Arthur Morgan from Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the most tragic characters in gaming history. There are very few game protagonists that I actually feel for, and thanks to the brilliant writing from the team at Rockstar, Arthur is among them. His arc from roughneck cowboy to sad protagonist into vengeful spirit will easily go down as one of the best video game performances of all time.
He will be remembered for many things. He never saw race or colour, and accepted everyone equally. He always went out of his way to help random strangers along the road. He even broke a scumbag like Micah out of prison purely because of gang loyalty. This is an honourable man, and one who would never hurt someone out of pure malice. Well, unless he decided to go on a verbal rampage.
One of the features I barely touched on my first playthrough of Red Dead 2 was the Antagonize prompt; I guess I always play the good guy. But this time, I decided that Morgan was going to be an asshole to everybody; and what a great decision that was. So, let me illustrate a day in the Van Der Linde gang camp through the eyes of roast king Arthur Morgan.
I find myself knee deep in snow. I can’t even remember who gave me this mission or who I’m supposed to kill, but a yellow marker has led me all the way to the Western Grizzlies. I completed my mission, but my so-called partners decided that they’d just meet me back at camp and rode off over the horizon, leaving me to lug my frozen butt all the way down to Shady Belle camp. If that wasn’t bad enough, I was ambushed by a bunch of O’Driscolls who killed my favourite horse. I finally make it to camp on a “borrowed” horse, fuming from the ears, ready to blast the Antagonize prompt at anyone who talks to me. Who should be the first one to greet me but the camp’s own overgrown parasite, Micah Bell.
This fleabag starts talking about how tense I look and that I should learn to relax. Now Micah isn’t the brightest bulb in the gang, or the state, or the continent, so it’s pretty easy to remind him that he left his balls back in Blackwater. Of course the oaf can’t stand that, so I calm things down by reminding him that dinner will be served soon, and I hear Pearson is cooking yellow liver. Now, there’s no violence allowed in camp, but I don’t think anyone would have a complaint against Arthur in this case.
As I walk away, I ask my gang mates if they too got that horrible stench. I look around a bit confused, but it all makes sense when I see Bill Williamson sitting around the fire spinning the same old yarn about how he served in the army. I couldn’t remember it too well, so I clarified his rank – General Williamson, Commander of the Ninth Battalion of Petticoats was it? The army instilled a great work ethic into him. Look at all the hard work he puts into collecting dirt. He got up and walked away, which is the most work I’ve seen him do since he bent down to eat an oatcake off the floor.
As I turn to leave, young Jack Marston runs up to me and asks me how my day went. This poor boy has no idea what he’s in for over the next few years. I figure that I might as well warn him not to be like his idiot father. He seemed pretty upset by that and ran off – that’s what I get for trying to give out some friendly advice. Well, he’ll thank me one day. I suddenly find Abigail all up in my face, like I said something wrong. But I quickly remind her that the happy family life she’s chasing is only a dream, one that John won’t be able to provide.
Daddy Marston doesn’t seem to like this one bit. He asked me what my problem was, but I’m surprised he didn’t already know. So I ask him how his vacation went; you know, the one he took just after his son was born. Must have been great to catch a break. He didn’t seem to have much to say after that, so I decided to be on my way to get some dinner. I was a bit perplexed though, wondering how the original Red Dead Redemption came to be, since I just murdered the entire Marston family.
On my way I walk past the tent of our fearless leader – Dutch Van Der Linde. There he stands, thinking that he’s got everything worked out. Dutch loves his plans, but they always go sideways, as though he’s some knock off John “Hannibal” Smith from The A-Team. I grab his attention by saying that it’s never a good thing when Dutch is lost in his thoughts, after all, none of his ingenious schemes seem to work out. The boss doesn’t like it when people doubt him, but I continue towards the dinner table as he babbles on about loyalty and Tahiti.
I feel a bit calmer now, the stress of travelling so far and losing my horse doesn’t seem to bother me anymore. I thank the universe for giving me such a kind crew that knows exactly how to make me feel better. As I sit there, filled with positivity and looking forward to my meal, I ask Pearson if we’re having dysentery for dinner again. It was a good day.
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