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Is it necessary to play RDR1 before starting RDR2?

I haven’t. I only returned to video gaming actively about a year ago, after a many-year hiatus that began before RDR1 even came out. RDR2 is sort of a prequel in the sense that it’s set earlier in time. I’m sure I’m missing the significance of some elements of the story in RDR2 (characters that also appear in RDR1, but under changed circumstances) but it’s no impediment to playing the game, really. It might help to have some vague idea of what RDR1 is about, though. That’s not terribly difficult given that, again, it’s such a cult game that coming across spoilers is almost inevitable. I hope to get around to RDR1 at some point after finishing RDR2. Part of the gameworld is the same, though it’s much expanded in RDR2.