Game review: Red Dead Online

The single player of Red Dead Redemption 2 deserves its reputation as one of the greatest videogames of the last generation, the open world Rockstar created is second to none in its level of immersion, with engaging NPCs and a wide variety of side quests that never feel formulaic or dull. When you marry this with a graphically stunning recreation of the Old West, packed with wildlife and incredible dynamic weather effects, it’s hard not to get excited about spending more time in this world with the online game.

We’re now in the third year of Red Dead Online and whilst fan reaction hasn’t always been positive there is a lot to like even if it’s difficult to refute all of the allegations that gamers have been somewhat short changed by the content on offer here and more presciently the real world cost attached to making a progress at a reasonable pace.

I’ll put my cards on the table here, I’ve spent about the same cost of the full price game to unlock all the content and roles available and with that money spent I have poured 174 hours into the game. With the exception of repeating a few missions on higher difficulty I have completed pretty much everything on offer. It’s undoubtedly repetitive in places and the ‘grind’ here (especially on certain roles) is absolutely real, it’s a slog to make money in places but the real reason I’ve spent so much time here is playing with friends. Saddling up and riding around the Old West with a posse is the most fun I have had with a videogame for a while, you will undoubtedly meet other players who seem hell bent on making your life a misery but when grouped up these encounters can turn into highly enjoyable chaotic shoot outs that end up dominating an evening’s play.

When you can pull yourself away from random shoot outs with other players there is an enjoyable (if too short) story to work through, which can be played 4 player co-op and five roles to invest your time in. With these roles unlocked, the game definitely opens up and moves in directions you don’t expect, there isn’t an abundance of shoot outs and more traditionally exciting activities (that’s what the Bounty Hunter role is for) but options to go hunting, run a moonshine business and go looking for treasure. These roles won’t be for everyone but the marked change in pace and opportunity to explore the vast open world actually makes these pretty relaxing and surprisingly enjoyable.

This is where the problems with cost and time come into play, these roles can be unlocked with ‘gold’ which takes a long time to earn in game but can be purchased for actual money, the fact the online version is now available stand alone for a cheap price takes some of the sting out of this but it’s difficult to defend Rockstar here, expansions can be too expensive.

This leads onto another confession, ‘The Riders of Roast Ham’ have spent many an hour essentially playing cowboy fancy dress, the level of customisation for your character is nothing short of vast and I’ll concede this offers nothing in the way of XP increase or in game progress but every new player we recruited has taken to this pretty quickly. Couple this with the fact I own a (in game) bar and we can go drinking and dancing there, it might sound sad and inconsequential but believe me when I say we’ve had great time with this game as my Instagram feed will attest.

All of that being said, the lack of new content is annoying, the cost of new content is too high and believe me when I say I want see large scale bank and train robberies as much as the next the person but if you’re looking for a different pace of online game and have a group of friends to play it with there is still a lot to like here, even with the hours I’ve put in I can’t hand on heart say there isn’t room for improvement but it’s certainly not the car crash social media would have you believe.





Author: Paul, Bath store