The Fun And Frustration Of That Doctor Robbery Early In Red Dead Redemption 2

Screenshots in this post are from my colleague Kirk Hamilton's experience sticking up the doctor's drug store. His experience is similar to mine, with the main difference being that he thought to capture video and screenshots of it.

Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn't force many of its myriad activities on players, though it it'll often send characters your way to tempt you to try certain things. Those of us who've played the game haven't all seen the same sights, but a good chunk of us have at least have robbed the doctor's drug store in the game's starter town of Valentine. It's a robbery that seems divisive.

I held the good doctor up when I was playing the game about a week or so ago. I was excited about committing the virtual crime but ended up perplexed about how it played out. Soon, I was Googling to find out how the stick-up went for other players. I read reactions on message boards, tips articles and Reddit threads. Some players were befuddled about what exactly our options were.

Some were psyched that it's a method towards getting a great weapon. Some were annoyed, as I was, about a locked door and the apparent inevitably that this robbery will always go badly.

Here's a pretty typical account, from a GameFAQs user going by the name of Orthopox12: "This turned into my biggest run and gun battle with the law outside of any mission. My horse got killed and I got backed up to a cliff held my ground until I was about overrun and took the leap to my death. All because that f***ing room only has one entry/exit."

The drug store robbery signals early on that Red Dead 2's shops aren't just the glorified single-purpose menus that most stores in video games are. Some establishments, the game teaches players, have something shady going on in their back rooms, though you'll only be able to access that if you snoop around the exterior of the shops or get a tip from a local.

I found out about the doctor's office that second way, after helping a man on the outskirts of Valentine with a problem that now escapes me thanks to the fog of the late-night gaming session when I encountered him.

If you get the intel that there's illicit activity going on in the back room of the doctor's drug store, then you'll be given the option to rob the place the next time you visit him. I did just that and went and pointed a pistol at him. The doctor quickly confessed and walked my character, Arthur Morgan, towards a metal door in the rear of the shop. The doctor had words with the guys in the back and lied to them to get them to open the door.

They were back there counting money or something. Controlling Morgan, I pointed my gun at some suddenly concerned ne'er-do-wells who then decided to respond with gunshots.

The gun battle seems to be automatic, and it swiftly triggers the law's interest. The sheriff's office and gaol is next door, after all. You only have seconds to search the dead bodies of the crooks you've killed and to open a box in that back room that contains the unusually good Schofield revolver.

There's a safe in the back room, but the game doesn't tell you how to open it and many early-game players like me haven't picked up any tools needed to crack it by the time they do this robbery.

There's also a door in the back that sure looks like it locks from the inside. Since you're inside when doing the robbery, I figured the player can open it. Nope. It's bolted shut or locked or both.

The impassable rear door forces the player to exit the way they entered, except by this point, law enforcement will be funnelling in. When I played, I had a lawman running into the back room, shooting at me before I could even get out of there. When my colleague, Kirk Hamilton played, the same thing happened.

We both found ourselves in a massive shootout, both had to gun down a handful of lawmen just to get onto our horse and out of Valentine and both went from bounties of zero to $300 in seconds. Another colleague, Heather Alexandra, told me she got out fast enough that she was able to slip out without killing anyone.

It seems that many players experience the robbery the way Kirk and I did. They try and fail to slip out the back and can't do this robbery without attracting a ferociously violent response, both from the crooks in the room and the law who then come to investigate. The game autosaves in a way that also keeps many players from being able to try the robbery a second time, leading players to give advice to others, hoping the next player will figure out a better technique.

I've seen some players speculate about how to slip past people using different outfits or guns, but I've not seen proof that anything reliably works. If there's a way, I'd love to know.

Mildly frustrating as it can be, I'm glad the drug store robbery exists. It demonstrates one of the added possibilities this game presents players and that many other games don't or can't. The downside, arguably, is that it feels cheap. That door in the way back begs to be opened, yet it won't budge. That leaves most players in a huge shootout. Then again, maybe that too is a positive.

Maybe it's teaching players that robberies have consequences. It has spawned some wild theories about how to get through the robbery without racking up a bounty (one player suggested fighting all the back room crooks with throwing knives; another said they were able to keep things relatively quiet by lassoing and hogtying the lawman who runs into the back to find out what the fuss is).

The whole sequence works for me as a way for Red Dead Redemption 2 to advertise the unexpected options it'll give players, the wider range of things the player does. It also shows the extent and limits of how things work in a game that is ultimately going to be pushed and pulled by the limits imposed by the developers and players' efforts to test them.

The drug store robbery is a memorable moment nonetheless and one that many players can assume others have also experienced. How did your robbery of the doctor's office go? Hopefully at least somewhat differently than mine.


    I knocked out the shop owner and dead eyed all the enemies with throwing knife head shots and still got the law on me, other than making the backdoor accessible not much can be done.

      Came here just to say this. Did the entire robbery without a single gun shot going off using the bow and the law still rocked up. I'm all for realism etc...but not psychic cops!

    The robbery and stickup mechanisms are the weakest part of the game IMO. Loving it otherwise.

      I think the wanted system is worse myself. I hate how committing crimes in the wilderness still has witnesses and then lawmen spawn in the middle of nowhere, same for train robberies. I wish they really made this system different somehow, like have the witnesses run to the nearest sheriff station or something instead of a certain distance. Still loving the game though.

    I basically had the same thing happen but was able to get away relatively easy.
    I think the problem is
    1) GTA5 systems and mechanics. The police in GTA5 would randomly spawn in front of you while in a chase, even on top of Mt Chiliad and It's exactly the same with RDR2 bounty mechanics.
    2) The Dr robbery is essentially a very loose tutorial on how to rob shops with no clear instructions on how this should be done

    I actually saved and reloaded a lot trying to learn how the bounty system worked and to see if there was a clean way in and out.

    Basically disguises only work on civilians so in order to get zero bounty you need to get in and out before any cops come in to investigate.

    This is possible if you say only grab the Schofield and bolt.

    You can get everything with a minor bounty though, toss some dynamite into the alcove to kill off all the enemies and open the safe. Quickly loot everything then on your way out you should run into a deputy.

    If you can just run past him or crash tackle then run off. I ended up earning around $100 with a $15 bounty.

      This is roughly what I did, too. I dead-eyed everyone to death in a couple seconds, applied dynamite to the safe and was grabbing the revolver while the dynamite went off. By the time I'd grabbed the cash off the table and sprinted out the door, the law was only just getting their shit together and I bolted on my horse. Rondabouts a $15 bounty for... undisclosed crimes. Robbery I think?

        If you just throw the stick vaguely close to the safe it will open it and kill the people in the room.

        Honestly with how finicky the looting animations were I’m impressed you could place the dynamite and loot everything.

        I can’t recall if I tried talking down the cops... maybe could have got a walk along. I really didn’t understand that system at the time though.

        Also nobody has mentioned it, but I assume everyone robs the doctors till before having him walk you out the back?

    Yeah the almost clairvoyant law make a lot of the stuff in this far less fun than it otherwise would be - having a big stinking bounty hanging over you just becomes a chore but they’re so so easy to get if you don’t behave.

    The honour system also over-penalises you for committing crime too, it just seems that the game wants you to behave - yet when you have any of the 1:1 chats in camp Arthur will say how bad he’s been lately?

    Back on-topic, the best one of these ‘store-robberies’ i’ve encountered is in Rhodes - I *think* it’s the gunsmith, go hang around outside it if you haven’t already! :)

      The honour penalty is t as bad as it seems. There’s soft caps on max (Not sure about min) honour until Chapter 6.

      So you’re actually sitting on full, it drops a little but the scale makes it look a lot worse than it is. Once you can max it it’s much easier to notice how little you’re losing.

      Greeting a handful of people is generally enough to counteract most foul deeds.

    I killed the bandits with deadeye, used the lasso to tie up the lady, grabbed the money on the table and the pistol from the box.
    I skipped looting and didn't blast the safe this time around, I just piss bolted out the door, straight across the street and between the two buildings to my waiting horse.
    Law didn't have time to do shit and my bounty was $1.50.

    Next time I will see how low I can get a safe run.

    I managed to kill everyone, trigger the cops had several of them circle the building.

    I dynamited the safe and for some reason the rear door unlatched. I think it bugged out or something. I escaped out that way killing a couple of lawman. But I was relieved not having to go through the front way

    Last edited 25/11/18 9:47 am

    It’s helpful that the game puts you “choose” to be on the wrong side of the law so early in the game, it teaches a number of important lessons in the game. You will often have to break the law to get money and items in the game. Breaking the law isn’t going to destroy your game, in fact in almost all cases the reward value far outstrips the possible bounty value. Killing lawmen won’t lower your honor levels too much, if you want to play an honorable cowboy, there’s plenty of opportunities to raise it. If you only broke the law in main missions, the player may still be afraid of the consequences to do it outside them, this scenario teaches the player not to be.

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