What You Need to Know Before Starting ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’

Red Dead Redemption 2 — the epic follow-up to Rockstar’s 2010 Western masterpiece — is now available on PS4 and Xbox One.

Enjoying the scenery in Red Dead Redemption 2

The Setting

Red Dead Redemption 2 is set in 1899 — 12 years before Red Dead Redemption — with the Wild West all but tamed. The steam engine has revolutionized transportation, railroads carve harsh lines through what used to be wilderness, and while many don’t yet know it, the world sits on the precipice of change.

The world of Red Dead Redemption 2 features swampy bayous filled with hillbillies, snakes, and gators. There are rolling green hills, luscious flat countryside, and snowy mountains to trek over. Cities and towns of all sizes freckle the land, many connected by rail. It’s massive in size: There are more than 1,000 things to do and discover, and NPCs sport half a million lines of dialog — more than twice the amount featured in Grand Theft Auto 5. And it’s made bigger still thanks to the technology of the setting. There are no Hydra Jets or Ocelot Pariahs in the Wild West: instead of thousands of horsepower, you’re traveling at just one.

Rockstar makes the most of this, filling every inch of the map with things to see and do — be it wildlife, other travelers, or landmarks.

Red Dead Redemption 2

The Characters

In Red Dead Redemption 2 you’ll play as Arthur Morgan, an enforcer in Dutch van der Linde’s gang. A no-nonsense kind of guy, Arthur has been a member of the gang since he was a young boy, and his upbringing as an outlaw shows.

The Van der Linde Gang is an anarchic collection of misfit wayfarers — that is to say, a bunch of scoundrels — and you’re a key member of the group. Dutch handles the strategy: He decides where you and the crew will find your next big score. That means train robberies, bank heists, assaulting other gang hideouts, and more — and as one of the best shooters in the gang, you’ll be front-and-center.

Your time is mostly your own though. You can play poker or blackjack, either at the camp or in one of the saloons in the many towns. You can tame wild horses, get into brawls, fish in the rivers, and hunt down wildlife.

If you’re looking to help the Camp out, you can lean on debtors for a loan shark friend or scramble up herbs for your friendly doctor. You don’t have to do these things, but if you do the Camp will grow as you improve it, and you’ll get access to better medicines, fast travel points, and more as you go.

Red Dead Redemption 2

The Combat (or Lack Thereof)

Rockstar is revolutionizing the way we interact with games in Red Dead Redemption 2. If you accidentally antagonize someone, sure, you could draw your revolver and shoot them dead. You’re the notorious outlaw Arthur Morgan, after all. But you’ll get a bounty on your head, and you’ll have to dodge the sheriffs until you get rid of it.

In Red Dead Redemption 2, if you keep that weapon holstered and interact with the person you’ve upset, you’ll be able to try to talk your way out of the situation.

It’s part of the revolutionary new interaction. You use it to bond with your horse, to butter up shopkeeps around the world, to pat dogs, and to start fistfights with men who look at you funny. Instead of primarily interacting via the shooting of a gun, the world of Red Dead Redemption 2 feels more alive because you interact with it in a more natural way.

Red Dead Redemption 2

The Honor System

Those interactions you have influence another new system in Red Dead Redemption 2: Honor. The actions you take will be reflected in the way people react to Arthur in the game world. Do honorable things, and people will be quicker to give Arthur the benefit of the doubt. He’ll get more offers for bounty hunting jobs, allowing him to make legal cash easier.

Act dishonorably, and things will be a bit rougher on Arthur — in law-abiding towns, anyway. People will steer clear of you, and deputies might be quicker on the draw. Outside of civilization though, robberies will pay more, witnesses will be easier to intimidate and the cinematic killshots will be more intense. Balancing Honor will play a large role in your time with the game, and will influence many of your decisions as you play.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is Rockstar’s most ambitious game yet. It’s more in-depth, more intimate and more immersive than any game they’ve ever done. It’s out now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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Catching the Hidden Serial Killer in ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’

There’s a serial killer on the loose in Red Dead Redemption 2. You may have seen his “works of art” close to Valentine. The game won’t point you in the right direction here. You’ll have to find him and catch him yourself. But he does have one weakness.

Like most pop culture serial killers, this one is just begging to be caught. But it’ll take the right detective to figure out the clues. He wants his genius to be understood — but of course, that’ll be his downfall.

Each victim the RDR2 serial killer leaves out in the world has a clue nearby. Usually shoved inside a facial orifice, but not always the same one — it’s a surprise each time!

Much like the first mysterious shack, RDR2’s first serial killer victim is quite close to one of the starting areas, designed to pique your interest so you keep an Eagle Eye out for more…

As Gory As RDR2 Gets

The first of these clues is on the ride from Horseshoe Overlook to Valentine. Many players will stumble on it in their early game back-and-forth. If you load up the map nearby, a simple marker named “corpse” can be seen.

Serial killer clue first one map RDR2
Find the first clue from the serial killer here, southeast of Valentine.

Travelling below the train tracks will reveal the body, or what’s left of it. If you find the severed head, you’ll get the clue: one third of a map that leads to… something.

Serial killer clue Valentine railroad tracks Horseshoe Overlook RDR2
Postmodern expressionism, the artist clearly feels shackled and… dismembered.

But unlike most quests, there’s nothing to signpost where the next steps are. This is one of the rare mysteries in RDR2 that you either find yourself, or you miss.

Humans Don’t Have That Many Organs

Not too far away, in the land of the Braithwaites, there’s a corpse on the edge of the plantation property. There are actually so many body parts scattered around, we think more than one killing has taken place to signal this clue. There’s also a lot of blood, providing a trail to follow.

Serial killer clue two Braithwaite Manor RDR2
Eagle Eye helps, but you can follow the trail of blood.

True to form, there’s a disembodied head nearby, with a scroll stuffed into a novelty face-hole. It’s the second third of the map. Here’s where to find it from Braithwaite Manor:

Serial killer second clue RDR2 Braithwaite Manor map
Just a little bit southeast of Braithwaite Manor is where you can find the second serial killer clue.

But we still need the third piece…

Third Crime’s a Charm

Back towards Valentine, if you go southwest and a bit south of Wallace Station, you’ll come across the third clue deep into the woods.

Serial killer third clue map Wallace Station
Find the third clue here, where the serial killer has left another morbid present.

Follow the same formula, and use your Eagle Eye if you get lost.

Serial killer clue three RDR2
We see. And we cannot unsee.

Once your map is fully put together, it’ll look like this:

Serial killer full map RDR2
On the back of the full serial killer map are the words CAN YOU FIND ME.

This just so happens to look like a run down shack that’s quite close to Valentine. Once you’re there, you can open up the basement to find the serial killer’s dwelling. There also appears to be a safe combination, but Arthur will use that to open the serial killer’s locked door.

Finding the RDR2 Serial Killer

Investigate the serial killer’s hideout, and in the very back there’ll be a knife you can inspect. Doing so will trigger a cutscene in which the serial killer will attack you.

He’s not too hard to fight off, and you can hogtie him and take him back to the sheriff’s office in Valentine to collect your reward.

Trust a serial killer to get all weird, and when the sheriff tries to put him into his cell, he goes full Hannibal and tries to take a bite out of the sheriff’s neck. You’d almost think it was the vampire quest… but more on that one later.

Dead Eye makes it pretty easy to pop the serial killer in the head and save the sheriff. He’ll reward you for your trouble with a stack of bills. It’s not as much as you get from robbing a train, but at least the people of Valentine are a little safer now — until you next decide to rob them.

In-Depth ‘RDR2’ Hunting Guide: Perfect Pelts and Legendary Animals

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What to Know (and Do) Starting ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’

It’s time to properly get into the meat of Red Dead Redemption 2, and we all have many glorious gunslinging hours ahead of us. We want to make sure you get off to the best start possible.

Thankfully, much of Red Dead Redemption 2 is explained very well. It’s not like you’re excessively having your hand held, but there’s enough polish to the game that helpful messages pop up at the right times, and Rockstar has made it impossible to dig yourself into a hole you can’t get out of.

That said, there are a few things we were stressing over that we probably didn’t need to.

A horse rears up on its hind legs with a rider on top in Red Dead Redemption 2.
The rearing technique is learned at tier 2 of bonding with your horse.

Any Gun or Horse Will Do

There’s been a lot of hype about the weapon systems, and taking care of your horse. We’ve written about it, and the hype is warranted — these are very cool parts of the game. But they’re also more optional than perhaps you were led to believe.

The default autoaim (which can be turned off) is so strong, we found it didn’t really matter which gun we used. Aim with Left Trigger and the reticle will centre on your enemy’s chest. Adjust for a headshot if you like, and pull Right Trigger to fire the shot.

A horserider stands near a tall tree.
There's no lack of expansive scenery to go horseriding in.

Similarly, we went through the game with what we’re sure is a “weak” horse with unexciting stats. We never had a problem. We still won races, and hauled carcasses after hunting. Bonding happens naturally with time in the saddle, and there’s plenty of that when going from A to B.

There’s a deep side of the game for anyone who wants to take care of their horse, and customise their weapons. But just be aware this is something to do if you want to. It simply won’t make much of a difference if you use a different horse or gun, so use your favourite and customise the hell out of it.

Sure, a sawed-off shotgun will perform better in short range engagements than a sniper. But for most middling firefights? Use whatever you like.

Decisions Come in Many Forms

Much of the time in Red Dead Redemption 2, you’re making decisions without even knowing it. Even when you do know it, it’s hard to know the import of those decisions at the time.

That’s because games usually give you challenges with a fail state and a win state. Many of RDR2‘s activities have neither — rather, just different story branches.

Take this spoiler-free example from a mission in which you get Lenny drunk to take his mind off some things. Eventually you’re intoxicated enough to run from the police. If you’re caught, it seems like you were meant to be caught. If you get away, it seems like getting caught would have resulted in a fail state.

In reality, both are just different story branches which see you wake up in a different spot. Though admittedly, waking up in jail is worse. But the drunkard who gave you a hard time earlier in the night? Depending on what you chose to do with him, the night could’ve taken a much darker turn. You might’ve been okay with that, but would Lenny? Especially given his state of mind?

Fast travel Red Dead Redemption 2 map Arthur Morgan accommodation ledger
You may have to look for the fast travel map again when you move camp.

Fast Travel in RDR2

It’s not exactly hidden, but it’s not exactly signposted either. Red Dead Redemption 2 has a fast travel option, but you’ll almost always have to pay (in-game money) to use it.

There’s a fast travel ability from your camp to anywhere you’ve visited before, or there are stagecoaches in each town that can take you to previously reached locations. Just make sure you don’t have a bounty on your head if you want to use a taxi coach.

Read our fast travel guide to learn how to unlock the option at your camp.

Blue shack at Lenora View Red Dead Redemption 2
This blue house at Lenora View has a sad story to tell.

Not All Stories Are Told Through Words

Not all stories are told through missions, either. Some of the coolest things you’ll come across in Rockstar’s wild west are somewhat off the grid.

These intentionally unexplained elements of the game range from mysterious cabins, a serial killer’s bodies to find, hunting legendary animals and fish, and… well, hunting in general. The game doesn’t explain that very well.

The serial killer’s first victim is quite close to Valentine, and will just appear as “corpse” on the map. We recommend checking that out, as well as the first shack at Hani’s Bethel for an example of Rockstar’s environmental storytelling at work.

Just beware that if you’re on a mission, sometimes going a little too far will force you to restart from a checkpoint. But otherwise, ride free once in a while. It’s a little too easy to rely on that map. Get lost and find yourself at a new town far away, and ride the stagecoach back.

Bandana character draws bow and arrow in RDR2.
The bow and arrow is good for stealth, but also clean hunting kills.

Hunt Smarter, Not Harder

Running out and using whatever weapon/ammo you want when hunting is fine for food, but not for pelts. You can sell poor and good quality pelts, but for crafting, only perfect pelts will do.

That means paying attention to the factors that will damage the pelt. Some ammo and weapons are meant for small game like rabbits, for example. The place your shot hits matters too.

You can get close to an animal and press RB or L2 to study the animal and get valuable hunting information. This includes what kind of weapon and ammo to use. Even if you’re chasing down an animal and holding RB/L2 while close to it, it’s worth it. This was the largest factor for us in getting perfect pelts.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth hunting guide here on FANDOM which will cover things like poison arrows, weak spots, and legendary animals.

Arthur Morgan Red Dead Redemption 2
Having blood and dirt on your clothes doesn't help with the town's opinion of you.

Change Your Appearance

Using your mask when performing dastardly deeds does help, but it’s not a cure-all. Townsfolk will still put two and two together, sometimes even if they didn’t see the crime.

Another thing you can do is change your clothes and facial appearance whenever you can. Let them gossip all they like about the “man in the blue shirt who caused a ruckus” as you walk around town in your new coat. And yes, the AI really does work like that.

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