Wasted in the West: how Red Dead Redemption 2 perfectly captures the sensation of being drunk

By Dave Meikleham, Tuesday, 13 November 2018 14:40 GMT

Contrary to what you’ve been told, drinking – in moderation, of course – is both big and clever. Arthur Morgan certainly prescribes to this inebriated way of thinking.

Appropriately, one of the whisky-loving outlaw’s best missions involves downing all the drink.

A Quiet Time is perhaps Red Dead Redemption 2’s finest mission. It’s certainly the open-world epic’s funniest. Surprisingly, for a game with such exquisite shooting, it involves zero gunplay. Instead, Arthur and his pal Lenny go for a quiet drink at a saloon in Valentine, with the promise that they’ll definitely only stay for “one or two”.

If you’re of legal drinking age, the three words above should fill you with shame-faced dread. We’ve all been there – that classic “I’ll just have a half-pint” moment with colleagues or friends. The swift after work wine/gin/lager/rum that turns into an entire night of ill-advised dancing, spending half your wages on Jägerbombs, and vomiting all over those nice new shoes five minutes after buying an unnecessary kebab.

Red Dead is a game made by adults, for adults. As such, it knows the fleeting (admittedly shameful) joys of getting shit-faced. The genius of A Quiet Time are its many dead-on observations.

That moment where you have to shoo away an overly friendly drunk… before quickly morphing into one yourself…

The overly enthused, sauced-up dancing…

Losing your friend, then briefly thinking every drunken patron you stumble into is the person you’ve been looking for…

The lush laughs…

And the best example – which Rockstar delivers with an impeccable edit – almost getting into a fight with another drunk, before somehow becoming their temporary best pal within the space of five minutes…

Honestly, I think Arthur’s ‘almost fistfight to impromptu piece of line dancing’ is already one of my all-time favourite game memories.

In between all that pickled action is Rockstar’s twisted take on Heavy Rain’s infamous ‘Press X to Jason’ moment. But instead of trying to fetch some lost brat from a packed shopping centre, Arthur uses increasingly incomprehensible speech to call his friend with each button press…

“Gret! Ynnel! Grate! TeerG!” Be honest, we’ve all let out a sly “TeerG” in our time… most likely just before last orders.

A Quiet Time doesn’t forward RDR2’s plot. It doesn’t tell us anything meaningful about Arthur. It doesn’t reward you with in-game currency. What it does do is far more valuable: it lets you live in Arthur’s shoes in never more relatable (whisky-soaked) fashion.

For so much of the game, Arthur is tortured by either his past, or the increasingly reckless decisions of Dutch van der Linde. But during his boozy Valentine trip, the weight of the Old West world is briefly lifted off his shoulders. Free from the serious (albeit gripping) machinations of the overarching plot, he gets to exist as a flawed, affable, silly dude who just wants to cut loose, not fill every passing NPC with buckshot from his semi-auto shotgun. Incidentally… What. A. Weapon.

The mission ends with yet more expert cuts. Arthur goes from slapping Lenny, to urinating in a back alley, to trying to drown a dude, to making a jelly-legged escape from local sheriffs. Oh, and obviously there’s a nice big slice of projectile vomit in there, too…

As a cider-swilling man-child who appreciates the occasional drunken night out, I can intimately appreciate all of the above. Think Arthur’s exploits are exaggerated? Earlier this year at the end of a heavy session, I rang (and missed) two taxis, took 40 minutes to walk the space of 600 yards, then lost my iPhone at a bus stop… which was then miraculously returned to me by a lovely chap called Sean a fortnight later. Thanks, Sean!

A Quiet Time is yet another brick in the wall of Rockstar’s apparent obsession with the sauce. Each game the studio has released since 2008’s Grand Theft Auto 4 has featured some form of binge drinking.

It started with Niko trying to drive Roman to his shitty apartment back in Broker after one too many in Comrades Bar. Then there was Max Payne 3, and the monologue-spouting ex-cop’s constant blackouts courtesy of Kong Whisky. And don’t forget GTA 5, with its constant cuts to a stewed Trevor every time you swapped over to the Sandy Shores psycho.

While heavy drinking shouldn’t be glorified, in an age of monotone Call of Duty marines, and virtuous, squeaky clean Final Fantasy heroes, it’s refreshing to see a developer embrace conflicted, damaged individuals in warts-and-all fashion.

And let’s be honest, most of us have probably found ourselves in Morgan’s position in A Quiet Time. We’ve all had that nightmare week at work/terrible first date/unbearable visit to the in-laws that’s made us temporarily reach for the bottle.

So while I can’t officially endorse Arthur’s drunken disposition in Red Dead Redemption 2’s inspired saloon mission, I will raise a cheeky glass of orange juice (with nary a hint of vodka in it, honest!) to the crocked cowboy.

Cheers, Arthur.

While you’re here, check out our complete Red Dead Redemption 2 guide to more tips, tricks and walkthroughs.

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