Red Dead Redemption 2 is an absolutely gigantic game, so big in fact that we had to write daily diaries of our playthrough to keep up with it all. Even with dozens of hours poured into it, there’s no guarantee that you’ve seen below the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much to see and do that it can be almost overwhelming, which is why you could probably do with our Red Dead Redemption 2 tips.
The game, for the most part, does a great job of explaining the ins and outs and has an encyclopedia that you can refer to as well as a companion app, but it doesn’t cover all the basics. Whether it’s learning how to earn money or to build your Honor rating, there’s no shortage of mechanics and quirks to dive into.
Below you will find some fairly straightforward Red Dead Redemption 2 tips if you don’t even know where to begin or just want more bang for your buck.
1. Don’t buy guns
The temptation might be too great to resist, but hold off on buying guns in Red Dead Redemption 2, particularly in the early stages when money is hard to come across. You unlock most guns just through natural play, so put that money towards something else instead, like a garish mane for your horse or a ridiculous hat.
2. Loot all of the corpses you can
You will create many dead bodies during your time with Red Dead Redemption 2, but don’t forget to check them afterwards. Many bodies will have ammo to replenish your guns as well as some trinkets to sell on for a good price and items to help out your health and so on. It’s time-consuming but ultimately worth it.
3. Don’t sweat cores too much
The implementation of cores in Red Dead Redemption 2 are there for people who want to invest a lot of time into living the perfect cowboy life and are not necessarily crucial to the experience. As long as you eat relatively regularly and keep them out of the red, there’s really no need to constantly be micro-managing.
4. Play the story
“What a waste of a tip,” you might say, but Red Dead Redemption 2 really begins to open up roughly halfway through Chapter 3. You may want to save going off on your adventures until then because you will have unlocked plenty of new mechanics and weapons, as well as a better understanding of how the game works. Avoid the mistake we made of thinking we could kill a bear with a Cattleman Revolver easily.
5. Be the good guy
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a far better experience when your Honor level is high as it gives you better interactions as well as unique items to buy — notice the “Redemption” in the title. You can do small things like donating money to beggars as well as helping out your gang mates to see the long-term benefits, but if you absolutely must go on a crime spree, remember to manually save.
6. Wear a bandana out in the wilderness
There are a few occasions when you’re riding through the country in which you’ll want to experiment, whether that be trying to hold up a stagecoach or aiding the escape of a prisoner. Wear a mask constantly to a) look cool as heck and b) get away with it scot-free apart from a ding to your Honor rating. It’s the best way of avoiding a headache.
7. Don’t buy items (unless you really need to)
Similarly to the first tip, you should reconsider visiting the grocer to stock up on a tonne of stuff because you can naturally find a lot of it dotted around the world. Whether that’s from supplies found in an abandoned cabin or on the bodies of bandits, spending your money on canned peaches really does feel like a waste.
8. Store outfits on your horse
A real time-saver for the aesthetically-minded, make sure that you save outfits and then store them on your horse for when you’re out in the wild and fancy a change. It’s also worth doing in case you travel to the game’s colder areas, meaning that you can swap to warmer clothes at the drop of a (very big) hat. Do this by visiting your wardrobe and assembling the costume you want and then follow the inputs in the bottom right.
9. Save money by breaking in horses yourself
Red Dead Redemption 2 gives you a pretty naff horse to start things off and not a lot of money to replace them with a significantly better one. Instead, search out in the wilderness for a pack of horses and research them to find the pick of the bunch. Approach them slowly and then mount them to claim them as your own and save yourself a few bucks. If you don’t like them, you can also always sell them on.
10. Donate to the camp to unlock fast travel
Red Dead Redemption 2 has fast travel, though it’s hardly conventional. Donating enough money to the camp’s tithing box and then using the ledger will eventually unlock the ability to fast travel to any named location you’ve already been on the map, but you can only use it from the camp itself.
11. Use first-person for gunfights
The gunplay in Red Dead Redemption 2 is excellent, though it does take some getting used to thanks to how your attackers respond to you pinning them down and they also don’t seem to like to stand still for too long. Going into first-person seems to make aiming a lot easier, especially if you’re starting out and have weapons with less than ideal accuracy stats.
12. Lock-on, aim up
Rockstar are notorious for making headshots as common as the cold and it’s the same thing with Red Dead Redemption 2. As soon as you lock on to an enemy, gently flick the right stick upwards, line up their head, take the shot, and get an easy kill. You can take out plenty of people with this method when using a controller either on PC or console, though as your enemies are a bit smarter than most, you have to take your chances when you get them.
13. Wash, you stinky bandit
As is alluded to by someone in the main story, Arthur and his pals could do with a day at the spa. Whenever you make your way into a town, consider visiting an inn or saloon and pay for a bath. This will not only help Arthur’s stats, but will also make it easier for him to hunt as his scent won’t be so obvious. You can also buy something to that effect from a shopkeeper if watching a gruff guy gently wash his leg isn’t for you.
14. Smoke on the water
A lot of the game’s most interesting encounters can seem random, but if you see smoke rising in the sky, it usually means something worthwhile is right around the corner. We, for instance, found a house and were then asked to dinner by a creepily incestuous brother and sister. They plied us with drinks but we decided to get the hell out of there.
15. Good girl/boy
You can abuse the heck out of this one for some easy bonding. When you’re riding your horse, click in the left stick and Arthur will then soothe and show love to his horse. Not only will this calm them down, but it can also help them to bond and make the horse eventually perform better. You can really abuse this to bond with your horse faster, so get clicking.
16. Save two idiots in the wilderness
There are two different random encounters in the wilderness that will allow you to pick anything you want from the gunsmith for your heroism. One of them is a buffoon with a snake bite and the other is an idiot in a bear trap. Help them both and then venture into a nearby town at a later date and they will be more than happy to buy whatever gun you want.
17. Rob trains for easy money
One of the downright easiest ways to earn money in Red Dead Redemption 2 is to jump aboard a train (with your bandana on) and then hold everyone up and collect some cash. The trick here is to start robbing shortly after the train leaves the station, meaning that you will have more time to collect money before the law shows up. Your Honor rating will take a little bump, however.
18. Save your fingers, turn off tapping to run
Your thumb may well ache by the end of Red Dead Redemption 2 as the default option asks you to constantly tap X/A to sprint. Instead, go into your settings and turn on auto-run, which means you only have to the button to start running and then just let go of the left stick to stop. The game never mentions this once, so make use of it.
19. Feed your horse while you’re riding it
When you focus on your horse with L2/LT while using a controller, the game gives you the option to feed them by pressing left. Don’t do that: it tends to feed them valuable items like herbs which can be used for crafting. Instead, climb atop your horse, open up the radial wheel and then scroll along to the horse section and choose exactly what you want to feed them.
20. Time your sniping
The main sniper rifle in the game, the Rolling Block Rifle, is a bit of an unreliable tool. You have to shoot again to reload it, which may mean that you miss your perfect shot. What you should do instead is immediately tap R2/RT immediately after taking a shot while also lining up the next one. It’s going to save you a lot of frustration in the long run, though it never truthfully feels brilliant.
21. Switch shoulders when aiming
Another tip that we’re pretty sure the game never tells you about at any point, you can switch your shoulder perspective when aiming by tapping left on the d-pad. This is great for firefights in enclosed spaces and for taking shots around corners. As a bonus tip, you can also use up on the d-pad while aiming to scare some people you’re robbing into coercion. Not everyone will buy it, however.
Again, we can’t remember the game explaining this at any point, but if you press square/X while Arthur is aiming his weapon, he will dive to potentially get behind cover easier. You can’t shoot in the midst of his Max Payne moment, but if you’re precise, you can activate Dead Eye and line up some shots that way to pop off when he lands.