I purchased the Ultimate Edition of Red Dead Redemption 2 the minute it became available, yesterday I was able to taste the last string of bonuses that my extra dollars paid for, the first day of the Beta for Red Dead Online.
I have fond memories of being online for the first Red Dead, it was actually the first time I played a game online. Being in my mid 30’s, I felt a bit old playing games online. I saw that poker was available and thought, “What the heck?” and gave it a try. I actually won my first hand with a bluff, got an achievement, and got hooked. I explored the online component pretty extensively and got over my age issues and just decided to enjoy the new way to play a fun game.
Cut to yesterday, I had to wait until my shift at work had ended, missing the early access by several hours. Finally, I got home and clicked the Red Dead 2 icon… and had to wait for a five gigabyte download to finish. So I made a snack, played around on my phone, and ruminated on the days when such a download would have taken hours, if not days.
It finally finished, and I loaded up the online game. The first thing you do is make a character, you can choose gender, skin tone, hair and color… to make a reasonably ugly character(My GTA Online character is pretty ugly too, so wasn’t super surprised.). Once you settle on a look, the story starts you at Sisika Penitentiary, working the chain gang until you are chosen for a job in Blackwater. On the way, you are sprung from the wagon you are in and taken to your mysterious benefactor, Mrs. LeClerk, who informs you that you were to be hung for a crime you didn’t commit and she wants to help you get revenge. Cue the dramatic Western music.
So far… so good. You do a few random missions establishing your own camp and getting your own very sad looking horse and after about an hour or so, you are dropped into Free Roam. 32 other players can be in the same instance as you and a number of those 32 players were asses in mine. I took a stranger mission to drive two wagons to Manzanita Post from Blackwater. During my journey I was shot and killed 17 times. Now this was an open world mission, and players are encouraged to interfere in these kinds of quests.
So, I went to Blackwater to do one of the “Story” missions, where I was shot and killed by a camper who was sitting outside the starting position 2 times. I walked outside my camp to collect herbs. I was shot, almost to death, and then hogtied while two players danced with emotes over my prone body.
Later tonight, I plan on trying the gunfighting team based options that are available and see if I get a better experience. If I were to bemoan a missing component, it would be that there are no mini games in the beta. I have seen a lot of comments online that because micro transactions will be involved, poker may not be a part of the online component at all. Which would definitely be a bummer. I would also like to see a “Passive” mode, for players that just want to explore and hunt. GTA Online eventually brought such a feature and, in my humble opinion, it was a great addition.
Now this IS a beta and these rough moments are to be expected. Micro-transactions are NOT a part of the game yet and I am sure Rockstar is paying close attention to what works and what doesn’t. While I am frustrated with my experience, to be sure, I am in no way ready to throw in the towel. I didn’t break out of video game prison to give up so quickly.
Day one players get access today, while people who played during the first weekend can start tomorrow and the rest of the world on Friday.
Tell us your thoughts and experience on the Beta and maybe we will see you on the plains.