Red Dead Redemption 2 has earned its place as one of the most ambitious open-world video games ever made, but exploring its dark and dangerous world can get a little lonely — which is why the game’s multiplayer mode, Red Dead Online, is such a breath of fresh air.
Whether you’re facing off against friends in one of the game’s many competitive challenges or collaborating on a co-op mission, RDR2’s online mode is a natural successor to the game’s epic story and open world. For those looking to get a leg up on the competition and rise in the ranks, here are 10 tips on gaining extra experience points and levelling up your virtual cowboy fantasy into the legendary gunslinger you were always meant to be.
10 Sell your ill-gotten goods
Possibly the easiest award to earn in Red Dead Online — and there are a whopping 425 of them — requires you to sell items to each of the game’s three merchants. This is a natural starting point, as all it requires you to do is collect herbs, animal parts, and merchandise to the doctor, butcher, and fence, respectively. These can be easily found throughout the game world, especially herbs in the game's forest settings. All these items are all plentiful among the game’s large open world, so get to searching!
9 Choose a path
Depending on the choices you make throughout the game, you’ll earn one of two distinctions: gunslinger, for the more noble and honourable among us, or outlaw for those who prefer a more hands-on, devil-may-care approach. Your decisions as you play throughout the campaign will add to either side of the spectrum, eventually leading you towards the light or dark side. No matter which side you choose, following your path to its end point will nab you significant experience. Work your way towards maximum capacity on either side to earn an award and some handy XP.
8 Man’s other best friend
You’d have to have a heart of stone not to fall in love with your trusty steed over the course of Red Dead Online — after all, where would you be without your animal companion? Thankfully, bonding with your horse offers more than just a burst of oxytocin.
Feeding your horse and calming it while riding will increase the bond between you and your horse, and eventually you’ll reach the max level of bonding, nabbing you a belt buckle and some extra experience points.
7 The gang’s all here
Red Dead Online is best enjoyed as part of a team, and whether you’ve got IRL friends to play with or you choose to let the game pair you with strangers, you’ll automatically gain more experience when travelling in a group. Travelling in a posse will open up additional challenges and missions, and there are certain awards that can only be obtained when you’re buddied up with other cowboys. You can set up a temporary posse for a single session, or pay $200 to establish a permanent posse that will remain throughout your entire experience with Red Dead Online. Either way, it's a huge advantage to smart players.
6 Get messy
Vegetarians, look away. Slaughtering animals in Red Dead Online can be difficult, but it comes with guaranteed experience points, and we don’t just mean hunting to survive. Killing and skinning cougars in particularly will bless you with big rewards, while fishing and hunting deer (especially white tail deer) also guarantees big XP boosts. Keep your eyes open while travelling the game’s many roads: you never know what kind of creature you’re going to come across.
5 Aim for the head
Every kill in Red Dead Online earns you experience, but headshots will nab you double experience, so always aim high. This goes double for the bow and arrow, which on its own guarantees extra experience and becomes even more useful when combined with bull’s eye accuracy. Channel your inner FPS player and always aim for the head. Try not to rely too much on auto-aim, which won’t always do the trick; as you progress in the game, you’ll become a better shot, reaping the rewards that come with it.
4 Play hide and seek
Gang hideouts are hidden throughout the world of Red Dead Online, and clearing them out is a great way to gain experience as well as extra cash and items. While wiping out a hideout itself will nab you experience, headshots and executions make up the bulk of your rewards. Saving the gang leader for last will often earn you a treasure map which you can follow to find rare items and equipment.
3 Get ready for a showdown
Provided you’ve got what it takes, mastering the game’s Showdown Series is one of the most reliable ways to farm experience. Shootout requires you to earn more kills than your competitors in a given time limit, testing your speed and accuracy. Hostile territory matches challenge you to capture locations away from other players in a capture-the-flag style showdown. And make it count is a Fortnite-style battle royale that requires you to use either a bow and arrow or throwing knife, depriving you of your trusty pistol.
2 Speed kills
Along with the Showdown Series, Red Dead Online’s Race Series will test your horse riding skills against a host of online competitors. Standard and open races are purely speed competitions, but the newly patched target races add an extra layer of challenge as players must hit targets while they race against other riders. Winning these races is one of the best ways to farm XP, and practice makes perfect.
1 Finish the story
Maybe a little obvious, but playing through missions and completing objectives is a tried and true way to level up in Red Dead Online. Thankfully, the mode offers a variety of challenges, including stealing horses, lassoing enemies, and robbing trains — though some of these missions don't always make sense. As we mentioned before, these challenges are best taken on in a group, but even if you’re a lone wolf there’s still a lot to be gained from finishing the game’s many missions.