As of last week, Red Dead Redemption 2 owners now have access to the much-anticipated multiplayer portion of the game, Red Dead Online. Rockstar are referring to the launch as a beta, but don’t let that fool you into thinking Read Dead Online is anything less than an expansive, feature-filled world for you and your pals to explore.
For those who’ve been happily trundling through Arthur Morgan’s lethargically-paced story, Red Dead Online may sound like a confusing prospect, mixing an open, multiplayer world with deathmatch shootouts and yes, even a battle royale mode. In case you haven’t yet had the chance to check it out yourself, we’ll give you the rundown here on what to expect in Red Dead Redemption 2’s new multiplayer, as well as how the battle royale Make it Count mode works.
What is Read Dead Online?
Red Dead Online is set in the same world map as Arthur’s single player story, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to bring any of your progress over. Starting out in Red Dead Online involves creating a brand new character and effectively heading back to square one, so you can wave goodbye to that speedy white Arabian.
After customizing your character to impressive detail — you can even adjust your horse whistle — and completing a few tutorial missions, you’ll be free to roam, form posses and make the most of the open world. Hunting, exploring, and encountering strangers, all of it can be done with a partner or two by your side. For the most part, Red Dead Online uses the same base mechanics as the single player, requiring players to manage their Stamina and Health cores as they roam the hills or take down rival gangs. However, it breaks away firmly when it comes to the economy.
The Red Dead Online Economy
Red Dead Online includes two main forms of currency: dollars and gold bars. You can still make cash in Red Dead Online through all the regular means like completing missions or robbing trains, but expect to earn an awful lot less of it and for items to cost a heck of a lot more. To put this in perspective, one disgruntled player took to Reddit after spotting that a gold wedding ring sold for just $1.15, while purchasing a can of beans would set you back $1.50. Weapons are even pricier, costing $600+ for a decent rifle. This is, in large part, thanks to inclusion of a premium currency in the form of gold bars.
While it’s not active yet, players will eventually be able to pay real money to purchase gold bars that speed up progress online. It’s possible to earn gold nuggets that eventually build up to bars by completing multiplayer matches and missions, but current estimates reckon it’ll take roughly eight hours to earn one bar, and that’s if you dedicate yourself solely to competitive modes. Considering even simple weapon and camp upgrades charge anywhere from 10-20 bars, you’ll have to grind for quite a while to earn them if you don’t want to pay.
Rockstar has acknowledged user complaints in this area and promises a patch is on the way this week to make the online economy more rewarding. However, considering the success of GTA Online’s Shark Card microtransactions, we’ll have to wait and see just how much they dial prices back.
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Make It Count With Battle Royale
Free roam forms the core of the Red Dead Online experience, but there are a range of other competitive modes players can take part in too, including Make it Count, Rockstar’s take on the battle royale genre. The full list of competitive modes is as follows:
Shootout/Team Shootout – Deathmatch or team deathmatch.
Most Wanted – Deathmatch in which those higher on the scoreboard are worth more points to kill.
Hostile Territory – A mix of point control and capture the flag.
Name Your Weapon – Deathmatch/Team deathmatch where kills with weaker weapons are worth more points.
Make it Count – Battle royale with knives and bows.
As it stands you can’t choose which competitive mode you want to play, which is a real shame if you’re just here for the battle royale. If you want to hop into Make it Count, you’ll simply have to join a playlist and wait for the mode to cycle round.
Shootout, Most Wanted, Hostile Territory and Name Your Weapon aren’t bad by any means, but they’re far from the game’s finest experience. Red Dead’s weighty movement and oft clunky controls are great for the slow-paced story but quickly prove frustrating in online shootouts. Fortunately, Make it Count ditches most weapons in favor of a tense knife-and-bow experience.
Dumping 16 or 32 players into a spot of wooded wilderness, Make it Count asks players to hunt each other down in a shrinking zone until only one is left standing. Death comes swiftly in a single shot of the bow, meaning it pays to be extra cautious, keeping your eyes open and stalking any targets until you have a clean shot. Ammo is limited too, meaning you’ll often have to risk looting victims to recover some extra shots.
This is no Fortnite though, lacking the reach of more players or even the depth of Blackout mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. There’s no weapon or attachment looting, and long term progression is limited to the clothes you buy your character out in the world. Make it Count is a fun spin on the BR genre, but we can’t see anyone investing the bulk of their time there.
Red Dead Online was almost guaranteed after the success of GTA V’s multiplayer efforts, and while there are a fair few kinks to iron out, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. Form a posse, go for a hunt, rob a train or simply explore the American wild with your mates and you’re sure to have a blast, broken economy or not.
Red Dead Redemption 2 tells the tale of a gang of outlaws struggling to survive as civilization sweeps across the Wild West. Although these narratives aren’t front-and-center, they are some of the most intriguing and hilarious side stories Red Dead has to offer.