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Beyond the edge of the map in Red Dead Redemption 2, things get wild

Once you’ve gone as far as you can ride, go just a little farther

red dead redemption 2 Rockstar Games
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Open-world games give players incredible freedom to explore, and Red Dead Redemption 2 is no exception. The Western fantasy drops you onto a horse and doesn’t pressure you all that much to do any one thing in particular. So far, I’ve spent most of my time hunting white-tailed deer along the Dakota River and bringing back venison for the camp. But what happens if you dig in your spurs and just head off in one direction?

[Ed. note: What follows contains spoilers for both the original Red Dead Redemption and the sequel, Red Dead Redemption 2.]

These kinds of game-breaking journeys are incredible to me. One Minecraft player, YouTuber Kurt J. Mac, has spent the last seven years trying to find the edge of a world eight times larger than the surface of the Earth. I make a habit of dropping in on his progress every once in a while. I’m not alone in my fascination. His effort is high-profile enough that even New York’s Museum of Modern Art is interested in archiving it.

While Minecraft is procedurally generated one “chunk” at a time, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a much more finite space. It’s big, to be sure. So big that it shipped to customers on two Blu-ray discs. But it’s nowhere near infinite. More importantly, not all of the game’s land masses are contiguous. So, to get them into the game, the developers at Rockstar had to put all of that land somewhere.

With a sturdy horse and access to the game’s massive list of cheat codes, players are beginning to suss out where.

One of players’ earliest discoveries was that they can reach Mexico by heading to the southern part of the map and fording the San Luis River. YouTuber ZacCoxTV shows how its done in a video that’s been viewed nearly a quarter-million times since it was posted late last week.

Once on the other side, you need to spawn-in a horse in order to comfortably explore the El Presidio, a prison that featured prominently in the original game.

There are overlooks where El Presidio is visible that players can easily reach, so it makes sense that developers took the time to recreate it. But once inside, there’s quite a bit more detail to the environment that you might expect there to be. Some fans are even speculating that it could play a role in the upcoming online multiplayer version of the game. If that’s the case, we probably won’t know until the beta goes live later this month.

If you ride a just little bit further, however, strange things start to happen.

The desert begins to fall away. In its place are long, rolling fields of green grass. YouTuber LoAlCo made the trip, and thanks to the game’s cinematic camera, it looks mesmerizing.

Check out the full clip here.

A flat, open space. A lone outlaw with his repeater at the ready. A storm roiling overhead.

A few moments later, they come to what looks like the edge of the world. As the storm passes, there’s a rainbow visible on the horizon. They fire a few arrows into the abyss and then... they leap off.

On the other side of nothingness is Guarma, a tropical island that features prominently in the game’s fifth chapter. In Red Dead Redemption 2, Guarma is located in the Caribbean. Players can’t get even get there without completing a series of quests that end in a boat trip. And once they leave, there’s no way to go back to Guarma without replaying the few missions that take place there.

But Guarma is still there, one long, weird ride away inside the map. Players just need to go to great lengths to reach it.

For all the walls and barriers that developers put up to stop our exploration, players will never stop fighting to cross that border into the unknown. The journey to Guarma crosses the line between in-game fantasy and real-world compromises of modern game development. Here’s hoping there are even more fascinating mysteries in Red Dead Redemption 2 remaining to be discovered.

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