Red Dead Online Beta Starts Today

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The single-player campaign of Red Dead Redemption 2 has a ton of things to do; so much that, after a solid month of steady play, I’m still only a little more than halfway through all of the content. But even with enough missions to keep players busy for the rest of the year, Rockstar Games has announced that the beta for the multiplayer, Red Dead Online, begins today. The launch will be staggered throughout the week, open to players who meet the following criteria:

  • Tuesday, November 27 - Owners of the “Ultimate Edition” of Red Dead Redemption 2

  • Wednesday, November 28 - Anyone who played RDR2 at launch (October 26)

  • Thursday, November 29 - Anyone who played RDR2 between October 26 - 29

  • Friday, November 30 - Anyone who owns a copy of RDR2

Quoted on The Verge, Rockstar provided a basic overview of what to expect from Red Dead Online:

“With the gameplay of Red Dead Redemption 2 as its foundation, Red Dead Online transforms the vast and deeply detailed landscapes, cities, towns, and habitats of Red Dead Redemption 2 into a new, living online world ready to be shared by multiple players. Create and customize your character, tailor your abilities to suit your play style, and head out into a new frontier full of things to experience.

Explore this huge world solo or with friends. Form or join a posse to ride with up to seven players; gather around the fire at your camp; head out hunting or fishing; visit bustling towns; battle enemy gangs and attack their hideouts; hunt for treasure; take on missions and interact with familiar characters from across the five states; or fight against other outlaws in both spontaneous skirmishes and pitched set-piece battles; compete with other players or whole posses in open world challenges and much more.”

Few would argue that Red Dead Redemption 2’s world is anything short of breathtaking, teeming with vegetation and wildlife, each settlement or landmark encountered at a distance begging further exploration. Aside from the main story missions, it sounds like players will be able to do just about everything else they could in the single-player campaign in Online, this time with their friends.

Whether it’s the American frontier or a nuclear wasteland, exploring the well-realized open worlds of single-player franchises is often a solitary, lonely endeavor. And so, I can’t help but think of Fallout 76 - a game whose inspiration was, allegedly, fans asking to be able to play Fallout with their friends. The launch of Fallout 76 is a disaster to be covered in another article, but Red Dead Online aims to fill that niche for fans of the Western genre - on top of an award-nominated single-player experience.

While the base game’s fiddly mechanics are sure to be a continued source of frustration in Online, the mere joy of discovery alongside friends and comrades - not unlike the real pioneers who came long before us - promises to be a fulfilling adventure in its own right.


Red Dead Online is free for anyone who owns Red Dead Redemption 2 on Playstation 4 or Xbox One.