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Red Dead Online guide: Everything you need to know to succeed in Rockstar's online Wild West

GamesRadar logo GamesRadar 2 days ago Iain Wilson

Red Dead Online, the multiplayer component of Western blockbuster Red Dead Redemption 2, has come a long way since it first launched back in November 2018. Officially, Red Dead Online is still in the public beta phase, but Rockstar have kept new content flowing with regular updates while they tweak various gameplay and economy balances. It has been reported that Red Dead Online is making a hell of a lot less money than GTA Online so there's still improvements to be made, but with an increasing variety of competitive modes available, plus daily challenges, hunting, exploring, and co-operative story missions to complete with your posse, there's plenty to get stuck in to and keep players interested.

That being said, Red Dead Online can feel overwhelming and easy to get lost in with so many activities to choose from - even if you have a particular goal in mind such as ranking up to a certain level to unlock that new item you want, or the usual motivating factor of collecting stacks of dollars to upgrade your gear and live your best life. That's why we're opening up our saddlebags to share our wealth of knowledge and experience in Red Dead Online with you, laying out a whole suite of guides to explain every area you need more detail on to achieve success. Hit the ol' dusty trail, partner, and we'll get started...

Want to see the opening section of Red Dead Online in action? Then check out our gameplay video below:

Red Dead Online patch notes

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The world of Red Dead Online is constantly evolving, with Rockstar keeping things interesting with regular updates. If you want to follow the most recent developments then let us keep you on top of the Red Dead Online patch notes, so you'll always know the latest on what's new.

Red Dead Online Beta

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Although Red Dead Online has been up and running for months now, it's still currently in the beta phase, with Rockstar asking for feedback on any technical issues players may encounter. This means that not all modes and systems will be operational, with tweaks and alterations to the game likely as the early kinks are ironed out. We'll keep you posted on all the updates and changes to the Red Dead Online beta, as they happen.

Red Dead Online Tips

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We've now had some time to get to grips with Red Dead Online, but many players will still be finding their feet and getting used to how the game's systems work in the online setting. If you're looking for advice on the best horse to choose, how to avoid enemy fire, and much much more, then take a look at our essential Red Dead Online tips to know before you play.

How to earn XP fast in Red Dead Online

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Earning XP is super important in Red Dead Online, as your character's level (or rank) determines what items, weapons, and even horses you have access to. As with most online games, there are many ways to grind out XP, but some are more efficient and enjoyable than others - we'll outline all of these as we show you how to earn XP fast in Red Dead Online.

How to make money fast in Red Dead Online

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They say that money makes the world go round, and that holds true in Red Dead Online. If you want to purchase high-level items, new weapons, and upgrades, then you need to have the cash to back it up, and with the current state of the game's economy it's pretty hard to come by. We've investigated different strategies for earning a crust, to bring you the best methods for how to make money fast in Red Dead Online.

Best Red Dead Online weapons

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If you're going to hold your own in those online gunfights, you need to have the right tools for the job. If you don't know a Bolt-Action Rifle from a Litchfield Repeater, then you should check out our guide to the best Red Dead Online weapons for all the information you need.

Red Dead Online best horses

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You're going to spend a lot of time riding around in Red Dead Online, and having the best steed can make all the difference if you're trying to chase down a wagon convoy or escape a bloodthirsty posse snapping at your heels. We've picked out the Red Dead Online best horses to suit a number of different situations, so whether you're looking for speed or sturdiness we've got you covered.

Red Dead Online Showdown Series tips

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If you've been taking on the various competitive modes in the Red Dead Online Showdown Series, such as Make It Count, Most Wanted, Name Your Weapon, and Hostile Territory, then you'll probably know how difficult it is to nail down a victory. If you're looking for some help, we've got Red Dead Online Showdown Series tips covering all of those game modes and more.

Red Dead Online gang hideouts

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If you're looking for another way to grab some fast cash and XP, then clearing out gang hideouts can give you both as well as sometimes rewarding you with a treasure map for your trouble. Our guide will show you 17 possible spots where Red Dead Online gang hideouts can spawn, as well as providing advice for how best to tackle them.

Red Dead Online Posse

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They say that there's safety in numbers, so if you want to rule the online West then teaming up with other players will definitely help. Check out our Red Dead Online Posse guide to find out how to set up a posse, what the different types of posse mean, and what the benefits are to being in a posse.

Easiest Red Dead Online gold buckles

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The Awards system from the single player game also features in Red Dead Online, containing an impressive 425 awards to unlock, and reaching the gold medal requirement for each will earn you 500 XP and a gold buckle to customise your outfit with. Some of these are much simpler to complete than others, so we've made a guide for the easiest Red Dead Online gold buckles you can get.

Switch your morality in Red Dead Online

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The Honor system plays its part in Red Dead Online, determining what Free Roam and co-operative story missions you receive based on your moral compass at the time. If you've made some mistakes and want to quickly change your ways, then here's how you can switch your morality in Red Dead Online with a simple transaction.

Red Dead Online Gold Bars

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Unsurprisingly, thanks to the runaway success Rockstar have had with the GTA Online Shark Card, we now have Red Dead Online gold bars available to buy. These real money purchases will allow players to jump ahead with their progression and access the coolest items quicker, without all that grinding for gold nuggets. For now, at least, this appears to be the extent of the Red Dead Online microtransactions, though if the GTA Online model is followed then you can expect bundles containing camp upgrades and more to appear in the future.

Red Dead Online Cameos

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As you travel around meeting strangers and completing story missions, you're likely to run into some familiar faces from the Red Dead Redemption world. We won't go into too much detail here in case you want them to be a surprise, but instead you should check out these Red Dead Online cameos to see who you can meet on your journey.

Red Dead Online Character Creator

The Red Dead Online character creation is incredibly detailed, and you can pretty much customise everything about your cowboy or cowgirl right down to the redness of their eyes and the sound of their horse whistle. When getting yourself set up, remember that you're potentially going to be spending a long time with your Red Dead Online character, so make sure you're happy with their look before committing. There will no doubt be options to change your haircut and trim your beard (as appropriate), but plastic surgery was not very advanced in the early 1900s so don't expect a full facial reconstruction any time soon.

Red Dead Online's First Mission

If you've not had the chance to try out Red Dead Online for yourself yet, we have complete footage of the very first mission above. What starts out as a simple delivery job quickly turns into a gang shootout, a treasure map hunt, and much more - we won't say any more for now, but it's all there if you want to watch. Red Dead Online promises to provide plenty of story-based missions, as well as all the hunting, foraging, and other free-roam activities you've come to expect from the single player experience.

Could you reach rank 50 of Red Dead Online in 10 weeks?

Red Dead Online is now live, and our new video series Red Dead Online The Road to Rank 50 asks the question - can we reach rank 50 in the next ten weeks? It may sound easy, but our first week hasn't exactly been a rousing success. See how we got on in Part 1, then keep checking back each week and follow our progress. Will we make it to our lofty target? Only time will tell.

Part 2: "I'm not sure I’m having fun"

Part 3: "He’s a fine man in a nasty world"

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Red Dead Online Game Modes

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At launch, there are five different competitive game modes available in Red Dead Online, which are detailed below. Currently, there isn't a way for players to choose a specific game mode, so to enter one of them you'll need to join a Showdown Series competitive mode playlist. The larger the playlist, the more chance you have of encountering a variety of game modes, but at this stage it's still very much luck of the draw as to what you'll get. If you're looking for advice on how to succeed in these modes, then check out our Red Dead Online Showdown Series tips.

Shootout and Team Shootout

Shootout and Team Shootout are your classic deathmatch modes, where you need to work individually or with your team to score more kills before your time runs out. You have unlimited respawns, but remember that each one is a point for your opponents so try not to get reckless. Should the scores be tied at the end of a round then Sudden Death will kick in, with the next kill securing victory.

© Provided by Future Publishing Ltd.

Most Wanted

In Most Wanted you're battling against your opponents to secure your place at the top of the leaderboard. The more kills you get, the higher you'll rise up the list, but as you close in on the top your enemies will get more points for eliminating you. Pay attention to the current score to identify the most valuable targets, but also be aware of when you're doing well and the others will be gunning for you.

Make It Count

Make It Count is Red Dead Online's take on battle royale, with up to 32 players duking it out to be the last one standing. Starting out with either a bow and a few arrows, or a small cluster of throwing knives, you'll need to use both stealth and ruthlessness to survive in the ever decreasing game area and outlive all your opponents to take the win.

a group of people walking down a dirt road © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd.

Name Your Weapon

Name Your Weapon has both free-for-all and team variants, but the core concept is the same for both - the more difficult the weapon you use to get your kills, the more points you'll score for them. It's up to you whether you want to go big with a powerful weapon and rack up lots of kills for low points, or take a more tactical approach with something tricker and make your kills count.

Hostile Territory

In the team-based Hostile Territory, the aim is to capture and hold territories to start accruing points for your side. Work together to hold on to your land, and make sure you're earning points faster than your enemies to secure the victory. Your team can also win the match outright if you manage to capture all territories at the same time.

a person holding a sign © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd.

Gun Rush

The newest game mode added to Red Dead Online is Gun Rush, which can be played in teams or as a free for all. In classic battle royale style, up to 32 players have to fight their way towards the centre of the map, then survive in the ever-shrinking area to become the last player standing.

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Red Dead Online Honor System

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As with the single player game, the actions that you take with your character in Red Dead Online will alter your honor state, which in turn will determine how certain missions and other interactions play out. You can increase your honor level by doing nice things such a helping people out and caring for your horse, but if you spend your time online robbing people and shooting other players unprovoked then your honor is going to take a nosedive. So far, we know that honor will affect the following elements of Red Dead Online, and if you feel that you've made some big mistakes then there is a simple way to switch your morality in Red Dead Online.

Free Roam Missions

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The familiar Stranger question mark icons also make appearances in Red Dead Online, which will allow you to initiate Free Roam Missions - either on your own or with a Posse of friends. Depending on your honor level, different Free Roam Missions will be available to you. If you're an honorable player then you may be tasked with protecting a convoy against attacks from gangs or rival Posses, whereas if you're a somewhat shady character then you may be the one doing the attacking instead, or freeing a criminal from their shackles.

A Land of Opportunities

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In Red Dead Online, A Land of Opportunities is the name given to an ongoing series of co-operative missions for two to four players, which Rockstar intend to keep building upon. These missions will consist of multiple parts, and the route you take through them will be influenced by your current honor level. Whether you end up seeking out truth and justice, or going all-in to take revenge during your story arc, depends entirely on how honorable (or dishonorable) you are.

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Red Dead Online Races

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As well as the competitive game modes, there are also Red Dead Online races to compete in. These horse races pit you against up to 15 opponents, as you try to either complete a checkpointed route first, or collect a series of targets then reach the end point before the other players. There are three different ways you can access Red Dead Online races, with the easiest being to open the Online menu and select 'Race Series' from the Series Playlist at the bottom. You can also open the map then hover over one of the chequered flag Race Series icons, found in Blackwater, Tumbleweed, Valentine, and near Van Horn Trading Post, then follow the 'Start Matchmaking' prompt, or physically go to one of those icon locations and hit the marked button for 'Enter Race Series Matchmaking'.

All three methods achieve the same outcome of entering you into Race Series matchmaking, which currently drops you into a random race so there's no way of choosing which race you enter. You will most likely be asked if you want to spectate, and you should say yes otherwise you'll be kicked back to Free Roam. Once spectating, you'll need to watch the current race to its conclusion, at which point you'll be able to join in from the next race onwards. If you feel things are taking too long, you can always manually quit back to Free Roam and try matchmaking again. There are two different types of race available, as follows…

Standard Race

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These are straight point-to-point checkpoint races, where you need to complete one or more laps of the course ahead of your opponents. At the start, don't be afraid to hang back a little while the players in front pick each other off once combat is enabled - once the pack has been thinned, you can then push to overtake those who remain. Your focus should be on hitting the stamina barrels to keep your horse energised and maintain your pace to hold your position.

Weapons are less of a priority during races, but if you can grab one then it'll help with protection. If an enemy is behind you and armed, weave from side to side to make it harder to hit you, and if possible drop back then shoot them from behind to deal with the threat. There are currently five different Races you have access to on rotation:

  • Bard's Crossing
  • Fort Wallace
  • Pike's Basin
  • Saint Denis Plantation
  • Saint Denis Streets

Open Race

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Unlike the standard Race, an Open Race features a series of signal fires dotted around a town, which you need to ride through to collect in any order before reaching the large fire in the centre to finish. As before, your priority should be picking up stamina barrels to keep your speed up - you can also collect weapons, but due to the open nature of the race and spread of players across the area, they'll end up being more of a distraction so just try to ignore your opponents.

By looking at the colour/transparency of the yellow markers around the edge of your minimap you should be able to plan your route to the nearest signal fire - using the expanded radar will help with this. Try to clear all of the signal fires in one direction before changing course, rather than zigzagging back and forth across the area too much, or you'll fall too far behind your enemies. As things stand, there are five Open Races in the playlist:

  • Blackwater
  • Rhodes
  • Saint Denis
  • Tumbleweed
  • Valentine

Why are players circling around at the start?

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If you've entered any Red Dead Online Races, you may be confused as to why a number of players are just walking around in circles at the starting spawn. Currently, players receive a reward of gold nuggets, cash, and XP for every race they enter that completes, even if they receive a DNF for not finishing it. This reward increases the longer the race goes on for, and it appears the countdown timer to end the race won't kick in until either more than half of the players have finished or a cap of around 14 minutes is reached.

For this reason, players are rubber-banding their pads to walk in circles to prevent getting kicked for being idle, then just leaving the game to let the rewards roll in. This is making races incredibly boring for players who actually want to compete properly, as they can't move on until the race times out, so expect Rockstar to make future changes to address this issue.

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