I'm starting to think he might be right. I just got Red Dead a few days ago and I've only spent half my time actually doing missions. I've helped half a dozen strangers, hunted and picked flowers, took a ride on a train, attacked a gang hangout, and just rode my horse around the world.
And when I do go for missions they feel so much more personal than literal Grand Theft Auto games, there you feel like a hired (or in many cases threatened) gun most of the time, in Red Dead you feel like you're helping friends. I think part of it is that you're not running around killing civilians in this game, it really affects how it plays out.
And even doing missions, It's not like John Marston actually wants to be doing everything he does. I find the entire game is one long emotional journey for John.
The very last thing you do (don't worry, no spoilers) made me realize why it's actually called "Redemption."
Btw...if you wanna play online, I'm always looking for someone to play with. I'm level 28.