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So this is it Red Dead Online?

I wanted to wait until this week to give my review of the first official major update for Red Dead Online Beta. I guess one could call my reluctance a sort of hopeful optimism. A wish from the heart that the update that we got on the 26th was a mistake, oversight, or perhaps some sort of joke. Since the release of Red Dead Online Beta, the fans have began to fall by the way side, like so many fisherman caught off guard, as the initial online world had very little to do and was not as satisfying as the story mode. Weeks of no updates turned into months. Griefers and Bullies formed stronger posse’s, confident their was no recourse for their evil deeds anytime in the near future. Even when the game did get an update, it seemed like nothing significant had happened. Griefing was still rampant. The Varmint Rifle could still blow your head off. No change was in sight! After the famed “shareholder meeting” (as if video gamers cared about this things prior to RDR2) hope was dwindling as to any updates being released before the summer. Youtubers who had built their fan base on Red Dead videos were starting to prep their fan base for the inevitable long hiatus due to the lack of updates that would be coming. Showing that they know nothing about the finer workings of the video game industry, the fans were elated to be wrong and hear that Rockstar was finally going to start rolling out weekly updates for its popular but ever growing stale online multiplayer experience Red Dead Online Beta! But just like Dutch did to us in the single player game, we got f**’d again! Ahem, as in i mean to say: The fans were not jazzed at all with what we actually got. According to the initial newswire, the update looked to be a step in the right direction. We were promised a fair amount of clothing updates, 4 new game modes, an updated player radar and anti-griefing measures. However, out of all the promises made it feels like only one was ever fully delivered on (the player radar) and the rest we will be getting in the following weeks in a trickle down release…the last time I heard the term “trickle down” it was in economics and that didn’t work out so well. Still, I have hope. Single player has taught me nothing. The players have been asking for a relief to the rampant griefing situation that persists in game. Rockstar has changed the colors of aggressive player “blips” to a dark red that never goes away and can be seen across the map. This does make griefers easier to spot when they are approaching you. If you are defending yourself from an aggressive player your player blip temporarily turns red but resets back to blue after a short period of time. You do pick up a small bounty for killing other players but I’ve noticed that the final rate is adjusted once you go into the post office or your loot box in camp to pay it off. Game Tip: If You Kill a Red Player, Ride away from the area. After 150 meters you will disappear off of the players radar. Your status should reset after a few minutes of non aggressive game play. There are a lot of aggressive Red players in game. 

Rockstar promised three new weapons: The Double Barrel Rare Shotgun, the jawbone knife, and the Evans Repeater. The Double Rare shotgun was released on the 26th. This is a standard double barreled shotgun with an ornate nature scene carved into the butt of the rifle. For a couple of hundred dollars, it’s a better choice over the standard double barrel shotgun because “Rare” weapons have a slower decay time and the carving is pretty sick. The Rare Double Barreled shotgun is not the best shotgun in the game, however. The jawbone knife is similar to the knife that is found in the single player game, this is available for purchase from the fence. The Evans Repeater is a revisit of a gun from the original ‘Red Dead Redemption.’ It’s a less superior gun than the Lancaster repeater already available in game. The only advantage of the Evans is the 24 round load capacity that it can hold.  

Rockstar has also begun giving away weekly rewards for logging into Red Dead Online which includes a cluster of small consumable items like 8 poison arrows, 2 health potions, 2 chewing tobacco, etc. Red Dead Online is also offering rewards for completing a set amount of daily rewards in a week. This weeks reward is a “Special Spinner” which can also be bought in Lagras for about $20. Each daily challenge completed rewards the player with +10 nuggets and +200 xp. With 7 goals in total completing daily challenges can be worthwhile. Challenges range from tasks like skinning to 2 wild boars, picking 5 herbs, or catching 5 fish to killing 3 players with an explosive from horseback, or getting 3 player headshots with a rifle. Game Tip: The player vs. player tasks can be completed in showdown challenges, so there is no need to affect the players standing in the Free Roam world. 

One very important gameplay change I’ve run across is the change to the re-spawn time of consumable items found littered thought out the game world. I posted the video above about how to use this bug to fill up your satchel with all of the consumables you can carry. I hope players took advantage of this while they could because it’s no longer works this way. Now items that have been picked up do not respawn when you re-enter a free roam session. The best that I’ve been able to tell is it takes about 6-9 hours of real world time for those items to re-appear again. Crafting and cooking foods have become more important and necessary! Game Tip: Make sure to gather Thyme, Mint, and Oregano to gain boosts to certain crafted meats. Big Game Meat+Any of the three herbs will give players a gold health, stamina, or dead eye core according to the herb used. 

Along with the lack of re-spawning items I have noticed the core drain rate has been increased in Free Roam. It’s also easier to gain and go overweight which also has a negative impact on player damage and recovery rate. It’s important to keep an eye on that meter. Game Tip: The best way to fill cores without consuming food is to rest at camp.  

One of the more interesting and rewarding bugs was the costume bug. This bug allowed players to try on certain items from the catalogue and, after making a small purchase, would allow the player to save the outfit and keep the higher end item. The special armor that spawned in the Gun Rush mission was also able to be bugged and saved as a wearable item in free roam and pvp missions, although it was strictly cosmetic. That bug no longer exists and the costumes have been reset. 

The private or passive mode bug still works. This bug allows a player to log into a game server but remain invisible to other players and vice versa. This allows gamers the ability to hunt and run stranger missions unimpeded by aggressive players. The User still appears on the map as a blip, however, it is lighter than the others and the player themselves cannot be seen in the real world. Game Tip: In some caravan escort missions the wagons appear to other players and can be attached resulting in a loss. Also, Supply Missions are bugged in “passive mode” and the mission will auto-fail once the mission is loaded. At least you get a free wagon out of the deal.

Waiting for stranger missions to end for full XP, cash, and nuggets is still a part of the current gameplay. I’m not sure if this is a bug or if this is by design, however, if players wait until the last 10-05 seconds of the mission clock they can earn the max amount of xp, cash, and nuggets for the mission type. For example: +24 gold nuggets +500 xp ,+$25 for a Recovery mission; +20 nuggets, +400 xp,+$17 cash for a coach robbery mission. Game Tip: Attempting to wait out missions, especially lone wolfing, can be difficult as rival players can attack you with no consequence to their blip color after the mission ends. Use passive mode to minimize attacks and maximize profits while it’s still possible.

Not all improvements have been great ones,  in order to combat the duplicating cougar bug the costs of cougars has been reduced by half as well as the costs of all pelts from other animals. Cougars and Panthers have gone down from $20-16 to $8-12. Sheep and Pigs have also been reduced by half from $3.50 down to $1.50! Fishing prices have still remained the same. Horses seemed to have had their A.I. improved as well as improved functions inside of the stables. For example, you can now compare the saddle your horse is currently wearing with other saddles. Also, if you kill a rival players horse while in Free Roam you have to pay a $4 veterinarian fee.

The last thing I’m going to bring up is the bounty system. It exists. You gain a bounty quickly for killing civilians and police and it never goes away. Killing Police gets you a .75 bounty where killing another player gets you .50 price on the players head. So far, I haven’t noticed any bounty hunters coming after me but I’ve not yet tried to run a high tab in blood, I’m not sure I will, it’s not really my playing style.

Overall I am sadly disappointed with Rockstar and it’s decision to stagger this release in chunks instead of getting the ball rolling with giving the players what they teased and then continue to win us back with significant content. These weekly bags of items, potions, fishing lures that most players have owned since the first day of beta, and a clothing catalogue that teases the things to come isn’t nearly enough to justify logging in weekly, let alone daily! Rockstar needs to step up the Red Dead content and give us ranches, hideouts, bank heists, and train robberies before many gamers turn their attention elsewhere. Their own 5-year-old game is beating its newest online title in sales, and that’s just confusing.