Early on in Red Dead Redemption 2, there’s a pivotal moment for Arthur Morgan. It’s pretty subtle, and while some have might picked up the implications of it, there are many who didn’t pick up on it until much later in the game, if at all.
Since this article will be diving into the ending of Rockstar’s Western, I urge you not to read any further if you don’t want to be spoiled. Scroll past the next image at your own risk – you have been warned.
Okay, so very early on in the game (around Chapter 2) you’ll carry out a mission collecting outstanding debts for Leopold Strauss. There’s plenty of fun to be had in chasing down people who owe the gang money and strong-arming them into paying up.
Unfortunately, you’ll eventually get to a man called Thomas Downes. This unassuming gent owns a farm with his wife and son, and it transpires he borrowed money from Strauss because he’s fallen quite ill, although we don’t know – or care – exactly what his affliction is.
As Arthur begins beating Downes in an attempt to collect the debt, the sickly farmer coughs up blood in the outlaws face. Fairly disgusted, Morgan rides away and the adventure continues. Most gamers, myself included, didn’t really give this moment a second thought.
Check it out below.
Of course, if you’ve gotten towards the end of Red Dead Redemption 2, you’ll eventually learn that Arthur has contracted tuberculosis. This disease was nothing short of a death sentence back in the days of the old West, and sure enough players are forced to watch poor Arthur Morgan waste away as the game draws to a close.
Nothing can stop Arthur’s fate, despite the fact that some players have actually desperately searched the game for a way to cure the disease.
While it’s alluded to in some quieter moments (like the one below) that beating Mr Downes is how Arthur got TB, there are plenty of gamers who got through the entire game and never realised exactly when he caught the disease.
Watching Arthur waste away to nothing and not being able to do anything to help is genuinely heartbreaking, and now you know the root cause of it all, if you didn’t already.
It just goes to show that Red Dead Redemption 2 really is a video game that speaks the loudest during its quietest moments.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.