Red Dead Online’s New Update Is Simply Brilliant
Red Dead Online new update is a huge one, adding three new career tracks, a fight pass system, polishing how combat and movement feel and giving gamers more ways to get items, emotes and weapons. This new update gives players more incentives to log in every day, but you need a lot of gold to do that.
Before this new update, Red Dead Online could feel dry and empty. While previous updates added more new missions or PvP modes, it never seemed like enough to keep me coming back every week. Eventually, I got myself bored with doing the very things with limited direction or progression.
Things are changed now. After this latest update, players can track down bounties, go steal some treasure or become a licensed trader. Doing these things earn players new bonuses and other goodies as part of a system Rockstar is calling Frontier Pursuits.
Currently, players can turn into bounty hunters, treasure hunters or traders. They can also be all three at once, which is a bit difficult and complicated. To become a bounty hunter, for example, you go to a bounty board, which starts a small cutscene where your character is introduced to a bounty hunter and then is asked if they want to become a bounty hunter themselves. Say yes, and you are able to grasp bounty posters around the world and track down computer-controlled offenders to bring in alive or dead. The other two Frontier Pursuits work in a related fashion: You go to a place, watch a small cutscene and then you are asked if you want to help track down rare parts or sell animal parts.
Despite their related structures, each Frontier Pursuit feels different, both from other pursuits and in the missions themselves. I played three bounty missions and found little differences in each. One had me sneak around a camp and wait for the target to reach. Another one had me struggle through a group of outlaws in a valley. I’m interested to see how much variation there is with each bounty over time; even though the three bounties I pursued felt unique, they could get repeated if missions get repeated over and over.
The trader is reasonably straightforward but has a bit more going on. As a trader, you kill any animals and take their parts back to your camp. Becoming a trader unlocks a trading business at your camp, which lets you distribute animal parts to be turned into goods and packed into barrels. Once these goods are ready, you can trade them and make some money. The system reminded me of how businesses work in GTA Online, including the fact that other players can attack you when you take longer routes, allowing your server is populated with players. Trading could be an excellent way to make money if you love hunting in RDO, but the deals I’ve done so far haven’t made me too much money. I’ll need to play more to understand out how much of labor it will take to really start making profits.
The 3rd career path is that of a collector. This is the strongest race of the three. Players need to find dozens of hidden items across the map to complete special sets. Once a set is finished it can be sold for a few hundred dollars. The items don’t seem to come up in random spots, which means this could become a secure and reliable way to make money and earn XP once players have planned out all the locations.
Each of these Frontier Pursuits has its own progression system. As you apprehend criminals or find hidden rings, you earn XP towards that race and level up, earning new rewards. Some are moderately dull, like new shirts or ammunition, but some later bonuses sound very exciting. I’ve seen an everlasting lasso, a huge wagon that can carry more animal carcasses and even a metal detector for locating buried treasure.
However, these pursuits aren’t free. Each career can only be unlocked if you spend 15 gold bars. This isn’t a tiny amount, especially for more unskilled players or players who might not have gold. There are ways to earn each Frontier Pursuit without using gold: Players can get a bounty hunter license for free if they have a Twitch Prime account linked to their Social Club account. Players can also become a collector for free if they have found all 52 hidden cards in GTA Online. To become a trader for free, players need to be on PS4 and have PS Plus. Some players will be able to unlock all three careers without needing to spend any gold, but many players won’t be so lucky.
If you don’t have Twitch Prime, or if you play on Xbox, then you will need to spend 45 Gold bars to unlock all three. That’s about $20 if you wanted to buy the gold using cash. Of course, you can earn gold for free; finding treasure maps is a good way to do so. But that takes time and grinding. Locking these new careers behind gold might frustrate players who want to jump into them right away and might turn off players who have been drifting away from Red Dead Online anyway.
Developers added a new battle pass system, called the Outlaw Pass. Like battle passes in other games, this is divided into free and paid tiers. Opening the paid tier costs 35 gold bars. Both tiers have 70 ranks, and rewards include new emotes, equipment for your horse and cosmetics. However, the available tier has fewer and less attractive rewards. Players can earn 35 gold bars by making all 70 ranks of the paid tier but not the free tier. While that does mean you get your gold back, that’s only if you completely finish the pass. If you fail to do that before the Outlaw Pass ends in November.
After investing a few hours with this new update, I’m very excited and nervous at the same time. I’m glad to see Rockstar adding more ways to earn rewards and more structured projects that feel less aimless or random, but it is hard to overlook the high price of all this. 80 gold bars to unlock all three career paths and the premium tier of the Outlaw Pass is a lot. Few players will have already done lots of grinding for months and will have more than sufficient gold. But many players won’t have a stockpile of bars and will be faced with a lot of grinding or getting some gold to experience fully of this new update.