Red Dead Online Is Great, But It Often Feels Like A Chore

Red Dead Online is a fantastic game. I’ve written loads of guides and articles about it already. I think I played the game every single day for all of February this year. When it went on sale for £4 as a standalone game, loads of my mates who didn’t have Red Dead Redemption 2 picked it up. Though it’s still great to play alone.

We made a posse and decided to wreak havoc on the Wild West, rootin’, tootin’, selling shine, and hunting bounties. The problem was, we all wanted the roles and Outlaw pass, but all that gold is a hefty price for a bunch of people who graduated into one of the worst job markets ever. We had to grind that gold, and it made the game become a bit of a chore.

Don’t get me wrong, I think live games are good. Having daily challenges is a good way to give players something to do if they’re stuck for ideas. They also encourage new experiences in the game. We hadn’t bothered with the shootout modes until a challenge told us to get some kills in one, but we really enjoyed it and kept playing just for fun. I’d also never been to Brandywine Drop until a challenge told me to go there. It’s an absolutely stunning waterfall with a prompt that lets you perch your character on the ledge and marvel at the stunning world Rockstar has brought to life. I brought all my posse there and we promptly tried to shove each other over the edge, such is the outlaw life. But then you get some that lead to people needing to know where the best place to farm badgers is…

The problem isn’t the daily challenges themselves, it’s the pressure to build up a streak to increase the rewards you get. Each challenge starts off giving you 0.1 gold, not a whole lot. But, once you get all of the roles and level them up a bit you have over 20 challenges available per day. Instead of mounting up and doing whatever our hearts desired – you know, the way outlaws are supposed to be – we checked the daily challenges and did them all. If you did all seven general ones you’d get an extra 0.3 gold, bringing your total to an entire gold bar for a day’s work – 40 was a long way off.

To entice you to play the game and do challenges every day, your rewards increase for achieving streaks. Do at least one challenge seven days in a row and get 1.5x the gold, two weeks gets you 2x, three weeks is 2.5x, and at a month you get some cash and it resets. We played it every single day for a month to hit that streak. Some days when I had a lot of work to do or wanted to spend time with my housemates, I’d jump on for five minutes just to do the easiest challenge there was so I wouldn’t lose my streak. When we played as a posse we’d spend so long doing the challenges that by the time we were done we all had to leave for dinner and didn’t want to play the actual game.

The game world is vast and beautiful, and it’s one I love spending time in. I mean that in a literal sense, I love to just walk around or explore or go fishing to pass the time on a stressful day, but the feeling that I should be doing daily challenges can weigh on me. Fortunately, we’re all over the hump of needing gold. We all have all the roles and the Outlaw pass eventually pays for itself. Plus, you get gold for other things, like bounties, shootout rewards, and treasure maps, so the grind isn’t all-consuming anymore. But for that month it really was.

And I get it, Rockstar wants to make money. GTA Online is the highest grossing piece of media in history, so it’s no wonder they’re still chasing that dragon. Making getting gold a grind encourages players to spend, and as much as I believe games are art, they also have to make money. Fortunately, griefing in Red Dead Online is far less common than it is in GTA Online. Getting money and gold is far less tedious than it is in GTA, and the world is far more vibrant too, so I don’t mind spending time in it even as a pauper.

Finally, the only thing left for me to buy with gold is a few cosmetic items and maybe a horse here or there. I no longer feel the pressure to play the game like a checklist, making sure I’ve caught five rock bass or skinned two muskrats – they’re never around when you need them for a challenge. Now, when I check the challenges I only do the ones that interest me or that I’d do naturally. I just wish I didn’t feel so burnt out on the game after that month-long gold rush.

Next: How To Get Started With Red Dead Online In 2021

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Issy is an avid film lover, writer, and game-player based in the UK. He combines his love of film and games in his writing, trying to find as many connections between the two mediums as possible. When he’s not writing, playing, or watching, Issy loves to DJ and look after his growing collection of houseplants, as they make him feel more adult.

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