Tips That Red Dead Redemption 2 Doesn't Tell You
The Wild, Wild West
Red Dead Redemption 2 presents players with what is easily Rockstar's most dynamic open-world adventure to date. Featuring a number of sophisticated systems and countless NPC characters to interact with, there are all sorts of encounters that await you in the game's expansive wild west setting. However, with a game of this scale, there are bound to be features that aren't stated clearly, even during the opening hours that serve as a tutorial of sorts.
With the PC release upon us, there's new reason to either jump back into Red Dead 2 (to experience the improved visuals and new content) or to check it out for the first time. Whichever camp you might fall into, there are certain elements of the game that you should be aware of that might not be entirely obvious from playing.
We've come up with a list of details and tips that Red Dead Redemption 2 keeps somewhat hidden from players, which we found from our time experimenting with the many mechanics at work. Though many of the overarching gameplay pillars are explained in the abstract during the game's tutorials and relevant missions, there always seems to be a bit more information that's set aside for later. And more often than not, you're bound to uncover these details when you least expect it.
Be sure to check out our full Red Dead 2 review, along with guides on how to make money and the best tips for new players.
Savor The Story
While the main story in Red Dead Redemption 2 has many exciting and heartfelt moments, we recommend indulging in as much of the side content and activities as you can before tackling the next major event. Over the course of the game, you'll see changes to the gang's camp, and several characters, including Charles, Lenny, and Javier, will have some missions for you to handle. These side-quests show up as white markers on your map--with the main missions showing up as yellow--and can lead to great rewards or interesting encounters for you to take part in. Unfortunately, several of these diversions are only available for a limited time, so make sure to do them as soon as you can. Some of the game's most heartfelt and humorous events can come from these missions, which you'll miss out on if you focus on the story. So take some time away from the main plot and chat with your comrades--you'll be glad you did.
Look To The Skies
When you're exploring the wilderness, you'll likely see smoke trails from campfire at a distance. These serve as an indicator for points of interests in the area, so heading to the source can open up unique encounters with the game's many strangers and traveling vagabonds. Most often the lone individuals you can find are friendly, even giving you supplies and tips on some locations you should keep an eye on, but other encounters can lead to violent stand-offs with rival gangs or disgruntled travellers. Regardless, there will always be something interesting to uncover once you reach a campsite.
When you're living a life as an outlaw--where sleeping in the dirt and getting into intense gunfights are the norm--it can be easy to lose track of Arthur's personal disposition. This becomes apparent when you notice that you're taking more damage than normal. Early on, the game introduces you to the concept of building up your health, stamina, and dead eye cores. However, depending on what Arthur eats, how often he does so, and what sort of physical exercise he gets, his base stats and cores will see some changes. These gains or losses are reflected by three distinct body types; average, underweight, and overweight, all of which have their own unique pros and cons.
When you're of average weight, your health and stamina cores will stay even. However if you find yourself underweight, you'll take slightly more damage, but gain a boost to stamina to compensate. If Arthur eats often and gets less exercise, which includes running, swimming, and getting into fist fights with the local ruffians, he'll become overweight, resulting in less stamina but an increase in damage absorption. Though you can keep track of Arthur's physical status in the Player menu, you can also watch Arthur during his idle animations. Depending on what his weight is, his posture and demeanor will adjust to reflect his current build.
With all that said, Red Dead Redemption 2 is all about letting you build out the protagonist how you see fit. So if you want a skinny or plump character, then you go ahead and make sure Arthur lives his best, most indulgent life.
High Risk, High Rewards
Whether it's from ransacking a homestead or scavenging from dead animals, you'll likely stumble upon some items that the local merchants will refuse to take off your hands. These items can fill up your satchel fast--giving you the impression that they may better placed in the dirt-but they may fetch a high price from a select set of merchants happy enough to buy them from you. To offload these items of dubious origins, you'll need to visit a Fence--essentially a black market dealer who sells and trades some of Red Dead Redemption 2's most valuable items.
In a variety of locations across the map--including Rhodes, Emerald Ranch, and Saint Denis--these merchants can be found in their own shops, tucked away from the popular areas of town. These Fences will also sell support items, throwable weapons, and recipes, and can also craft rare talismans and trinkets from Legendary Animal materials, which offer unique perks to Arthur's main cores. Moreover, there are also Fences that deal primarily in stolen wagons and horses, which also yield a solid cash return. So when you arrive to a new area, make sure you know where to find the local shady dealer.
Do A Barrel Roll
During combat, there may come a time where you need to get out of the line of fire fast. While aiming your weapon, press the action button (Square on PS4, or X on Xbox One) to perform an evasive dodge. Depending on which direction you hold the control stick while pressing, Arthur will dive or roll away from danger. While this can evoke some flashbacks to the Max Payne series' iconic gun battles, the dodge roll is purely an evasive maneuver--so no shooting while diving, unfortunately.
When Horses Attack
Red Dead Redemption 2 is essentially a Wild West Grand Theft Auto, but hijacking a new transport will take a bit more effort than simply pressing a button. The horses in Red Dead Redemption 2 can be very temperamental and get stirred up very easily--especially in the presence of predators in the wilderness. When approaching a new steed, you'll need to calm it down in order to safely get near it. Horses aren't afraid to defend themselves, and if you try approaching a wild mare or someone else's animal from its backside, it won't hesitate in readying a fierce kick to keep you at bay.
Your Guns, Your Style
The members of the Van der Linde gang are all capable gunslingers, and this is especially true of Arthur. With some impressive handling of all sorts of firearms, which includes pistols, revolvers, rifles, and shotguns, the main character isn't shy about showing off more of his particular style. While at a weapon shop, you can customize your weapons in a number of ways, including adding new barrels, paint work, wrapping--to decrease degradation--and even place some stylish decals on your firearms. Though some of these customization options won't offer any tactical advantage whatsoever, they can go a long way in helping you define your own take on Arthur and his legend. And if you really want to show off some flair after an intense gunfight, double tap the holster button (L1 on PS4, LB on Xbox One) to put your pistol away in style.
Relive The Glory Days
Much like the original Red Dead Redemption, the prequel features a number of main missions that will show off many exciting and emotional moments. But in Red Dead Redemption 2, you're given the ability to replay these pivotal moments and re-experience the game's most interesting encounters at any time. After the end of each mission, you'll receive a ranking on your performance based on how long it took and whether or not you completed the side objectives. If you feel you can do better, or if you just want to see a badass moment again, you can do redo the mission by going into the Progress sub-menu and selecting the Story option. You'll see your current place in the main plot, along with a listing of previously completed missions from each chapter, which can be replayed at your leisure.
Hunting The Best Game
Though the hunting gameplay in Red Dead Redemption 2 takes many cues from the original, it now requires a far more thoughtful and careful approach. In addition to the 178 animals featuring their own backgrounds and unique methods to take them down in a hunt, the wildlife comes in three different ranks--poor, good, and perfect. While you'll often get the basics from any animals regardless of quality, you'll need to ensure that you're hunting above average prey in order to get the best pelts possible. To see whether the animal you're hunting is worth the effort, make sure to study it at a distance first, which will give you clues on how best to hunt it. After doing so, you'll see a set of stars next to its name on the HUD. If you find yourself on the trail of an animal with only one star, you should look elsewhere in the area for something better.
A More Immersive Experience
If you're itching for a more personal Red Dead Redemption 2, you can adjust the game and its look to offer a more involved experience that will keep you on your toes. Along with the game's first-person view mode, which allows players to experience the entire game in this perspective, you'll also be able to customize aspects of the HUD and gameplay, stripping away most on-screen indicators and tweaking the controls to your liking. With no HUD, you'll have to pay attention to more details in the environment, as well as remember the clues that NPCs give you. Though if you still want to use an aid to get around, Rockstar has a companion app for Red Dead Redemption 2 to offer players additional help.
Takedown The Big Targets With Ease
When hunting, you may find some larger targets that are more difficult to get a bead on. If you're having a difficult time getting a clear shot or keeping your prey from moving, you can always try lassoing it up. Despite this going counter to stalking and hunting prey the old-fashioned way, it's still a surprisingly effective way to get a hold of your target. If you're able to get close enough it, you'll also be to use your hunting knife to give it a quick death, which counts as a clean kill. However, this is only effective on medium to larger sized animals, as smaller game will be able to slip out of the rope easily.
Showing Your True Colors
In Red Dead Redemption 2, every choice you make with Arthur feeds back into the game's overarching Honor system. Depending on the type of character you play, whether as a likeable outlaw or a ruthless gunslinger, you'll witness changes to Arthur's behavior and to the game's presentation. If you're of high honor, not only will you receive some discounts from stores, the tone of your journal entries will be more upbeat, and the style of killcams you'll get will be more in the style of old-school westerns. If you're a particularly decent fellow, and want to make some solid gains on the honor system, take a stroll down the street in a populated area of town and greet the locals. You'll quickly earn some positive vibes from the townsfolk.
However, if you find yourself playing more of a cutthroat, kill-cams will be more violent, your responses to NPCs will be more snide, characters will always be on the lookout for you, and the tone of your journal will be more cynical and off-putting. Each side has its own set of advantages, and it's all up to you in how you want others to view Arthur.
Look After Your Loot
As you're exploring the wilderness on your horse, it's all but inevitable that you'll take a nasty spill. While these brutal wipeouts can often be humorous, they can result in some serious consequences. In addition to causing harm to both Arthur and his mare, you'll also drop all items that placed on the back of your trusty steed--which temporarily holds pelts and small game. This won't be an issue that often, but there may be some cases where you'll crash out on a hill or in a rocky place, which will make it easy to lose track of those precious supplies. This can be especially devastating if you spent a great deal of time hunting animals, only to have lost the pelt and bodies when crashing head-first into a tree. So if you crash your horse, make sure to collect yourself and all your belongings before you ride off.
Taking In The Sights
Red Dead Redemption 2's cinematic camera mode can offer you the chance to view the sweeping vistas of the game's world in a different light. With a dynamic camera, you'll get to see Arthur and his crew ride across the landscape with some breathtaking sights in the backdrop. However, controlling the character during the cinematic mode can be somewhat problematic, thanks to the shifting camera. Thankfully, Rockstar included a subtle feature to make movement much easier in the cinematic mode. By holding down the X/A button in this special camera mode, Arthur and his horse will stick to the trail, automatically turning and making corners when needed. If you have a particular destination set on the map, either for a story mission or a waypoint, the game will guide Arthur to that location as well.
Prime Fishing Time
When taking up the fishing activity, there may be some cases where you won't get many bites. While it's important to make sure you're using the correct bait and lures for the location you're in, and that your fishing technique is correct, another factor to consider is the current time in the day. Depending on when you decide to head out, you'll see a different amount of activity in the lake, pond, or river. To get the best results during a fishing activity, try to stick with early morning and afternoon time in-game. Also, fishing during a rainstorm will increase the activity of the aquatic animals a bit further.