Review of Red Dead Redemption on Switch. The best opportunity to get acquainted with the legendary western from Rockstar

30 August 2023

For thirteen years, players around the world have been waiting for Rockstar Games to re-release one of the best PS3 and Xbox 360 games — Red Dead Redemption — on modern consoles and PCs. And this moment has come! However, many were hoping for a full-fledged remake or at least a remaster, and got a port with a cut-out multiplayer.

The anger of PS4 and 5 owners (through backward compatibility) is understandable. Not only are they selling the standard edition with the Undead Nightmare add-on for $50, but also without the simplest improvements: unlocked frame rate, increased resolution, quality textures, and improved models with animations.

But for Nintendo Switch owners, it's a holiday! On the portable console, the old RDR works perfectly in native resolution, looks good, and maintains a stable frame rate. Any third-party improvements would have negatively affected performance. But this way, players got a quality port. We couldn't ignore the release and played Red Dead Redemption on the hybrid console.

A cult game from a cult studio

The original Red Dead Redemption, released in 2010, was an open-world action western where players, controlling John Marston, destroyed former gang members in order to gain a chance for a peaceful life. Rockstar San Diego studio won many "Game of the Year" awards, and their massive western was the main event of those years. Red Dead Redemption made a serious contribution to the gaming industry and defined subsequent Rockstar Games projects.

For a long time, Red Dead Redemption held the title of the most expensive game to produce. Some insiders reported a budget of $100 million (9.5 billion rubles). The production itself became a real nightmare for the small Rockstar San Diego: 180 people for five years tried to create a project that in scale and detail surpassed GTA 4 and other open-world games. However, shortly before the release of Red Dead Redemption was terribly buggy, worked poorly on consoles of those times, and was not suitable for retail sale. Then Rockstar Games redirected all the forces of internal studios to help colleagues from San Diego. In the end, more than a thousand people worked on Red Dead Redemption. The bosses of the publishing house even forced Leslie Benzies, the head of Rockstar North, to come out of vacation to personally control the production process. Thanks to his work, unregulated labor, a six-day working week, and the dedication of employees, Red Dead Redemption turned from a buggy, unpolished, and broken game into a "candy". The team managed to create a technological miracle that forever changed the approach to creating games within Rockstar. All employees of internal studios will work on subsequent projects of the publishing house.

Half a year after the release of the main game, the paid expansion Undead Nightmare appeared for sale. The developers significantly changed the setting of the Wild West, adding zombies and monsters to it. The DLC had a full-fledged story campaign, which indirectly touched on the story of the source. This expansion is included in the reissue, and you can start playing it without going through the original RDR.

Red Dead Redemption was a box office success in the west. But in countries where the Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles were not widespread, many missed the game. This is largely why the first part of the famous western was so eagerly awaited on modern systems. Yes, thanks to backward compatibility of Xbox 360, Xbox One and Series X/S players got an updated version earlier than everyone else. But this is still not a full-fledged port, but a cross-platform feature of Microsoft. Now RDR can be played by Switch and PS4 owners.

Full-fledged Red Dead Redemption in your pocket

In 2005, we were in shock for a long time when we saw Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories on the tiny PSP portable. A full-fledged open world in your pocket — isn't it a miracle? Three generations later, the fairly powerful Nintendo Switch appeared, which can easily run any GTA and similar games. Only Rockstar is in no hurry to port their projects, having only released a reissue of L.A. Noire.

It would seem that the RAGE engine is perfectly optimized for any hardware and can render high-quality graphics without high video memory requirements, but there is still no GTA 4 and GTA 5 on Switch. And the Nintendo console surpasses the Xbox 360 and PS3 in power, and the port of Red Dead Redemption confirms this. The game outputs a stable 30 frames and shows a clear picture both in portable mode and in dock mode.

The talented studio Double Eleven was responsible for the transfer of the game, not the Indians from Grove Street Games, who messed up with GTA — The Definitive Edition. The developers managed to port a large-scale open world without cutting content and all sorts of tricks that studios responsible for porting love to abuse. Without a soapy picture as in The Witcher 3, without frame drops as in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and with improved (compared to Xbox 360) graphics — this is how we saw the RDR port.

Of course, you can scold Rockstar for cutting multiplayer and a high price tag of 50 bucks (4700 rubles), but on the other hand, the company released a great open-world game on the Switch, and also with a huge Undead Nightmare add-on. We haven't seen ports that would work perfectly on a hybrid console for a long time.

Playing in portable mode is convenient. The small screen negates the roughness of the graphics that have become outdated over thirteen years. Small details are well drawn, and the landscapes of the Wild West look no worse than on the PS4. The game loads quickly and does not load the system to overheating. After three to five hours of continuous gameplay, the Switch remains silent and slightly warm.

Double Eleven has improved the graphics, improved textures, and added smoothing to objects, there is no blurring of the picture in dock mode. The Red Dead Redemption port works perfectly with native resolution, without artifacts, lags, and frame rate losses. 30 FPS does not hit the eyes and does not spoil the impression of the gameplay.

The controls are well adapted for joycons, although there were no problems. It's all about the short stroke of the analog sticks. Aiming is difficult at first. Of course, auto-aiming saves on normal difficulty, but we do not recommend playing on hardcore on regular joycons. If you want to shoot accurately at the wild heads of cowboys, we advise you to buy an original pro controller. It's more comfortable to play with it.

Is a remaster needed?

Red Dead Redemption can still deliver a lot of positive emotions today. Technically, the game doesn't lag behind its sequel, but a cosmetic renovation wouldn't hurt. The animations are outdated, and their absurdity is obvious. John jumps listlessly, slowly overcomes obstacles, and unnaturally sticks to shelters. After Tears of the Kingdom, and even more so the second part of RDR, the horses feel plastic. The Euphoria physics engine generates ridiculous situations, and the interface could also use an update.

On the other hand, we have the port of The Witcher 3, which doesn't have the above problems. However, the game delivers a very soapy and blurry picture, disappoints with frame drops in flat places, and a low draw distance. Yes, Rockstar Games could improve the visuals of Red Dead Redemption, but then the flawless operation on Switch would be questionable.

What is absolutely great about Red Dead Redemption is the storytelling and action. Each mission generates unique situations that are interesting to watch. Shootouts are still juicy and exciting. Artificial intelligence challenges and does not let you get bored. There is an incredibly large story here, which will take several dozen hours to explore. The mission structure seems to be created for the portable version: the tasks are not delayed, and their duration is enough for a game session in the subway.

All the above advantages do not apply to the PS4 version, but let's be honest: if you are to replay Red Dead Redemption, then only on a hybrid console. For 50 dollars, you get a polished port of a legendary game that you can play anywhere and anytime. In addition, RDR looks great both on a small screen and no worse on a large one.

And it can't be said that PS4 players got a worse version of RDR. Don't forget that this is just a port, Rockstar didn't promise to make a remake or remaster. Red Dead Redemption could remain an Xbox Series exclusive through backward compatibility, but now more people have the opportunity to play. Yes, the price is unjustified, but this is the only claim.


Red Dead Redemption on Switch is a great port of one of the best games of 2010. Yes, without any special improvements and adaptation for the capabilities of Switch and the power of PS4. Nevertheless, the game looks better than on old systems, delivers a stable 30 frames, has a clear picture and excellent native resolution indicators. In the absence of GTA on Switch (let's bracket GTA: The Trilogy) — a great opportunity to spend time in a large-scale Rockstar project. We do not recommend skipping! If the price scares you off, just wait for the discounts.

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