Red Dead Online - A shaved female bounty hunter carries a lassoed criminal on his shoulders and sends him to prison

Red Dead Online: Say Goodbye to Rockstar’s Multiplayer Western Mode

red undead online has reached the end of its useful life. It’s both a fantastic experience that I’ve explored for hundreds of hours, and a game that will never reach its full potential, forever in the shadow of its bigger (and more profitable) siblings, Grand Theft Auto onlineNow that Rockstar has said it will no longer focus on Westerns, it’s worth revisiting this frontier to judge the game based on what it’s accomplished since its launch in 2018.

Red Dead Online Start when your characters are betrayed, framed for crimes they didn’t commit, and hanged for outlaws. You escape thanks to the efforts of senior lady Jessica LeClerk, who has her own revenge mission since she was widowed by scavengers to try to get her husband’s fortune. Players become LeClerk’s tools of justice, and once freed on the frontier, it’s time to start quests, complete bounties, kill robbers, and get a nice horse to brush with.

If you follow the LeClerk quest, you’ll experience a short campaign in which you must occasionally make moral choices. Do you bring your wayward daughter back to your father, or let her run away with a lover? Are you tying something not to do to the rails to get justice for the train, or are you more merciful?

Image: Rockstar Games

The game uses an honor system to track your actions, and at first, you might think you’re doing some really deep RPGs. After LeClerk’s mission, however, the concept disappeared, and it never really came back. The honor system is still there, but over time it tends to fill up automatically when you do things like brushing your teeth and feeding your horses. Often it is clear what caused the honor to be dropped or restored. When you clear a gang hideout, you can forgive or execute him, self-defense is okay, but execution of witnesses is not.

Aside from some cosmetic bonuses, it’s never really Very importantIt feels like some great plan has been abandoned at some point, and characters like Old Man Jones — who feel like an angelic answer to the diabolical strangers in the Red Dead series — are just… there. Jones wanders through cutscenes in the early campaign and pleads with you to treat your countrymen with honor and dignity. It felt as though it was leading to something, but Jones disappeared after giving up all his foreshadowing.

So once you’re done with your campaign missions, you’re on your own, and there’s a lot to help you do that. You can hunt and fish, camp and cook some delicious stew, hunt down high-priced crime bounties, or run your own moonshine hut. When I log in, it’s easy for me to get caught up in a comfortable rhythm of activity. I start at camp, make some stews and coffee, and eat breakfast manually, pressing the trigger with every bite. Then I hopped on my big horse Hayseed and roamed the vast, unspoiled wilderness in search of quests.

Red Dead Online - A player admonishes the big Belgian draft horse Hayseed.

Image: Rockstar Games via Polygon

The core of these activities is always basically the same: you either ride a horse, wield a lasso, or shoot a gun. Although the movements on paper don’t change much, Red Dead Redemption 2Great fighting, grappling and physics systems add to the fun. As with most open-world games, there’s usually some engaging backdrop, whether exciting or melancholic. My friends and I spent hours arguing in a muddy yard.

The world also feels organic, though not as fulfilling as the single-player experience. When I’m on the road, I might find someone trapped under a rock that turns out to be a vile trap set by a bandit. Or, I might find someone who really needs help to get home after a wolf attack, and when I bring them home, I’ll find an available quest at their ranch, which naturally takes me to Warren Ding, where I am from the plank.

Red Dead Online It can be both peaceful and zen – just enjoy the experience of horseshoes against the crowded dirt and open skies of the US border. It can also be an absolute clown carnival, where my friends and I enjoy an old-fashioned assassination match in a suave mansion.It’s a great social sandbox, but it can never match its siblings GTA Online. It stays grounded and period accurate, and the action rarely escalates to city center shootouts or frantic horse changes.

Red Dead Online - Two bandits in long coats and wide-brimmed hats prepare to attack. One of them held a lit stick of dynamite, while the other had his rifle ready.

Image: Rockstar Games

Rockstar’s huge open world is still worth exploring, and full of little details to discover.A lot of joy can be found in individual moments, but no general vision to guide Red Dead Online to a tangible and concrete destination—and probably never will now, as Rockstar continues to focus on Grand Theft Auto 6 and continue to invest time and resources in mammoths GTA Online.

It’s kind of sad because although Red Dead Online Can’t carry flying cars and Elon Musk parodies, it does provide gravitas. My friends and I are always dubious when we hang out at the border.exist GTA Online, we walked through the street at 160 mph while listening to the music of the Backstreet Boys.exist Red Dead Online, we would stare thoughtfully at the fire, drink coffee from a tin mug, and jog on horseback. Joy on the go, even though the game misses all of its potential, I still love these peaceful moments interrupted by cowboy action.

It’s a disappointing end for fans who have persevered through the new cast of characters, with occasional events awaiting Rockstar’s greater recognition or defense. The game has been plagued by content drafts and periods of inactivity – save for the Battle Pass – and now it’s in purgatory. Only time will tell if the game appeals to the community, or if it’s elsewhere for a brighter future.

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