How do you take one of the arguably greatest games of all time and make it even better? Well, in 2010, all it took to accomplish this was injecting zombies into Red Dead Redemption. Zombie culture was rising from the dead and becoming almost annoyingly prevalent in almost every facet of pop culture, and Rockstar Games decided to hop on the hype train. At a time when fans were busy watching The Walking Dead and playing Left 4 Dead (along with its sequel), developers over at Rockstar delivered what is considered by many to be the greatest DLC of all time: Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare.
Undead Nightmare is an expansion pack for RDR that took the virtual world we all fell in love with and tipped it over on its head. This pack took everything great about the game and threw zombies into the mix. Excellent third-person shooting mechanics remained constant in a story that saw Red Dead Redemption protagonist, John Marston, return after waking up to the dead walking the Earth. Since John isn’t the type of hero to take things lying down, our hero sets off to figure out why this plague has taken over the world and what can be done to fix it. The entire map from vanilla RDR is playable here, but towns are significantly less populated due to the zombie infestation. Occasionally, Marston is called upon to defend a town of survivors from zombie hordes, and after about seven in-game days, he has to do it all over again. Defending these towns grants new weapons, ammo, places to sleep, quests, and the help of the living citizens.
Aside from helping out towns, there is a main campaign revolving around the plague as a whole, which allows us to welcome back tons of characters from the original game. Even though Red Dead Redemption was a serious story that invoked many feelings, Undead Nightmare is just centered on pure fun. There’s tons to laugh at and appreciate while revisiting the areas and people you met in the original game. Side quests are present again in the form of requests from strangers, hunting checklists, and other challenges. A lot of these quests are fairly similar in format to normal RDR, while just tweaked in aesthetic enough to fit the theme of the expansion. For example, players must empty cemeteries of undead instead of clearing out gang hideouts or are tasked with finding missing family members instead of bounty hunting outlaws. Hunting activities are back, this time based on finding mythical creatures from legend such as a unicorn (fully rideable), Sasquatch, and El Chupacabra. Perhaps the most entertaining part of the expansion, though, is hunting down the four horses of the apocalypse: Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death. Each horse is able to be tamed and riden. Aside from being faster and tougher than normal horses, these beasts hold abilities unique to themselves. Pestilence is almost impossible to kill and stuns the undead on contact, Death causes the undeads’ heads to explode, War ignites enemies on fire, and Famine is the fastest of the four.
Undead Nightmare also includes a handful of exclusive weapons, such as holy water, zombie bait, and a blunderbuss. The blunderbuss is unique in the way that it uses zombie parts, which can be looted from undead corpses, as ammo and shoots them out as a powerful blast almost like a shotgun. Ammo is scarce in the post-apocalyptic Wild West, so players will find themselves relying on this weapon often, as there is never a shortage of zombies. On a related note, combining zombie bait with bombs is incredibly fun. Zombies run to the bait as a horde and watching the walking corpses explode into a cloud of blood and body parts is ridiculously satisfying.
Rockstar Games not only delivered a fun and incredible expansion by its own rights, but they also succeeded in giving fans an interesting piece of content based on one of the most played-out and overused pop culture tropes of the time. Undead Nightmare gave players a reason to return to the world of Red Dead Redemption for a new adventure that was packed to the brim with content, heart, and laughs. Practically an interactive B-horror movie, Rockstar set the standard for downloadable content going forward with this stellar offering. Hopes are high that zombies will once again roam the West in the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2, and you can keep your browser locked at Geeks + Gamers for all information on this highly-anticipated sequel and all other things related to gaming!