Red Dead Redemption 2 Articles RSS Feed | Red Dead Redemption 2 RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network In Defense Of Smaller World Maps: Bigger Isn't Necessarily Better Thu, 28 Mar 2019 16:29:46 -0400 RobotsFightingDinosaurs

Every writer has a backlog of hot takes sitting in their draft folder on Twitter. Old classics such as:

"Actually, Majora's Mask is a better Legend of Zelda game than Ocarina of Time."

And of course, forbidden opinions that should never see the light of day like:

"Actually, The Simpsons Hit and Run is a better game than all of the Grand Theft Auto games except for GTAV."

This list of controversial gaming opinions gets longer and longer every day, until something snaps and the writer's truth must be told.

Well, today was the breaking point for me and it's time to speak some truth. In an open-world game, a smaller world map is, in almost every case, better than a larger one.

Case Studies

Image via NexusMods

There have been tons of open world games thus far in 2019 and late 2018, all of varying quality. From the relatively well-received The Division 2 to the disappointing Anthem and Fallout 76, developers have continued a years-long trend of using map size as a selling point for their games.

The Division 2 doubled down on the size of the map as a selling point, claiming that their version of Washington DC. was a 1:1 scale replica of the actual Washington DC. The claim was largely backed up with Google Maps and Street View comparisons.

For real-world locations, this can be really cool. Exploring fictionalized versions of San Francisco in Watch Dogs 2, Los Angeles in Grand Theft Auto V, and New York City in countless games is a ton of fun. Doubly so if you live in the city that's being represented. (Still waiting for a good recreation of Chicago, game devs. No, Watch Dogs doesn't count. Chicago is not a series of islands.)

Larger maps seem to be equated with having more to do in the mind of the consumer, but it's not easy for developers to fill them with interesting content. Consider Grand Theft Auto V, and its more recent Rockstar-developed compadre Red Dead Redemption 2.

The former has an alive and bustling metropolis in Los Santos, but that's only a relatively small portion of the map. There are gigantic swaths of land in GTAV that are just empty desert or forest, devoid of life and excitement. Sure, there are things to do -- there are always side missions to be found, and if all else fails, you can blow stuff up and see what happens, but the fun isn't particularly concentrated. 

This goes double for a game like Red Dead Redemption 2The vistas are beautiful and varied, and ostensibly a large point of the game was for the player to enjoy the journey from point A to point B. That's all well and good, but if the journey is the same five-to-seven minute affair every time, no matter how beautiful the journey is, it'll get samey pretty fast and a player will want to skip past it.

Games like Crackdown and Saints Row get around this by making the simple act of traversing the map a huge part of the fun. Other games don't really have that luxury and the concentration of activities and diversions really becomes a problem, especially for folks striving for 100% completion.

Thinking Small

Image via Engadget

In my extremely well-researched, and therefore incredibly correct opinion, the gold standard for a map in an open-world game is the four-or-five square block maps of the Yakuza series. 

Before you get your pitchforks out, hear me out on this. 

Yakuza's maps are small, yes, but they're absolutely packed with things to do, many times mere steps from one another. Having the entire scope of the game condensed into a relatively small box means that every single aspect of the map can be fleshed out in a way that is unique compared to other open-world games.

There aren't any buildings that look copy-and-pasted, each and every business name, apartment sign, lamppost, and public park looks unique and distinct from each other one.

All this makes movement easier, too. Individual streets are not just distinct and recognizable, but there are only a few of them in the game. You don't need to use a map to, say, get to a mission that's at the Club Sega on South Nakamichi street. You've passed by that landmark a million times, you know where it is.

Subconsciously, this does a lot to keep the looming specter of dissonance away. Every time a player pauses the game to check the map, the action stops and the player is ripped away from the experience of escaping into the world of the game for a bit. It's necessary to have a small map if the goal is for the player to have a clear and, above all, detailed mental map of the game world. 

Super Mario Odyssey wasn't just a master class in 3D platforming, it was also a perfect case study for something like this. In creating a ton of smaller worlds, the developers made it easier for players to make mental landmarks, and therefore, learn the map.

Other great open-world games know this as well. I loved Spider-Man (PS4) for many reasons, but one of them was that its New York was both full of landmarks and highly condensed.

Like the Kamurocho of the Yakuza series, Spider-Man's New York City only takes a few minutes to traverse if you're swinging around like a maniac, and the placement of waypoints and landmarks on-screen made it easy to know both where you were and where you were going at any time.

And although, yes, Spider-Man (PS4)'s map was a few orders of magnitude bigger than Yakuza's, the key is that, due to key design choices, it felt small. Moving around it was quick and painless, with no lulls in getting from point A to point B.

You'd never have the Skyrim problem of thinking you needing to travel 500-ish meters to your next objective before realizing you'll actually need to traverse around a mountain to get there, then either go 2000 meters out of your way or try to break the game's physics and brute force your way over the mountain with a horse.

These things make a map seem huge and empty.

Another thing that the Yakuza series does in service of its maps is to make it a point to allow the player to actually enter and patronize many of the buildings around the streets of Kamurocho. This is half the fun of the game; exploring the shops and entertainment venues around town and taking advantage of their minigames. The way all of these diversions are condensed gives the player a feeling that they're not a tacked-on part of the game world, they're integral to giving the world life.

This affects side missions, too. There are very few optional quests in the Yakuza series that are simple fetch quests, or "go over there and kill some guys" missions. And when they are, they're all wrapped up in a narrative that is either silly, heartwarming, or wonderfully bittersweet. You care about the characters -- they're all named, voiced, and have lives distinct from what the player character is doing at any given time. 

Defining "Scope"

This kind of stuff is important in a world-building sense. Scope isn't just a question of the square footage in a game's world map, it's a question of density. An empty-feeling, but huge open world doesn't have the scope that a small map that's packed with life and activities does. It's analogous to a high-quality photo that can either be viewed in all of its glory in its original size, or can be blown up, causing visual glitches, blur, and pixelation. 

For me, and I believe a whole lot of other gamers, the question of resolution is more important than the question of scale.

Scale is important if, and only if, a game developer needs more space to cram in activities and features to a map that's already packed to the brim with truly interesting stuff to do. Otherwise, it's just empty space for taking screencaps of beautiful vistas and taking part in random shootouts, but not much more. Red Dead Redemption 2 can get away with this because it is, at its heart, a game about isolation. Few other games have that excuse.

Red Dead Online Beta Update Coming February 26 Wed, 20 Feb 2019 16:02:13 -0500 QuintLyn

On February 26, Red Dead Online Beta players will have a slew of new content to enjoy, with the game's first title update set to introduce new Free Roam Events, Showdown Modes, and Races. 

The game's new Free Roam Event, called Fool's Gold, is reportedly a unique twist on the spirit of the Old West. Players will compete to control a protective suit of armor made out of gold, but there's a catch: Whoever owns the suit might be protected when they're wearing it, but they'll have to fight to keep it.

While wearing the armor, players will earn points for their kills, which will only make it that much more appealing to other players as those points can be added to the attacker's totals.

For those looking for something maybe a bit less dangerous, the update will also introduce Fishing Challenges. Players can opt in to attempt the challenges, at which point they'll be supplied all the gear they need to compete. There are different types of challenges based on where the players are fishing and the supplies provided will be appropriate to the body of water.

To make things even more relaxed, fishers involved in a challenge won't have to worry about being shot.

As for Red Dead Online's new Showdown Modes, three are in the works: Up in Smoke, Soils of War, and Plunder. Unfortunately, details on these haven't been provided as of yet.

However, the update will also introduce new weapons to the game, including a high-capacity repeater rifle, and a rare shotgun. Players can also expect new clothing designed to make their characters even more unique.

There will also be a series of balances and changes, which are detailed on the Rockstar site.

To celebrate the upcoming update, Rockstar Games is holding a special Bonus XP week. All week long, players can earn 20% more XP on everything they do in the game. Rockstar also encourages players to be on the lookout for more events, giveaways, and additions while they continue to prepare Red Dead Online for the official release. 

Previously, the developer released several updates that focused on the game's economy and griefing. Other updates have introduced various modes and tweaks as well, including Gun Rush and matchmaking improvements. 

The Pinkertons Sue RockStar Over Their Inclusion In Red Dead Redemption 2 Tue, 15 Jan 2019 15:19:21 -0500 QuintLyn

While most of us might think of the Pinkertons as a part of American history long past, the security company still exists as part of the firm Securitas AB. As it turns out, they're not happy with Take-Two Interactive using their "likeness"  in their popular open word western, Red Dead Redemption 2. In fact, the company is demanding royalties for the Pinkerton name being used in the game.

For those unfamiliar, the Pinkerton's were established in the mid-1800s. During the Civil War, they worked as personal security for Abraham Lincoln and did everything from guarding military contractors to functioning as a private law enforcement organization. They were also very involved in putting down union strikes during the late 19th and early 20th century, which makes them more villain than hero to a lot of people.

Unsurprisingly, this isn't the first time the Pinkertons have been represented in popular media. In fact, Wikipedia lists over 30 movies, TV shows, and other entertainment media in which the company has been depicted.

This does, however, appear to be the first time the organization has taken issue with a company depicting them in a work.

Securitas AB sent a cease-and-desist order to Take-Two regarding the two Pinkerton agents depicted in the game: Andrew Milton and Edgar Ross. The company claims that Take-Two's inclusion of the duo in the game might give the impression Red Dead Redemption 2 is connected with the Pinkertons in some way, and that people might even think they made the game.

Securitas AB also demands that Take-Two pay Pinkerton, either in a lump sum or in royalties.

Take-Two, for their part, has filed a counter-claim, noting that their depiction of the Pinkerton agents is protected by the First Amendment. They go on to note as we did above that the agency has been included in a large amount of popular media, particularly that dealing with the "Wild West."

For example, the agency is even referenced in BioShock Infinite.

As the Red Dead Redemption series has proven extremely popular, where we raved about the newest entry, Take-Two contends that the Pinkertons are trying to cash in.

As the complaints are still relatively new, it will be a bit before we find out the actual outcome. One thing is certain, however: Whatever the outcome, it will be an interesting statement regarding copyright in popular media.

A copy of Take-Two's counterclaim can be found below. And, as always, check back with us for future updates on this situation.

Take-Two Interactive vs. Pi... by on Scribd

Red Dead Online Updates Look to Stop Griefing Thu, 10 Jan 2019 14:14:14 -0500 William R. Parks

Since the release of Red Dead Online, griefing has been a frequent topic of conversation amongst the community, with some players indicating that the game's open approach to PvP often makes it difficult to simply explore or complete missions. It seems that Rockstar has heard these concerns, and the company has recently announced its plan to address them.

Rockstar's approach to combatting griefing in Red Dead Online is three-fold, and it begins with forthcoming changes to the game's law and bounty systems. Specifically, there will be an increased incentive for players that commit crimes to pay off their bounties promptly, lest they be hunted down by a squad of NPC bounty hunters.

Additionally, the company will be making it easier to initiate parleys, an option that allows players to become temporarily immune to the damage of a repeated assailant. Currently, players can start a parley after being killed four times by a single opponent, and this change may mean that number will be decreased in the future.

Conversely, Rockstar will be making it easier to start feuds as well. Feuds function as the counterpart to parleys, allowing players to engage in structured PvP battles in the open world, and increasing their accessibility could help satisfy PvP-hungry players before they resort to consistently killing those that want to play more passively.

Finally, Red Dead Online players will see a change to how player locations are displayed. As it stands, blips for all active players can be seen on the world map, which makes it easy for dedicated killers to target an individual and hunt them down repeatedly.

Under the new system, blips will only be visible when players are in close proximity, making it easier to evade unwanted combat. Rockstar also plans to establish a mechanic that makes the blips of aggressive players visible across longer distances, which will allow players to avoid these bloodthirsty individuals or work together to take them down.

Rockstar has not provided a specific date for any of these changes, but players that have been experiencing issues with griefing may be happy to know that they are in the works. In the mean time, Red Dead Online's new battle royale variant, Gun Rush, could keep PvP-focused players occupied and out of Free Roam.

More details on Gun Rush and Red Dead Online's upcoming updates can be found on Rockstar's website.

Red Dead Online Still Finding Footing As Rockstar Receives Feedback From Beta Launch Sat, 22 Dec 2018 05:00:01 -0500 jdaugherty

It's been nearly a month since Read Dead Online beta launched and added a new dimension to one of the most celebrated games of 2018. After a trickled rollout the servers opened up to all players November 30th who were eager to give their opinion on how the steady paced western translates as an online multiplayer.

The reviews for Red Dead Online have been a mixed bag. The game has garnered praise for its sim-like qualities but Rockstar still has a long way to go to address player issues with pacing, world building, and the in game economy. 

Taking place right before the events of Red Dead Redemption 2, the online prequel removes the pressure of completing the main story. However, some players feel this has made the world feel limited.

As it stands, Red Dead Online seems to be suffering from a lack of player base in an otherwise simplified version of the RDR2 world (also known as Fallout 76 syndrome). Even the aesthetic and interactive elements of the wild west of the full game have been streamlined leaving some finding the online experience unsatisfying.

This general approach to online games seems to be an issue in captivating the fanbase. You start with a character build, editing their appearance and attributes before joining a posse or setting off to explore. Whether with a group or solo players compete in horse races and complete narrative driven missions like raiding outlaw camps. 

The controls have proven to be as unpredictable as the modes as the mechanics of RDR2 seem incompatible to these styles of game play. Aim assist can help, but movements are slow and steady, making rapid combat frustrating for many. 

Free roam events, PvP challenge with up to 16 players known as the "Showdown Series" where players encounter five modes of play including Shootout Mode and Hostile Territory. 

Unfortunately, you don't get to choose a preferred mode of play and are stuck cycling through them randomly like an iPod shuffle. The game will notify you of these showdowns and their locations allowing you to warp to the right area on the map. Fast travel doesn't come free, though. Be prepared to spend $4-11 per warp, which could be pretty steep for players just starting out.

This brings us to biggest complaint facing RDO so far: the checks and balances.  

The Gold Standard Isn't Cheap

When logging on to the RDO servers you'll be starting from scratch with a new character and a simple revolver. This could be worse -- 19th century weaponry isn't known for being endlessly eclectic. What's really got users annoyed is the major cost for even minor modifications.

A popular example has been the cost of changing the revolver to an all black finish which will run you a whopping 12 gold bars. With some estimating that 1 gold bar = ~8 hrs of play, it's clear that gold bars are a premium and rare currency. 

Gold nuggets are earned through completing missions. Earning 100 gold nuggets will net you one gold bar. It's pretty safe to bet that gold bars are available for in game purchase using real world funds based on how hard they are to get. The current prices range from 25 gold bars for $25 to 350 gold bars for $99.99 -- mind you, that's real world money.

While cosmetic changes have become a popular way for developers to squeeze a few more dollars out of players, many are put off by the buying power of the in-game dollar. Upgraded weapons range from $350 to $1k+.

When compared to the prices of the times and the payouts from playing, prices seem heavily inflated. Selling a $35 Mauser pistol for a grand wouldn't be so egregious if the endless grind produced more than a few hundred dollars for a few hours of play. Prices seem disproportionate for most goods. For example, a gold wedding ring costs $1.15 but a can of baked beans is $1.50. Hm. 

This also would be more manageable if so much of your currency didn't have to be reserved for survival. One of the core immersive elements of Red Dead Redemption 2 has been the need to hunt, trade, and live off the grid in a hyper-realistic way. To keep your character, your horse and your weapons in good working order, you’ll need to spend cash on sustenance items, like food, shelter and gun oil.

Even playing with a group in the online world can cost you. RDO does support up to seven players in a posse but it costs $200 in-game. 

This hasn't gone over well with players. Rockstar has responded to fans saying prices will be scaled back and transactions will be refunded for in game currency with a bonus 12 gold bars thrown in to be delivered to all players by 12/24.

These limitations have forced players to get creative. Some players are already using the racing mode to farm gold, cash, and XP. Rewards are received for every race entered that completes, even if they receive a DNF for not finishing it. This has resulted in some players circling around the start for 14 minutes rather than participating. While this may be working for some, these elements have been a drag for fans looking for an immersive multiplayer. 

Losing the Plot

The currency grind reveals one of the bigger issues with RDO: the oversimplification of the gameplay. Red Dead Redemption 2 is all about utilizing the beauty of simplicity to add to the realism. In an online world where cash is king, though, these simple tasks can become chores quickly. 

Rockstar designed some elements to offset this that may be improved on in the future. A good example is how the honor system will affect the plot that unfolds for you. Depending on your honor level, different free roam missions will be available. Honorable players may receive requests to protect a convoy against attacks from gangs. Ruffians may be the one doing the attacking instead.

A Land of Opportunities is the name given to an ongoing series of co-operative missions for two to four players. Rockstar has stated they intend to continuously build on these missions which could offer opportunities for a more balanced reward system and engaging storytelling. 

A world of outlaws does mean you'll have to watch your back. Currently there are no PvE server meaning your experience in the online world can be up to the mercy of other players and you can't isolate activities with a set group. This may change in the future, but Rockstar is already having trouble handling the servers they do have. If you've been booted with error 0x21002001 you know what we're talking about. The weak servers and odd physics being reported by players are part of the beta experience, but beyond the bugs Red Dead Online still has a lot going for it. 

The Silver Lining

There are some shortcuts added to the online world to enhance the experience. The addition of a personal catalogue allows you to  buy guns, ammo, oil and more that's delivered right to your camp. 

Also, unlike in the main game, horses in Red Dead Online don’t really seem to die. Your first horse will have insurance, but any horses you buy after that will cost five gold bars to insure. The insurance accelerates returns, but even uninsured horses respawn. Be careful that no one steals your horses. Hit left on the d-pad go to the stables option to edit who can ride your horse.

As mentioned above, missions are narrative based, providing players with the chance to complete multi-part missions which can change based on your actions. There are leaks of these missions turning into a full story for Read Dead Online. Even though the single player campaign is massive, the online world is likely where all additional content will exist from now on. This could be a blessing or a curse depending on if Rockstar finds a unique direction for online by taking the lead from the story without turning into a copypasta.

These missions reward players decently but you can only get the cash reward once per mission. Replays just give you experience. Keep in mind is that you’ll earn fewer rewards if you die and restart from a checkpoint. Payouts range from $30-250. 

If you're spoiler-phobic, the missions may not be your thing. This strategy will disrupt the story mode from being linear if you haven't finished the main RDR2 campaign yet. It won't, however, reveal the ending. Red Dead Online is a prequel to the main game, though it’s not entirely clear how early. Players have triangulated known information and concluded a little before the Blackwater heist that kicked off the main game’s story campaign.

If you want to use the online mode as more of a cowboy sim, focus on gathering resources and hunting. You can go to a butcher to sell the pelts/feathers/claws/carcasses and to a doctor's office to sell the herbs to profit from free-roaming. 

Whichever style you prefer, make sure you check on your ability cards from time to time. As you level up more cards will be available and can be exchanged for in-game currency as well. Some cards regenerate health or deal more damage which could expedite your exploring.

Rockstar Promises New Frontiers

So, what's next for Read Dead Online? The refunds indicate that Rockstar plans to increase the cashflow in general. This rollout has already left some users wary, though. Many wonder if the price drop will be just enough to appease players while still pushing a grind that tempts them into purchasing gold bars.

The developers already announced they are reducing the prices of "...most weapons in the Wheeler, Rawson & Co Catalogue and Gunsmiths. For players that have already purchased weapons at the previous prices, we will automatically deposit the difference to player balances." 

Rockstar also announced a rebalancing of the values of select pelts, skins and fish as well as horse reviver and pamphlets. They also promised they aren't done tweaking the Red Dead Online economy, “We are conscious of and still evaluating an assortment of further adjustments based on feedback from the community," they wrote on their site. 

With two patches last week, they seem to be good for their word. And yet the online still doesn't feel well rounded. Empty world, non engaging NPCs, and multiplayer options that don't quite capture the dynamic storytelling of the single player offline mode are all roadblocks.

Online games like GTA rely heavily on repetitive gameplay, and Read Dead Online will have to develop greater player control over PvP modes and address issues with farming to build an active community. Even those that are there just to explore will need more interactive elements to maintain the general intricacy that made Red Dead Redemption 2 so real. 

Despite the slow news rollout, Rockstar has been open about this beta being a testing ground and are urging users to provide feedback about how to improve the experience. Add your thoughts in the comments, post on social media, and make sure to @Rockstar to see if they maintain their honor or go full outlaw in future updates.

These 3 Strategy DLCs Should Have Been in the GOTY Conversation Wed, 02 Jan 2019 12:14:55 -0500 Fox Doucette

The debate over game of the year invariably involves big, AAA titles with lots of advertisement hype and Hollywood-like gross revenue numbers.

But what if I told you that my top three games of 2018 are two DLC packs and a free patch?

Specifically, they are the Holy Fury DLC for Crusader Kings II, the Industries DLC for Cities: Skylines, and the 2.2 "LeGuin" patch for Stellaris.

In choosing DLC for a game of the year vote, I feel like I should lay out some ground rules so that anyone reading this knows how to make expansion content the very best it can be.

For any developers out there, follow these simple rules and you'll have all the Frys on the internet yelling, "Shut up and take my money."

Rule 1: Breathe Fresh Life Into An Old Game

Holy Fury's biggest virtue is that it adds the Shattered and Random Worlds that were always missing from Paradox's various strategy series. When you stir up the starting parameters of the game, you take a series that was constrained by history and turn it into a lively, never-the-same-game-twice experience that almost equates to grand strategy mixed with roguelike.

Likewise, Industries fixed one of Skylines' few weaknesses; in the base game, industrial zones are almost useless once the bulk of your citizens begin working in office buildings because offices produce higher tax rates for lower crime and no pollution.

With Industries, industrial production becomes a game all its own, and the way the systems work together create a meta game that stays fun and useful well into the massive metropolis late-game.

And finally, "LeGuin" so completely revamps the way planets work in Stellaris that every strategy you had from pre-2.2 versions of the game are rendered instantly obsolete.

When a free patch does more to revolutionize gameplay than some games see with an entire suite of paid DLC, that is a massive achievement that feels like a Christmas present from the developers.

Rule 2: Provide Something For Everyone

The second rule of great DLC is to avoid couching content behind a playstyle barrier; in other words, create a DLC that's flexible, not one that alienates players that don't adhere to a specific playstyle. 

While most of the main gameplay in Holy Fury is skewed toward pagan rulers, giving them buffs to keep up with every other religion post The Old Gods, all the value here comes back once again to Shattered Worlds.

A lot of the fun in CK2 is in turning very small counties into massive empires. For a lot of players, it's simply not much fun to start as a vassal. You spend the whole early-game waiting for events beyond your control to happen so you can declare independence. But at the same time, if you start as a king, the game's often too easy with what little challenge there is coming in preventing or putting down revolts when you have the resource and army advantage.

Even if you disagree with that assessment of vassals and kings, Shattered Worlds still has something for you. The mere fact that you can break up the world any way you like (from a world with naught but one-province minors to one with completely unique kingdoms and empires) means it's never the same world twice.

No matter your playstyle, there's something in the DLC for you.

Industries is the same way in Skylines. You'll get the most out of it when you're building industrial cities, of course. But even if all you use it for quick jobs while you're waiting for offices to unlock, you're still covered.

Put simply, the new system is more fun and makes more sense than the old system in every single situation where industrial zones are involved. Every playstyle uses industries at some point during the game, so every playstyle benefits from a better system.

And LeGuin... well, you're getting those new systems unless you want to rollback to 2.1 and stay there. Every playstyle's using it whether they want to or not. It's a patch.

Rule 3: Don't Gouge. Keep Your Prices Reasonable

Holy Fury costs $20 and delivers a full game's worth of fresh content updates at that price. Industries costs $15 and fundamentally changes the game's economy for the better, changing the whole way you'll play Skylines no matter your playstyle. And the 2.2 patch for Stellaris is free; you don't even have to buy the MegaCorp DLC that it launched alongside.

Roughly half what the base game costs are a fair price for a DLC pack. Value for investment is an important component in evaluating the very best games, after all.


Yes, DLC can be game of the year. 

When you breathe life into an aging game, eat up a game writer's entire week to the point where he almost misses deadline getting the guide out because he couldn't drag himself away from the game for three hours to write it, and offer something for everyone?

Nothing else in gaming offered me that in 2018. Holy Fury gets the gold medal, Industries gets the silver, and a free patch for Stellaris gets the bronze.

It's a shame more people didn't consider these for gaming's highest honor. 

When You Buy an Unfinished Game, Everyone Loses Wed, 26 Dec 2018 15:00:01 -0500 Tim White

Back in my day, patches for video games weren't a thing. Whatever data was on the disc or cartridge the day you bought it was there to stay, forever.

This probably sounds like a massive inconvenience to those of you who have never known any such thing as offline gaming, but the inability to change games after release was actually a major factor in explaining why they were, on average, much better (or at the very least, more functional) prior to about 2005.  

This is Business 101, everybody

Broadly speaking, business has had a bad rap since roughly the beginning of time, and that's absolute bullshit.

There's this pervasive perception in virtually every culture that businessmen get rich by lying, cheating, trampling anyone in their way, and/or buying politicians.

Some people do make big piles of money by doing those things for a while. There is no such thing as a longstanding, profitable, healthy business that got that way by being dishonest. Period, end of story.

Shady business practices always catch up to you and will always sink your business, unless you've scored legal monopoly protections by writing a check to a politician that shouldn't have any power to grant you any such favors (but that's a topic for another article).

I'm speaking from experience here. I currently own two businesses, both of which generate more revenue every year and which have sterling reputations among my clients. The most common compliment I receive goes something like this (paraphrasing): "I really appreciate how transparent and trustworthy you are. Many of your competitors try to get my business with flashy gimmicks or inflexible contracts, but you just focus on doing good work at fair prices, and I'm happy to pay for that."

This super basic idea is no different for video games, or for any other industry.

It's really not hard to understand the essence of what makes a business successful: keep your promises, deliver the best product you possibly can at the price point you've chosen to compete for, and make things as simple as possible for your customers. That's really all there is to it; build your business on that foundation and you will do well.

When developers make absolutely outstanding games, gigantic numbers of people will buy them. You rarely see phenomenal games that don't sell well; the quality of any product ultimately speaks for itself. Great products take time, and great video games take an enormous amount of time. Gamers can't demand everything better and faster; to a large extent, it's one or the other.

We live in a world littered with broken, unfinished $100 million games largely because many gamers routinely make ridiculous and unrealistic demands, leaving developers scrambling to do the impossible.

Video game developers and publishers (yes, even EA) are not sitting in their high-backed leather chairs, twirling their mustaches and brainstorming ways to screw you over. If they were, they'd have gone under long ago; the games industry is relatively unregulated, meaning participants sink or swim on their own merit (or lack of it). They're responding to market conditions as best they can, but they're fighting an unwinnable war.

Why are so many unfinished games being released?

Even as recently as about 2008, game developers largely understood the basic principles of good business and lived by them. Crippling bugs and day-one patches were still relatively unheard of during the first half of the Xbox 360/PS3 era. Even though developers had the technology to patch games after release, they and their publishers generally tried to avoid doing so if they could.

There was still some degree of expectation that the product sitting on shelves on launch day would be a polished, professional one that reflected well on the hundreds of people that spent years of grueling effort making it.

But it couldn't last; gamers wanted more, they wanted it now, and half of them couldn't make up their minds as to what "it" was.

As development costs continued to skyrocket—largely thanks to an over-emphasis on graphics that consumers continue to insist on—publishers became more and more aggressive with their timelines and ROI charts. Profit margins on video games have always been narrow, and they're only narrowing further as gamers demand increasingly realistic graphics and physics, both of which are astronomically expensive to create.

(The growing demand for hundreds of hours of content from a single game, which almost by necessity has to be mind-numbingly repetitive, doesn't help either.)

Developers are being asked—nay, told—by everyone around them to produce more and more complex games on shorter and shorter deadlines. And yes, if you habitually pre-order AAA games, you're partly to blame, especially if you keep buying from developers or publishers that have been pumping out launch day train wrecks for years now.

If you pay any degree of attention to gaming news, you've also undoubtedly noticed a relatively new trend: video games that get mega-hyped by eight-figure ad campaigns, shatter pre-order and day-one sales records, and then accumulate truckloads of negative reviews and go on discounts as deep as 50% mere weeks after release, once everyone starts to realize what a fetid garbage pile it is (looking at you, Fallout 76).

To me, this reeks of extremely talented game developers starting to give up.

Gamers are jaded and annoyed, but nonetheless keep buying crap games before anyone knows they're crap. Developers are exasperated by increasingly unreasonable demands from their publishers and from their customers, so they resort to any gimmick necessary to break even as fast as possible. (Protip: if you're strategizing in terms of weeks, not months and years, your business model is already set up to fail.)

Publishers aren't going to throw $100 million at a new game if the last one didn't return at least 10% (which is perfectly reasonable), but they apparently never stop to wonder if what they're demanding of developers is actually the best way to make a profit (it's not).

Are unfinished games a good thing in any way?

The answer to this question depends heavily on context. The term "unfinished games" needs to be defined very precisely.

Open betas and Early Access games are a thing, and neither paradigm looks to be going anywhere anytime soon. The difference here is that when you sign up for either, you know what you're getting into—the developer has clearly disclosed that their game is a work in progress and that you're to be an active participant along the way. If you don't want to do that, bookmark the game and check on it every six months until it's finished. Easy fix.

As things stand now, the status quo with "traditional" AAA titles like Battlefield 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2's online mode provides a much-needed pressure release valve for overworked developers struggling to satisfy gamers and publishers that are often in direct conflict with one another. There are serious problems with both games that have pissed off huge numbers of consumers, but I'm not one to suggest ostracizing developers for patching games weeks and months down the line if it's the only option currently available to them.

In other words, we need to be sure we're discussing the root causes, not merely treating symptoms.

On the most basic level, the fact that the internet allows developers to fix problems with their games is a great thing. The fact that that option didn't exist in 1998 strongly incentivized developers to put their absolute best foot forward, but I don't think condemning devs for fixing mistakes after launch is necessarily appropriate in every case.

One needs to ask why the post-launch fix was necessary, whether it represents an ongoing systemic problem, and to what extent the decision was out of the developer's hands due to publishers breathing down their necks (or other factors).

All of this is to say that I'm calling on gamers to do something that, as a whole, they're not very good at: control their emotions, take a step back, and think carefully about all the relevant factors in any given situation before reaching for that caps lock key. It's possible to be both just and benevolent.

Give people the benefit of the doubt, at least to begin with. Investigate a situation before judging it. If developers or publishers have done something truly dumb or shady, then criticize them—calmly and constructively.

Unless the broken mess of a game you're upset about is the only and inevitable result of demands levied by millions of your fellow gamers, in which case you should be criticizing them.

What's to be done about it?

The good news is that this problem is totally solvable. The news that's not necessarily bad (but that you might not want to hear) is that the solution has to start with you. No developer or publisher is going to initiate the long and painful course correction necessary to bring about a true Golden Renaissance of Gaming—most of them have locked themselves firmly into codependent catch-22 arrangements.

They need your money to continue to exist, and nothing will change for the better unless you change the conditions under which you're willing to give it to them.

One of several things has to happen:

  • Gamers need to understand just how expensive their treasured hi-def graphics are and settle for slightly less impressive visuals to let developers realize huge cost (and time) savings, or;

  • Gamers need to accept the fact that a $60 price point for AAA video games hasn't been a sustainable price for many years and come to terms with substantial price increases, or;

  • Gamers need to exercise a little patience and vote with their wallets after launch day, which will result in a gradual but steady market correction. 

The last option won't be easy—convincing millions of people to agree to do something differently never is—but I think it's the easiest option and the one most likely to work long-term. One great thing about free markets is how it's on sellers to figure out the enormously complicated logistics of providing a great product at a fair price in a timely manner. We just have to adjust our expectations and let them do it.

Pre-orders are a huge component in the machine that keeps pumping out unfinished games, and one thing will be incontrovertibly true until the end of time: developers and publishers won't continue to pursue strategies that consistently fail. The few that do will quickly go out of business, leaving their more agile and reasonable competitors to take over.

The bottom line is this: broadly speaking, gamers are getting what they deserve right now. Developers aren't churning out unfinished games in spite of demand, but because of demand. Nothing about the way it's done now is sustainable; the problem will end eventually. The only question is how, and whether the end result will be better or worse.

If we, as consumers, want a better product, we have to stop incentivizing bad ones, which requires some self-control and some delayed gratification. On our end, it really is that simple.

How to Win Horse Races in Red Dead Online Sun, 02 Dec 2018 12:04:34 -0500 Oscar Gonzalez

The Red Dead Online beta has finally rolled out for everyone and with it comes an array of activities for players to participate in. For those who want to feed their need for speed, horse races will scratch that itch.

After logging into Red Dead Online and jumping into Free Roam, there will be checkered flag markers on the map indicating a Race Series.

Head to the spot and walk up to the signpost to start matchmaking. After the loading screen, you will likely be asked if you want to spectate a race. It's important to say "yes" because if you choose not to, you will be vulnerable to attacks from others players.

When the match you're spectating is over, then you will be able to partake in the next race.

Let's Race, Cowpoke

There are three kinds of horse races in Red Dead Online that currently take place in locations such as Saint Denis, Valentine, and Fort Wallace.

The first is a lap race, which will be familiar to GTA Online players. Players must make their way through checkpoints in two laps around the race area and the winner is whoever reaches the finish line first.

There is the regular race, which is a longer course and only one lap.

Then there's the open race, where the checkpoints are scattered throughout the area and players can to reach each point in whatever order they like. Finishing in the top spots will net players gold nuggets, money, and XP.

In Red Dead Online horse races, having the fastest horse doesn't guarantee you'll win. A fast horse will help, but horse racing is more akin to Mario Kart.

On the course are barrels that contain weapons and stamina for your horse. The weapons are important as they can be used to take out the player in front of you.

It's also possible to knock your horse into another player's horse, thus causing them to fall off. Players thrown off their horse or killed will have to respawn, although not far from where they died.

Racing Like An Outlaw in Red Dead Online

Here are some tips on how to win races:

  • Stamina barrels are the key to winning. Even if it appears that a barrel might be slightly out of your way, it's important to nab it. 
  • If you want to win, getting a proper horse will be the biggest help. As you grind through the game, you'll obtain better and faster horses than those just starting out. A fast horse is great, but it also helps if the horse has a little weight to it to bump other players.

  • Speaking of bumping, try to avoid crowded areas. Even if you don't get bumped, someone else might to cause a chain reaction that will wipe you out. Don't be afraid to hit the breaks and let everyone in front take the risk. This is especially important at the beginning of certain races where there's a tight turn early on.

  • If you have a weapon, use it. Everyone else will. You can also use your Dead Eye to give yourself a damage boost. Be mindful of any weapon you pass up since the player behind you might pick it up. If they start shooting, do your best to dodge their shots.

  • Learning where the finish line is in an open race is a big help. Since the checkpoints are scattered, some will require going well out of the way to reach them. This will add precious seconds to your time if you have to ride a long distance back to reach the finish line. A good strategy is to clear the outer checkpoints first, then make your way into the inner checkpoints to be close to the finish line.

Racing horses in Red Dead Online may not be the easiest way to make a buck, but at least you won't have to deal with griefers killing you without notice.

Looking for (relatively) quick ways to make money in Red Dead Online? We've got a guide for quick methods, infinite money exploits, and gold grinding. Wondering how to fast travel? Check here. Want to know how to form a posse? We've got you covered

And if you want to know what we think of the mode in general, check out our early impressions (and why the economy is the mode's biggest problem). 

Red Dead Online Bard's Crossing Treasure Guide: How to Find and What You'll Get Fri, 30 Nov 2018 11:21:46 -0500 Synzer

In Red Dead Online, you get treasure maps as rewards for leveling up. This is a good way to get money, even though you have to progress through the ranks to do so. 

Treasure locations, such as Bard's Crossing, are also a lot easier to find online than they are in Red Dead 2's base game. Once you get a map, all you have to do is open the satchel, go documents, and select the treasure map. This will mark an area on your map to search for the treasure.

It won't show you the exact area, though, so you'll have to do some searching when you get there.

Finding the Bard's Crossing Treasure

One such map you can get is for the Bard's Crossing location. Once you reach level 10, you unlock the map. In order to actually get the map, you must head to a post office or your camp to collect it.

Bard's Crossing is between Riggs Station and Flatneck Station, east of the town of Strawberry, or northeast of Blackwater.

Once you reach the location, there are two things you can do.

  • Walk around until you feel the controller rumble
  • Use Eagle Eye to look for the lockbox

Waiting for the rumble is the what you should do first. If you don't feel a rumble, keep walking around the area until you do. As you get closer, it rumbles more. 

When you reach the location, the rumble stops. This is when you want to use Eagle Eye to search for the lockbox. You will see a yellow glow while in Eagle Eye, which marks the location of the treasure.

I found it on a rocky cliff near a skull under some rocks. You might find it in a different spot, so be sure to follow the above steps until you find where it is located in your game.

Opening the treasure lock box gave me 100 gold nuggets, which equals 1 gold bar, $141, a few consumables and ammo, and some experience.


That's all you need to find the treasure at Bard's Crossing in Red Dead Online and get a significant increase in your income. If you haven't already, I suggest using some of it to buy a bow, which you also conveniently unlock for purchase at level 10.

Be sure to check out our guides on how to make money fast and the infinite money exploits if you want more ways to get money in Red Dead Online.

How To Make Money Super Fast in Red Dead Online Thu, 29 Nov 2018 13:49:08 -0500 Ty Arthur

Like GTA 5 before it, Red Dead Redemption 2 finally has an online mode available, and its the real deal wild west!

Unfortunately, being an outlaw is expensive, as the daily camp and stable fees will quickly eat through any money you've earned up by robbing folks and completing stranger tasks.

Money is fairly tough to come by in this game as well. Randomly murdering every NPC you come across isn't usually a viable option. You'll net very sad amounts -- like around 9 cents a pop -- that just aren't worth the attention you'll receive.

Hunting and looting corpses are the obvious ways to earn, but that's mostly just chicken scratch since there won't be enough animals or dead bodies available to make real money quickly (with the few exceptions noted below).

Raiding other player camps is lucrative, but risky. If you want a low-risk, high-reward way to earn cash fast, use our Red Dead Online fast money guide we've got here.

Farm The Emerald Ranch Animals

Grinding on Emerald Ranch livestock

This is midway between a clever way to earn money for an unscrupulous thief and an outright exploit of the system that will likely be patched. Emerald Ranch has a large stockyard area filled with animals that are easy to kill, because they are corralled in a pen and can't escape.

Head over to our short guide on the exploit to see exactly what you need to do. 

Hunting For Pelts In The Wild

If you want better pelts than what you can find from the poor corralled animals at Emerald Ranch, bow or knife hunting can potentially yield more money more quickly -- if you find the right animals and get perfect pelts.

By skinning perfect pelts from three star pronghorns outside Blackwater, its possible to make up to $180 an hour if you get lucky. Be sure to keep in mind the type of ammo / weapon needed and the star rating for each creature, as poor pelts are easy to come by by don't yield much money unless you are quickly farming large numbers of creatures like with the method above.

Have you found any other surefire spots for great pelts in the wild? Let us know where to look and we'll get this sectino update!

Quick Join Story Missions

Most of the various activities from stranger quests or large scale events net small amounts of money, and we want to avoid that. The real cash is to be found in completing story missions.

While this works better with a posse you trust to blaze through the missions, you can do this with random players to get some quick money as well.

While in free roam mode, tap the left d-pad button (don't hold it down or it will pull up the catalog). If the Free Roam menu, choose Quick Join and then Story Mission On Call. Choose a mission and wait for three other random players to be slotted in.

Since this system puts you in a mission with other players, note that you may see things later in the story than you've currently experienced while playing solo, so there are spoilers there!

Continue to play successive on call story missions (but don't repeat the same ones as they don't have cash bonuses) because the later missions supply several hundred dollars each.

Reset Your Character Repeatedly

Another day, another character to farm with

This nifty little system is slightly time consuming, but if you want a bunch of money and don't mind playing the same missions a few times over, it can be extremely lucrative.

First, make any character you want (sticking with all the base options is best so its quickest) and play the first six story missions of the free roam mode. This will get you around $400 and nearly a full gold bar.

If you want an extra $100 and another gold bar, play that character until hitting rank 10, which automatically unlocks a treasure map.

Next, delete the character entirely in the Player menu and start over with a new character. The game keeps track of how much money you had, so you can repeat this process several times until you have as much money as you want, then continue on with the character you actually want to play.

Go Trout Fishing

Red Dead Online fishing

When you hit rank 14, your character will unlock a fishing rod (or if you've managed to grind enough gold nuggets, you can buy one for four gold bars early).

If you can get one gold bar, you can order the lake lure (unlocks normally at rank 30) from the catalog, which makes it much, much easier to catch fish. From that point, it's simple to make plenty of money by fishing.

For the most money, though, set up camp at the lake at the south end of Valentine, which has Steel Head Trout. Place your camp there and put up your white flag so other players can't kill you, then collect as many fish as you want!

Sell them in stacks of 10 at the butcher in Rhodes for more than $40 per trip!


Have you found any other ways to quickly grind large sums of cash while exploring the wild west? Let us know and we'll get your method added!

You can also check out our growing list of Red Dead Online guides here:

Red Dead Online Infinite Money Exploit Guide Thu, 29 Nov 2018 10:40:14 -0500 Jonathan Moore

Editor's note: This guide has been updated to include more money exploits and glitches as of 11/30/18.

If you've played Red Dead Online, you know that it's not easy to make money. You might even find yourself struggling to make ends meet. Beans aren't cheap, you know. 

However, aside from these quick ways to make money, there are a few money glitches/exploits you can take advantage of right now to make your wallet grow. 

Player carrying cow skin at night at Emerald Ranch

Infinite Money Exploit 1: Harvest Animal Skins at Emerald Ranch and Other Farms

The best time to do this is at night since killing the animals in the day will not only affect your Honor level, but it will also increase your Wanted level because there will be witnesses. Having the law called on you will only make the process take longer. 

Here's what you need to do: 

  1. Go to Emerald Ranch at night
  2. Kill all of the animals 
  3. Harvest their skins/pelts
  4. Sell those skins to the butcher/trapper/fence 

After you've killed the animals, harvested their skins, and sold them, start a new session by pausing the game, then going to Online -> Free Roam. This will start a new session and the animals will respawn, letting you farm more money. 

You can find Emerald Ranch in New Hanover, east of Valentine. It can be found between the "N" and the "O" in "Hanover" on the map, southeast of Heartland Overflow. 

You can also use this exploit on all of the farms and ranches near Rhodes and Valentine

Infinite Money Exploit 2: Exploiting Free Roam

This method for getting infinite money in Red Dead Online comes from YouTuber JumpmanGerm via GameRant

Every time you begin a new Free Roam session, you also start a new instance of RDO. That means that the money and items you're carrying transfer to the new instance, but the items in the world respawn. 

We mention this above with the Emerald Ranch glitch, but it's worth noting by itself: any items you loot from any location will respawn after starting a new Free Roam session. 

West elizabeth map with cabin location

GameRant's article shows off a great spot for loot in West Elizabeth. North of the "E" in Elizabeth on the map, and northwest of "Creek" in "Little Creek River", you'll find a cabin with some valuables that you can farm using this method. 

It takes around one to two minutes to farm this location. Each piece of jewelry will net you $9 for both, which is around $270 per hour

Red circle on map showing bayou cabin money glitch location

Another great place to loot items for money can be found in the Bayou south of Lagras and west of St. Denis. Pointed out by YouTuber Daryus P, a cabin here also has two pieces of jewelry that you can easily farm. 

In the video, the jewelry type changes each time they enter the house after reloading a Free Roam instance, but you can make roughly $8.70 per three minutes, which comes out to roughly $174 per hour. Not as good as the West Elizabeth, exploit, but still not bad.  

Red Dead Online map showing cabin east of Tall Trees

A third place to farm jewelry for money in Red Dead Redemption 2 Online can be found east of Three Sisters in Ambarino

As pointed out by YouTuber Obese Giraffe, you can find a platinum chain necklace/platinum watch and 2x platinum earrings in the cabin here. The platinum pocket watch has the best value at $3.25, while the platinum chain necklace will sell for $2.50 and the platinum earrings will sell for $2.

This comes out to around $155 per hour. Again, not as lucrative as the previous two locations, but a good place to check if the other two are crowded by other players. 

Map of Granite Pass for the fish farming money glitch

Infinite Money Exploit 3: Falling Fish Farming

This exploit is more interesting than it is lucrative because it's rather hit or miss. However, if you're in the area, and farming money via hunting, it's an exploit you might want to check out. 

Found by YouTuber Mansa Gaming, this spot can be found at Granite Pass, west of Bacchus Station. Climb up to the cliff underneath the waterfall, and you'll find that fish rain down onto the cliff from the waterfall during the morning hours

The types of fish are random, but you can pick up two- and three-star bluegill and salmon. Some of the fish sell for $1, while the salmon can fetch $3


These are some of the better ways to farm money in Red Dead Online, but they most certainly aren't the only ways. Let us know in the comments if you've found a more lucrative way.

If you're looking for more tips on Red Dead Online, head over to our growing RDRO guides hub

How to Form a Posse and Play With Friends in Red Dead Online Thu, 29 Nov 2018 11:13:08 -0500 Jonathan Moore

While you can play Red Dead Online without ever forming a posse, playing with friends or a like-minded group of randos has benefits beyond just being "more fun". 

Forming a posse will help you get money faster, overcome harder missions quicker, and let you stay alive longer while exploring in free roam. In other words, the posse system is the co-op element of Red Dead Online that you definitely want to take advantage of whenever you can. 

To do that, you need to know how to form a posse and the differences between the types available. 

Joining and Forming a Posse in Red Dead Online

To join a posse:

  1. Press left on the d-pad (don't hold because that will open your catalog) Select "Posse" from the "Free Roam" menu

Choose from the list of all nearby posses; if they are open, you can join up and start working with them to collect money, gold nuggets, and more.  

To form or create your own posse

  1. Go to the "Posse" menu (outlined above)
  2. Press "Square" on PS4 and "X" on Xbox One

After following those steps, you'll find yourself in a new menu. Here, you can choose your posse type (which we'll cover below), privacy, if friendly fire is on or off, where to place your camp, and the posse's name. 

Once you form your posse, you'll see another menu where you can view members, change your settings, invite players, and abandon your posse. 

Inviting Members

To invite members, choose the "Invite to Posse" option. Here, you can select from nearby players, recently-met players, your friends list, and crew, which are the players you're connected with via Rockstar's Social Club. 

Just press "X" or "A" to invite after highlighting the player. 

Different Posse Types

Not all groups of outlaws are created equal. There are a few distinct difference you need to know about. 

  • Temporary posse: These types disappear when the posse leader exits the game or posse. These are free to form and support up to four players. 

  • Persistent posse: These types stay together even if the posse leader leaves. Think of these as clans. They cost $200 (in-game money) to form and support up to seven players. 

Depending on how you want to play Red Dead Redemption 2 Online -- such as if you just want a quick run with whoever's on your server or if you always want to team up with the same players when completing missions -- the posse type matters. You don't want to drop $200 for a Persistent Posse if you have no one you can regularly play with. 


As we learn more about posses in RDO, we'll update this guide with even more information (like, can you creat a Temporary Posse while part of a Persistent Posse?). If you know the answer to that question or have other posse tips, let us know in the comments below. 

Looking for more tips on RDRO? Head over to our Red Dead Online guides page to learn how to fast travel or exploit the infinite money glitch

How to Unlock Fast Travel in Red Dead Online Wed, 28 Nov 2018 13:36:50 -0500 Jonathan Moore

The fast travel system in Red Dead Online is almost identical to the one found in Red Dead Redemption 2. Stagecoaches still play a large role in getting you around the map, and using the cinematic camera to ride your horse from one waypoint to another is still a good option. 

However, there are a few caveats in the fast travel system that are worth noting. 

Fast Traveling From Your Camp

Unlocking fast travel in Red Dead Redemption 2 meant getting the ledger and buying the Next in Line upgrade. However, unlocking fast travel in Red Dead Online has one of two requirements: 

  • Reach level 65 
  • Pay 112 gold

Arguably, neither of those tasks is easy, with the 112 gold requirement being especially difficult seeing that you get such little gold from missions and multiplayer modes like Most Wanted. 

For the best ways to get gold (kind of) fast, head over to our gold grinding guide here

How to Access Fast Travel From Your Camp

However, once you do meet one of those requirements, you can access fast travel in your camp by: 

  1. Going to Cripps and focusing on him 
  2. Selecting "Wilderness Outfitters
  3. Choosing "Equipment"

Traveling by Other Means

Almost every one of the major hubs in Red Dead Online is connected by stagecoach as soon as you enter free roam. When you reach them, you'll be looking for posts with ram skulls on top of them and a broken stagecoach wheel leaning against them instead of the prim and proper signs from the base game. 

As you would expect, there are different prices for traveling to each of the hubs. However, know that traveling to your camp from any of the hubs -- even those very close to your camp -- will set you back a flat $15. 

You can also "fast travel" by using the cinematic camera while riding your horse. Simply place a waypoint, start riding, and activate the cinematic camera. Make sure you are on a road or designated path or your horse will just go forward a few steps and stop. 


That's all you need to know about fast travel in Red Dead Online. Be sure to keep an eye out for more RDRO guides as we make our way through the online mode over the coming days. 

How to Get Gold Bars (Kind of ) Fast in Red Dead Online Wed, 28 Nov 2018 14:52:12 -0500 Ty Arthur

Outside of ranking up over time and acquiring new card abilities, Red Dead Online gates off certain content by requiring you to acquire and spend gold bars.

The currency is used to unlock items like new outfits, better horses with upgraded stats, and the fast travel system. While several gold bars are easy to come by just by finding the right locations in the base game, the online version makes you work a lot harder for them.

Below we cover exactly where to go to turn nuggets into the coveted Red Dead Online gold bars.

Important Note: You can currently only play Red Dead Online if you meet certain criteria. You can find those criteria here

Some users are also currently experiencing problems connecting to the online version -- check out our guide to resolving that problem here.

How To Get Gold Bars In Red Dead Online

Since the online mode is technically still in beta, this is all very much subject to change. Currently, 100 nuggets are automatically converted to one gold bar.

However, almost anything that requires gold bars demands a steep price. For example, you need 18 gold bars to get the horse from the catalog in the image above. You need 112 gold bars to unlock fast travel (unless you want to wait until Level 65 to get it). Obviously, you've got some grinding to do.

To make that grind easier, here's where to go to get gold nuggets:

The fastest ways to get gold bars in the early-game are by completing both story missions and stranger missions. Unlike Red Dead Online's multiplayer modes, these are often linear and filled with easy-to-kill NPCs. 

The time on each type of mission varies, as do the rewards based on how you performed. Typically, you'll get between 1-4 nuggets per event or MP series. 

Red Dead Online character in Rhodes showing gold nugget acquisition rate

On average -- getting the lowest reward and taking about 10 minutes per event -- you can expect to get one gold bar per 7-8 hours of play. Clearly, that's a pretty slow progression, particularly if saving up 10-20 gold bars.

After missions and MP events, challenges, horse races, and treasure maps are all toss-ups for best ways to get gold bars and gold nuggets. Challenges can be very time consuming, while horse races are hit and miss depending on your horse.

Treasure maps are hard to find and often seem to come at random. You do get one in the first mission and another when you hit rank 10, however.

Gold bars will also be available to buy directly with real-world money when the in-game store comes online (presumably next week).

Need help figuring out how to posse up, complete missions, or increase your wanted level? Head over to our growing Red Dead Online guides hub for more. 

Red Dead Redemption Online Not Working? Try These Potential Fixes Tue, 27 Nov 2018 16:25:36 -0500 Jonathan Moore

Unless you live under a rock, you know that Red Dead Redemption Online released today. And as you might expect from a beta, not everything has gotten off to a peachy start. 

While most players have been able to log in, create their characters, and form a posse with their friends, some players have found that they either can't load Red Dead Redemption Online or it's simply not working at all.

Although problems persist across both PS4 and Xbox One, it appears Xbox One users have been hit the hardest.

If you're running into this problem, let's start with the most basic of basics: make sure you have the ultimate edition of the game or are accessing the beta at the right time. Since Rockstar is rolling the release of the beta out over the course of this week, not every player has access to the beta at the same time

Here are the times when the beta is releasing this week, as well as the requirements for access: 

  • Tuesday, November 27Red Dead Redemption Online will be available to all players who purchased the ultimate edition of Red Dead Redemption 2

  • Wednesday, November 28: Anyone who played RDR 2 on October 26  will gain access to the beta. 

  • Thursday, November 29: Anyone who played RDR 2 from October 26 to October 29. 

  • Friday, November 30: Everyone else who has purchased any other edition of Red Dead Redemption 2 and played after the above dates. 

If the beta is still not working, your next step is to check the server status here

If all else fails, then you'll have to get your hands dirty. 

Clear Your System Cache: Xbox One & PS4

Since both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 store temporary files, you need to make sure to clear your cache from time to time to speed things up and improve gameplay. 

To clear your cache on either system: 

  1. Turn the console completely off
  2. Unplug the power cord from the console itself (not just the wall)
  3. Wait for at least 30 seconds (60 seconds to be sure)
  4. Plug the power cable back in
  5. Turn on the console

Set Nat Type to Open

Another possible reason Red Dead Online might not be working correctly is that your NAT Type is not set to open. While it doesn't always affect your connection, an open Nat Type is always best for online play. 

For Xbox One, follow these steps: 

  1. Settings -> Network -> Test Multiplayer Connection.
  2. Wait for your Xbox One to test your connection.
  3. When it says "Everything is Good", press LT+RT+LB+RB to go into "Detailed Network Statistics." 
  4. Wait for the three dots under "Detailed NAT Information" to change to either "Your network is behind a cone NAT" or "Your network is behind a port-restricted NAT."
  5. If you see "Your network is behind a cone NAT", press "A" twice. You'll be taken back to the "Network Settings" menu and you should have an open NAT Type. 
  6. If you see "Your network is behind a port-restricted NAT", you'll need to follow these detailed instructions.

For PS4, the easiest method for getting an open NAT type is by simply plugging your PS4 directly into your modem with an ethernet cable. There are a few other ways, which YouTuber John Glasscock does a great job of explaining here, but they're far more complicated. 


Aside from clearing the cache on your router by turning it off, unplugging it, and plugging it back in, you can submit a ticket to Rockstar and a representative will attempt to fix the issue. 

On top of what's above, there are several other ways that you can try to rectify the problem, such as calling your cable provider, disabling firewalls, and tweaking uPnP, but all of those are rather lengthy processes. 

Rockstar is currently aware of the issue, and they will most likely have a fix out for the issue relatively quickly. So if the methods above don't fix Red Dead Online for you, it might just be best to wait a few hours for the problem to be fixed server-side.  

Red Dead Online Battle Royale, Multiplayer Modes Leaked Tue, 27 Nov 2018 11:24:20 -0500 QuintLyn

Rockstar Games launched the long-anticipated multiplayer beta for its popular Western epic, Red Dead Redemption 2, today, and it took no time for testers to start sharing details on what their fellow players can expect in Red Dead Redemption Online.

According to reports, the multiplayer will offer players six different modes to choose from -- including the obligatory battle royale mode.

Titled "Make It Count", Red Dead Redemption 2's take on the battle royale genre pits 32 players against each other in a map with a shrinking circle. There are three maps pulled from the base game: Strawberry, Stillwater Creek, and Tall Trees, and players will be able to fight with weapons like bows and arrows and throwing knives. (Though not mentioned, it's probably safe to assume that shotguns and rifles are available, or will become available, as well.)

Other multiplayer modes include "Most Wanted", "Name Your Weapon", "Team Shootout", "Hostile Territory", and "Races". The first is a leaderboard style PvP event where players fight for the most kills, the trick being that all that killing will earn a player an increasing bounty on their head, making them the primary target of other players.

In "Name Your Weapon" players will use a pre-determined set of weapons to fight each other with. Depending on the weapon used, and the difficulty in using them, players can earn even more points.

"Races" is exactly what it sounds like. Players compete in one of three types of races: point to point, open, and laps. All take place on different maps throughout the game.

As for "Team Shootout" and "Hostile Territory", these are your standard team deathmatch, and a capture the zone PvP mode, respectively.

Red Dead Redemption Online will also feature single-player story missions, much like GTA Online. 

Stay tuned for our impressions on Red Dead Redemption Online in the coming days, as well as guides on the mode's activities and missions. If you're looking for tips on Red Dead Redemption 2, be sure to head over to our RDR 2 game hub

Red Dead Redemption Online Has Single-Player Story Missions Tue, 27 Nov 2018 10:44:27 -0500 Jonathan Moore

Much like GTA OnlineRed Dead Online will have what appears to be an overarching narrative running through the mode's various missions and activities. 

While we've reached out to Rockstar for more information as we don't yet know if the story missions in RDRO will connect in any way to the game's mainline story, we do have the names and descriptions of several missions via illogical Mods as originally reported by VG24/7

  • Highly Illegal and Highly Immoral: Marshall Davies asked you to meet him near Van Horn. He is on the trail of Alfredo Montez and he wants to finish things.

  • Honor Among Horse Thieves: Horley suggested you go to see Clay Davies, a horse thief, to learn the ins and outs of the horse-rustling trade.

  • If the Hat Fits…: Horley directed you towards the Blackwater police chief in Pike’s Basin. A conman and outlaw is on the loose. Whether or not justice will be done depends on your Honor.

  • Kerosene, Tar, and Greed: Horley thought you should offer your services to Samson Finch near Dewberry Creek. Industry is in his crosshairs. He has a job to do and a score to settle.

  • Kill Them, Each and Every One: You were told to meet Horley and Mrs. LeClerk south of Armadillo. The man who killed her husband may be holed up nearby.

  • Love and Honor: Horley told you to call on the Tumbleweed Sheriff. A young woman has been taken by a gang of outlaws and her husband is concerned. A moral decision will be required.

Throughout these missions, you'll be working for -- or at least receiving your objectives -- from a man named Horley. You'll also find yourself riding all over the Red Dead Redemption 2 map, from Van Horn to Valentine and beyond. 

Morality also appears to be an important factor in these missions, as many will require you to make specific choices that will impact your Honor. And although it hasn't been confirmed, your Honor rank should impact how NPCs react to you in Online's world, as well as what items and buffs you're able to obtain, just like it does in RDR 2.

The leaks from illogical Mods also outlined the various multiplayer modes found in RDRO

Stay tuned for our impressions on Red Dead Redemption Online in the coming days, as well as guides on the mode's activities and missions. If you're looking for tips on Red Dead Redemption 2, be sure to head over to our RDR 2 game hub

Red Dead Redemption 2 Online Rides Out This Week Mon, 26 Nov 2018 12:32:07 -0500 Jonathan Moore

Editor's Note: This story has been updated on 11/26/18 @ 2:50 p.m. following a Rockstar press release for Red Dead Online. 

The much anticipated online component for Red Dead Redemption 2 will enter beta starting tomorrow, Tuesday, November 27, as reported by multiple outlets.  

However, the beta will not be immediately available to everyone. Here's how Rockstar will be rolling things out per Polygon

  • Tuesday, November 27: Red Dead Redemption Online will be available to all players who purchased the ultimate edition of Red Dead Redemption 2

  • Wednesday, November 28: Anyone who played RDR 2 on October 26  will gain access to the beta. 

  • Thursday, November 29: Anyone who played RDR 2 from October 26 to October 29. 

  • Friday, November 30: Everyone else who has purchased any other edition of Red Dead Redemption 2 and played after the above dates. 

The beta will begin at 8:30 a.m. EDT on November 27, although it is currently not clear at what times players will gain access to the beta on November 28 and November 30. After logging in, players will see the option for RDR Online in the top right-hand corner of the screen. 

While we don't currently know exactly what to expect with Red Dead Redemption Online, we do know that it will take cues from GTA Online, that there will be heists, and, per some vulture-eyed sleuthing by UltraGamerz, the beginning of the mode will potentially feature some type of breakout scenario. 

We also know that players will be able to create their own characters and live out their Wild West fantasies in the vibrant world RDR 2 created in its base game. As with any online, multiplayer game, players will be able to ride solo or create posses -- and they can be attacked, robbed, and murdered by other players at any given moment, even if they aren't causing a ruckus. 

Per Rockstar, we will learn more about the mode tomorrow. 

Be sure to head over to our Red Dead Redemption 2 game hub for our review of the game, as well as a bevy of helpful tips and tricks guides while you wait. 

And check back over the coming days and weeks for our impressions of RDR 2's online component and more guide content on the mode. 

Every Red Dead Redemption 2 Mission, Graded -- Chapter 6: Beaver Hollow Mon, 19 Nov 2018 10:47:11 -0500 William R. Parks

Red Dead Redemption 2 offers an unusual and refreshing approach to the realm of open-world gaming. Its adherence to realism and focus on the slightest of details make it something truly remarkable to play.

With this series, we have taken a close look at the more structured aspect of Red Dead 2, its missions. We have seen them function in concert with the game's open-world, tapping its beauty and atmosphere to elevate their action and showing us new ways to engage and explore it.

Now, as we come to Red Dead 2's conclusion, I feel confident saying that Rockstar's excellent writing and commitment to gameplay variation has made these missions worthy of the world they exist within.

Does this remain true with Arthur's final chapter? Let us find out as we grade the missions of Chapter 6: Beaver Hollow.

Grading Scale

One more piece of upkeep for those that may be skipping the preceding articles -- our grading scale is as follows:

A: These are the missions that are as impressive as Red Dead 2's immense and nuanced world. Transcendent moments that validate video games as art.

B: Exceptional sequences, these missions create moments that leave a lasting impression.

C: *The bread-and-butter of Red Dead 2. Filled with straightforward action and character development that keeps the game moving forward and the player engaged.

D: Forgettable missions that serve just to introduce a character or mechanic without many frills.

F: Painful. The game would be better without these missions.

It is important to note that the "C" grading is not meant to imply that a mission is average compared to other games. Rather, "C" should be considered a baseline for Red Dead 2 relative to its exceptional "A's" and "B's" and its lackluster "D's" and "F's."

The primary goal of this investigation is to create a hierarchy within Red Dead 2's missions, not to provide a definitive stance on how the game stacks up against others.

Note: Mission descriptions and heavy spoilers follow.

Red Dead 2 Chapter 6: The Missions

Visiting Hours

Grade: B

After performing some hot air balloon reconnaissance at the end of Chapter 5, Arthur and Sadie are "prepared" to break John out of prison.

As with Chapter 3's "Blood Feuds, Ancient and Modern" and Chapter 4's "Revenge is a Dish Best Eaten," this mission uses an exceptional set piece (the prison) as a backdrop to escalate the violence and elevate the gunplay.

Additionally, this mission continues Red Dead Redemption 2's trend of grounding its action in familiar troupes, as you use a guard held at gunpoint as your bargaining chip for John's release. This tendency remains effective and satisfying here.

While we have seen some hair-brained schemes go terribly awry throughout Red Dead 2, and there is plenty more to come in this final chapter, we see the flip-side as Arthur and Sadie pull off this particularly brazen plan with minimal set back. After all of their losing, it is nice to see two of the game's most appealing characters win for a change.

Just A Social Call

Grade: B

Something has shifted, and Micah has surpassed Arthur in the gang's hierarchy. With Arhtur's continuous questioning of Dutch, I suppose that I knew that a demotion was inevitable, but it still hurts.

Fortunately, being kept at arm's length from Dutch and his plans gives this mission an additional surprise factor. Apparently, when Dutch says "cut a deal," he means unceremoniously execute one of the world's most powerful forces, Cornwall.

This mission does not only succeed due to its slightly unexpected action, but it also features an excellent interior gunfight amidst conveyor belts of coal. Many of Red Dead 2's most memorable gun battles take place under its wide open sky, and this more claustrophobic encounter is most welcome.

Now excuse me as I go pout while Micah and Dutch plan our next move.

A Rage Unleashed

Grade: C

At the conclusion of the preceding chapter, I was excitedly expecting Chapter 6 to delve more formally into the creepier side of Red Dead 2. I was intrigued by the strangeness of the residents of Butcher Creek and wanted to know more about the savage Murfrees.

Somewhat disappointingly, this is not what ended up being offered by Chapter 6. Instead, the chapter focuses on the narrative arc concretized by this mission: Arthur and Dutch's varying involvement with the Natives.

That said, while I am a bit crestfallen due to the Murfree's absence from this chapter, I am not unhappy with what is offered in its place. This mission alone contains a unique assault on a boat, provides a nice entree to the increasingly violent Dutch and the violence-weary Arthur that pervade this chapter, and gives further insight into Dutch's plan.

However, if Rockstar ultimately wanted the game to conclude as it does, I would love to have seen a short chapter focusing on Red Dead 2's darker underbelly.

The Delights of Van Horn

Grade: D

Here we get further indication that Arthur has been moved down the totem pole, as Micah is now barking orders, sending him with Bill to commander an explosive-carrying wagon.

At this point, we are all too familiar with these stock coach robberies, and I do take some issue with the inclusion of so many middling and wrote missions in the game's final chapter.

I really began to feel the slog that is the game's finale in this mission, and while there are some sublime moments to come, I wish that Rockstar would have done some further editing to keep this chapter feeling fresh and exciting in the ways that the preceding chapters have.

The Bridge to Nowhere

Grade: C

We get a simple little mission here that offers a slight gameplay innovation, allowing you to operate a railroad handcar. The highlight, however, is Arthur and John's interactions throughout the mission.

While I felt that the reveal of Arthur's tuberculosis was not as powerful as it should have been, Rockstar does a nice job communicating how deeply it resonates for him throughout the chapter. There is a newfound clarity around the gang's situation, and he moves away from simply questioning Dutch's actions to direct dissent when he insists that John take Abigail and Jack and leave the gang for good.

Red Dead 2 makes certain to remind you of where Arthur's lucidity is originating, closing the mission with the dying man taking a long pause as he attempts to catch his breath.

Archeology for Beginners

Grade: C

Dutch's involvement with the Natives is one riddled with violence and exploitation, and Arthur's function as a nice counterpoint. This first mission with Chief Rains Fall is a meditative horse ride once again showcasing Red Dead Redemption 2's beautiful vistas.

While he may search for wisdom as he rides with the Chief, the violence that closes this mission poses the question if it is possible for anyone to really change, even when faced with their imminent demise.

Honor, Amongst Thieves

Grade: F

There is little left to say about these wagon robberies, and I am very surprised that Rockstar would include two in a chapter that should be cruising along to a superb climax.

The Fine Art of Conversation

Grade: B

Another attempt at a peaceful mission with Rains Fall, and another bloody massacre.

Colonel Favours is repugnant in ways beyond the myriad of criminals and outlaws we have encountered thus far, and Red Dead 2 does not shy away from the stains that mar United States history. Rockstar's depiction of the government's treatment of the Natives is so viscerally appalling that it has to be applauded.

Further, the mission features a nice action sequence similar to "Visiting Hours," where a gunpoint hostage is used to escape a messy situation, and a touching conversation that further illuminates the conflict between tenderness and violence that rages within Arthur.

Goodbye, Dear Friend

Grade: B

Now for a slight detour to see Colm O'Driscoll hanged.

The standout moment of this mission is when Sadie's rage erupts, and you get locked into sniper-mode (a la Silent Scope) for the battle. While it is a minor modification, it is refreshing to see Red Dead 2 continue to innovate its gameplay.

While I quite like this mission, it is hard not to feel like returning to the O'Driscolls (amidst your heated participation with the Natives) is partially responsible for Chapter 6's sluggishness. There is so much that still needs resolution by the time you reach the game's final moments, and concluding the O'Driscoll's arc in the preceding chapters could have alleviated some of the final act's issues with pacing.

Mrs. Sadie Adler, Widow

Grade: C

With Colm dead, we can now finish off the O'Driscolls and exact Sadie's final revenge for the murder of her husband.

I continue to find delight in how wonderfully rendered Sadie is, and, following a fairly standard shootout, it is perversely pleasurable to see her covered in the blood of the men that have wronged her so thoroughly.

That said, I still do not see a definitive reason that this mission needed to be held until the final chapter and think resolving this storyline earlier would have been preferable.

Favored Sons

Grade: C

While Rains Fall attempts to foster peace, his son continues his shenanigans with Dutch. This plan feels especially gratuitous, as their goal is to humiliate a group of soldiers by trapping them in a valley. Dutch's involvement in something so ill-conceived feels especially heinous with the knowledge that it is purely an attempt to divert heat away from the gang toward the Natives.

Of course, things once again go awry, and Eagle Flies is captured amidst the gunfire. The novelty of fighting the armed forces keeps these missions elevated, and we get a big moment when Arthur and Dutch channel The Fugitive, plunging from a cliff to escape their pursuers.

The King's Son

Grade: B

It is exciting to finally have a reason to infiltrate Fort Wallace, an area that has been red on the map since the game's beginning.

The bulk of this mission offers something that I would love to have seen more of throughout Red Dead 2: motivated weapon restrictions. Here, it is only bows and stealth takedowns that can be used, but finding ways to justify limiting weapon options in more of these middling late-game missions may have added just enough variation to elevate Chapter 6.

Additionally, the lightning storm escape that closes the mission reminds us of just how beautifully atmospheric Red Dead Redemption 2 can be.

My Last Boy

Grade: A

This mission marks the beginning of a trilogy of high-action sequences that will take us to the end of Arthur's story. Red Dead 2 is not reinventing the wheel with these missions. Rather, it offers amped-up versions of things we have done previously, and here, we find the game's biggest gunfight.

Riding into combat with the Natives at your side is a wonderfully cinematic moment that smacks of some of film's finest battles, and the following shootout sings. But this mission is more than just action, featuring a severe act of betrayal, as Dutch leaves Arthur to nearly die, and a powerful moment where Arthur's disease causes him to collapse in the road.

Rising from this incapacitation, I was notified that Arthur was at minimum weight. We saw this type of small touch at the beginning of Chapter 5 (Arthur comes to in Guarma with all of his cores drained), and I love these little expressions of Arthur's physical state through the gameplay systems that are in place. While this is something very minor, it is a lovely indicator of just how much consideration went into Red Dead 2's smallest details.

Our Best Selves

Grade: B

This mission gives us a super-sized train robbery, complete with jumping between horses and the train, explosions, and the locomotive careening off the bridge we destroyed previously.

The action on the train itself does not quite match the previous mission's gun battle, but it is still serviceable, and Dutch and Micah's insistence that John has been killed gives us the setup for Red Dead 2's final mission.

Red Dead Redemption

Grade: A

After 82 missions we have finally arrived at Arthur's last hurrah, and this mission is a wonderful remix of some of my favorite aspects of Red Dead 2 delivered in one final punch to the gut.

To start, we get a last ride with Sadie. Throughout these mission gradings, I have continually remarked on how much I like Ms. Adler, and the missions that put her and Arthur in close proximity remain some of the most memorable.

The action of this segment also offers something I wish was more pervasive in the game: gunfights where Arthur does not have any support. As stated, I have found Red Dead 2's difficulty lacking, and the continual support you have in the action sequences is a big part of this. I really appreciate the opportunity to go in solo for this final mission.

From there, we get another original song-fueled horse ride. While not invoked as powerfully as was done in Chapter 5's "Dear Uncle Tacitus," this moment of rejoinder prior to your final confrontation with Dutch hits hard.

Then we get a final moment of brotherly connection between Arthur and John. As I have mentioned, I continually enjoyed when familial tenderness shines through the hardened exteriors of these two men, and Arthur's self-sacrifice is the ultimate offering.

And finally, I was transported back to Red Dead 2's first transcendent mission, Chapter 2's "Americans at Rest," as I engaged in a savage brawl with Micah. As Arthur was laid to rest, the full scope of what I had experienced in this phenomenal game was driven home.

Chapter 6 Summary

Arthur's final chapter proves to be Red Dead 2's most inconsistent, dragging in a way that the preceding chapters do not.

One part of this is that the gameplay is pushed to its limit by the sheer volume of missions. After 70 missions, it is, of course, challenging to offer variations that will keep them feeling fresh and exciting, and I believe that editing some of the redundancy throughout the game would allow it to have a stronger finish.

Further, a slight restructuring of the O'Driscoll arc could prove to keep this final chapter chugging along at a more even clip, something that I believe would be better for the game overall.

All of that said, the game finishes with a climax that meets all of the established expectations and more. "Red Dead Redemption" so wonderfully presents so many of the exceptional aspects of the game, and it is a finale that will not be soon forgotten.

Epilogue & Side Missions

While the two epilogue chapters are, of course, part of Red Dead 2's main story, the missions contained within operate very differently than the six chapters we have thus far graded.

Much like the game's side missions, the scale and scope varies so greatly between them (one mission might be a full-scale action sequence while another consists of cinematics almost exclusively) that it does not seem productive to try to fit them individually into this grading scale.

Indeed some of the side missions are truly wonderful, and the epilogue (functioning as something like a movie in its totality) definitely finds a home amidst the best Red Dead 2 has to offer. However, they will not be individually graded here.


If you want to know what we think of the game as a whole, be sure to check out our Red Dead Redemption 2 review. If you're looking for tips and tricks for the Wild West epic, be sure head over to our Red Dead Redemption 2 guides page.

And if you would like to see more of our Red Dead 2 mission gradings, those that are currently available can be found at these links:

Chapter 1: Colter
Chapter 2: Horseshoe Overlook
Chapter 3: Clemens Point
Chapter 4: Saint Denis
Chapter 5: Guarma

Every Red Dead Redemption 2 Mission, Graded -- Chapter 5: Guarma Wed, 14 Nov 2018 15:33:24 -0500 William R. Parks

Red Dead Redemption 2 has put us through savage gunfights and hilarious nights in the saloon, and, with the end of Chapter 4, it has left us on a cliffhanger unlike any of the preceding chapters.

Some of the kindest and most thoughtful of our gang were put to rest in a disastrous robbery, and our attempts to evade the law reached entirely new heights.

While I had been loving my time in New Hanover and Lemoyne, the prospect of continuing my adventure in an entirely new locale had me excited, and I could not wait to dive in.

Let us see what the game had in store as we look at each mission of Chapter 5: Guarma.

Grading Scale

One more piece of upkeep for those that may be skipping the preceding articles -- our grading scale is as follows:

A: These are the missions that are as impressive as Red Dead 2's immense and nuanced world. Transcendent moments that validate video games as art.

B: Exceptional sequences, these missions create moments that leave a lasting impression.

C: *The bread-and-butter of Red Dead 2. Filled with straightforward action and character development that keeps the game moving forward and the player engaged.

D: Forgettable missions that serve just to introduce a character or mechanic without many frills.

F: Painful. The game would be better without these missions.

It is important to note that the "C" grading is not meant to imply that a mission is average compared to other games. Rather, "C" should be considered a baseline for Red Dead 2 relative to its exceptional "A's" and "B's" and its lackluster "D's" and "F's."

The primary goal of this investigation is to create a hierarchy within Red Dead 2's missions, not to provide a definitive stance on how the game stacks up against others.

Note: Mission descriptions and heavy spoilers follow.

Red Dead 2 Chapter 5: The Missions

Welcome to the New World

Grade: B

Beginning Chapter 5 with all of the gear I had accumulated missing and all of my cores drained was exhilarating.

This first mission is loaded to the gills with new information, establishing an adversary for the chapter (Fussar) and connecting him to Cornwall as well as setting up the conflict that will pervade your time on Guarma.

If I was to get off this tropical island safely, I needed to both recover Javier (who is captured in the mission) and intervene in a conflict occurring between Fussar and the Natives. While I had become a seasoned veteran at rescuing gang members, my previous experience with involving myself in established conflicts suggested that this was not going to go well, and I felt a bit overwhelmed by the paths that were opening before me in this new setting.

I was transported back to my time at the beginning of Chapter 2, feeling as though I might drown in the options available to me. Ultimately, Guarma turned out to be very compact and manageable, but this feeling of discombobulation served to nicely immerse me in what Arthur was likely experiencing. It is impressive that Rockstar is willing to throw players so off-kilter this late in the game.

Savagery Unleashed

Grade: C

As I wandered through the jungle for the first time, I came across a man hanged, and, soon enough, I was taken captive and beaten in a cellar.

After breaking free of my captor, and cutting loose two Natives that I had been asked to rescue in the preceding mission, I found myself in the midst of a fairly stock stealth mission with some gunplay to close it out.

As I quietly crept past my enemies, I was struck by how often Red Dead 2's stealth segments ask me to follow directly behind an NPC. While this follow-the-leader certainly creates some nice cinematic moments, it ultimately brings the game's overall difficulty down significantly. As long as I stick close to my lead, I never really feel like I am in danger of being discovered.

Similarly, so many of the game's gunfights provide companions to assist you, often causing them to feel quite easy. When I am engaged in one of these missions, selecting a load-out feels almost entirely like a cosmetic choice, as victory seems guaranteed regardless of the weapons I have equipped.

In general, there is a sense in Red Dead Redemption 2 that Rockstar gives preference to creating cinematic moments rather than providing challenging gameplay. While it is nice to watch the story unfold with minimal death and interference, I would really like to see an increased difficulty setting come to the game in a future update.

A Kind and Benevolent Despot

Grade: C

After saving the Natives in the preceding mission, Dutch and Arthur can now focus on rescuing Javier.

At this point, it is made clear that all of the money stolen in the Saint Denis bank robbery was lost in the shipwreck, and Dutch continues to come apart at the seams, strangling the guide that brings them close to Javier's location.

From there, this is a wrote stealth/combat mission with a slight flourish as you sabotage a warehouse filled with sugar and set it ablaze. What can I say? I have been charmed every time Red Dead 2 has let me burn something to the ground, and it holds true here.

Hell Hath No Fury

Grade: B

With the resistance assisted and Javier recovered, it is time to attack Fussar directly and make a clean get away.

What follows is the most unique mission located on Guarma, as Fussar has some truly big guns (a Navy warship) at his disposal.

Before using a cannon (for the first time) to sink it, we get a standout gunfight on the island's beaches. After being stripped of all of my gear, it feels good to have a powerful shotgun back in my hands, and I painted that sand red.

Paradise Mercifully Departed

Grade: B

Even with the Navy ship dispatched, there are still some problems - namely, the captain of the ship that is to return us to Saint Denis has been captured by Fussar and an array of artillery is certain to sink any of our attempts to leave by boat.

There is a lot going on in this mission. Explosions, a cannon shoot-out, some corridor-style gunplay, and a tense four-man standoff that feels like it could have been plucked right out of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Additionally, if Red Dead Redemption 2 has taught me anything it is that I am a sucker for gunfights in crop fields, as I loved blasting my way through Fussar's fields of sugarcane.

This mission showcases so many wonderful ideas and proves that, even after all of the preceding missions, the game's straightforward action sequences can still standout.

Dear Uncle Tacitus

Grade: A

Now back on the mainland, the Guarma crew splits up to locate the rest of the gang that was left behind.

While there is a short burst of action, this mission functions as a truly transcendent rejoinder, putting you on a long, lonesome horse ride set to a wonderfully surprising new song from D'Angelo.

It is hard to convey why this mission is so effective, as it relies so heavily on Red Dead 2's ability to create a breathtaking atmosphere, but to be alone with Arthur, quietly reflecting on where you have been and where you are headed, is powerful and marks one of the game's high points.

Fleeting Joy

Grade: C

As I wiped the tears from my eyes, I found myself back with my crew, and (surprise, surprise) Sadie has been the one to keep everyone together during our absence.

However, there is not much time for celebration, as another assault on camp cuts things short. This time around it is the Pinkertons, and they are not messing around, carting a gatling gun to make sure they leave no survivors.

Unfortunately for them, they did not plan for Sadie Adler, and again I found myself marveling at her ability to dish out death before I stepped behind the gatling and finished the lawmen off.

It is also revealed that Dutch is not planning to spring John from prison any time soon, but Arthur and Sadie seem to have other plans.

A Fork In the Road

Grade: D

While walking through the streets of Saint Denis, a coughing fit overcomes Arthur, and a trip to the doctor reveals that he has tuberculosis.

This mission feels like Red Dead 2's single greatest misstep.

This needs to be an extremely resonant moment, as it informs Arthur's character development for the rest of the game. Following "Dear Uncle Tacitus," it is clear that Rockstar is able to build powerful and impressionistic moments, however, this one simply does not land.

There is no foreshadowing that makes this mission the gut-punch it should be. Instead, we are blindsided by Arthur's illness, and it almost feels as though I missed a portion of the game that would build to this reveal.

Considering the methodical pacing used throughout the game, I am very surprised to see Rockstar not escalate this more gradually and effectively.

Icarus and Friends

Grade: A

Anyway, despite having TB, I am off to meet Sadie to solidify our plan for getting John out of prison.

As we saw in Chapter 4, Rockstar has begun to include different vehicles to keep the action missions feeling fresh, and we get a wonderful one in this mission: a hot air balloon. Additionally, Arturo, the balloon's owner, is a nicely rendered side character that gives this mission the Rockstar feel.

This airborne shoot-out is one of my favorite action sequences in the game, and while taking a tour is the cover used to get Arturo to take you up in the balloon, I really wish there was the opportunity to see more of Red Dead 2 from this vantage point.

That's Murfree Country

Grade: B

After the Pinkerton assault, it is clear that the gang cannot stay holed up where they are, and Arthur and Charles are sent up North to scout out an area that has an unfamiliar mystique to it.

On your ride, Charles mentions that no one would come to this part of the country to look for us, as people are known to go missing -- color me intrigued.

When you arrive, this bizarre and mysterious undertone remains. In the town of Butcher Creek, the citizens have bruised and sore-riddled faces, and, at the hideout of the Murfrees, you find ritual sacrifice and a woman locked in a cage.

Something so wonderful about exploring the world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is encountering its dark and odd underbelly, and the prospect of the next chapter bringing this in to the main story had me very excited.

Additionally, the mission closes by raising the stakes yet again, demonstrating that the gang is willing to execute its own if they have acted out of line.

Chapter 5 Summary

Guarma gave us a breather, offering a temporary new setting and some good to great action sequences.

However, the true standouts of Chapter 5 all occur back on the mainland. "Dear Uncle Tacitus" provides a beautiful and poetic interlude while "Icarus and Friends" showcases some of the game's most thrilling action.

Unfortunately, we find a major pitfall, as the mishandling of an important dramatic beat renders it ineffectual.

Hopefully, Chapter 6 can convey just how important Arthur's sickness actually is, and I am champing at the bit to learn more about the oddballs in Butcher Creek and the horrible Murfrees.


If you want to know what we think of the game as a whole, be sure to check out our Red Dead Redemption 2 review. If you're looking for tips and tricks for the Wild West epic, be sure head over to our Red Dead Redemption 2 guides page.

And if you would like to see more of our Red Dead 2 mission gradings, those that are currently available can be found at these links:

Chapter 1: Colter
Chapter 2: Horseshoe Overlook
Chapter 3: Clemens Point
Chapter 4: Saint Denis