Red Dead Redemption 2 differs from its predecessor in a lot of ways. On the more obvious side of things, it stars a different character, Arthur Morgan; it’s also larger and more mechanically deep, and you have more flexibility in what you can do. But the prequel takes many cues from the original RDR, and there are a number of parallels and references to keep an eye out for.
In this feature, we’ve outlined the major Red Dead Redemption callbacks in RDR 2. There are spoilers for both games–if you haven’t rolled credits on RDR 2 especially, stop reading and come back later. We’ve included the things that stood out to us the most, so for a more general list of references, see our feature on the weirdest Easter eggs we found.
For more Red Dead spoilers, check out our RDR 2 spoiler chat, where we discuss all the biggest, most spoilery parts of the game in detail. It’s part of our weekly video series, QuickDraw, which highlights different aspects of the game every Friday. You can also read our full Red Dead 2 review for our spoiler-free thoughts on the game.
If you’re looking for RDR 2 help, check out our Red Dead Redemption 2 guides for more info, like everything you need to know about horses, where to find all the Legendary Animals, and how the Core system works. And if there are any other major callbacks we missed for this feature, let us know in the comments below.
Agent Ross And Fishing
When you take Jack Marston fishing early in RDR 2, the younger Pinkerton who confronts you is Agent Ross, who manipulates and eventually kills John Marston in the original. This is Jack’s first meeting with Agent Ross; his second and last is during the epilogue of RDR, when you’ve switched to playing as him and he’s seeking revenge for his father’s death. Jack confronts and kills Agent Ross while he’s fishing.
Can’t Fight Gravity
When Arthur and Dutch are cornered on the cliffside while running from the law, they jump off the cliff into the river to escape. Before they jump, Dutch gives the same “you can’t fight gravity” speech he gives to John Marston in the first game–right before he falls off the cliff and kills himself.
Playing Both Sides In Bigger Conflicts
In Red Dead Redemption, John Marston gets himself involved in the Mexican Revolution, and he screws things up pretty royally for the revolutionaries by selfishly playing both sides in an attempt to locate Javier. In RDR 2, a similar thing happens with Rains Fall and Eagle Flies. It’s a bit more complicated in that Arthur is resistant to becoming involved at all, but thanks to Dutch, the gang ends up doing favors for both father and son, making things worse for the Wapiti tribe as a whole.
The Strange Man
In Red Dead Redemption, there’s an optional side quest called “I Know You” in which you encounter a man in a top hat who says cryptic things and knows far too much about John’s past. In RDR 2, you don’t encounter this man head on, but he’s lurking around somewhere–specifically in a creepy cabin in Lemoyne. GTA Series Videos on YouTube has a full video of what happens in the house and how to trigger everything. If you weren’t convinced that the Strange Man was death or the devil before, this will do it.
The Red Dead Redemption Theme
During the epilogue of 2, the Red Dead Redemption theme comes in as John is taking on the cattle rustlers from the neighboring ranch.
Chores On The Ranch
Toward the end of RDR, you do quite a few chores around Beecher’s Hope with Jack, showing him how to run the place. While playing as John in the epilogue of RDR 2, you have to do many of the same chores–because John has to learn how to do them in the first place. It’s also a respite from the lawlessness of John’s “old” life in both games, the one he’s never able to escape despite his tireless efforts.
Revisiting Pike’s Basin
In the RDR 2 epilogue mission “An Honest Day’s Labors,” you go with Sadie to Pike’s Basin to find the man who stole her bounty. This is the location from “Justice in Pike’s Basin,” the first big mission you do with Marshal Johnson in the first game.
Letter To Bonnie MacFarlane
When playing as Arthur, you can find a man washed ashore on the coast just south of Van Horn Trading Post. When you get closer, it’s revealed that he’s not dead yet, and he gives Arthur a letter intended for Bonnie MacFarlane–a key character and friend to John Marston in the original game, in which she is unmarried but cryptic about it. When playing as John in the epilogue, you can visit MacFarlane Ranch in New Austin, but Bonnie is absent due to the cholera outbreak in the area.
The Beecher’s Hope Graves
After the credits roll at the end of RDR 2 and you return to the game, John and Abigail are standing on a hill looking over Beecher’s Hope, and Abigail tells John that she loves their new home. They are standing right where their graves will be at the end of the first game.