Excuse me for being a bit slow, but after spending a day with Red Dead Online, something that should have been obvious dawned on me. Maybe Rockstar’s a developer whose focus is now more firmly placed on big, grand multiplayer experiences than it is the single-player experiences that made its name, and that first made me an admirer of its craft. And that perhaps should have been obvious if I’d have paid attention to the phenomenon that was Grand Theft Auto Online rather than moseying through GTA 5’s campaign a couple of times before setting it to one side. Now I’ve sampled a little of what happens when Rockstar’s open worlds go online, I’m kind of smitten.
If you’ve spent any time whatsoever with Grand Theft Auto Online, the multiplayer accompaniment to Red Dead Redemption 2 will be mighty familiar. You get to free-roam all of that generous map (and – mild spoiler alert – the half of the map that’s finally reachable when you’ve completed the main storyline is made full use of here, complete with a surprise, brilliant cameo from an old fan favourite), taking on missions on your own or as part of a posse, and choosing to meddle with other people’s attempts to bring home bounties or just letting people go about their business in peace.
There are playlists of fairly straightforward multiplayer match types – including, of course, a Battle Royale mode, though its implementation is slightly spotty and in my time with the game it rarely turns up in rotation. The bulk of this PvP part of Red Dead Online is, a little like the backbone of Red Dead Redemption 2’s single-player story missions, a little 2010, and not really helped by the less than stellar gunplay, but there’s a lot to recommend it.
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