Rockstar Games has confirmed that its next game will take players back to the Wild West with a sequel to 2010's Red Dead Redemption. The follow-up, simply entitled Red Dead Redemption 2, is set for an autumn 2017 release date for Xbox One and PS4 and marks the first major release from the studio since its open-world opus, Grand Theft Auto 5.
A brief synopsis on Rockstar's website reads: "An epic tale of life in America's unforgiving heartland, the game's vast and atmospheric world will also provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience." The developer also announced that a debut trailer will arrive on 20 October at 4pm BST (11am EST).
The announcement follows two days of increasingly unsubtle references to the Red Dead franchise via Rockstar Games' Twitter account. On Monday (16 October), a tweet and subsequent post on Rockstar's official website showed off an updated company logo in black set against a pastel-shaded red, reminiscent of the artwork for the series.
The following day, a larger, more on-the-nose tease depicted seven gun-slinging characters in silhouette against the back drop of a bright orange sun and blood-red sky. Some had speculated that the artwork is the official poster for the sequel to the Xbox 360 and PS3 classic.
Red Dead Redemption 2 will technically be the third game in the Red Dead franchise, with the lesser-known but equally well-received Red Dead Revolver launching on PS2 and Xbox in 2004. Revolver was re-released on PS4 on 11 October, five days before Rockstar's first sequel-teasing tweet.
The confirmation ends months of speculation, peaking in the run up to E3 2016, with rumours suggesting that the title would be announced at Sony's press conference. Take-Two Interactive had previously noted in May that the Grand Theft Auto developer was working on a new project and teased a forthcoming announcement.
Following the artwork post, eagle-eyed Twitter users spotted that the URL "reddeadonline.com" was redirecting to Rockstar's official website and that the domain is registered to its parent company, Take-Two Interactive.
Judging by the name alone, 'Red Dead Online' could take cues from the ridiculously popular Grand Theft Auto Online portion of GTA 5.
Originally released on Xbox 360 and PS3 before later arriving on Xbox One, PS4 and PC, the separate online multiplayer mode has been continuously fleshed out with a plethora of free content updates to maintain the interest of its enormous user-base.
The most recent major update was themed around biker gangs, with players able to form their own Hells Angels-esque 'Motorcycle Club' and purchase new vehicles, clothing items and get inked with biker-themed tattoos.
With the debut Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer just days away, why not pass the time by judging whether IBTimes UK's efforts at guessing potential names for the latest Red Dead game were any better than the official one.