5 Essential Tips for Red Dead Online

Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of 2018’s most highly regarded games. Like its predecessor, the Rockstar Games title gives players the chance to live the life of an outlaw in the American Old West. As a single player experience, it more than satisfies thanks to its engaging storyline, multi-faceted characters, and abundance of side quests.

As great as Red Dead Redemption 2 is, it’s only going to get better thanks to the introduction of its long-awaited multiplayer mode. The appropriately titled Red Dead Online is now available as a public beta for all owners of the base game.

Despite its beta status, it feels like a complete experience. There are a host of activities in the open world which resemble those of the single player campaign. Of course, there’s a wide variety of competitive modes to try out as well. If you’re familiar with Grand Theft Auto Online, you’ll feel right at home here.

Even if you’ve already sunk hundreds of hours into Red Dead Redemption 2, Red Dead Online can feel somewhat overwhelming. There is a lot to see and do. Here are five helpful tips to get you started.

Take your time with the character creator

At the time of this writing, Red Dead Online only gives you one character to play as. If you don’t like how your cowboy or cowgirl looks, you’re either stuck with them or you’ll have to start over with a new character. Doing the latter completely deletes all of your online progress. In order to avoid that, it’s best to take your time with the character creator.

Red Dead Online’s character creator is more robust than the one in GTA Online. There are many facial types and hairstyles to choose from. Best of all, you can alter and adjust individual parts like noses, eyes, brows, and even teeth. One can easily spend hours messing around with all of these options. With that said, the character creator isn’t as deep as those found in other titles. You may not be able to make your character look one-hundred percent how you want, but you can get close. Again, just take your time with the character creator since you only get one shot at it.

Save your money

You don’t exactly receive the best looking gear in the beginning. The game starts you with a revolver, carbine repeater, knife, and some ratty looking clothes. Your first inclination may be to buy better gear. Unfortunately, many of the items are insanely expensive, especially when compared to those of the single player. Clothes, guns, and provisions can sometimes retail for two to four times the usual price. Even fast travel via stagecoach costs a good chunk of cash.

With such high prices, your best bet is to spend as little money as possible during your first few hours in the beta. Forget about buying a fancy hat or customizing your revolver, and instead focus on essentials like food, stimulants, and ammo (which also cost a pretty penny). It’s best to wait until you’ve accumulated at least $500 before buying any cosmetic items. By that time, many of the nicer products will be available to purchase since you’ll be at a higher rank.

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Know how to make money

With everything being so expensive, you’re going to need a steady source of income. The game facilitates this in various ways. The map is dotted with a large number of “stranger” missions. These usually have you delivering items or killing foes within a time limit. Story missions provide good earnings and you can repeat them as often as you desire. You can also make a little cash by selling animal parts to butcher shops.

Of course, the very best way to bring in the bucks is by playing competitive matches. Right now, you can’t pick which modes to play. Everyone is randomized in a playlist. Even if you stink at competitive games, you can still make decent money playing against others. It’s possible to earn $20 to $30 dollars an hour from playing random matches. If you’re a crackshot, you’ll haul in even more money. Hopefully, Rockstar will introduce faster ways to make money (that don’t involve microtransactions) in the near future.

Posse up!

Though you can technically play Red Dead Online solo, it’s best to bring some friends along for the ride. After all, what’s the point of playing an online game alone?

Right now, players can form a temporary or persistent posse. Temporary posses can have up to four players, while a persistent posse can contain seven. Being in a posse is great for two reasons. One, you’ll have a distinct advantage when playing the various competitive modes. Secondly, a posse can watch your back in the open world.

There’s nothing worse than entering a town to buy items only for a random player to mow you down. Having a posse looking out for each other helps mitigate this. With so many folks playing Red Dead Online, you shouldn’t have a problem finding friends to play with.

Buy horse insurance

Like the campaign, Red Dead Online has a vast and expansive world to explore. The most efficient way of traversing the landscape is on the back of a trusty steed. Considering how dangerous the world is, especially online, your horse may meet an untimely end. Because of that, you’re going to want to buy horse insurance.

You can purchase horse insurance at any stable. The game actually gives you free insurance for your first horse. After that, you’ll need to buy insurance for each additional ride. The downside is how expensive insurance is. Insurance costs a whopping 5 gold bars. You receive miniscule amounts of gold from completing missions, but it’ll be some time before you get five full bars. Because of that, it’s best to have a horse reviver or two on hand for any uninsured horses. Once your horse is insured, you can rest a bit easier knowing it won’t permanently die on you.

Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on X/Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.