Arguably (but not really) this year’s most anticipated title, RDR2 has some enormous Trousers of Expectation to fill.

But then Rockstar brings this on itself with outrageous attention to detail and quality control that few studios can (be bothered to) match. It doesn’t do shoddy, and you can be sure its record remains untarnished here.

Set around 12 years before its phenomenally fine 2010 predecessor, Red 2 has us don the black hat of Arthur Morgan, longtime gruff-voiced outlaw and member of a gang led by ‘Dutch’ Van Der Linde.

Initial scenes draw dollops of inspiration from Reservoir Dogs. There’s been a failed robbery. There are dead, there are wounded, and those left alive are on the run high in the mountains. The money is gone but not lost, and the gang is looking for a fresh start. Horseback chats on subsequent missions throw around a few pieces of the puzzle without really revealing the full picture.

The format is your standard Rockstar arrangement: sandbox, story missions, side missions and a whole mess of extra bits to do in this vast, vast land, such as cigarette card collection and dinosaur bone hunting.

I wasn’t too fussed on learning Arthur needed to eat. I remember this little detail from Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, amusing though it was to feed CJ until he became a fat bloater. However, Arthur doesn’t need a whole lot, and there are so many tinned peaches, biscuits and the like littered about the place, that when your cowpoke’s  energy drops, you’ve generally got supplies at hand.

Those used to the wholly unrealistic but exceptionally swift dead-guy-looting mechanism from Assassin’s Creed will find Red 2’s totally realistic and painfully slow pocket search a drag. I’ve played a lot of hours and it still irritates the hell out of me. Early doors, you need all the money and mental enhancements you can find, so watching Arthur pick up every bloody corpse – especially following a shootout with a high bodycount – and rifle through his pocket for a few cents is controller-smashingly frustrating when you need to make a quick getaway.

The gang’s caravan will also need some upgrades, from Arthur’s wagon and ammunition supply to Dutch’s tent and a chicken coop. You also have the option of donating to the camp’s food supply and funds. Don’t and you’ll suffer the wrath of camp busybody Mrs Grimshaw.

Taming horses, slow-motion dead-eye, poker, dominoes, hunting legendary animals… there’s a stupidly large map to get your spurs into and it’s stuffed full of, well, everything. You’ll be on your way to wherever and a woman nearby will need your assistance because her horse has died. Or a train is being robbed. Or some poor unfortunate is kicked to death by his steed. The region is loaded with lovely little side stories and mysteries if you decide to just want to explore.

And this is all before the online goodies arrive…