Legends and Killers is Red Dead Redemption's first instalment of paid-for downloadable content, part of the four-pack of DLC outlined by Rockstar in early July. In contrast to June's free Outlaws to the End DLC, which focused on cooperative missions, Legends and Killers is entirely about multiplayer; the pack comprises nine multiplayer maps, eight multiplayer characters, and the tomahawk throwing weapon.
Among the locations opened up for competitive multiplayer by this DLC are New Austin locations Rio Bravo, Fort Mercer, and Thieves' Landing, plus Tall Trees and Blackwater in West Elizabeth, and Escalera in Nuevo Paraiso, each of which we played in for our preview. The new multiplayer characters have been drafted in from Red Dead Revolver, the 2004 predecessor to Redemption; these are Red Harlow, Pig Josh, Mr Kelley, Annie Stoakes, Shadow Wolf, Ugly Chris, Buffalo Soldier, and Jack Swift. Of these, we saw only Red Harlow, he of the pointy beard and Marston-like scars.
The new maps offer a mix of compact, closed-in locations and more expansive spaces, with emphasis on the former; at least in the selection of six maps we were given. The largest, most open of the maps we sampled was Tall Trees, a snowy forest area bordered by rocky slopes and best traversed on horseback. Hold Your Own, Redemption's equivalent of Capture the Flag, is the only mode available in Tall Trees. With the two bases set at opposite ends of broad, hilly terrain and limited cover (just scattered trees) for players making a frontal assault, the map demands a team effort. Mounting up and rushing the opposing gang's chest en masse was one workable strategy, but a single player charging in on horseback would be quickly picked off by defenders hunkered down nearby.
Blackwater, the other West Elizabeth location in our multiplayer tour, was the standout map. The only really urban location in the game world makes for a new kind of Red Dead multiplayer experience, with rooftops and alleys between buildings offering multiple routes to the opposition's chest in Hold Your Own, for instance. The alleyways in particular gave rise to plenty of shotgun-friendly, close-quarters fighting, as well as opportunities to ambush bag carriers. The roads, on the other hand, have been littered with crates that add some cover for out-and-out street fighting.
Rio Bravo, in which the new tomahawk is a default weapon, is based around Repentance Rock. It's a good setting for the all-out deathmatch of Shootout mode, though Gang Shootout and Gold Rush are also on offer. The sheer, rocky walls of the foothills form crisscrossing natural corridors, which generate tense, up-close combat that favours the stealthy. And, if you can get the drop on another player, you'll probably find yourself gleefully planting a tomahawk between his shoulder blades; the tomahawk is a stealth weapon that helps you stay invisible on the minimap and is deadliest up close. It can be used at range, but you'll need to aim high to get the throwing arc right, especially if you're after a headshot.
Fort Mercer is another enclosed, hectic map, with Gold Rush, Grab the Bag, Gang Shootout, and Shootout available to play. In our demo, the small fort lent itself well to Gold Rush, with the confined space and concealed corners dooming many an overconfident gold gatherer. Thieves' Landing, another New Austin map, is set around the bridge and wooden walkways at the heart of the settlement. The presence of deep water, as instantly deadly as ever, channels the action onto that narrow bridge, which is now littered with crates and barrels for gangs to take cover behind as they fight their way across. On this map, you can choose among the five modes: Gold Rush, Grab the Bag, Hold Your Own, Shootout, and Gang Shootout.
Down in Nuevo Paraiso, we paid a visit to Escalera, the split-level settlement overlooked by Colonel Allende's villa headquarters. This map is all about high ground and hiding spots, with the crow's-nest tower in the villa courtyard key to controlling this intricate map. Gang Shootout and Shootout are the modes available here, but good luck keeping hold of that tower in the latter.
Legends and Killers is confined to new maps and characters, not modes (the second DLC pack, Liars and Cheats, will add a new one called Attack and Defend), but it's a sizeable addition to the map collection, bringing fresh achievements and trophies to boot. It launches on August 10 for both Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network for 800 Microsoft points and £7.99 (or $9.99), respectively.