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How weapons and combat have changed in Red Dead Redemption 2

From the hip, targeting organs or fanning the hammer - the gunplay in Red Dead Redemption 2 just got a whole lot more lethal.

Now we've been hands-on with Arthur Morgan in Red Dead Redemption 2, we're getting a better understanding of the gunplay that's central to survival in the Wild West. Arthur Morgan is a wanted man, and he's been able to stay ahead of the law by refining his skills to become the ultimate gunslinger.

Arthur is limited to the number of weapons he can carry at any time when on foot. He can carry two side arms and two rifles, or a rifle and a bow. He's also armed with a hunting knife, throwing weapons such as a knives or explosives, and a lasso.

However, when he's near his horse it acts as a full inventory, with Arthur able to pull up a weapon wheel when riding or standing in close proximity to the horse and having full access to all of his guns and gear.

Pressing the left trigger will let Arthur aim in a gunfight, or he can shoot from the hip by tapping the right trigger on its own. While the aiming reticule begins steady, if Arthur is under fire it shakes the longer the left trigger is held down. Using a bolt action rifle, Arthur needs to tap R2 between shots to load the next round.

The Dead Eye targeting system is back for Red Dead Redemption 2, with five levels of lethality, from auto targeting to slowing down time to targeting individual organs. Dead-Eye is activated by aiming with the left trigger and clicking the right stick. At higher levels of Dead Eye, targeting will show the player critical points on enemies and animals so Arthur uses fewer bullets and hits with more lethality. You can also gently squeeze the right trigger half way to initiate a slow motion duel with an enemy.

The weapons in Red Dead Redemption 2 will degrade if not looked after, which can affect firing, reloading and recoil. The amount of use, the environment and any modifications are also taken into consideration and will change its performance.

If you travel through water, for example, expect your weapons to rust. Firing your weapons without regularly cleaning them will build up dirt, slowing the rate of fire. To keep a gun or weapon at its peak, you'll need to maintain and clean it. You can inspect your weapons close up to get a look at its condition, and weapons can be customised with engraving, leather straps and more, with players also able to buy or craft specialist and everyday ammo. Weapon mods go further than cosmetic changes, allowing players to improve the range, damage and recoil.

It's not all about the gunplay, though. Arthur can knuckle-up for fistfights and use close range takedowns. As you'd expect, close range takedowns with the bow or knife will silently kill enemies should Arthur need to take the stealth route, and if someone's running from him he can chase them and tackle them to the deck. He can even just whip out his pistol using the d-pad and fire in the air to scare wildlife or attract attention. Or he can talk people down by targeting them and choosing a dialogue option - useful for threatening fleeing witnesses.

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