Red Dead Redemption 2 will saddle up and ride to the PlayStation 4 next Christmas, but what do we want from Rockstar's long-awaited Western? In this article, we consider some tweaks that the label could make to improve upon its PlayStation 3 predecessor, and also we fantasise over some features that we'd like to find their way into the game.

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Keep single player and multiplayer separate

The prolonged popularity of Grand Theft Auto Online should give some indication as to how important multiplayer will ultimately be to Red Dead Redemption 2, but we're hoping that Rockstar keeps the modes separate. There's nothing wrong with a bit of line blurring a la Watch Dogs or Dark Souls, but in order to deliver the dark humour and set-pieces that we've all come to expect from the label's releases, then it's important that this sequel has a standalone story mode – even if, like Los Santos, its multiplayer ultimately shares the same sandbox world.

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Stick with a single protagonist

Grand Theft Auto V's crossover story approach was ambitious and it worked better than it had any real right to do. But even despite such praise, we still prefer the tale of John Marston, which forces you to fall in love with the character before he meets his poignant end. While the ending to Red Dead Redemption was divisive, it's the kind of conclusion that could only succeed by laser-focusing on a single figure, and while we're hoping for a different kind of tale here, we've very much got our fingers crossed that it'll all revolve around one protagonist.

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A decent control scheme, please

Rockstar doesn't like following trends; its disregard for tradition is part of what makes the company's software stand out. But the label's output sometimes shines in spite of itself, with its titles riddled with bad control schemes. Red Dead Redemption was no different, shunning traditional third-person combat in favour of Grand Theft Auto IV's swimmy auto-targeting method. This made for a bad deathmatch experience, as well as some sub-par combat encounters, which were only saved by great audio and animation work. The publisher's penchant for making you tap X to sprint is also an exhausting inclusion, which we hope is finally removed with this sequel.

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Health bars aren't healthy

Red Dead Redemption featured fully regenerating health – and for good reason, as far as we're concerned. Given the amount of times John Marston could be ambushed by wild cougars or bears during one of his infamous hunts for rare flowers, having the option to run like hell and gradually get your life back was a godsend. With that in mind, we're hoping that Rockstar opts to keep the same health system for Red Dead Redemption 2, because we really don't like the thought of being mauled by a big furry animal and having to go all the way back to a town just to find a health pack.

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Encounters of the crazy kind

Random encounters added a lot of character to Red Dead Redemption's world, so we'd definitely like to see them make a return. Whether it was that poor guy getting chased across the plains by a pack of snappy little coyotes or that group of bandits who'd ambush you in the middle of nowhere, dynamic events added an element of unpredictability to your travels, and without them, we dare say that the game's vast and open map would have seemed a little lifeless. Bring them back Rockstar, and don't be afraid to make them even crazier than before.

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The hunt is on

In articles like this one, it's easy to start painting pictures of an ideal, but ultimately unrealistic game. However, we reckon that bounty hunting is one area that Rockstar really could go the extra mile with. In Red Dead Redemption, you could pick up wanted posters and set off to either capture or kill your target. These optional missions were a nice extra, but they could be so much more in Red Dead Redemption 2. What if each bounty took you on a gradual chase across the map, as you slowly but surely gathered information on the criminal in question? What if you had to use tracking skills to pick up their trail through the wilds? By getting to know each scumbag, you'd build up your own reasons to take them down – just like in some of the best Western movies.

What would you like to see in Red Dead Redemption 2? Are we bang on with these suggestions, or do your hopes for the sequel sit elsewhere? Shake some snake oil in the comments section below.