As I was browsing my way throughout some great Red Dead Redemption 2 content this weekend, I stumbled across some people harassing a guy who was clearly making up fake spoilers for the game and trying to fabricate leaks for the upcoming Red Dead Online. Then, I thought to myself; “were there any leaks we didn’t believe that turned out to be true?” and got to researching. I finally discovered one that we should have believed all the way back from 2016.
WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the story of Red Dead Redemption 2. If you do not wish to be spoiled, finish/buy the game and come back when you’re done. You have been warned; it’s a really good game with a fantastic narrative that you desperately need to finish without spoilers.
I found a leak that was posted to Reddit quite some time ago — even before the game was officially announced. Even at the time of the announcement, aficionadi of the franchise had only gotten a few teases and an underwhelming trailer for the game with absolutely no story details. So, it was safe to say that some random post on Reddit with no proof or credibility should probably be taken with a grain of salt. However, the original poster ended up deleting his/her account on the simple fact that no one would believe them.
What did the leak say exactly that sounded so far-fetched but ended up so accurate? Well, let’s get into it. Again, we’re entering spoiler territory now. I’m going to put an image below to divide this in case you glanced over the text, as the rest of this will begin to involve spoilers. Remember that curiosity killed the cat.
The leak, which came from “u/reddeadinsider” at the time, accurately predicted the name of the protagonist long before it was publicly revealed through the game’s second trailer over a year afterward: “You play a gang leader named Arthur.” I think the most interesting thing about reading accurate leaks from years before release is that you get to see all the things they changed in between now and then, and there are a few details in here that I don’t recall seeing them make it into the final game.
“If I remember correctly, the story kind of starts when you find out someone in your outlaw gang is a Pinkerton spy. The Pinkertons end up having you on the run through most of the game.”
Now, this is a detail that is half-true. You do not start off the game finding out that you have a spy in your gang, but the Pinkertons do chase you throughout almost the entire game.
It is, however, discovered towards the end of Chapter 6 that Micah Bell, one of the gang members, has been feeding information to the Pinkertons. So, this part is half-true. While he isn’t a “spy” — as he remains loyal to Dutch until his death — he does get revealed towards the end of the game as working with them.
“The biggest change made to the game is you have a posse. You acquire lots of members of your gang such as Abigail, Little Jack, Marston, and others.”
I had to correct a few spelling mistakes here (probably making it less credible at the time) and yet this sentence is entirely accurate. You do have all of these characters in the Van der Linde gang and get to regularly interact with them throughout Red Dead Redemption 2.
The leaker also correctly stated that the game has “5 zones,” which is true. There are five states in Red Dead Redemption 2, including New Austin from the previous game. (Speaking of New Austin, the rest of this article spoils the epilogue of the game, so that’s another warning for you.)
After Arthur Morgan either dies of tuberculosis or gets shot/stabbed by Micah Bell, depending on your ending, you swap to playing as John Marston with his family; or, as the leaker puts it, “jon marsten.” As the poster originally described at the time:
“There is kind of a game plus like like the last one had. You end up at beechers hope and switch control to Jon marsten. The are then lots of quests etc dealing with building up your ranch. You literally will do x And Z to build a gazebo.”
Once again, this phrase turned out to be entirely correct. What a shocker. In the epilogue, you do end up at Beecher’s Hope, even if not immediately, and build up your ranch. There are mini-games that are just mashing buttons (which were surprisingly fun). I don’t recall a gazebo specifically, but you do build John’s house in a similar manner.
“I heard someone designed a mini-game where you help a mare give birth that had people laughing.”
YES! You do help a mare give birth in a mini-game – here’s a clip of that segment from YouTube (via Galactic Gangster):
Yeah. It’s nice to hear that the staff over at Rockstar were “laughing” at that: at least they get to have fun and play around with ideas that actually make it into the game.
Now, that’s everything the leak says in terms of gameplay information, but the original poster went into detail on the actual development status back in mid-2016 and it’s weird to see what kind of state the game and its team were in before Red Dead Redemption 2‘s official announcement.
“The last I heard, which was a few months ago, the game was kind of stuck in development hell of sorts. Then team kept remaking a vertical slice demo for the leaders of rockstar and they aren’t impressed… They didn’t find it different enough or innovative enough. Hopefully they got out of that rut.”
What an interesting take from this leak. So apparently, Red Dead Redemption 2 was stuck in a form of development hell – which is when a game’s initial development is halted and the future of whether or not it will continue is still in the air. It’s interesting that the team “kept remaking a vertical slice demo” as late as months prior to the game’s official announcement. It seems they got everything in order in those months.
For those that don’t know, a “vertical slice” demo is essentially if a prototype of a game was fully perfected to look and perform like the final product. So, imagine a mission from the released Red Dead Redemption 2 was cut out of the game and playable on its own – just in 2016 when the rest of the game was not made. That’s what the team were seemingly trying to perfect and showcase to investors to get the project out of development hell.
Due to the executives and investors not finding the project “innovative enough,” I can only guess that features such as realistic weight gain, food, core systems, and the schedules of NPCs were refined/added to please them. If an early build of Red Dead Redemption 2 was not innovative enough for Rockstar’s producers and stockholders, then can you imagine the challenge the team may face for their next potential games like Grand Theft Auto VI or Bully 2? Yeah.
Because of the account being deleted prior to my research and discovering this leak from years ago, I had to find it through a Reddit post from September 29, 2017 (on “r/RedDeadRedemption”). In the comments of this post, one user tells the story of the original leak getting harassment for not being credible:
“I know this isn’t much of a source, but I do actually remember when this was posted. I lurk on the sub a lot, and I pretty clearly remember this getting posted and a lot of people shitting on it because it sounded ridiculous. This was well before the initial announcement and might have been a similar time to when the map leaked? But I do very clearly remember reading this post, being weirded out by the mare birthing minigame, being disappointed (and a bit put off) by the “development hell” claim, and being confused by what “vertical slice” meant.”
When the user refers to the time when the map leaked, they are referring to this image. This was one of the most popular leaks leading up to Red Dead Redemption 2‘s release, as it was the only real-looking leak that was getting more and more evidence supporting it as details were revealed about the game. Looking back, this map is definitely the one.
Sorry, the commenter who thought this would “turn out to be 100% bull****. Just like every anonymous “leak” that is ever produced.” For once, your unwanted cynicism did not pay off.