Well… the “end” of Red Dead Redemption ;).
A little while ago, I finally reached the highest rank one can achieve in multiplayer. I still have a couple of gun-specific tasks to finish, but those will come in time. Otherwise, I’m “done” with the game, in terms of accomplishing tasks and earning points. I am far from done, though.
Just the other day I passed the milestone of 700 hours in logged gameplay. That’s just shy of 30 days, but if one counts the time I’ve played that was NOT saved or recorded in that number, I’ve spent over a month of my life playing this game. A majority of that time was from my attempt to keep my sanity during long stretches of unemployment, but still… that’s quite a bit :).
After all of this time, though, most folks might get bored with it. I haven’t, but I can admit that my enduring interest waned a little near the end. That was before I reached the top rank, though… when the game took on a surprisingly fresh feeling.
So, for those who may not know, the online portion of Red Dead operates on a point system – XP. Certain actions earn various amounts of XP; shooting a random person in free roam earns 1 point, killing a sheriff earns 5, gang hideouts earn much more, etc.. Everyone starts on Rank 1, and moves on up as they earn points, until Rank 50. At that point, you have the option of “passing into Legend”, which earns you a special mark by your name, a special mount and character, and returns you to Rank 1 so you can start leveling up again as you play. I’ve done that 5 times, and now I’m at the top. I no longer earn XP, I no longer advance in any discernible way. So, what did I earn for all of this time? An old lady and a zebra donkey ;).
The mule is especially fast, compared to other mounts in the game, but these rewards aren’t really about becoming the ultimate player in the land. I played this game because I had fun, not to earn prestige, but it’s kinda like being a senior in high school. I’ve put in my time and reached the end, and to some who are just starting out, that’s impressive. One night I came across a big posse of players with mics, and one guy was explaining to the others where I got my zebra donkey and what my rank meant… and that they “should show some respect to this guy.” It’s kinda odd, but it’s cool with me :).
So, what do I do now that I’m at the top? Generally, folks at the top of the chain have two choices: they can be cruel or kind. I think you can safely guess which I choose to be ;). Since passing into Legend for the final time, most of the time I try to find players who are newer to the game, and I’ll join up with them. I’ll let them ride my zebra donkey, and I’ll tag along with whatever they’re up to… offering more of a supporting role, than a leadership one. I’ll point out goals, and show them easier ways of doing things, but it’s been a lot of fun just kinda being this wise and crazy old lady wandering the land helping out strangers.
Of course, sometimes those strangers just shoot my donkey in the head :(.
Now that I’m no longer earning XP, though, I don’t really care as much. I never cared much before, but now that I have nothing to gain by doing better in a match or by being the top player in clearing a gang hideout, it’s made the game even MORE relaxing and casual. Maybe my comparison of being a high school senior was inaccurate. Maybe it’s more like visiting your old school after graduating. I no longer have the same pressures or expectations, so I can spend time there in a very different capacity.
Going back to those who are less than friendly online, having reached this level has made me even more determined in dealing with bullies and idiots in my own, Mark Mushakian way :). If I see “Player A has killed Player B’s horse” on the screen, I keep an eye on it. If someone’s getting harassed, I’ll get over there as quick as I can, because I’m a pretty good distraction. I play in Friendly free roam, which means you can’t kill other players, but I don’t fight back anyway. Just the other night, I found this idiot bugging two other players; killing their mounts over and over, hitting and distracting them while they tried fighting a gang (to the point where they were getting killed), and, of course, using his mic to proclaim how proud he was of being a jackass. So, I showed up :).
I lost my mount, obviously, and I never give them the satisfaction of calling for another one. Why bother.. they’re going to kill it, anyway. So, that leaves me on foot. They can’t kill me, so I just follow them. Walking. Slowly. The other two players that were being harassed, were shooting back at him, adding fuel to the fire, and eventually they left the game. I couldn’t let this guy go, though, because he’d just go on and harass others. So, I kept walking. I imagine it’s a little strange to see this old lady continually walking toward you :). Eventually, he left, but not before I overheard him talking to a friend about me… and how impressed he was of this “crazy guy who just keeps walking.” See, the default movement in the game is running, so to walk takes a concentrated effort of the right amount of pressure on the controller. He knew I was doing it on purpose, and he picked up that it was because I didn’t like what he was up to.
That’s the kind of freedom I’ve found all over in this new rank of mine, though. After all of these hours playing the game, I’ve done just about everything there is to do, yet BECAUSE of all of these hours playing the game, my focus has shifted, all the more, toward having fun with the new folks, and kinda taking them under my wing. They don’t always get it, and sometimes they just don’t want company, but I’ve had some of my best times playing lately… not because of the game and pulling off amazing scores, but because of the people I’m playing with.
I imagine this’ll be the last post I have dedicated to this game, and the recent announcement of GTA V (trailer Wednesday, I really can’t freaking wait), has reminded me that my time with this game won’t last forever, but it’s been really fun discovering that, even here, at the end of all things, I’m still having a heck of a great time with Red Dead Redemption.
Besides, it’s not like I haven’t gotten my money’s worth out of it ;).