Over the long holiday weekend, I moved into a new apartment with my girlfriend. It’s been in the works for a while, and as well as we planned it, it still turned into a prohibitive amount of work. I’m worn down by how many times I’ve climbed the front and back steps of the new place, and by just how much work it was to get everything over here. Even after hiring movers, I still feel like I’ve been in constant motion, lifting and carrying every piece of media I own at some point, and while I remain steadfast in my belief that physical media is still the way to go, it took everything I had not to just set it all on fire and run screaming into the night at some point.

One of the few places where I’ve gone completely digital is with my gaming, and only since jumping from the PS3 to the XBox One. I like the entire XBox Live set-up. I like having a digital library I can rotate on and off the hard drive depending on what’s getting played and what’s not. I find it infinitely preferable to having an actual physical library of games, even though there’s no way for me to ever trade a game after buying it, something I did a fair amount of with the PS3 and older machines. By the time I reached the end of my ownership of the PS3, I think I had about 12 games in the house. I was using GameFly and renting games and I was pretty quick to abandon them if I was annoyed in any way.

Buying games digitally has changed my habits entirely. For one thing, I find myself buying older games that I played all the way through at least once, games I already know I love. And when new sequels to those games arrive, I’m likely to purchase those because I trust that I’ll enjoy the new game. That’s been true with recent games like Just Cause 3, Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, Arkham Knight, and Fallout 4, and going back to games like Sleeping Dogs and Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and Just Cause 2 has been terrific, a reminder of why I love games in the first place.

Nothing has me more excited, though, than the knowledge that I will be playing Red Dead Redemption on the XBox One this coming weekend. I just bought the game tonight for a whopping $7.49. That is an absurd price to pay for what I consider the best video game I’ve ever played. Or at the very least, my favorite. I adore that game. It was the perfect combination of gameplay mechanics I enjoyed, a story that I found truly interesting, and the first video game character whose death left me emotionally rattled. There are moments from playing Red Dead Redemption that I will never forget, and the way they feel for me is like actual memories, not something synthetic just enjoyed on a screen. The feeling of sitting on a horse’s back, at the top of a ridge, watching the sun come up over the desert below, or the sensation of defending a train as it’s being attacked, or the creeping realization that I’m dealing with a cannibal and there’s no one for miles around… those are such vivid and full sensory memories for me that it seems crazy to think it was simply part of a game.

I got excited last week because I found a page on the official XBox store’s website for the game, and I thought they had just quietly added it to the “backwards compatible” section. I went to Twitter and got all lathered up and some people gently informed me that I was, as I frequently am, a big overenthusiastic galoot, and completely wrong. I’m going to pretend that it was my enthusiasm that got XBox to finally add the title this coming Friday, July 8, and not just a coincidence. I’m pretty sure I’ve spoken about how much I’ve wanted this to happen at least a dozen times in the last two years.

Are there any older games you consider essential that aren’t currently available for whatever machine it is that you use for gaming? And have your buying habits changed at all with this current generation of game platforms?

Red Dead Redemption gallops into backwards compatibility for the XBox One on Friday. You will not be able to reach me until Monday.

A respected critic and commentator for fifteen years, Drew McWeeny helped create the online film community as "Moriarty" at Ain't It Cool News, and now proudly leads two budding Film Nerds in their ongoing movie education.