I’m with you. I don’t actually hate Geralt, but like, he’s just kind of continually irritating, with yes, that voice, and his quasi-fake “I don’t care…” attitude, which I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but really reeks of “19-year-old art student” rather than “world-weary traveller”. Be interesting to see if the same people can do a significantly better job with CP2077, what with a created protagonist and stuff. Some early stuff looked a bit of a mess, but we’re still quite a while away from release, so who knows how old the build people were playing was.
Re: the intricate world, and this is a general comment, I think what people often overlook is how incredibly expensive and high-effort that kind of detailed interaction is. Like, yes, in RDR2 you can do a bunch of stuff simply not possible in other games, and since it came out I’ve seen people on loads of messageboards and Discords and the like praising this - which is cool - but very often a way that implies that they think other games are just being lazy or cheap or something for not doing this.
I just want to say, I don’t think other games are being lazy or cheap or neglecting stuff by not having that sort of thing in them. RDR2 is a $200m+ game (possibly over $300m) with a seven-year development time. Not a $30-40m one with a two-to-four-year one like TW3, for example (even if we double the budget in TW3’s case to account for the “Poland factor”, that’s a hell of a gap in budget and time). An awful lot of that money and time goes into making the game have these really complex and polished interactions, into making the world feel like it has a depth it doesn’t really have, and so on.
This is part of what Rockstar does, which is to make other game studios look bad, not really by virtue of making games that are straightforwardly better, but that have vastly more money and time invested in them. This is also why people rarely go up against them directly. A good example is Sleeping Dogs. Sleeping Dogs was better than GTA IV in just about every gameplay way (like, literally all of them, from basic fighting, to gunfights, to car chases, to the mechanisms you use for upgrading and so on). I’d also argue it was more intelligently written, and had a better plot. But it sold a small fraction as many copies. Why? Because it looked cheap as hell in comparison, and didn’t have all the high-cost low-reward features that GTA IV had, that help to differentiate R* games from those of others (like the stupid cellphone in GTA IV, wherein you could be bothered by assholes, but which was like, a hell of thing at the time, or all the minigames or events). GTA V did this even harder. And cost $300m to develop as a result. Nearly ten times what a typical, genuine, AAA game costs to develop (the legendary AAA+). No-one has dared to try and make a game like that as a result.
But because all these games still cost $60 to the consumer, they’re judged (not unreasonably) as if they were equal. But they’re not equal, and the stuff that makes RDR2 remarkable is not the result of particularly brilliant, or invested, or thoughtful design. It’s the result of hundreds of millions of dollars.
(Bethesda took a similar approach, with heavy investments in time and money, and a specialised engine allowing more interactivity than those used by other games - which itself consumed huge amounts of time and money because it’s so hard to work with - but they’ve fucked up repeatedly, and whilst TOW is flawed, it shows you make a game that’s like, 90% as good as a Bethesda game without any budget (it was in the $5-10m range, not even really AAA), a short development time (two years or so of production), and without the complex engine. Bethesda is really going to have to take thing to another level with Starfield and TES6 - both in some kind of development for over a decade, on and off - or frankly other people are going to eat their lunch. Personally I predict Starfield may yet be cancelled.)