The sprawling landscape of Red Dead Redemption 2 can be a beautiful sight to behold, but it also poses interesting problems for when Rockstar Games decides to begin work on Red Dead Redemption 3. Since both RDR2 and the original Red Dead Redemption cover so much of the American West and its surrounding areas, including Mexico, there’s not many places left Red Dead Redemption 3 could be set which would feel truly original.
The original Red Dead Redemption takes place primarily in a dusty desert filled with mesas and plains before giving way to the Mexican landscape in its second half. Red Dead Redemption 2 offers players a little more variety, beginning the journey in the snowy mountains and then taking them through forests, southern farms, and Louisiana-inspired cities and swamps before allowing them access to most of the first game’s map as well. Even though Mexico isn’t featured as an accessible location in Red Dead Redemption 2, by the end of that game’s epilogue a lot of the same ground in New Austin has been covered anyway.
The American West is a vast place, but the scope of Red Dead Redemption and RDR2 have already covered all of the best parts pretty extensively. Sure, there could be more areas featuring giant dropoffs to mimic real-world locations like The Grand Canyon, or a mountain range similar to the Rockies which prevents players from crossing into a new area until the proper climbing gear is acquired, but players have already seen recreations of most of the iconic locations and scenes the West has to offer.
There are a few things Rockstar could do to fix this situation in Red Dead Redemption 3. One option would be to have RDR3 set entirely in Mexico, featuring both locations from the original Red Dead Redemption as well as entirely new ones in much the same way that RDR2 included areas from its previous entry. Rockstar could also choose to make the next Red Dead Redemption game slightly more linear, and offer players sections of a smaller open world at a time rather than a massive one accessible from the start.
Offering smaller games with later updates is something Rockstar is said to be considering for Grand Theft Auto 6’s launch, so it would make sense for the company to apply such a strategy to its other flagship franchise as well. A Red Dead Redemption 3 made with this kind of schedule in mind could be something a little less like “Grand Theft Auto with horses” and more like Oregon Trail, where players move from one open world location to another constantly as they travel across the West, perhaps ending their journey in California.
With the success Rockstar has experienced after the releases of both Grand Theft Auto 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2, sequels for both are likely inevitable. What form those sequels will take, and how long it will be until they release, are another question entirely, but if Rockstar wants players to be invested in Red Dead Redemption 3 as much as they were the first two times, they need to do something original with its location.