Way back in 2013, one of the most hotly awaited titles ever finally fell into the hands of players—that title was Grand Theft Auto V. Eight years later the game is still maintained and updated, but far from expanding on its single-player roots every single one of these expansions has pertained to Grand Theft Auto Online. While this is great news for fans of undertaking shenanigans with friends in Los Santos, it left those who enjoy the story-driven single-player experience in the dust.
As Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2) approaches its third anniversary the question begs: will this title, which is arguably far more suited to single-player moments that GTAV ever was, be doomed to a similar fate of multiplayer-only expansion?
Not the Old John Marston
Looking back at RDR2’s predecessor, the original Red Dead Redemption received a number of DLC—a handful of which delivered new content for players to enjoy solo as well as online. Undead Nightmare was a whole new narrative experience providing an offshoot of the original game’s narrative, providing a new story, new horses, new weapons and reasons to revisit all of the game’s iconic locations. Furthermore a few fun drops like the Hunting and Trading Outfits Pack added in a new batch of challenges for cosmetics.
But seeing as both of these DLC dropped within a year of release—it’s clear that RDR2 is on a whole different trajectory.
A Complex Identity
Instead RDR2 sits in a strange place. It is most certainly peddled as a single-player game—flaunting its merits of a complex story, immaculate animation and incredible world-building—however once all of it’s initial hype died down it was taken in one very clear direction, towards Red Dead Online (RDO).
After a few months in Beta, RDO launched in May 2019, over half a year after RDR2 hit the shelves. It’s fair to say that at this point, much of the hype surrounding RDR2’s single player had died down—with a good proportion of players having already progressed through the entire story.
But while RDO was released alongside RDR2 and shares a good amount of its assets, gameplay, mechanics and lifeblood, it’s perhaps unhelpful to think of the two as a pair. In fact, Rockstar themselves have been very clear to explain that RDO is very much a separate product to RDR2—despite being provided free to owners of the single-player title. Since then, this division has become even clearer, with RDO now being available as a standalone purchase across all of its platforms.
In other words, at this point RDR2 and RDO are more or less completely separate games.
The Future of RDR2
This, of course, spells out the future of the single player experience like blood on snow—that, well, there likely isn’t any future for it. In fact Rockstar have straight up said that RDR2 is being left behind as a finished product, without any hope of having any single player DLC. While sad, we can hardly blame them seeing as the game is already 3 years old, and the hype surrounding it has very much died down to a whisper.
That said, in recent months players have been trying to stoke the dying embers, with an old fan petition asking for more single-player content gaining wind. While the petitioners are very clear that they’d be happy to pay for such a DLC, the chances of it being taken seriously are quite slim seeing as we’ve quite literally been here before. And, to be fair, it’s perhaps unlikely that a DLC this late on will garner enough financial reward—but then again, this is Rockstar games so we should never say never.
So, if RDR2 is dead (or at least never going to change) what is the future of its online variant?
Rockstar have kept players happy with a steady stream of updates to date, mainly in the form of Outlaw Passes and holiday-themed events. While historically the Outlaw Passes have come with major overhauls or additions—from new roles to expanded systems—the most recent pass (Outlaw Pass 5) has proved disappointing. The fifth pass adds a number of clothes, some role experience boosts and little else.
The question then is does this underwhelming outlaw pass spell out that RDO is dying down? Perhaps, but it’s unlikely. To draw in the comparison of GTAV, even up to 2020 GTA Online was receiving new mission types, new races and new heists, alongside having its fair share of small and underwhelming updates. This suggests, at least to me, that RDO is likely to be playing the long game and may well be setting up for some big updates in the near future: perhaps even finally introducing heists or bank robberies—both which have long been desired by the RDO community.
If you’re jumping into RDO for the first time, or simply want a way to get ahead, head on over to Eldorado GG where you can get your hand on high level RDR2 accounts or get a nice bit of boosting to bolster your level or money supplies.
RDO’s separation into a standalone product last December was a strong signal that the single-player experience of RDR2 is never going to change—for better or for worse.
Currently, RDO is an outstanding MMO sitting in a part of the market which is frankly devoid of games (seriously, how many Western-themed 3rd person shooter MMOs can you name?). And while Rockstar are keeping their sights locked on expanding RDO, alongside their development of GTA6, it’s clear that players are drawing great pleasure from exploring the old west with friends.
In my humble opinion, as a lover of single-player experiences, I feel that much of the disappointment surrounding RDO finds its origins in how it first emerged onto the scene. Back in 2019, RDO was very much an online component of RDR2—given out free to anyone who owned the game, meaning that chances where you had enjoyed the single-player version at least somewhat before diving into the multiplayer. However, in recent years the two have diverged, and RDO is now a standalone product almost wholly disconnected from RDR2 (despite looking, playing and feeling similar). Perhaps the next time around, if Rockstar decide to push their singleplayer and multiplayer versions as entirely different projects from day one, they’ll receive a little less whiplash from us singleplayer fans.
But, whatever the case, I’m sure we can all agree on two things: RDR2 is one of the most immersive survival games out there and RDO is a unique flavour of an MMO. In other words, both games certainly show their merits and are worthy of a place in the sun.
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