Red Dead Wiki
For the mission in Red Dead Redemption 2, see Red Dead Redemption (mission).

America, early 1900's. The era of the cowboy is coming to an end. When federal agents threaten his family, former outlaw John Marston is sent across the American frontier to help bring the rule of law. Experience intense gun battles, dramatic train robberies, bounty hunting and duels during a time of violent change. Red Dead Redemption is an epic battle for survival in a beautiful open world as John Marston struggles to bury his blood-stained past, one man at a time.
Game description

Red Dead Redemption is a 2010 western-themed, action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar San Diego and published by Rockstar Games. It is the second game of the Red Dead series and was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on May 18, 2010, in North America, three days later on May 21, 2010, in Europe, and for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 on August 17, 2023.

The developers at San Diego sought guidance from other Rockstar studios experienced with developing open worlds, particularly Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar North, with additional assistance from Rockstar Leeds and Rockstar New England.[2][3]

Taking place in a wide open-ended environment featuring western parts of the American countryside and northern areas of Mexico, Redemption is presented through a third-person perspective. The majority of the game's story takes place in 1911 and follows protagonist John Marston, a former outlaw, as he is forced to hunt down his former associates by corrupted government agents.

Upon release, Red Dead Redemption was highly acclaimed by critics, scoring 95/100 on Metacritic for both consoles, and receiving perfect scores from over 20 reviewers including GameSpy,, GamePro, Game Revolution, and VideoGamer. It was praised for its story, thematic depth, presentation, visuals, open world setting, and gameplay mechanics and, as of September 2021, has shipped over 23 million units, making it one of the best-selling video games of all time.

Following its release, Redemption received multiple end-year accolades and was considered one of the best games of 2010. Its success led to the development of several DLC´s, including a new single-player campaign in Undead Nightmare. A successor game and a prequel, Red Dead Redemption 2, was released on October 26, 2018.

Background Detail

The game takes place in 1911, which is near the end of the seventy-year span of the Western American Frontier (also known as the Wild West). As players see in the opening of the game, many new and "unfamiliar" people are moving into the West on the train. The town of Blackwater has noticeable modernized differences in architecture and technology compared to other gritty towns like Armadillo and Thieves' Landing. Electric line poles are also noticeable along roads. Even Marshal Leigh Johnson is seen fussing with a telephone in one of his mission cutscenes, showing the unfamiliarity with such technology people of his generation and likeness have.

Some people have a hard time accepting this new lifestyle, and many are willing to fight to preserve their way of life. Players can see the frustration many characters have with the Federal Government and eastern folk. Being so far away from modern America gave the West a sense of self-reliance, independence and order which would have difficulty complying with the Federal Government. It was inevitable, as more and more people poured in from the east, that every part of the American West would be populated. It wasn't until the 1920s that the Wild West would become a famous and popular icon in American history and culture.



John Marston is a former outlaw looking for an all new life in 1911 America. When government agents from the newly-established Federal Bureau threaten his and his family's freedom, Marston is sent across the American West to help uphold the law and to achieve redemption. His job is to kill or capture his former gang members, including his old friends and gang partners such as Bill Williamson and Dutch Van Der Linde. He must do this or his family will pay the ultimate price.

Along the way through frontier towns, deserts, prairies, mountain passes, and territories, Marston is given work as he freely explores the free-roaming sandbox environments. The game features thirty-six species of animals that can be hunted and traded for supplies and cash. Marston also participates in jobs, activities, and games such as Poker, Horse Taming, and Nightwatch.



Red Dead

Like Rockstar's crime epic Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Dead Redemption has many deep themes. The four main themes are:

The battle between an old world facing change from a new world. The Old West in the game is being exposed to industrialization and new technologies such as automobiles, aircraft, Gatling guns, water-cooled machine-guns, and armored warfare. Ultimately, the Old West must contend with the taming of its lands and the coming of "civilization." While some folk like those in Blackwater accept that change, other characters such as Dutch Van Der Linde, Bill Williamson, Javier Escuela, and John Marston do not. The main two factions in the game appear to be outlaws and lawmen. Both sides are equally bad, although in different ways. The outlaws steal and kill to live their lives with sheer brutality. The government does the same, albeit in a different manner. Near the end of the game, John Marston holds his old friend Dutch van der Linde at gunpoint by the edge of a cliff. Dutch tells John that he can't fight change, and even if times change, the Government will just find another enemy to contend with.

The second theme appears to be a question that falls under the moral choice of good, neutral, and evil. The government agents in Blackwater (excluding Edgar Ross and Archer Fordham) believe they are good even though they usually interfere with the people of the West more than they help them. The outlaws in Dutch's Gang killed and stole from the rich but then gave to the poor. This raises the question: Is it acceptable to be evil and brutal in the present in order to achieve a better future? If both sides are indeed evil, then that makes John Marston neutral to good or evil. John has killed hundreds of people, abducted people, and stolen from the government his whole life. But yet, he realizes the mistake in his ways and to tries to restart his life with his family. He no longer cares which side is right, and that makes him neutral. Of course, it is up to the player to dictate how John Marston behaves during the course of the game.

The third theme of Red Dead Redemption is that one's path will always catch up with the player. As stated above, John Marston lived a life of crime in his younger years, and now tries to put all of it behind him to start a ranch and to live a calmer life. However, there are no clean getaways from one's past when one lives the life of an outlaw, and the past always comes back to haunt them. To repair his past, John must achieve Redemption and justify his sins. He achieves this in the climax when he sacrifices himself to let his wife and son escape from government agents who have come to assassinate him.

The fourth and final theme of the game is shown through the character of Dutch Van der Linde: self-destruction. The people from the New West are brightly dressed, own motor vehicles, and are bringing in new technology. While most accept this, Dutch van der Linde sees it as evil and wants to destroy the new society. In Dutch's eyes, the world is meant to be brutal and a true fight for survival like it was in the Old West. This is also shown through Dutch's followers, angry Native Americans who come from a bloody and brutal background. Dutch thinks that technology, social order, and the government bring nothing but corruption, and this is why he sets out to destroy the town of Blackwater.

A subtext which runs throughout the game, including many Stranger missions as well as the main plot, is that of obsession, self-deception, and madness. This is most directly apparent in the insane grave robber Seth Briars and his quest for his "treasure". It affects other people as well. In Let No Man Put Asunder, an elderly woman waits at an abandoned church, in her wedding dress, for her fiancé who had died years before. In Flowers for a Lady, a man treats his wife's cadaver as if she were still alive. In Jenny's Faith, a girl dying in the wilderness refuses rescue because she believes her faith in God would save her. Daedalus and Son, Lights, Camera, Action, Aztec Gold, and California, all deal with obsessive and delusional quests for treasure that lead only to nothing or tragedy. The theme is used as a major plot device in the story of Luisa Fortuna's fatal fantasy in which she sees the self-serving revolutionary Abraham Reyes as her betrothed and a champion of the people. Harold MacDougal and his Quixotic attempt to "understand" the Indians but only in accordance with his misconceived notions. All of this unsettling background is there to reflect upon the main story and to John Marston himself: not only his obsession with recovering his wife and son, but the self-deception under which Marston convinces himself that through the way of the gun he could ever 'earn' a normal, peaceful family life, or a son who wouldn't follow the same violent path.


The gameplay of Red Dead Redemption is vast. The use of guns in the game is very similar to that of Grand Theft Auto IV, another game developed by Rockstar Studios. There are a variety of pistols, revolvers, shotguns, and rifles available to the player as the game progresses. Ammo can be purchased in stores across the landscape, as can other useful items. Prices for various items vary from settlement to settlement.

There are numerous ways to make money in the game. One way is through random encounter missions which present themselves as the player travels. Players can also accept bounty hunter missions, to capture or kill escaped criminals; play games of chance such as poker or blackjack, search for treasure or hunt wild animals (skins, meat etc. can be sold at stores). There are many animals available to hunt ranging from dangerous animals such as boar, bears, cougars, wolves, coyotes, and even legendary animals such as Lobo the Wolf or Gordo the Boar, to harmless animals such as rabbits, birds, raccoons, and even beavers.


A change from Grand Theft Auto's system of a wanted level is the bounty system. As players commit crimes, their bounty increases. Certain crimes raise the bounty more than others: murdering a sheriff, for instance, will raise the player's bounty more than committing arson. Players with high bounties will be tracked down by either the Mexican Army or the US Marshals depending on whether the player is in the US or Mexico. Players can surrender themselves to law officers at which point they will have to spend time in jail. If players cannot pay the bounty, they will be sent on a bounty hunter mission (it is best to capture the bounty alive so the player can get more money to pay off their own bounty). If a player can get close enough to a law officer who is currently in pursuit of Marston, they can bribe the officer (for a much larger fee than that required to pay off a civilian). This will stop all officers from chasing the player but one's bounty remains.

Players can get rid of their bounty by going to telegraph offices and paying off their bounty piece by piece. Another option that can be used is to hand over a pardon letter, which eliminates all of a player’s bounty.


A trailer of the project was sent to a select number of people at a Sony conference in 2005, promoting the release of the PlayStation 3 system. The trailer was a tech demo of RAGE set in a western setting referred to as Old West Project and a direct sequel to Red Dead Revolver. The trailer circulated throughout the internet. In the April 2005 edition of Game Informer, Red Dead Redemption was listed as being available for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.

On February 3, 2009, Rockstar Games announced the first official trailer. Resulting trailers showcased numerous characters, gameplay features, and multiplayer modes that were to be featured in the final release. Previews and beta releases included some features that were absent or changed in the final release.

Additional Media


Main article: Red Dead Redemption: The Man from Blackwater

A half-hour feature film was released on FOX TV on May 29, 2010. It is directed by John Hillcoat. The story takes place on the alternate take in the storyline's first act. Shortly after release, the whole film became downloadable officially through Rockstar's official website.

Downloadable Content

Shortly after the release of Redemption, on June 22, 2010, Rockstar released the first DLC, Outlaws To The End. The content included six new cooperative side missions ranging from raiding a mine and stealing the gold to riding down a river to secure a town's weapon cache. New multiplayer challenges, as well as new trophies/achievements, were also included. The downloadable content is free for all users on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.

Rockstar subsequently announced several more major DLC; in chronological order, Legends and Killers, Liars and Cheats, Undead Nightmare, and Myths and Mavericks. Several other minor DLC was released as well. A full list can be found on the Redemption DLC category page. In September 2011, a Game of the Year edition was announced that includes all previously released DLC (details below).

A Free-Roam pack had been announced earlier. It was initially going to be released for free, but Microsoft's and Sony's rules regarding the quantity of free DLC that a game can have resulted in the contents being incorporated into the Liars and Cheats pack instead.

Pre-Order Contents

Main article: Pre-order Bonuses
RDR GoldenGuns Screenshot-450x253

There were three bonuses for those who pre-ordered the game. The content itself was dependent on the vendor, as different shops provided different bonus content, with some even providing all three.

Box Contents

The original boxed version of the game includes the following materials:

  • Game disc on Blu-ray (PS3) or DVD (Xbox 360)
  • Game manual
  • Game map (approximately 29" x 18" or 72 cm x 46 cm) with a poster featuring Bonnie MacFarlane on the reverse side

Game of the Year Edition

On September 13, 2011, Rockstar announced that a Game of the Year Edition of Red Dead Redemption would be released on October 11, 2011.[4] This edition bundles the game with all downloadable content released to date. This edition also brings the Solomon's Folly gang hideout and the Walton's Gang Outfit to the Xbox 360.

The Game of the Year edition adds a Hardcore single-player difficulty option that was not previously available for the game.


Main article: Red Dead Redemption Soundtrack

Game Guide

Main article: Brady Games Official Guide


Upon release, the game received widespread critical acclaim from all over the gaming industry. Aside from a few graphical glitches (noted by IGN and other gaming sites), its presentation, sound, and multiplayer were universally praised. While others such as GamePro have criticized the "occasional pop-in and repetitive missions", they also said it "expertly captures the Wild West", with 1UP giving similar praise and complaints. IGN gave the game 9.7/10' GamePro gave it 5/5 stars, and 1UP gave it an A.

The average score, according to Metacritic, is 95 out of 100 for both PS3 and Xbox 360 versions with 100% of critic reviews rated as "positive." The game won the title of "Game of the Year" from multiple publications as well as awards based on user and developer voting. Among these are the Spike VGAs 2010, Game Informer, Game Developers Choice Awards, GameSpy, and GameSpot. The soundtrack also received many awards.

GameSpy gave it 5/5 stars saying that Rockstar managed to create one of "the most impressive open worlds I've ever seen in a game, and it's telling that — even after playing for over 30 hours — all I want to do is get back on my horse and gallop back into the wilderness." VideoGamer gave it a 10/10 exclaiming "The game itself is absolutely spectacular... The sheer quality of Red Dead Redemption is evident right from the word go." They also said, "it's a magnificent piece of work that everybody should play."

The game's most "negative" review was made by Eurogamer, who gave it 8/10, stating that it "re-clothes" the Grand Theft Auto series with its "distinct and expertly realized scenario".

Other reviewers such as Edge, GameSpot, GameTrailers, PALGN and Game Informer, gave the game scores ranged between 9/10 to 10/10.

Eighth generation re-releases

The Xbox 360 version was made playable to Xbox One owners via backward compatibility on July 8, 2016. The PlayStation 3 version was made playable to PlayStation 4 owners via PlayStation Now on December 6, 2016. On April 10, 2018, the Xbox One backward compatibility version received a patch that enables Xbox One X owners to play the game in native 4K resolution.

On August 7, 2023, Rockstar Games announced versions of the single-player modes of the game and Undead Nightmare for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, which were released on August 17, 2023 digitally, and October 13, 2023 physically. The PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch versions were developed by Double Eleven Studios. Reactions to the announcement were mixed, with the trailer receiving mostly dislikes on YouTube; some journalists and players appreciated the game becoming available on modern consoles, but lamented the lack of visual and frame rate upgrades (at launch for the PlayStation 4 version), absence of a Windows release, omission of multiplayer, and US$49.99 price point. However, an update on October 4, 2023 for the PlayStation 4 version added an option to increase the frame rate from 30 to 60 frames-per-second when played on PlayStation 5 via backward compatibility.


  • Red Dead Redemption is the first sandbox game from Rockstar that allows the player to enter an entirely different country (Mexico) as they progress through the campaign. 
  • The ending to Redemption bears a striking similarity to its spiritual predecessor, Red Dead Revolver, in which the protagonist comes home, believing things to finally be good in life, only to be killed in a sudden government attack, resulting in their wife's death as well, leaving the sole survivor of their family, their son, to achieve retribution on a government official.
  • Red Dead Redemption was very different during initial development; this can be seen here.
  • The ending is also similar to Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV, in which Niko Bellic carries out his final deal and attempts to leave his criminal life behind, only to have it taken from him with the death of either Roman or Kate at Roman's wedding. The final mission, "Remember My Family", also bears resemblance to Niko's revenge mission that he carries out after the wedding with Little Jacob to avenge a lost loved one.
  • The main plot of Red Dead Redemption itself draws from the 1969 western The Wild Bunch, in which a former outlaw is coerced into hunting down his former gang members during the closing days of frontier banditry. Indeed, the game itself has several references and plot beats that appear to be heavily inspired by the movie, including: the former outlaw pursuing the gang into Mexico after they flee there, a struggle during the Mexican Revolution between the military and rebels in which the gang becomes involved, and both the former gang leader in Red Dead Redemption and the second-in-command of the gang in The Wild Bunch sharing the name "Dutch."
  • The title is shown twice in the story - at the beginning during the first mission "Exodus in America", and the epilogue, "Remember My Family".
  • Unusually for a video game, especially one by Rockstar, the credits do not roll at the end of the last story mission, but rather after a "side" mission which constitutes the real ending.
  • In an episode of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon can be seen playing Red Dead Redemption to "clear his head" when in a bad mood. He has John walk around Armadillo and then enter the saloon to drink whiskey.



Related Content