This week, Rockstar Games launched the beta for Red Dead Online, the hotly anticipated multiplayer mode for Red Dead Redemption 2 on PS4 and Xbox One. Much like in the original game, players will be able to take part in missions, themed events, and take out rival players as they explore the massive open world at their leisure. This time, however, Red Dead Online is taking more cues from Grand Theft Auto V‘s online mode, allowing you to create your own character and build up their influence as they rub shoulders with some of Red Dead’s most well-known individuals.
With the beta, players will get an early look at what to expect from the online experience of Red Dead 2. Unlike the main story, the entire map is available to explore early on, allowing you to freely move about once you’ve gotten your feet wet. During our time spent exploring and taking part in a variety of events, we had a number of takeaways of how Red Dead Online functions as a whole, which we’ve detailed here in this feature. In addition to some familiar faces making a return, we’ve also gotten a better look at the new character progression system, which is a big change from the main story. There was certainly a lot to take in with how Red Dead Online works, be sure to share your thoughts below on what stuck out for you with the new mode.
Rockstar has been gradually rolling more players into the beta over the course of this week. As of Friday, all players players will be able to dive in and experience the online mode. If you want to see when you can play, check out our rundown on the Red Dead Online release schedule.
For more on Red Dead Online, be sure to keep up with our continuing coverage. And if you’re still playing the main story, be sure to check out our guide on the hidden weapons in the game, along with some other strange events and easter eggs that are worth keeping an eye out for.
It’s Set Before The Main Story
Taking place sometime before the events of Red Dead Redemption 2’s story–just prior to the disastrous Blackwater heist that forced the Van der Linde gang on the run–you’ll play as a newly incarcerated prisoner in Sisika Penitentiary. After creating your character, you’ll quickly dive into the lengthy tutorial detailing the new systems–such as the new ability cards, multiplayer, and co-op, you’ll also get to know some of the new characters exclusive to the online mode. Once you’ve set up your own camp, you’re free to take part in a number of activities, which include horse racing, co-op missions, and of course competitive gunfights with rivals. By setting the online mode’s story before the main game’s plot, it will allow newcomers and those that haven’t finished the main story to dive into the different setting spoiler-free.
Familiar Faces Return
While exploring the online world, you’ll come across many new characters in your travels who won’t be seen outside of Red Dead Online. However, some missions will not only have you cross paths with some returning characters from Red Dead 2, but also those from the previous game. In one early mission, your character will meet up with the Davies brothers, who helped Arthur Morgan flip stolen horses during the main story. In RDO, they assist you with purchasing horses and supplies, and will even offer up a free upgrade from your default steed. In another, more surprising appearance, players will meet up with Bonnie MacFarlane, a returning character from the original game who is notably absent from Red Dead 2’s single-player story. Just like in GTA Online, you’ll see different sides of some returning characters, as they task you with helping them out with various missions.
There’s A Battle Royale Mode
Similar to Red Dead 1’s online mode, there are a variety of gameplay modes to dive into. In addition to free-roam, letting you loose in the open world, there’s also a suite multiplayer modes called the Showdown Series. By selecting this option, you can join different multiplayer modes, including team-deathmatch, capture the territory, and free-for-all. However, Red Dead Online is also taking cues from the biggest trend in recent years, allowing you to take part in the open world western’s take on the popular battle royale game-mode. Known as Make It Count, this mode puts 32 players together in a large-scale skirmish to see who’s the top outlaw. Armed with a bow and arrow, and along with a knife, you’ll have to use your wits and quick reflexes to stay one step ahead of the others, all while the field of battle shrinks down. Here’s a list of the multiplayer modes on-hand in RDO.
- Shootout & Team Shootout: Classic gunfight modes with unlimited lives. Compete to rack up the most kills before the timer runs out. Sudden death will trigger in the event of a tie: whoever gets the first kill wins.
- Make it Count: A true test of resourcefulness in two game modes: use nothing but a bow and a handful of arrows or throwing knives to be the last one standing. With a gradually shrinking player area, there’s nowhere to run.
- Most Wanted: A tactical race to the top. Every kill pushes you up the scoreboard, but watch out: the closer to the top you are, the more points everyone else gets for killing you.
- Hostile Territory: Work in teams to control the land. Capture a territory to start racking up points: the team with most points wins – or you can win outright by capturing every territory.
- Name your Weapon: Demonstrate your personal specialty in this free-for-all or team based match: the trickier the weapon you use to land the killing blow, the more points you get.
Character Growth Works A Bit Differently
In Red Dead Redemption 2’s campaign, the Cores systems divide Arthur’s attributes across three different areas: Health Stamina, and Dead Eye. To upgrade these areas, you simply have to perform actions associated to each area, which included hunting, fist-fighting, shooting, and sprinting long distances. While the basic concept of Cores carry over to Red Dead Online, actual character growth is very different. During character creation, you’ll be able to form the basis of your character’s stats–letting you put points into whichever attributes you prefer. Your character will gradually rank up after gaining enough experience points and acquire Ability Vouchers to unlock new perks–including the perk A Moment To Recuperate, which allows health regen during Dead Eye. With up to four perks available to you, one focused on Dead Eye, and the others offering passive traits that help you and your teammates, you’ll be able to gradually mold your character into the style of outlaw you wish.
The New Economy
Over the course of your journey moving up the outlaw ladder in New Hanover and New Austin, you’ll slowly acquire more funds to purchase better gear and resources. Many of the systems and the economy from the base game carry over, but with the online mode, there have been some changes to make things a bit more balanced. In addition to access being restricted by your level, many of the items are much more expensive compared to the single-player mode. Along with earning cold, hard cash money from fallen enemies, completing missions, and looting chests, you’ll also acquire gold, which is used to purchase premium items. Unsurprisingly, many of the more elite items in Online will require gold, which can be found on your own, or purchased with real money (though this option is not yet available).
There’s much more to see and find in Red Dead Online, and we’re still learning more about what the mode has to offer. Be sure to check out our roundup of all the details in RDO.
Red Dead Online:
- Red Dead 2’s Online Battle Royale-Style Mode, Free Roam Activities Outlined
- Red Dead 2’s Online Co-Op Missions, Story, And Honor System Detailed
- Red Dead 2 Online Adds More Players; Full Beta Release Date Schedule
- Red Dead Online: How To Get Pre-Order And Special Edition Bonuses
- Red Dead 2 Online Microtransactions To Let You Buy Gold, But Not Yet