‘Red Dead Redemption 2’: A beginner’s guide

A beginner's guide to being a rootin'-tootin' cowboy in 'Red Dead Redemption 2'

red dead redemption 2 beginners guide 20181017181129

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a truly superb open world game. Spend a bit of time in its world, and you may not ever want to leave it. Simply riding around and seeing what you find can lead to unexpected fun. At the same time, it helps to have some direction to make sure you live the outlaw life to the fullest. We’ve spent more than 60 hours in the heartland of Rockstar’s latest open world romp and have come away with a bounty of tips to get you on the right track.

Before you read on, make sure to read our full review of Red Dead Redemption 2.

Understanding cores

red dead redemption 2 beginners guide screen shot 2018 10 25 at 13 am

You have three main stats you need to worry about at all times: Health, stamina, and Dead Eye. With the HUD on, each our represented as a circle, with a white outline showing how much you have left of each. Get shot? Your health meter drops. Hoof it up a mountain? Your stamina is shot. Slow down time for lengthy stretches? Your Dead Eye depletes. When low, the meters turn red.

What you really need to pay attention to are the cores. In the center of each circle are icons (heart for health, lightning bolt for stamina, eye for Dead Eye) that also can be filled in white. The cores directly affect stat regeneration. If they are empty, regeneration is very slow.

The way you keep these from depleting is two-fold. First, don’t be reckless. Taking excessive damage, continuously running, and hanging out in Dead Eye for too long wrecks your cores. If you want to maintain your cores naturally, here’s how:

  • Health: Pretty simple. Stay in cover and don’t take damage.
  • Stamina: Walk, don’t run. Remain stationary if necessary.
  • Dead Eye: Recharges as you rack up kills.

Trust us, your cores will run out. It’s inevitable. So you should always have some tonics with you (for health and stamina) and tobacco products (for Dead Eye).

How to use Dead Eye

red dead redemption 2 beginners guide 20181019202149

If you played Red Dead Redemption, you’re familiar with Dead Eye, the mechanic that slows down time to let you mark and kill enemies in quick succession. In Red Dead Redemption 2, Dead Eye is a very important mechanic that comes in handy often. For this reason, you should use it strategically. If you’re only facing off against a couple enemies, you probably don’t need to waste it. After all, in many missions, the floodgates open after you’ve taken out the initial few.

Dead Eye in RDR2 can be used in two ways. You can either tag multiple targets for shots or aim and shoot manually. The latter helps conserve Dead Eye if you’re quick. One strategy that we found to work well was lining up our shots in the general vicinity (usually around the head) before activating Dead Eye. That way you only have to adjust your aim slightly before taking your shot.

Dead Eye also becomes key when on horseback. Many missions have chase scenes. Riding and aiming in real time can be challenging, but Dead Eye makes it a cinch.

Horse care, bonding, and reviving

red dead redemption 2 beginners guide 20181025094518

Early on in Red Dead Redemption 2, you go on a mission to buy a new horse who you can then name. It’s not just an opportunity to pick a cute name, though. In RDR2, your horse really is your best friend. You go everywhere with Huey. (My horse’s name is Huey. He’s the best.) But unlike other games before it, the way you treat your animal friend matters.

On a basic level, your horse has a health and stamina core just like you. Allow your horse to take too much damage, whether from enemy fire or from running into or off things, and well, your horse can die. Forever. That’s right. RDR2 has horse permadeath, and you don’t want that to happen.

Thankfully, you can avoid this by bringing Horse Revivers along with you. These can be purchased in general stores. They are a bit pricey, but you need them on you at all times. If your horse goes down, you will be given the option to revive them or put them down. If you don’t have a horse reviver, you’ll simply have to leave them there or do the unthinkable.

On a more overall level, Arthur and his horse bond over time, which leads to better trust and more horse skills (drifting, running, jumping, etc.). To help with bonding, make sure to tell to pat your horse from time to time (we’re serious) and feed them regularly. You can purchase horse provisions in the general store.

Don’t forget to take guns from your horse

red dead redemption 2 beginners guide 20181025094551

Your horse also acts as an extra satchel. Your guns, specifically rifles and shotguns, are often stowed on your horse. Don’t forget to retrieve the guns you want before dismounting. It doesn’t happen automatically.

Dress appropriately and bring a spare outfit

There are myriads of spiffy outfits. Any and all of them look good on Arthur but remember to dress for the elements. Each outfit is graded for either cold, average, or hot temperatures. You’ll know if you’re wearing an outfit that negatively affects Arthur’s stats from an on-screen prompt. That said, it helps to bring spare outfits with you on the road. You can change outfits at camp in your tent and buy new ones at the tailor. While changing, you can choose to stow two outfits in your horse’s satchel. So you can bring one for each weather type with you.

Plan your moves ahead in firefights

red dead redemption 2 beginners guide 20181019125210

You cannot take a lot of damage in Red Dead Redemption 2. In the spirit of being somewhat realistic in this regard, if you take a rash of bullets, the screen will get darker to note you’re pretty much on life support. One more shot and you’re dead. This is why you should always stay behind cover, and before you move, know where you’re headed next. It’s not meant to be played as a run and gun game. This is very much a cover shooter, and you should keep that in mind when in the thick of firefights if you want to succeed.

Looting takes time but do it

red dead redemption 2 beginners guide 20181025101556

Every bandit, lawman, and innocent you kill can be looted. People don’t often have much cash on them, but that’s not the point. Often times, you’ll pick up useful tonics for your health and stamina or tobacco/alcohol for Dead Eye (and sometimes health/stamina).

Looting is a great way to make sure you don’t have to make excess trips to the general store. The looting animation itself takes a couple seconds, and beware, you are vulnerable during that time. Exercise caution before looting, but don’t forget to do it. If sometimes you simply don’t have time, still make sure you walk near bodies, as you’ll automatically pick up ammo.

Pay for your crimes

red dead redemption 2 beginners guide 20181025095206

When you do bad things, the law searches for you. The Wanted system plays out somewhat similarly to other Rockstar open world games. If you commit a crime in town and it’s reported or seen, the police will come after you. When actively Wanted, you cannot enter missions in the area. You can flee or hide and the police will stop searching for you eventually, but the bounty on your head will still be there when you return to the area.

The map is separated into regions, and it’s possible, and likely, that you will have bounties on your head in multiple areas at one time. Some Wanted scenarios happen automatically during missions. Others you bring on yourself. What’s important to remember is that if you have a bounty on your head in a region, you never know when a group of bounty hunters will show up. For us, they tended to arrive when Arthur was alone with no support. This can create problems if you’re in the middle of a mission. So sometimes you may just want to pay off your bounties by heading over to the post office in any town.

Don’t forget to eat

red dead redemption 2 beginners guide 20181025103347

Provisions can be anything from food to liquor to cigarettes, but it’s the food kind that you need to stay healthy. No, seriously, you need to eat somewhat regularly to maintain your weight. This means shoveling down dry crackers or eating meat cooked over the fire. If you don’t eat, Arthur will lose weight and be more vulnerable. On the flip side, if you eat too much, it’s like adding weight to his cowboy boots. He’ll run out of energy quicker. We found that eating at the start of a mission kept Arthur happy and healthy. You can acquire food from all sorts of processes. You can loot it off enemies, rummage through cupboards, buy a stockpile at the general store, or hunt/fish and cook your finds over a fire.

How to fast travel

While we encourage you to take scenic horseback rides across the countryside, you can fast travel in a couple different ways. From the jump, you have to purchase a train ticket or stagecoach ticket, which is capable of taking you to various towns. These tickets can be bought at post offices. As you save up money, though, you can unlock a better means for fast travel at camp.

First, you have to buy an upgrade to Dutch’s tent. After purchasing Dutch’s upgrade, you can then buy a special map for Arthur. With the new map, you can fast travel to specific areas such as towns and settlements from camp. Since these upgrades cost around 500 bucks, you won’t be able to unlock them right away. You’ll still have to do a lot of riding (not such a bad thing), but fast travel certainly helps. Your horse will automatically travel to your new location, too.

Rob trains and thank us later

red dead redemption 2 beginners guide 20181016222159

As mentioned, individuals rarely have a ton of money on them. Rarely. One of the quickest and most satisfying weighs to fill your money bag is by robbing a train full of people. The train tracks weave all throughout the map. The unmistakable rattling and horns will help guide the way to a passing train. You can ride up alongside it and jump from your horse to get on. From there, you can rob individual passengers as well as the cargo. You’ll often find trinkets of great value and some stuffed money clips.

Beware of folks asking for help

We’re all for helping out our fellow travelers, but you should know that not everyone you come across is exactly savory. Sometimes you’ll be asked for help, only to have them turn on you. While this shouldn’t deter you from raising your Honor — the moral system that dictates how the world treats you — you should be ready to flip the switch and fight back at all times.

Upgrade your camp

red dead redemption 2 beginners guide 20181017205909

In each camp, there’s a contribution bin that represents the gang’s funds. Next to it is a ledger that lets you purchase camp upgrades. These upgrades include tents for supplies, cooking and crafting, and even useful means of travel like a boat (and the aforementioned fast travel map). At first, these upgrades may seem as if they cost a lot of money, but before long, they will be nothing more than a drop in the bucket. And they help keep your satchel full when you’re set up far away from a town.

Make wise choices

red dead redemption 2 beginners guide 20181018193918

One of the coolest aspects of Red Dead Redemption 2 is that all of your choices really do matter. We don’t want to spoil anything, but you should make careful decisions. You’re free to be as good or bad as you want to be, but one thing we do recommend is to never turn down a mission. Certain story missions are technically optional, but every story mission is great. You should play them all.

Stop and take it all in

red dead redemption 2 beginners guide 20181025095006

This isn’t so much a tip, but it’s easy to get roped into the story missions, doing one after the other on loop. They are all great, so we don’t blame you if you want to keep plodding along. Ever so often, though, it’s really nice to just explore without an objective. Take a break and go make your own adventure. The world is beautiful and there’s much you can miss if you just go from mission to mission.

Gaming

Microsoft CEO says Project xCloud is the ‘Netflix for games’

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella referred to the company's Project xCloud game streaming service as "Netflix for games." The service will let users play Xbox and PC games on a variety of devices.
Gaming

‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ will make Blackout mode free to play this week

Treyarch and Activision are offering Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's Blackout mode as a free trial download for a limited time. The mode will be available from January 17 through January 24.
Gaming

Latest ‘Fortnite’ update channels Halo with a scoped revolver

The latest update for Fortnite, update 7.20, is now available, and it brings a new Scoped Revolver weapon to the game alongside the returning Glider item and a limited-time Snipers-only mode.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Gaming

Break out the Wii: ‘Just Dance’ movie reportedly in the works

Sony's Screen Gems has reportedly acquired the film rights to the Just Dance video game series from Ubisoft, which previously helped bring the game Assassin's Creed to the big screen in 2016.
Gaming

‘Fortnite’ security flaw let hackers spy on players through microphones

A security vulnerability found in Fortnite allowed hackers to gain access to other players' accounts, potentially letting them spy on conversations using the in-game microphone. It has been addressed.
Gaming

‘The Division 2’ private beta kicks off February 7 on consoles and PC

The private beta for Tom Clancy's The Division 2 starts on February 7 and runs until February 10, Ubisoft announced in a new story trailer. To guarantee access to the beta, you have to pre-order the game on PS4, Xbox One, or PC.
Gaming

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Gaming

Here are all the awesome games you can play without a fancy graphics card

Just because you don't have a dedicated graphics card, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy some of the best games out there right now. This is our list of the best games you can play on Intel integrated graphics.
Gaming

Console wars are so last-gen. Check out all the games that support crossplay

Crossplay is still in its infancy, but a growing number of games support online multiplayer between competing platforms. Here's a list of all games that support console crossplay.
Gaming

Want to trick out your PlayStation 4? These themes will get you started

Personalize your gaming experience with some of our favorite themes for the PlayStation 4, including free, paid, static, and dynamic options.
Gaming

Play your games whenever you want with a MicroSD card for your Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch uses cartridge-based games, but its internal storage may fill up quicker than you would think. Here's what you should consider when picking out a MicroSD card to expand your Switch's storage capacity.
Gaming

Get your pilot skills up to snuff for this week's 'Fortnite' challenge guide

The Fortnite season 7, week 7 challenges are now available. The major challenge this week requires you to visit all the Fortnite expedition outposts in the game and we walk you through how to get to each.
Gaming

‘Mortal Kombat 11’ is even gorier and crazier than we expected

NetherRealm Studios unveiled Mortal Kombat 11 on January 17 and the game looks to be just as gory and over the top as fans have come to expect. Former MMA fighter Ronda Rousey will appear as Sonya Blade.