The excellent difficulty curve of RDR2 (spoilers!)

It's been a few months since I finished Red Dead 2, a game I thoroughly enjoyed, and while hindsight has granted me the ability to acknowledge the game's flaws there's still several core aspects which I think are excellently designed and which I've been wanting to explore here in my blog. Top of the list is the difficulty curve.

Spoilers ahead!
Spoilers ahead!

By having the protagonist contract a deadly disease such as tuberculosis the writers put forward an organic and believable justification for making the game more difficult in the latter acts of the story. This is beautifully thorough, furthering the narrative and character development or Arthur himself while simultaneously providing a believable excuse to reduce his stamina and health in a way which doesn't feel arbitrary. Because of this decision the player is permitted to keep their weapons and upgrades, and their sense of empowerment as a brutal gunslinger, while emphasizing the fragility of Arthur as a human being without throwing him into increasingly absurd and excessive hordes of enemies.

Admittedly there's still plenty of killing to be done, and while the slowly developing illness is brutal to experience it never registers as anything more than a mild inconvenience in a gameplay sense; Arthur is still essentially an unstoppable murder-machine every time the bullets start flying. From a game design sense though I found it a very refreshing take on how difficulty curves can be entwined into the story of a game rather than simply shuffling numbers around or limiting the availability of the most powerful weapons/abilities.

If anyone has any recommendations for other games which handle difficulty curves organically I'd love to hear about them!

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep