Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC would be great if I could actually play it

Red Dead Redemption 2 finally released on PC this week, and things have not gone well for Rockstar. Yesterday, Samit Sarkar at our sister site Polygon reported on various technical issues PC players are experiencing, and I can confirm that I’ve seen some of them for myself over the past week.

While I didn’t have any trouble getting the game up and running at first, the biggest issue by far for me — and one that appears to be very commonplace — is that the game frequently hitches for upward of three seconds at a time. It’s jarring during gameplay, and causes you to miss crucial dialogue during story sequences when the game has to catch up with itself.

This is a particularly strange problem because Red Dead Redemption 2 itself is otherwise looking great and running pretty well on my PC, which isn’t super high-end but was when I put it together three and a half years ago. It happens regardless of graphical settings, as far as I can tell. My rig has a GTX 1080 GPU, an i5 6600K processor, and 16GB of RAM, and I’m hovering between 40 and 60 frames a second at 1440p with mostly high settings. (I use a G-Sync monitor, so the frame rate dips are noticeable but not all that annoying.)

To be clear, that isn’t exactly evidence of a well-optimized port, considering how good Red Dead Redemption 2 looks on vastly less powerful console hardware. I usually have no trouble running games at faster frame rates and higher settings, and I wouldn’t call this a great port even if it didn’t have the hitching issue. But it does have the hitching issue: no matter what I do with the settings, it locks up for several seconds every couple of minutes.

That’s enough to make it unplayable right now, which is a shame, because I was otherwise really looking forward to replaying Red Dead Redemption 2. I loved the game on my PS4 Pro last year, but I don’t know that I played it the right way — I bombed through it as quickly as I could to see the ending without spoilers and hear what other people were saying about it. I’m not sure that was the wrong decision, but I would very much like to give it another, more thorough playthrough over a longer stretch of time. It wouldn’t hurt to do so with better visuals and performance, either.

As Samit noted, Rockstar’s response so far has been to recommend players turn off antivirus software, which seems like an unsatisfactory fix. Updates for the company’s launcher and the game itself seem to have done little at best, or even made the situation worse.

Until Rockstar fixes Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC, or at least gives some indication of what’s going on, we really can’t recommend that you buy it. Since the hitching problems are out of step with the game’s general performance, it feels like they should be addressable. But without any confirmation that a fix is on the horizon, this version of the game is a hard pass.

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