Rockstar held to their promise and released the new teaser trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2. It features a lot of solemn shots of empty fields, forests, and towns, but it's also a technical marvel and gorgeous to boot.
The trailer was posted up over on Rockstar Games's official YouTube channel. There's a lot going on, even when nothing is going on. For instance, the early parts of the trailer reveal a lot of small things happening. Physics-based tree movements and foliage are on display -- they're handled very subtly, so there's no massive swaying or bending going on as if the trees are top-heavy totems moving around like a parade float.
Other small but important features in the Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer are god-rays... we get a really good, clean, look at the RAGE rendering some commendable god-rays through the trees at the 19-second mark. It's not quite up to par to the Unreal Engine 4, Unity 5 or CryEngine, but it looks good enough. We also have to consider that this is for the Xbox One and PS4, so super high-end fidelity will have to be pushed to the side.
The shadowing is quite impressive, though. There's a lot of sharp shadow resolution and ambient occlusion cast across the screen to help really bring the environment to life. We also get a beautiful early day shot featuring some spectacular horizon dithering and hints of global illumination as the sun casts a small orange glow across a patch of trees in the forest, all while the rest of the mountain valley basks in the blue hue of a misty morning.
While this may not be the most spectacular thing for gamers, it's a nice showcase of how Rockstar is making good use of their tech to help bring Red Dead Redemption 2 to life.
The video is more of a tech showcase than a gameplay wowser. For instance, we get to see how AI herds will play a part in the game as a wild buffalo stampede race alongside a train. We see that particle physics will be utilized for all sorts of things, including simple things like carriages moving through the dirt.
Red Dead Redemption 2 also takes full advantage of physically based rendering, with a perfect example being the small campfire burning bright orange during the middle of a pitch black night. While this may not seem like much, the glow of the surrounding area is lit up by the fire and the trees that stretch up into the sky reflect the light emitting from said fire. That's some impressive stuff. For context, this means you could potentially track bandits or criminals out in the wild by looking for pillows of smoke reaching into the sky or checking for the glow of embers bouncing their light off the tree barks.
It may not seem like much, but those small details really, really help bring a game's immersive factors to life. It was one of the reasons people loved Mafia 2 so much.
But it's not just the graphics and world rendering techniques that stand out in the minute long video for Red Dead Redemption 2, it's also the Euphoria-driven AI. We see what appears to be fowls picking at a carcass while a dog growls nearby, we also get to see how NPCs seem to meander about with their daily activities instead of just standing around as background placeholders.
During the closing shots of the trailer, we see more technical pageantry, with Rockstar showing off directional wind physics that not only affect the foliage and trees, but also move dust and dirt into the direction that the wind is blowing. You might think that's pointless, but that could play a big role in things like moving around brush fires or dealing with dust storms.
I imagine not every gamer will be thrilled with the teaser trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2, but it's a marvelous showing of Rockstar getting back to the technical innovations they were toying with back when they released GTA IV. I imagine they'll focus more on how those technical innovations will alter the gameplay in future trailers leading up to Red Dead Redemption 2's release on the Xbox One and PS4 in fall of 2017.