Red Dead Online as a mostly single-player game in 2022

The moderately tricky thing you have to figure out is that there’s a difference between being your friend being in the same session and your friend being online.

We had four people playing last night (me, @Jason_McMaster, @KellyWand69, and @marquac) and for the most part it was incredibly smooth. I think McMaster crashed once, but other than that, I don’t think a single one of us had a technical mishap. But the issues we did have involved each other showing as “not online”. That seems to be what Red Dead Online tells you if you’re not in the same session. So first you have to “Join Player’s Session” or “Invite to Session” to make sure you’re in the same session, then you can do all the usual posse’ing up, finding each on the map, figuring out whose camp you’re going to use, and so on.

If you need someone for poker, @Jason_McMaster will show up with a scary hat and then give you all his money. If you need to track an East Virginia Wild Turkey, look no further than the new kid, @marquac and his little star-nosed Morgan pony. And if you want someone to make inappropriate comments about your bare feet which are bare because cowboy boots look tacky with the skirt you just bought, well, that’s where @KellyWand69 comes in.

Another warning is that the game’s five “roles” aren’t exactly as wide-open as I thought. If you have any starter gold bars, don’t spend them on dumb stuff! I think you’re going to need those bars to get some of the roles underway. Right now, I’ve got Trading and Collecting underway. For Moonshining, I have to get my Trading up to level 5. But for Naturalism and Bounty Hunting, I need to spend gold bars that I don’t have, because I bought a flowery skirt when I thought the gold bars were just for cosmetics. Oops.

-Tom

I have watched that clip so many times now, and every time it makes me laugh.

Ladders optional!

“Did you fall?”

-Tom

The scream followed by the splat, brilliant!

Lolol that was amazing.

Gravity defeated us more often when defending Blackwater than the bad guys did. We probably spend too much time on the rooftops, but it gets awfully busy down in the streets after the first couple waves ;)

I had a really odd experience yesterday that – if it had happened to me earlier or more often – would have resulted in me deciding Red Dead Online is busted. But given the amount of time I’ve played, and that I’ve never seen anything remotely like it, I’m going to chalk up to some weird anomaly I’ll never understand. We’ll call it The Mystery of the New Hanover Ranch.

I was walking my horse very slowly up to a ranch around the border between New Hanover and Lemoyne. There was white smoke coming from the chimney, so I figured it was inhabited by some NPCs. I don’t think any icons showed on the minimap, but I figured I’d go see who they were anyway. At this point, I was just exploring. I’ve been doing that a lot. I might go so far as to say few games know how to reward exploration so well as Red Dead.

Suddenly, as I’m nearing the front porch, something explodes and I get knocked off my horse. At first, I figured I’d triggered some sort of bad guy hideout. I have a long history of disarming landmines the hard way, so maybe that’s what had happened here. Bad guy hideouts are indicated by plumes of black smoke, so maybe the white smoke from the chimney was a variation of this?

When I got up from the “you’ve been exploded but not quite killed!” animation, I immediately fell back from the house while my horse ran off. But there were no red dots on the minimap to indicate an enemy gang, so it wasn’t a hideout. It must be some PvP shenanigans, so I did what I usually do the few times I’ve run into a hostile player: drink up a tonic to fortify my health and run away. I took to the forested hilly area of New Hanover and found myself suddenly under attack by a couple of wolves!

What? Now, wolfs? Really? I still didn’t understand what was going on with the explosion I had fled! One of the wolves even looked scarred up, but if he was some sort of legendary wolf, he went down to a shotgun blast just as easily as a mundane wolf. There were three of them. And when I knelt to skin one of the carcasses, a cougar suddenly spawned right in front of me.

This is NOT how Red Dead Online works.

I’ve been hunting and most recently working on the Naturalist role, and one of the true joys of this game is watching how wildlife is modeled. It’s subtle stuff, but it’s omnipresent once you start to look. In fact, that’s the point of the Naturalist role: to encourage you to look at what Rockstar has built to model the natural order. But unlike hunting, where your goal is to look at it long enough to efficiently kill it, the Naturalist role transforms that final step into sedating the animal to take samples while it’s sleeping. It’s a small tweak, but it goes a long way to fixing the game’s wildlife in your mind as something other than target practice. It’s like a hunting game with a convenient eleventh-hour tweak for people who aren’t accustomed to shooting wildlife or who have little stomach for it.

Anyway, my point is that Rockstar takes great care with the illusion of animal behavior. I have never seen something spawn like this cougar. Literally right in front of me, out of thin air so that he has to drop about a foot onto the ground. And because I can’t get to my shotgun quickly enough – if you’ve played much Red Dead Redemption, you know how quickly death by cougar comes! – I’m dead.

So I respawn – I still don’t fully understand why it matters if you ever die in this game :( – and shoot the cougar so I can resume skinning my prizes. But before I can get to work, two cougars immediately spawn. I shoot them both. Three spawn. I kill two and die. I respawn and kill the third. More spawn. Cougars and wolves of all varieties. Out of thin air, right in front of me. I shoot at them.

Is there some player griefing me with super predator bait or something? It’s insane the menagerie that appears out of thin air right in front of my shotgun. Alligators, wolves, cougars, a black panther, a buffalo literally standing on the backs of more wolves. They spawn, I open fire and backpedal. It’s a bloodbath. What is even happening? It’s like a dream sequence in an Ubisoft game!

Eventually, I fall back far enough that the latest round of spawns doesn’t go aggro. They’re just hanging out now, more cougars, a wolf, a buffalo. And now there’s a chest at my feet. It spawned when I wasn’t looking. I open it and collect a little bit of money and gold. And then another chest spawns. I open it and collect a little more money and gold. Then two chests spawn. I open them, keeping an eye on the idling predators. Then three chests spawn. Then even more chests spawn, all on top of each other, nested chests clipping into each other’s gamespace. Over 500 money and 20 gold and the chests are still coming!

Wait, has someone hacked something and now I’m benefiting from their illicit gains? Isn’t this how accounts get closed? I run away from the chests and predators to log out, then log back in. The chests and predators are gone. But the money and gold I looted from the chests is still in my account.

I have no idea what that was, but in the end, I got a huge financial leg-up that I clearly didn’t earn fairly. Which is kind of a bummer. I mean, not enough of a bummer that I didn’t spend it.

Everything else in Red Dead Online has been rock solid, but whatever happened yesterday on that New Hanover ranch is a mystery. A lucrative mystery, but still a mystery. I wish I’d gotten a picture of that buffalo standing on those wolfs.

-Tom

This must be some of that emergent gameplay I’ve been hearing about. ‘And then suddenly, I was in an M. Night Shyamalan movie!’

Definitely sounds like the work of a hacker.

You’re going to run in to lobby hackers quite a few times on PC. When it happens I go to resources in task manager and disable red dead in network processes for about 10 seconds. This puts you in a solo session without having to close your session. Not sure what to do about thay dirty gold. I usually just get blown up over and over before I leave. Maybe report it to rockstar to be safe?

This. I once had a giant soccer ball spawn in front of me on one of the rare times I tried GTA online. It equipped a minigun and started to fire at me, but instead of bullets it fired money. Hundreds of thousands of dollars hit me and went right into my character’s account. This went on for about 10 seconds, I just logged off but the money was there when I logged on again a few days later.

That’s hilarious! ‘Now, young soccer fan … prepare to be wealthy.’

I realize I’m going to sound like I just fell off the turnip truck, but it’s astonishing to me that this is going on given all the layers of security Rockstar must have put into this cash cow. I could understand if it were a newer, less tested game or an inexperienced publisher. But an “old” Rockstar release? They haven’t tamped down the hackers enough where a casual player me still runs into them? Ugh.

Well, I’ll just consider the gold I made a tax levied against Rockstar until they beef up their security.

Great tip, but I hate to think it’s one I need to know.

This makes me feel even dirtier than the stupid Deluxe Edition Free Junk that gets thrown into so many new releases, effectively erasing the weight of any early game progression. At least in those cases, it’s the publishers wrecking their own game. But I don’t want some third party who downloaded a hack wrecking my progression!

-Tom

Does GTA Online have similar issues with hackers?

I don’t play either of those games online, like really at all, but like Tom, I’m really surprised it’s a thing that happens.

Yep, I tried to play it a while ago and was immediately griefed by some fuckers who had created cages around the spawn points, so when I respawned I was unable to move away while they gunned me down…

Noped right out of there and uninstalled it. Damn sad that this billion dollar cash cow is unable to prevent shit like that. Just go back to making damn single player games please, at least you have a handle on that part!

Given the hacker blew you up I doubt he was being nice with the treasure. How much gold was it? The hacked gold might trigger a ban from Rockstar if they do a sweep. I believe they’ve done them before.

I don’t know the exact sum, but as I mentioned in the post, it was at least $500 and 20 gold. Right around that amount. Not much in the overall scheme of things, but enough that it was quickly obvious something was very wrong.

There were still chests I could have opened, and I’m assuming if I’d killed the predators that spawned, it would have kept going.

Frankly, if my account were banned, that would at least instill me with some confidence that Rockstar takes security seriously. :)

-Tom

You can buy those “mod menus” online it seems. From what I understand it is basically a menu that lets them spawn stuff into the game. Including explosions/dynamite.
This guy says they shut down one of the big offenders, but clearly there are more out there:

If you are near a shop, or Cripps, something with a menu, going into the menu usually prevents them from messing with you. Or so I’ve heard. I usually get blown up when I’m out in the middle of nowhere. And that’s the part that cracks me up. How they hell do they find ME? I’m rarely in any of the usual hotspots, I tend to be out in the boonies minding my own business, but they still find me.

I tried this for maybe 2 or 3 hours last night. Tom’s post above made it sound like it might be enjoyable solo. I wasn’t maximizing my time in terms of earning gold, took me a good half hour to kinda find my feet and check out all the different menus and options. The rest of the time I rode around and did some missions.

After spending a few hours doing a bunch of missions and a bit of exploring, I had 0.36 of 1 gold bar. Tried to start the naturalist role that Tom mentioned but I needed 25 gold bars to even get started…

So off to google I go, lets see how much gold I can get per hour. The answer I got was that if you grind pretty hard you can earn around 1 gold bar per hour. So about 25 hours give or take before I can even start the naturalist role…

That is where it ends for me, I ride off into the sunset with my .36 of 1 gold bar and my 47 dollars (one mission gave me $1.18 and 1 gun oil for finding and killing some bad guys. Didn’t cover the cost of the ammo used)