Feature Article

Red Dead 2 Core Guide: How The Health, Stamina, And Dead Eye Systems Work

Working that Core.

Among the new systems introduced in Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption 2 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are Cores, which reflect the state of Arthur's abilities. These are represented via the circular meters located just above your mini-map on the HUD. If you want to perform at your best, you'll need to pay attention to these Cores and the bars that encircle them.

If you've just started the game, chances are all of this Core and bar talk might be a bit confusing. After all, you're only given a very brief explanation in-game on how it all works, and this comes while you might be paying attention to dialogue or other happenings. And the details in the menu offer only so much insight. To help you get a grasp of the Core system, we've detailed in this feature how it all works and other useful information to keep in mind.

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Now Playing: The Essential Red Dead Redemption 2 Starter Guide

If you're looking for more guides, you'd be remiss not to check out our feature highlighting all the tips you should know before playing. Though, we also have guides on more specific subjects, like gun customization and money making. Be sure to read our Red Dead 2 review if you haven't already. If you're having trouble dealing with all this, you can turn on the cheat code that instantly refills your Cores and bars. But we all know that's no fun, so read on to the details below!

What Are Cores And Bars?

As stated, Cores are the circular meters located just above the mini-map. You have three Cores in total: Health, Stamina, and Dead Eye. In addition, there are Cores for your horse's Health and Stamina. The symbol at the center of the circle represents the Core, while the ring meter that surrounds it is known as a bar.

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While the state of your bars are more important in the moment, it's your Cores that ultimately affect your long-term performance. This is because how well you do depends on the state of your corresponding Core. For example, the Health Core dictates how quickly the Health bar regenerates, and likewise for Stamina. If your Health bar is low but the corresponding Health Core has been maintained well, the rate at which you generate Health will be increased.

How Do I Refill My Cores?

To ensure your Cores are in tiptop shape, you'll need to keep yourself well fed, well-rested, and comfortably dressed in the climate you're in. Of course, you can always resort to items if you're ever in a pinch and can't seek out food or rest; Provisions instantly refill your Cores and Tonics will instantly refill your bars. Be mindful of which you choose to take, as while Tonics are good in the moment in the midst of a firefight, they're more short-term life-savers than the long-term benefit of using a Provision.

What Does It Mean To Fortify A Bar?

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As you take Tonics, you'll notice that some fortify specific bars; these are represented as yellow items in your satchel. If you take this type of Tonic, the affected bar will fill up completely and won't drain for a few moments. How long a bar remains fortified depends on the quality of the Tonic. It's also worth noting that some Tonics can negatively impact your Cores, so make sure to pay attention to their descriptions before you take them--lest you want to find yourself made weaker during a firefight or intense hunt.

Bars Level Up Over Time

The state of your Cores affects the regeneration of your Health, Stamina, and Dead Eye, but the more you play the game, the more powerful your bars will become. Sprinting, for example, increases your Stamina bar, while taking damage and then restoring Health will build your Health bar. If you properly maintain yourself, all of your abilities will naturally improve over time.

Horse Cores And Bars

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Horse Cores are represented by the Health and Stamina Cores with horseshoes in the center of them that appear when you're on your horse. While mostly identical to how your own Cores work, where they differ is how you maintain and increase them. Instead of overall maintenance of the horse's physical and dietary needs, you develop its Cores and bars by forming a stronger bond with them. Foods and Tonics can be used to help the general effort, but it's more through riding your horse, praising it, and grooming it will ultimately improve a horse's Health and Stamina.

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Matt Espineli

Matt is a GameSpot Editor who, like a Dragon Quest Slime, strives to spread love and joy to the world. He's been with GameSpot since 2014 and specializes in guides and features for the site. He likes to play video games, watch Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, learn musical instruments, and mod GBAs.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2

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