I was agonising over the decision to put either John Marston or Arthur Morgan on this list. Before playing Read Dead Redemption 2 I thought it would be impossible to beat John Marston. I loved the original game and John’s story arc was executed so well and his final moments will continue to stand in gaming history as one of the most heartbreaking endings. I didn’t think the sequel was an amazing game, its story only started getting interesting halfway through and the obsession with ‘realism’ often got in the way of enjoyment and ruined the pacing. It was still a great game and Arthur Morgan and his character arc was surprisingly handled better than his predecessor.
I wasn’t a fan of Arthur at the beginning, he came across quite arrogant, and the premise of the story meant that he used questionable means to get what he wanted. However, there were some small moments here and there that showed the type of person he really was underneath his often cold exterior. Whether this was saving someone from being killed, aiding the odd individual on the road, or taking young Jack Marston fishing helped in providing needed character development that presented him as something more than just an outlaw.
The latter half of the game ramps up its storytelling in every way and for the better. Without spoiling anything if you haven’t played it yet, certain major story discoveries lead to Arthur reevaluating the choices he’s made and what he does from that point. However, it isn’t some drastic character change that feels forced, it’s a natural progression from earlier moments in the game. Arthur becomes a much more sympathetic anti-hero, who’s interactions with those around him further exemplify the differences to his beliefs and thoughts. While I may not be a big fan of Rockstar games in general, the Read Dead Redemption games have always been the better franchise compared to GTA by a mile for me. They have incredible stories that feature truly exceptional characters with natural, believable growth and development. Arthur Morgan became a surprising favourite character of mine and I don’t see that changing in the future.
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