I loved Red Dead Redemption 2, and was looking forward to the online mode to add further value to my purchase. I had only played a little bit of Grand Theft Auto Online during the previous summer, as I preferred to spend my time in the story mode. I knew that Online was a whale trap, what with how much money the mode had made and how the infusion of cash I had earned from buying RDR 2 on the PSN changed the experience I’d had.
So when I booted up Red Dead Online, I’d set to work on my avatar, and thus began the revenge of “Ben Swolo,” mute protagonist extraordinaire. Things were going fairly smoothly, until the prologue ended. When time came to go and stock up on the necessities, simply buying food for myself and my horse wiped out the money I’d earned to that point, and I’d noticed the existence of the Gold Bars that can be used to skip over the progression system and the costs of the items.
The price of new firearms had spiked considerably between the story and online modes too, which combined with the slow drip feed of money and the non-stop upkeep costs makes me wonder if a player is even supposed to get nice guns at all? You can’t even keep horses you tame in the wild, either. If your horse is dead and uninsured, insurance you can only ever buy with Gold Bars by-the-by, you’re stuck with a “Scrawny Nag” until you can grind for a new horse or grab one from a mission. Bad form in a game filled to the brim with griefing potential.
It goes on like this down the list, and the missions, while fun, don’t manage to cover up all the little ways the experience was made less fun in order to incentivize buying the premium currency, when players can’t even buy the currency yet. Normally, in games like this where the microtransactions are hidden at launch to prevent their presence from influencing reviews in games like Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Here, Rockstar is so thirsty for cash that it ruins what might have been a fun game mode.
To be fair, I personally suspected that the extravagance present in Red Dead Redemption 2 wouldn’t have happened if Take Two Interactive couldn’t expect all the money in the world again. But that’s an explanation, not an excuse.
The failures of the mode doesn’t really change my assessment of the game at large. The story mode is still good enough to justify the price, and you might have at least an hour of fun experimenting with the lasso on your friends. Just don’t expect to have much fun once you enter a shop.
Logan Graham is a senior studying media arts with a focus in games and animation at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Let Logan know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.