Red Dead Online’s Big Update Is Testing The Patience Of Frustrated Players

Red Dead Online received update 1.06 last week that was its biggest since the game launched last year. It added tools to combat griefing, new cosmetics, bounties, and more. Though the update was substantial, many players disliked the changes, leaving Rockstar’s online game in a tough spot.

Red Dead Online has been out since late November but technically only as a beta. From the start, Rockstar warned players would be far from perfect. The company has updated the game several times, but problems keep cropping up and aggravating players.

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One recent thread on Red Dead’s subreddit titled “This fucking update made Online even worse” has a 90% upvote rank and a score of 26.4k. In it, the writer complains of nerfed hunting rewards, new clothing items being ugly and how they feel the game now encourages griefing thanks to some daily challenges involving players killing other players.

In another thread, this one not nearly as popular but still upvoted at a 98% rate, a writer complains that Red Dead Online is simply too much of a typical-feeling player-vs-player shooter. “We want the cowboy mythology with friends,” they wrote.

Red Dead Online is free to people who bought Red Dead Redemption 2 but as with Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto Online the people making the game need at least some players to spend money on the games’ optional in-game purchases. Players are aware of this, and so changes to the games’ systems, often arouse player suspicion about how their time and effort are being spent—and whether they’re being pushed to pay for stuff.

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That’s why a change in update 1.06 involving the sale of animal parts that Rockstar now says was just a bug fix aroused so many suspicions. When players went to sell skins and carcasses to butchers after the update, they discovered that skins were suddenly worth much less than before. Some felt this was a nerf and theorized that Rockstar was pushing players to grind more or buy gold bars, a premium currency in the game.

On Thursday, two days after the update went live, Rockstar’s support site was updated to indicate that “[p]rior to Title Update 1.06 a bug caused sales of skinned animal carcasses to be the same as a whole unskinned animal, despite the animal’s parts having been already harvested.” According to Rockstar, this meant players could skin the animal and sell the carcass and the parts separately to make more than intended. While Rockstar’s explanation makes sense, some players who prefer to earn money by hunting feel it makes the game more of a grind.

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Then there are the game’s new emotes. Red Dead Online’s emotes include dances, blowing kisses and tough guy poses. Some of these emotes cost between $100 to $300 of in-game money, which translates into selling 20 perfect deer carcasses for the cheapest emotes. To buy the more pricey $300 emote players will need to sell 60 perfect deer carcasses, which is time-consuming and made harder by the fact you can lose your on-horse cargo if you drop from a server.

More frustrating for some players is the fact a few emotes can only be purchased with gold bars, a premium currency in RDO. While it is possible to earn gold bars by finding treasures or finishing challenges, it can take a lot of grinding to earn them. Rockstar also sells these gold bars, charging $10 for 25 gold bars. In Rockstar’s last big online game, GTA Online, all emotes were free, as one frustrated Redditor pointed out. Many of these were added over the years in updates.

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I had hoped to get answers from Rockstar about many of the player base’s complaints and questions about the game, a lot of which I’ve also been scratching my head about. Unfortunately, they have not provided comment. For the record, here’s what I asked and what many players would surely love to see answered:

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  • GTA Online emotes were free and new ones added into the game were free too. Why are players being charged for emotes? And will prices on these emotes be lowered? (Many feel they are too high.)
  • Will missions be changed so that players who don’t do anything and are just AFK will not be given rewards?
  • Will daily challenge rewards be increased or tweaked in future updates?
  • Are you worried that some challenges might push players to kill other players? Is this something you want? Or do you hope players will complete these challenges in PVP?
  • Why are clothes marked as coming soon?
  • Many players wanted to hunt down players who earned bounties, similar to GTA Online’s system. Is this something Rockstar would add in the future? Or do you prefer having NPC bounty hunters?
  • Some players feel bounty hunters are too easy to defeat. Is this something that will be balanced or tweaked in future patches?
  • Finally, I know you are afraid of announcing features or plans too early, but what kind of roadmap can you give for the next 6 months of content or updates?

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About the author

Zack Zwiezen

Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for Gamecritics, USgamer, Killscreen and Entertainment Fuse.