Red Dead Redemption 2 is a '65-hour' game with a 2,000-page script

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Red Dead Redemption 2 is a mammoth game – so mammoth, in fact, that Rockstar Games co-founder Dan Houser conservatively estimates that it will take players 65 hours to finish it.

That's according to a new article from Vulture, in which Houser discusses the upcoming Wild West sequel.

His 65-hour estimate (how long it takes to complete the game will, of course, vary depending on the skill of the player) isn't so surprising when you consider that the story that spans 2,000 pages of script, makes use of 300,000 animations and 500,000 lines of dialogue, and employed 1,200 actors for motion-capture work – 700 of whom also recorded dialogue.

So ambitious was the project that Rockstar became the "biggest employer of actors in terms of numbers of anyone in New York, by miles," said Houser.

And that's before considering the online component of the game. While Red Dead 2 launches on October 26, it'll be followed shortly by Red Dead Redemption Online in November, which lets you ride out onto the prairie with a posse of pals, and is expected to be every bit as big and feature-rich as Grand Theft Auto Online. 

Sacrifices and cuts

But what does it take to cram all that into a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One game? Insane working schedules, with Houser admitting that the dreaded 'crunch' time of Red Dead Redemption 2's development lead some of the team working several 100-hour weeks.

This is despite criticism of the previous Red Dead game for a similarly brutal schedule.

That 65-hour run time is even taking into account what was cut from the game. Roughly five hours of content was removed from what will be the final product, including a secondary love interest for lead character Arthur Morgan, and a number of missions which Houser considered not to be "quite slick enough, or they felt superfluous." One such mission involved Morgan taking on bounty hunters on a train.

"It was fun at first, but then it wasn't," Houser explained. 

"This part of the process is always about compromise and horse trading. Everyone always loses bits of the game they love."

As for any chance of there being a Red Dead Redemption 3? Rockstar will do it "if [Red Dead Redemption 2] does well enough and we think we have other interesting things to say."

Either way, it looks like we'll have plenty to be getting on with in Red Dead Redemption 2 to last us for some time to come.