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When Red Dead Redemption 2 launched last month, it was quickly lauded as one of the strongest single-player gaming experiences ever made. OnlySP’s review stated that “Red Dead Redemption 2 will go down not only as one of the best games of the generation, but as one of the greatest games ever made.” The pressure, then, was on Rockstar Games to match this high quality in the game’s multiplayer mode, released early for owners of the Ultimate Edition in the last 24 hours (and shortly to be available for anyone who played on the game’s opening day, October 26).

Rockstar’s announcement earlier this week came with the promise that players can “explore the world solo.” So how does the game hold up for single players hoping to experience more of the Wild West? Join OnlySP as we recount our first impressions of the multiplayer mode.

Red Dead Online cinematic cooperative gameplay posse

Red Dead Online opens with a cutscene setting up the main missions. After creating and customising their own character—an enjoyable and humorous task in itself—the player is rescued from a police convoy by Jessica LeClerk, who tasks them with tracking down her husband’s killer. The game world then opens up to the player to explore. Should they decide to follow the main story missions, they are quickly thrown into a matchmaking session where, alongside three other players, they complete a task set to them by a non-player character (NPC)—similar to the process of the game’s single-player mode, as well as Rockstar’s previous title Grand Theft Auto Online.

While these missions force the player to work alongside other players, the fast matchmaking system makes the change feel seamless, as the player can simply return to working alone once the mission is complete. These main story missions—while far less interesting and significantly shorter than those in the single-player mode—are intriguing and engaging enough to hold the player’s interest, and the cooperative gameplay is an enjoyable and unique addition to the game (particularly with friends).

Red Dead Online gunfight cover

However, main story missions are not the only way for players to enjoy Red Dead Online. Found throughout the game’s large world are ‘strangers’ who are available to frequently give the player minor tasks to complete, such as delivering packages or rescuing stagecoaches. Among these strangers are familiar faces from the single-player game—and one particularly familiar face who fans from the original game will be thrilled to find.

Following the player on their adventure is their camp. Operating similarly to the single-player campaign, the camp is a location where members of the player’s Posse can relax, cook, craft, sleep, and customise their character. The camp will remain eerily quiet for single players who lack a Posse but will still maintain a fairly comfortable atmosphere when wanting some time away from the Old West lifestyle.

Red Dead Online camp

Other notable additions to the multiplayer mode include the player’s horse who, like in the main game, can be customised and renamed, as well as emotes, allowing the silent protagonist to respond to other players using hand signals.

For players looking to enjoy a busy multiplayer experience, Red Dead Online is a perfect fit—the game features myriad cooperative and competitive modes to play, and the open world alone allows for rife competition with other players and Posses. Players looking for a thorough, narrative-driven game should stick to the single-player campaign—one of the best in recent memory—though Red Dead Online offers a fun solo experience for players wishing to spend some more time in the Old West.

Encountering real players in the open world is a fun alternative to the artificial intelligence of the single-player game and is bound to offer some interesting insights of human spirit, companionship, and loyalty—the foundations set by Rockstar in Red Dead Redemption 2 come to life in a real open world.

Rhain Radford-Burns
Rhain discovered a long time ago that mixing one of his passions (video games) with the other (writing) might be a good idea, and now he’s been stuck in the industry for over six years with no means of escaping. His favourite games are those with deep and captivating narratives: while it would take far too long to list them all, some include L.A. Noire, Red Dead Redemption (and its sequel), Wolfenstein: The New Order, The Last of Us, and the Uncharted series.

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