Red Dead Redemption Multiplayer Hands-On

Put together a crew of 16 players and roam free through the frontier in Rockstar's Western action game.

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It's one of those simple rules of video games: Anything in the sandbox action genre is exponentially more enjoyable when you can share the fun with someone else. After all, open-world games are essentially a big blank canvas for players to decorate with whatever style of gameplay they want. Whether it's, say, working through the Saints Row 2 story missions in co-op or just using the free-roaming multiplayer lobby in Grant Theft Auto IV to jump between speedboats and pretend to be pirates, the level of expression you get out of these games is boosted significantly with friends in tow. That's why we were so eager to check out what Red Dead Redemption has in store on the multiplayer side of things. It has looked for a while now as if the story and characters are shaping up to meet Rockstar's exacting cinematic standards, so the big question left was how the multiplayer would turn out.

The answer, in a word, is: fun. The team down at Rockstar San Diego seems to realize that while there are those players who need order, there are also those who are clinically allergic to it, and Redemption's multiplayer looks ready to appeal to both sets. For the free-form crowd, up to 16 players can all gather into the same world and travel through the game's entire geography. All three parts of the world--Nuevo Paraiso, Port Elizabeth, and New Austin--can be explored without players being magically tethered together. Pretty much everything outside of the main storyline missions is available in this free-roaming multiplayer scenario, so if you all want to get together and go on a hunting expedition to sell valuable animal skins or form an impromptu vigilante squad to snuff out roving bandits, you're more than welcome to do so. Or if you just want to ignore each other completely and run off to opposite corners of the map, that's an option as well.

To help keep things a bit organized, there's a posse system that lets players within that group of 16 split up into their own smaller gangs. Each posse is assigned a posse leader, and he acts as the guy keeping his crew in line. He can assign waypoints on the map that will then appear on the maps of his entire posse, and when the team gets too separated, members can instantly teleport to where the posse leader is currently located. There's no rule that says you have to be friendly or violent with other posses in these 16-player setups, either. You can turn the world into an Old-West turf war or be as buddy-buddy as you want.

For those who want to experience some combat during these free-roaming sequences, there are a number of "action areas" spread throughout the world. These are essentially small towns overrun with bandits that you and your crew can eradicate in order to gain experience points. Your team rolls up on horseback to the outskirts of a town with guns blazing, pushing its way toward a bandit stronghold where the most stubborn stragglers are holed up. Combat allows for the slow, methodical player to use cover and fire precision rifle shots or the reckless player to speed through Main Street on his horse, hurling dynamite or Molotov cocktails at anything vaguely resembling a threat. We enjoyed the variety of guns and weapons at our disposal during these action areas. And thanks to the game's use of the Euphoria animation engine, it seems like we didn't see the same stumbling death animation twice.

There's no rule saying you have to be friendly with fellow posse members.

That should give you a general idea of what to expect out of the free-form, do-what-you-want multiplayer options. But like Grand Theft Auto IV, you'll also be able to play through a number of competitive multiplayer modes. To minimize menu navigation, Redemption will let players queue up a playlist of multiplayer modes so that when one match is over, a different mode of your choosing is immediately due up next. We played through three different modes: Shootout, Goldrush, and Hold Your Own.

Shootout, which can be played either free-for-all or with teams, gathers players together in one of the game's many scattered towns and acts as a contained multiplayer map. This mode is as straightforward as it gets: Shoot opposing players while trying not to die. The action can get surprisingly tense during those moments when the cacophonous gunfire settles down and you know an opposing player is trying to fix his or her sights on you. We're not afraid to admit that, at one of these points, we were thoroughly spooked by a figure in our peripheral vision that turned out to be a goat. Each kill nets you experience points, which can be put toward new weapons, characters, and horses.

After that came Goldrush. This mode first takes a scattering of gold bags and crates that randomly pop up all over the map then asks you to return the bags to the crates while avoiding a hail storm of gunfire. Randomly generated locations of those gold bags means that you're constantly on the move, dashing around either for unclaimed gold or players to shoot and steal their gold from them while they're in transit. Similar to Goldrush is Hold Your Own. Here, it is two teams with their own sides of the map, which either can be two small towns separated by sprawling frontier or a pair of corners within the same walled outpost depending on the scale of a given map. Players race from one side to the other on foot or horseback trying to capture the other team's gold, engaging in shootouts along the way. On the bigger maps, defensive positions are available in the form of Gatling gun turrets and cannons. We really enjoyed manning the cannon situated at the top of a small hill between two towns on the bigger map we played and randomly lobbing cannonballs onto the enemy team's base.

It's been an awkward ride ever since 'HaloKilla7443' threw a Molotov cocktail at your horse.

Overall, we walked away impressed by Red Dead Redemption's multiplayer offerings. On one end, there are those fixed game modes for players who enjoy engaging in traditional multiplayer matches and working toward earning a tangible reward like experience points. But there's also the potential for free-roaming creativity with little in the way of restrictions. Whether you're in the mood for a standard deathmatch or prefer coming up with new games like "The First Annual Nuevo Paraiso Man Versus Mountain Lion Contest" it looks like flexibility and options are the two big themes in Redemption multiplayer. Expect to see the game arrive in stores on May 18.

Discussion

282 comments
ohwhat_24
ohwhat_24

nice i get to roam the dessert with my wolf pack searching for durgs and hookers ha ha

barry0d0
barry0d0

and still waiting.... aha every day just gets longer and longer!!

Arnofactor
Arnofactor

Only a week to go, and for some reason im waking up every morning and look at my calendar on my cell phone thinking: is it the 18th yet?

GM-Lucra
GM-Lucra

If 16 players can roam in a level on their own, Im gonna be the outlaw. Hunting down all the others and killing them one by one.I am death of the west, start digging your graves....

SpyderTK
SpyderTK

I haven't been this excited for a game since Fallout 3. Honestly, this game looks amazing. I just hope I'm not setting myself up for a big letdown.

dozer187
dozer187

@ElMeerkat one of the videos they have mentions gaining experience toward unlocked new things....so there is some form of lvling i believe. i don't know if its in the traditional sense like cod though.

roguas
roguas

freeze me I CAN'T wait !!!

TheGreyArea
TheGreyArea

@bobcat1794, I think I'd manage about two or three clean shots before she rounded up her all girl crew to come lay down some sister justice. Our secret to a happy marriage? Settle all disputes with a revolver

eyebrowless
eyebrowless

Me and my posse are so ready to ride out onto the multiplayer scene

PixelBully
PixelBully

the town undertakers better get ready because im gonna be filling some pine boxes.

PixelBully
PixelBully

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

DFen
DFen

freeroaming like never before yessss, loved the first one and definitely buying this game, rockstargames never let there fans down :)

bobcat1794
bobcat1794

@TheGreyArea nice nothin like riding a horse with your lovely wife then shooting her in the back when shes not looking

tomcrole
tomcrole

locks on soo much when you shoot

TheGreyArea
TheGreyArea

holy freaking cr*p...! My wife just bought ANOTHER xbox for us to co-op this game together

kikaiser
kikaiser

I can't wait to play this... and run into the dicks online that throw N***** around like its cool and call me Cracker... wanna know what they did to your kind back in the west? BAM! I ain't your 'bro' dickweed... and I ain't no Saltine.

UNTOUCHABL34
UNTOUCHABL34

Loved the first game. This looks awesome!

ElMeerkat
ElMeerkat

The Multiplayer looks like it's gonna be awesome. anyone know if there's a leveling system like MW2 for it?

King_Giles_III
King_Giles_III

i wanna be a cowboy baaaabbbyyy. kid rock anyone?

CanardOL
CanardOL

Hey fellow players. I'm quite interested in the western atmosphere, but know nothing about Xbox live so far. What does interest me most in games is the "roleplaying" experience (see http://avlis.org/ for example) So how will the Red Dead R online experience work ? Is it going to be ONE persistent world ? One lasting experience, where you could imagine making stories a la "unforgiven" (CEastwood movie) and such. Thks

Tekur
Tekur

Geekasim.....Geekasim......orgasim....

bob_e70
bob_e70

I just wet myself with excitement!!!!

CruiserCaptain
CruiserCaptain

I agree Joeywan! That's the one thing that scares me with this game. PS# isn't even that old, and some online versions of games are pretty much gone. Or so bad, you'll never play again...and half the new games are mostly about online play. But I have so much hope for this game. It has been a LONG time since I have actually looked forward to a game release. Hell I may even pre-order. Dear Rockstar, Please don't screw this up. You've always done so well with setting new standards with your games, "C'mon Han old buddy, don't let me down." I hope for the best. Sincerely, A Loving PLayer.

Joeywan
Joeywan

Games nowadays tend to forget about local multiplayer... Farcry 2, for example. I didn't read the whole article yet, but I hope they at least add a local multiplayer option. Online isn't always where it's at. Years from now, when there is no more xbox live, the only things these games will have going for them is the singleplayer and the local multiplayer. If they can do that, this will truly be the perfect game!

BlckN1nja767
BlckN1nja767

I have this game on pre-order from Best Buy. I just can't wait to get my hands on it, and dominate with my war horse pre-order bonus!!

sochio
sochio

wooohoooo yeaaaaaaaah i want to be in a posee cowboy sochio wooooooohooooooooooo

VALENTT
VALENTT

@PenguinIzzy yea...so if you have a psn add rockan33 then

PenguinIzzy
PenguinIzzy

That's awesome Valentt. I'm happy for you and your best friend. I am currently seeking a best-best friend at the moment. ;) Anyways, maybe we can crew up when the game launches. However, I am afraid of preordering it since it might have screen tearing, which I cannot bear. AC II already burned me with the screen tearing.

VALENTT
VALENTT

@PenguinIzzy i was finking a bit like that a big server up too 1000poeple....But seriously in the multiplayer trailer its all like "Friends,happy,non jerkish guys,fun"...But when wee get the game it wil possibly to be this sometimes...Rude players,never care about anyfing,JERKS...But it might just be all fine... P.S. Im happy that i got 19friends that are really friendly & are ordering this game...& My best friend is gonna buy a ps3!..

PenguinIzzy
PenguinIzzy

The structure for multiplayer seems awesome in theory but in practice it might not work out so great. So 16 players per game world.. what if the majority of those people are jerks? What if they won't let you crew up with their posse? This can get a little ridiculous. Would have been AWESOME if servers were as huge a MMORPG.. and perhaps limit the posse size to 4-8.

Nihonjinjanai
Nihonjinjanai

Wow!!! look at the detail in the horses ass-muscle!!!

arama
arama

if anyone wants to start a posee on XBOX LIVE ,add me RENATA08

VALENTT
VALENTT

any ideas how to get 1 month to the future?

VALENTT
VALENTT

a even more fvriggin awsomething would be if they created a server for free roam up to 1000people@@@@!@!!#@!@!@

neomoglin
neomoglin

This multiplayer looks friggin awesome

alexcore88
alexcore88

Can't wait to get hold of this game, the multiplayer idea sounds terrific!

p4kman88
p4kman88

they need a time machine where u can go into the future. u can do all that shh!t except the only difference is, it's in the future and it's a nonfictional city known as liberty city. so u can rob banks together and shoot cops together and reenact the bank heist scene in the movie heat with your friends

p4kman88
p4kman88

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

VALENTT
VALENTT

Umm any1 intrested in forming a posee ...If yes ONLY ON PSN add rockan33

chedarcheese190
chedarcheese190

why do people think this one will be so similar to the first one? its almost completely different except for the time period and dead eye.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

@ BulletsnOctane well u can meet alright random people online, but u could always play with friends which would be better.