Game Review: Red Dead Online: Frontier Pursuits

The latest Red Dead Online update takes two steps forward but one step back…

From a barren open-world map with griefers running rampant to constant errors kicking players out of lobbies, the online portion of Red Dead Redemption 2 has had a rocky road in its development cycle.

However, with the new ‘Frontier Pursuits’ update, the online portion of the Cowpoke Simulator 2018 is slowly improving to be one stellar experience for players looking for an online Wild West sandbox. The update introduces three new specialist roles, new free roam missions, a Red Dead Online equivalent of the infamous Fortnite Battle Pass, plus more minor changes.

Regarding the specialist roles, the update introduces three of them: The Bounty Hunter, The Trader and, The Collector – all of which have different missions, rewards and, role ranks for players to go it either solo or team up in a posse.

The update also introduces Role Tokens that allow for cowboys and cowgirls to also unlock new skills such as new bounty hunter abilities like a reinforced lasso to stop bounties from wriggling out of a hogtie, new trader abilities such as an upgraded wagon for medium weight deliveries and, new collector abilities like a horse saddle bag upgrade to give players more room for storing trinkets.

What’s more, Rockstar have introduced new items, weapons, clothing and horse-drawn vehicles, directional damage indicators to display where your character is hit from, additional horse breeds, the ability to finally change your characters appearance without resetting progress (because some of us have some ugly-looking player characters – I admit I do!), increased selling prices for looted jewellery, increased movement and animations speeds for a more responsive combat/playtime and finally, additional game balancing and improvements.

With all of this being said, it’s safe to say that the online update has significantly improved both the longevity of Red Dead Online and the quality of the product so much so that it is leaps and bounds above its original state.

But, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, unfortunately. With the release of this new update comes ‘The Wheeler, Rawson & Co. Club, Outlaw Pass’ which is essentially a free and premium online battle pass (just like ones in PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS or Apex Legends) that plays on consumers’ desire to purchase extra content without really needing it to progress through the various levels.

Granted, players can unlock separate rewards from the premium edition of this ‘Outlaw Pass’ however, the rewards are nowhere near as enticing or of good quality in comparison to the premium equivalent.

This idea of a battle pass in free to play games such as Fortnite and Apex Legends is somewhat ethical but, what’s unfair is that everybody that plays Red Dead Online has already purchased their entry fee of £49.99 for the whole game. It’s questionable whether Rockstar and Take2 should be charging even more for a minute amount of content.

As of right now The Outlaw Pass, which costs 35 Gold Bars, can be purchased through traditional progression, or players can either purchase 25 Gold Bars for £8.99 or 55 Gold Bars for £18.99 and can unlock rewards from the Pass between the dates of September 10th and November 18th, 2019.

But, if words like “premium” and “micro-transactions” make your body shiver with contempt (like it does to me), don’t feel like this feature ruins the experience of the online mode. It can widely be ignored but at the same it is there and you will be reminded of it every so often while exploring across the five states.

Overall, this update takes a few steps in the right direction to making one stellar online mode in an already fantastic video game package however, the progression limitations are still present and you will feel them looming over you as if Rockstar and Take2 are puppet masters and you are playing their little game.

So, I advise you to posse up, get your stalker hat on, clean your Schofield revolver, grab a bounty hunter licence and get hogtying some outlaws! As you will find – with the community in how they are in these kinds of online sandboxes that you may find some pretty crazy and entertaining players and scenarios on your travels through the American Frontier!

By Joe Smalley

Feature image credit: Rockstar Games

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