Just how magnificent is Red Dead Redemption 2? A loaded question that attempts to obliterates any negatives, sure, but it's a conclusion I've reached over hundreds of hours of playtime.
Once you've been in Rockstar's version of the Old West for such a substantial amount of time, it's a less a "game" in the traditional sense, and more a full-on quasi-simulation of being a cowboy in the year 1899. This is virtual reality without the headset.
It's not perfect though, and Rockstar's latest can be painfully awkward and slow; its animation priorities forcing you to extract one can of beans at a time from a homestead, only to shower you in graphical splendour when coming over a hill crest at the crack of dawn.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game that has an indie soul; a "way to play" that contradicts everything you know about Rockstar's own past work, and a sense of reward borne from not playing it like a video game.
There's more to reflection on game time than just tonal preference per player, though. Specific game mechanics, tucked away story details, obscure XP rewards - to get the most out of this crazy masterpiece, you need to employ a very specific methodology.