Rabbits Won’t Stop Jumping In Front Of My Fucking Horse

I’M AN INNOCENT MAN.
I’M AN INNOCENT MAN.
Screenshot: Rockstar Games / Kotaku
Kotaku Game DiaryKotaku Game DiaryThe latest thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we're playing.

With the release of the PlayStation 5, I’ve taken the opportunity to go back and play through a few games from the previous generation to see how they take advantage of the new console. One of those games is Rockstar’s western epic Red Dead Redemption 2. It’s great fun, but I can’t help but wonder what’s going on with all the suicidal rabbits.

Red Dead Redemption 2, which originally released in 2018, is the perfect mixture of Rockstar’s trademark storytelling and world-building minutiae. As you ride across the game’s dusty trails and plains, the environment flows around you, a living organism unto itself. Buffalo herd and scatter upon your arrival, deer bolt through the woods in search of shelter, and foxes hunt rodents before returning to their dens.

In order to enjoy moments like those described, I’ve spent a lot of time just traveling from place to place without the aid of the game’s fast-travel feature. And while there’s always a new biome or random event around the bend, one thing remains the same no matter where Red Dead Redemption 2 takes me: Rabbits desperately want me to run them over. It’s like they can’t help themselves; as soon as I approach, whether I’m on a road or galloping across open country, they sprint for my horse’s thunderous hooves in an apparent attempt to be trampled underfoot.

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It started out pretty amusing. Whether I was trying to complete a mission for some lowlife scoundrel I had just met or simply heading to town for supplies, I would have to dodge half a dozen rabbits to get where I was going. One moment I’m cresting a hill and admiring the sunset; the next I’m veering off-course to avoid granting Peter Cottontail’s death wish. At times, it was difficult to be sure if I’d dodged the rabbit or not, so I would keep my eye on the radar, waiting for the small pawprint marker that indicates a dead animal. I usually just left the carcasses behind, hoping it might provide a nice meal for a wandering wolf.

Pay close attention to the sides of the trail.

I never felt bad about it until Red Dead Redemption 2 protagonist Arthur Morgan began to confide in his fellow outlaws about the grave sins he’d committed.

At various points in the game, it’s possible to sit down for a chat with other members of Arthur’s gang. While they haven’t unlocked unique quests or rewarded me with cool items—at least not yet—these little moments serve as a chance for Arthur to get into his feelings with his compatriots. Which, in the case of my Arthur, meant confessing that he’d been needlessly killing small animals.

“Oh my god, he’s talking about the rabbits,” I thought to myself as soon as Arthur shared that terrifying little detail with a pretty girl named Tilly.

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Since then, my travels have become more harried. I do everything in my power to avoid rabbits, which continue to rush headlong into my massive horse’s legs like something out of Watership Down. When I hit them, I hop off my steed immediately, skin them, and hang their tiny bodies from my saddle to sell them at a butcher later. So far, it’s done the trick; no more heart-to-hearts with the young women who live back at base camp about animal mutilation. I think if Arthur accidentally kills a rabbit but then does something with it, that counts as a purposeful hunt, and Red Dead Redemption 2 won’t add it to his list of sins.

I can’t explain why rabbits in Red Dead Redemption 2 so fervently wish to be smashed to pieces beneath my horse. Maybe it’s an errant bit of code, or maybe the folks at Rockstar programmed this quirk into the game purposely because they thought it would be funny. What I do know, however, is that I’m not the only person this has happened to. In researching my experiences, I found several posts on the Red Dead Redemption 2 subreddit detailing similar stories of suicidal bunnies, some from as recently as last month.

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I’m very much enjoying my time with Red Dead Redemption 2, mostly because you’re allowed to play the game at your own pace. While I don’t think Arthur Morgan would canonically be concerned about running over a few rabbits, whatever force compels them to carry out these absurd quests for self-destruction has provided a new layer to my own playthrough. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some (actually, make that several) rabbit carcasses to donate to my camp’s chuckwagon.

Staff Writer, Kotaku

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DISCUSSION

ryryelmdweller
ryryelmdweller

I wouldn’t mind the rabbit issue so much if it wasn’t for the “I’m a psychotic monster who tortures animals” talks throughout the game. Those could have been great opportunities for deep storytelling, but since the game counts running over animals as hunting for sport I ended up feeling helpless because I couldn’t stop it from happening.

In my next playthrough I’ll be much more mindful of any animals I accidentally kill, but chances are something will slip through the cracks during a mission and I’ll end up having the same problem.