Red Dead Redemption 2‘s online mode has entered beta on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Red Dead Online, announced in September, is a continuously evolving cooperative and competitive multiplayer experience in a vein similar to Grand Theft Auto Online. Here’s everything you need to know about Red Dead Online.
While Rockstar views Red Dead Online as a separate game, anyone who owns a copy of Red Dead Redemption 2 gets free access to the experience. However, like almost all online multiplayer games on console, you need either an Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus subscription to play Red Dead Online.
In order to “ease into the beta and to mitigate major issues,” Rockstar granted access to the beta in waves. Once the beta is unlocked for you and you’ve downloaded the update file (roughly 5.5GB), a new “Online” option will show up in the top right corner of the menu screen.
As a separate experience from the main adventure, you won’t play as Arthur Morgan. Instead, when you first hop online, you’ll create your own outlaw. Using the robust customization features, you can fiddle with your abilities to create an outlaw that plays to your strengths. After creating your character, you’ll land at the Sisika Penitentiary, a landmark on the eastern edge of the map. You’ll set up your camp, grab a horse, and search for a treasure.
What you do from there is largely up to you. Here’s a description of what Rockstar says you can do out of the gate:
Explore the world solo or with friends. Form or join a posse to ride with up to seven players; gather around the fire at your Camp; head out hunting or fishing; visit bustling towns; battle enemy gangs and attack their hideouts; hunt for treasure; take on missions and interact with familiar characters from across the five states; fight against other outlaws in both spontaneous skirmishes and pitched set-piece battles; and compete with other players or whole posses in open-world challenges and much more.
Red Dead Online supports 32 players on a server at this time. Story missions are completed cooperatively, but in between each mission, you can travel the map solo and complete missions. You can instantly fast travel to five different areas across the map in free roam.
Six competitive multiplayer modes are available in the beta. Multiplayer playlists are accessible in the menu at any time. You can either join a “Showdown Series,” which supports up to 16 players, or “Showdown Series Large,” which expands the play area and accommodates up to 32 players.
In Red Dead Online, you’ll come across missions that are meant to be played with two to four players. Right now, these missions fall under a storyline called “A Land of Opportunities.”
A Land of Opportunities is a quest line with multiple missions. According to Rockstar, aspects of the missions can change based on your Honor. Once you enter a mission, you’ll be queued up with one to three players.
Like the campaign, a sliding Honor scale will keep track of your deeds — both good and bad. Along with the designed co-op missions, Free Roam Missions will arise when you come across the Stranger Icons, just as they did in the main adventure. Your current Honor rating can affect how these missions play out. If you’ve been a good citizen, you may be asked to help protect strangers. If you’ve been bad, you could be asked to complete another bad deed, like helping felons.
Rockstar teased that “familiar faces” will be found in Red Dead Online, and how they react to you will correlate with your current Honor rating.
Completing activities in Red Dead Online will earn you experience points that increase your rank. You can also unlock items that will improve your skills. A total of 425 Awards can be earned across 12 disciplines, including combat, hunting, sharpshooting, and crimes. Customizable Ability loadouts for mechanics like Dead Eye can be equipped by finding cards and increasing your rank.
As of now, Rockstar’s goal is to have your beta progress carry over into the full release of Red Dead Online, whenever that arrives, and it looks like plans are being solidified at this point.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Rockstar said that it does “not have any plans” to reset progress in Red Dead Online after the end of the beta period, and that a larger update with fixes for stability and changes to the economy would be coming soon. As mentioned below, a release date for the final version of Red Dead Online has not been released yet, and it isn’t exactly clear what will change when the game exits its beta period.
One of the major points of a beta is to get player feedback. Rockstar wants player feedback for both big and small issues, whether it’s a bug or a future content suggestion.
“If you encounter technical issues of any sort, please visit our dedicated Rockstar support site to find help or report these issues,” Rockstar said. To submit feedback about the overall experience, Rockstar has created a page on its site.
Rockstar hasn’t revealed what it has in the works for the future of Red Dead Online, but the experience will undoubtedly change and expand over time.
Red Dead Online will have an in-game store where you can purchase items with gold bars. The initial press release made it seem like gold bars were only for unique cosmetic items, though that’s not exactly the case.
Yes, gold bars can be used for cosmetics, but non-cosmetic items can be bought too. Some weapon customizations are locked behind gold bars, along with other items such as some crafting guides. After you get your first horse, insuring its health demands five gold bars.
If your horse dies uninsured, it takes 2 minutes for it to come back. Interestingly, you can also use gold bars to move your Honor meter back to the middle, which is odd considering your actions are supposed to change how the world interacts with you.
Gold bars take a long time to earn through regular gameplay, so the reliance on them for a few key purchases could turn into a problem as the experience expands.
Rockstar hasn’t put a firm timetable on the beta period, only saying that it could last for “several weeks or months.” Like GTA Online, though, Rockstar will likely support Red Dead Online for years to come.
Updated on December 6, 2018: Added information on beta progress carrying over.