What caught me off guard from the outset was the existence of enemy characters with their own dick-ish agency. A villain had fled on horseback, and I pursued him on a horse of my own. I shot his horse, and he fell off. What I expected was the usual Red Dead way of doing things, where I execute my foe after telling him something like, "We all have our regrets for the things we've done ..." or whatever. Instead, bandit Javier Escuella, sensing the opportunity to make me feel foolish, simply ran over to me, pushed me off my horse, and rode away on it, as if it had been his master plan all along.
Could video games do that to you? Was this the first time that this had ever happened? Had I just witnessed some grand fluke that would appear only once and then leave me telling my disbelieving friends that I was now the subject of an X-File? And then that s**t happened twice in a row, and it was like the game had discovered my Achilles heel of not being very good at Red Dead Redemption.
I still maintain it's a serious design flaw to build horses without a seat belt.
People talk about exploiting game mechanics, but was I such an idiot that the game had realized it and begun exploiting me? It was the closest that I'll ever come to being in a sequel to Her, and it took a while for me to cope with the fact that when you have so many internal parts all working at the same time, eventually one of those parts is going to do something that surprises you. They're not all going to shoot, reload, and then peek over to see if you're still sniping them. A few of them are going to pull your pants down and steal your property while you're trying to do something really cool. And a fraction of those will do it over and over again until you light the problem on fire and write it all off as a necessary measure in your war against criminals and humiliation.