Red Dead Redemption 2: Granting us the lifelong dream of being a western cowboy

Image Credit: Samaneh Sadeghi Marasht

With Red Dead Redemption 2 transporting us to a cowboy haven of guns and bows, Sandie Ellis lets us know what makes this game better than GTA online.

Red Dead Redemption 2 took the gaming world by storm with its release in 2018 and is still transporting players to the Wild West with its online mode today. The online experience offered escapism since its release, whether you were looking to posse up and rob a bank, or simply tour the western landscape on your trusty horse companion. Within the last year, I have played a lot of the online mode as I found it a great way to unwind after a hard day, especially during several lockdowns. Maybe it’s just deep down that I want to be a cowboy, and by being one virtually and listening to my fitting playlist in the background, I am in a way, achieving this dream.

The picturesque scenery is something you could travel endlessly and never tire of, unlike the setting of Los Santos. In the wild west, the player is always spotting something new.

The online mode had a lot to live up to after the huge success of its predecessor, GTA Online, despite the endless bugs and issues. With the game suffering the same fate initially and having to be fixed several times, it is now running a lot smoother and is on route to perfection. Rockstar has been constantly performing updates, not only to perfect the game but to keep us cowboys on our toes. The online mode creates the perfect form of escapism for any player wanting to immerse themselves into the wild west from their homes. The picturesque scenery is something you could travel endlessly and never tire of. Unlike the setting of Los Santos, in the Wild West the player is always spotting something new, not to mention the ever-changing weather in the game is therapeutic. 

The online mode is set before the storyline of RDR2 and Arthur Morgan’s travels, allowing the player to meet some familiar faces along the way. Unlike GTA online which provided us with missions and heists we could complete solo or in a posse, RDR2 went that step further and gave us a plot and familiarity within the missions. The countless familiar faces from the game itself, such as Sean Maguire, Hamish Sinclair, and of course a personal favourite, Sadie Adler, allows the player to revisit these characters after the post-game blues of finishing Arthur’s story. You can even stumble upon the wacky pair of creepy hillbilly siblings in Aberdeen Pig Farm. 

When looking at the mode of transport in the game, it can be vexing and repetitive, but it’s true to the era and adds to the hyper-realism of the game for the player. Horses are the main mode of transport, unlike GTA online where you can hop in a car or an aircraft. In the Wild West it’s on foot, horse, or hopping on an incredibly slow steam train that is fun for about a minute. Though the transport is irritating, it truly makes the game more authentic for the player. If hyperrealism isn't your thing, there’s also the option to fast travel to towns for a few dollars. This hyper-realism works for the game’s weaponry too, staying true to its western roots; guns and bows are the only options. However, with more gameplay comes experience and levelling up which allows the player to get the best on offer.

A massively aggravating issue with the online mode, especially for players like myself who strive to relax by playing the game, is the issue of griefers, those who join public lobbies with the sole purpose of causing chaos. If you’ve played RDR2 online, it’s certainly bound to have happened to you once or twice. There’s nothing more bothersome when you’re minding your own business in the game, whether it’s treasure hunting or finding collectables, and another player decides to hogtie you and take you out. Oftentimes, they have more in-game experience than you and a better pistol, making it nearly impossible to get away, especially on horseback. So, you die and respawn, and then in the event that the griefer is a pro, the chance is they’ll hunt you down and it’ll happen again. The ‘press charges’ option doesn’t help much with the issue, but it’s certainly modified since the initial release. However, it’s still irritating, and sometimes if you see a red dot coming towards you, it’s best to hit the road in fear their lasso finds you first.

Arguably, it’s pretty clear RDR2 online is better in many ways than GTA online in several ways with its hyper-realism, the scenery, roles, story missions, and familiarity with the main game

Arguably, it’s pretty clear RDR2 online is better in many ways than GTA online. Its hyper-realism, the scenery, roles, story missions, and familiarity with the main game make it such a better experience. Rockstar brought the wild west to our homes and is still letting us wannabe outlaws and bounty-hunters, cowboys, and collectors turn to the online mode for a little western escapism that has yet to become tiresome. It’s the perfect online game for roaming and relaxing, hunting or fishing, collecting or looting within the vast world of Red Dead Redemption 2 online. What Rockstar holds in the future for updates on the online mode is something I am personally excited for because after all, deep down, who doesn’t want to be a cowboy?