Red Dead Online's New Solo Missions Are Pretty Good

Illustration for article titled Red Dead Online's New Solo Missions Are Pretty Good
Screenshot: Rockstar Games

The latest Red Dead Online update, released earlier this week, added a few new missions to the game. These new telegram missions are short and simple but are also built to be played alone, another sign that Rockstar is willing to give players more single-player content even in ostensibly online games.

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While Red Dead Online is an online multiplayer game, many players find the online experience annoying or frustrating. They’ve long wished for solo or private lobbies, so as to play alone or with a small group of trusted friends. Last year, a bug caused many players to hop into nearly empty lobbies. But instead of finding this problematic, many wanted the glitch to stay. While that bug was eventually fixed, Rockstar seems aware that a growing number of fans want more solo content. With that in mind, it makes sense that the latest Red Dead Online update doesn’t add some big, new online heist or versus mode, but instead a new type of solo mission. These new telegram missions are short, simple, and can be repeated over and over.

You’ll receive these new missions via a letter in your camp mailbox. Once read, you’ll be able to access a new sub-menu titled “A New Source of Employment” that currently houses three new missions: Outrider, A One Horse Deal, and Rich Pickings.

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Three wheels are all you need.
Screenshot: Rockstar Games / Kotaku

Outrider’s setup is simple. You’re tasked with protecting a horse-drawn wagon carrying mysterious supplies, whose destination can vary each time you play. (I had to go to Armadillo on my first run.) You can either ride shotgun on the wagon or follow it on horseback. I chose the former, because it’s cool to say you’re “riding shotgun back to town.” As you might expect, we were attacked. Shocking, I know. After fighting off the waves of horse-riding baddies and breaking through their surprisingly well-made checkpoints, the wagon and I made it to town. We were missing a wheel, but other than that it went fine. In total, the mission took about 10 minutes from start to finish. It was a fun bit of cowboy action that didn’t require owning a moonshine still or inviting other players. I enjoyed it.

The second mission I played was A One Horse Deal. I think this was supposed to be a stealth affair but I screwed it up at the start and ended up fighting my way through the ranch, where a prized white Arabian horse resides. Your job is to steal this horse and bring it back to a contact at a camp. Once you find the horse—and in my case kill all the enemies who are aware of your presence and shooting at you a lot—you have to tame it. Once tamed a short ride to the contact ends the mission. Again, this whole contract took about 10 minutes or so. I didn’t enjoy this mission as much, but maybe if I didn’t screw up sneaking in right out of the gate I would have had more fun.

The third and final mission was also a stealth mission, but this time I didn’t screw it up. Rich Pickings tasks you with sneaking into the mansion of the mayor of Saint Denis and grabbing all his valuables. I brought a bow this time and used a tall wall on the side of the property to sneak in. Then I carefully took out a few enemy guards while rummaging through various cabinets and chests. Once I had grabbed everything worth taking I made my exit via a river in the back. Like the previous missions, this wasn’t a long, involved thing. It took about 15 or 20 minutes, a bit longer than the other telegram missions due to sneaking around. This one was legit fun but might have been a pain had other players been involved. Alone, I was able to channel Solid Snake and move around quietly, picking foes off one by one.

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I’m a sneaky cowboy.
Screenshot: Rockstar Games / Kotaku

All three missions can be replayed after a 20-minute wait, with each subsequent replay becoming more difficult. The rewards aren’t amazing, you’ll make more money selling moonshine or supplies. But telegram missions are perfect for players who don’t want or have a bunch of friends to play with. Or for folks not looking to spend hours grinding away on Red Dead Online’s businesses. Additionally, I like these telegram missions as a way for Rockstar to recreate the fun, iconic bits of cowboy action without having to plug it into the larger RDO economy. I imagine a barroom brawl could be a good theme for one of these short solo outings.

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Last year, Rockstar added the first soloable heist to GTA Online. I didn’t care much for it, but it’s been fairly popular among players, letting them grind for cash all alone. Now RDO has added some solo missions. It does feel like Rockstar’s now more willing to support lone wolves, something that it was hesitant to do over the last few years. Will this trend continue? I hope so. While it might seem odd to add solo content to an online game, it seems a net positive to give more options to players. And as in real life, sometimes I just don’t want to deal with other people.

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Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for GameCritics, USgamer, Kill Screen & Entertainment Fuse.

DISCUSSION

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iPhone 7s Plus

Why do people play this solo? There is an award winning single player game built-in. Seems like online should be played when wanting to utilize... *online* features (like multiplayer).