Red Dead Online’s Latest, Disappointing Update Shows GTA Online Is Still Rockstar’s Favourite

Red Dead Online’s Latest, Disappointing Update Shows GTA Online Is Still Rockstar’s Favourite
Image: Rockstar Games

Red Dead Online’s latest update isn’t much. While Rockstar plans on adding a big new island to GTA Online later this month, complete with a new heist and more, Red Dead Online’s end of the year update is far smaller. And while some small amount of this new update is good, including some new bounty hunter content and some useful upgrades, the rest is disappointing, leaving me wanting more.

This latest update, which went live earlier today, mainly focuses on two things: adding a new Outlaw Pass and expanding the already-present bounty hunter role.

I always liked playing as a bounty hunter in Red Dead Online. It’s one of my favourite roles in the game and with this new update, its level cap has been increased from 20 to 30. However, this isn’t a free level cap increase: You’ll need to fork over 15 gold bars to become a professional bounty hunter, allowing you to hit level 30. While 15 gold bars isn’t a super-high amount, especially for players who have been regularly logging in and completing challenges, it’s yet another paywall between players and new content. And players already spent gold to become bounty hunters before this update, so it feels like double-dipping on Rockstar’s part.

Screenshot: Rockstar / KotakuScreenshot: Rockstar / Kotaku

Once you pay your 15 gold and become a professional bounty hunter, you get access to new rewards. And unfortunately, they aren’t anything to write home about. Some are nice, like the ability to hold more food, but most aren’t very useful. You also get some new ways to spin your guns and some new cosmetic items. For players like me who already play Red Dead Online regularly and who like the bounty hunter role, new content and levels to earn are nice. But I doubt this will bring many players back to the game, and I’m not sure if it’s enough to keep me interested beyond a week or two. Rockstar is promising new legendary bounty hunter missions, but the first new one included in this update isn’t any good. It’s just your standard RDO mission, where you run in, shoot some people, and leave with the target. Compared to some of the fun, creative legendary bounties we’ve seen in the past, it feels like a step back and doesn’t get me excited about future RDO legendary bounties.

This update also added Outlaw Pass Number 4, which contains 100 levels. The Outlaw Pass is Red Dead Online’s version of a Fortnite-style battle pass, with various levels and rewards to earn as you play the game and rack up XP. The Outlaw Pass comes in two flavours: Free and premium. And just as with the previous Outlaw Passes, the free level gives you a small number of uninspiring rewards. If you want anything worthwhile you’ll have to upgrade to the premium pass, which costs 40 gold bars. (Rockstar is also doing a special deal for players who buy the Outlaw Pass before December 7: You’ll get back 10 gold bars.)

Screenshot: Rockstar / KotakuScreenshot: Rockstar / Kotaku

So what do you get for 40 gold bars? Well, not much. But not complete crap either. One of the first rewards you unlock at level 2 is the ability to cook multiple cuts of meat at once while at your camp. This may not sound exciting, but if you’ve played a lot of RDO, you know how time-consuming and tedious cooking meat can be. Now you can cook up to three pieces at once! Some other quality-of-life improvements are buried in the pass, including the ability to hold more ammo and more ways to fast travel. These are great and I’m excited to unlock them. But none of this feels worthy of 40 gold bars.

Last December, Rockstar released The Moonshiners update, one of the best and biggest updates for Red Dead Online. It added new story missions, new places to visit, a whole new role, new gear, and more. It was a wonderful influx of new content and stuff to do. This year, Red Dead Online ends the year with a much smaller and comparatively disappointing update. Meanwhile, Rockstar is prepping to release the biggest update in GTA Online history in a few weeks. While I understand that 2020 has been a challenging year for developers around the world, it’s hard to ignore that one Rockstar online game is being treated much better than the other.

It’s a shame too, because Red Dead Online has potential. With a few big updates, a next-gen patch, and more rewards, this could be a much better game. But for now, at least, Rockstar seems unable, unwilling, or uninterested in truly building RDO into a worthy GTA Online companion or successor. Maybe next year.

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  • The decline of R* has been amazing to watch. Ever since they started tasting that online microtransaction money, they’ve gone from being a company that cared about the customer and their experience, to being one of the greediest companies in the industry. They ride on the coattails of the good will garnered by the release of their previous games such as GTA 3, VC, SA and IV.

    The broken promises of single player DLC as well as the good times offered by the first incarnations of GTAV online, before it became a mismanaged hellscape online where you need to invest too much time or sharkcards to get anywhere, just to find out everyone owns ludicrous flying vehicles which detract wholly from the GTA experience, or whatnot, solidify the notion that Rockstar as we knew it, truly is dead.

    Red Dead 2 had potential for multiplayer, but as a poor, highly mismanaged (again) online experience with subpar content (again), it just feels underwhelming (still fun in short bursts with friends but nothing majorly compelling to bring you back over and over. The fact we won’t see any excellent single player content like Undead Nightmare or the GTA IV expansions like Ballad of Gay Tony or Lost and the Damned kinda breaks my heart to be honest.

    Rockstars dead and Rockstar killed it with it’s greed. I guess we’re to blame too, but that was inevitable. I just fear what the hell GTA VI will look like and how we’ll all be excited again (me too), hoping for the best, but being delivered another similar experience 🙁

    • The really disappointing thing is GTAO’s success should’ve been a bigger motivator and contributor to creating DLC/expansions, not less but just like GTAO itself, they got lost in the effort vs returns cycle and forgot that they could’ve had it all instead of just taken it all.

  • Red Dead Online’s latest disappointing update shows GTA Online is still Rockstar’s favourite

    * Favourite / more lucrative cash-cow.

  • In concept, I love GTA/RDR Online, but MTX GaaSification of everything keeps me away (especially as someone who doesn’t have time to devote myself solely).

    Its a shame really.

  • For me the the issue was GTAO had time to grow in to the horrible beast it is now whereas RDRO had the full Excel spreadsheet experience right out of the gate without any of the content or “balance” (I use that term ever so loosely) so it just felt exploitative before it even had anything to exploit.

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