Nothing says "Yup, we're definitely onto something!" like when a developer then comes out and asks people to stop spreading a leaked image. Yes, the gaming industry is currently doing backflips as confirmation has finally arrived of Red Dead 3's existence, in the form of a leaked map showing the entire game world.
Unearthed by a NEOGaf thread that was then confirmed by Techradar, it purports to show what's being said to be "a very recent" design the team have been working with.
Honestly, I've known another Red Dead was in the works for some time, but due to the nature of anonymous sources, things have been kept under wraps as Rockstar were assumedly gearing up for an E3 reveal.
Well, everything's spilt out regardless, and now we've got something to work with. It might just seem like one screenshot, but delve a little deeper and you might just find out a little bit more...
Note: I'd recommend opening this high-res version of the map in a new tab, so you can analyse it yourself as we go.
Look to the above comparison and you'll notice two things. One, the original northeast area of the Great Plains and the city of Blackwater from Red Dead Redemption is making a return, and two, there's no railroad on its section on the leaked map.
Various commenters have been quick to point out that this most likely means we're heading into prequel territory, as only sporadic placement of townships and caravan sites indicate a far less populated Wild West. Oil fields are also present, hinting that the time period could be somewhere after the first major drilling excavations in 1859, but before RD Redemption's setting of 1910.
Spacing out the population only increases the explorational elements that were so much fun in the past game anyway, allowing Rockstar to pepper the landscape with more of the beloved 'Stranger' missions. To be honest, these were some of the most fun to complete, and highlight the studio's ability to write really humorous, short-lived but immensely memorable interactions.