bloodshed, and death around him many times before, and in almost every circumstance it had led to the death of many Wapiti members in the past. Eagle Flies, on the other hand, hasn’t seen what his father has seen and wishes rather to fight to the death and die with honor.
This story and dynamic could be fleshed out into a whole game I believe. Sure, Native Americans don’t really fit the overall trope of the cowboy who murders, robs, and steals, and neither does Eagle Flies. This protagonist would be a cowboy through and through but would be the sole survivor of a Native American tribe. Here’s my vision for the set-up of the game:
The year is 1885 (approximately 15 years before the events of Red Dead 2, so we are going even further back into the past here), you play as a 20-something year old Native American and are the head chief of the Lupus tribe, a smaller tribe of Native Americans who are currently in a civil war with the neighboring Wapiti tribe. After completing a few missions helping your tribe out during the war, you arrange for a meeting to discuss a peace treaty with the head chief of the Wapiti Tribe. He is much older than you and is accompanied by a young version of Rains Fall. All of a sudden during the meeting, you hear gunshots coming from both your tribe’s side of the land and the Wapiti tribe’s side of the land. You mount up and rush back, only to find your entire tribe missing. You roll into the nearest town, and it is the beginnings of San Denis.
After that, you would get the title screen: Red Dead 3: The Lone Wolf. In the game you would mainly be a lone wolf, taking on odd jobs to get money and intel as to why your tribe went missing. You encounter the beginnings of the Van Der Linde gang and meet a 20 something-year-old version of the man himself, Dutch Van Der Linde (maybe a young Arthur Morgan as well). The game would tell the tragic story of the fall of Native Americans from grace as Manifest Destiny takes over the land, and would provide for a new opportunity to re-experience all of that gunslinging and cowboy action that the series is known for.
Conclusion: Taking the cowboy genre to new pastures
I think that making a game like this would be a great move for Rockstar Games. Arguably one of the biggest games companies right now, Rockstar Games could really shed some light on a minority that all too often gets overlooked in our culture. If the supposed Red Dead 3 performs anywhere near as well as Grand Theft Auto V or Red Dead Redemption 2 did, that would mean millions of people would be experiencing this story. It wouldn’t be the first time that a Native American protagonist has graced the cover of a video game, as just as recently as 2014, Sucker Punch Productions’ Infamous Second Son featured a protagonist of Native American ethnicity. That game was a launch title for the PlayStation 4 and was exclusive to the system, though, so it wouldn’t have anywhere near the visibility and reach that a Red Dead title would. I doubt this idea would ever happen, but thought I would share my idea for a new installment in this series of games I enjoy so much. Regardless, we still have a ton to look forward to in Red Dead Redemption 2, with the highly anticipated DLC season as well as the game’s online mode, which is officially still in beta. So catch me exploring the open west in Red Dead 2 for the time being as Rockstar Games collects themselves and decides where to go next with their well-beloved western series.