Rockstar Games, the creators of the open-world Western Red Dead Redemption 2 have plausibly positioned it as one of the largest, most immersive games of all time, with a degree of realism unmatched by anything except, you know, real life. Now that the game has galloped onto PS4 and Xbox One, how will you decide which way to point your horse? Here are five suggestions on what you should do first in Red Dead Redemption 2, available now.
1. Bond With Your Horse
The bond with your horse is an important aspect of any Western game, but Red Dead Redemption 2 takes that relationship to a whole new level — both figuratively and literally. You can clean your horse, feed it, and care for it when it’s hurt. Beyond providing an emotional connection with your ride, pampering your horse provides you with tangible benefits. A happy horse will perform better during firefights, carry animal carcasses back to camp, and respond to your whistles from a greater distance. Be careful though: If your horse bites the dust, it’s gone permanently, so bear that in mind before you decide to barge into a firefight with guns blazing.
2. Get Into a Bar Brawl (or Stop One From Happening)
Red Dead Redemption 2 boasts a mind-boggling 500,000 lines of dialog, which, when paired with the game’s upgraded Honor system that tracks how other characters perceive you, means you can approach any situation pretty much any way you see fit. So when you enter that saloon, it’s entirely up to you whether you want to shoot the piano-man in cold blood or buy a round of drinks for everyone at the bar. The game will react realistically whatever you decide to do.
3. Do Some Window Shopping
The realism of Red Dead Redemption 2‘s NPC interactions extends to the shops and traders you’ll encounter in the world. You can interact with anything available for purchase in a store, and if you shift to first-person mode, you can even manipulate an object in your hands — making it all the easier to tell if the shopkeeper is trying to sell you an already opened can of beans. If you play your cards right, some of the shops even have secret areas you can access where more illicit goods are sold.
4. Go Hunting
Hunting was a favorite pastime in the original Red Dead Redemption, and here Red Dead Redemption 2 ups the ante as well. Improved and diversified combat will give you a lot more flexibility in how you approach your game, but the process is far from over once you bring down a beast. You’ll then have to skin it, roll up the pelt, and lug both it and carcass on your horse back to a butcher to get it chopped into sellable parts or simply sell it whole. And you better do it quick: The carcass will begin to rot over time, reducing its value when you do bring it into town — not to mention that the smell may put off any potential allies you encounter.
5. Pause, Breathe, and Take It All In
Finally, it’s important to remember that while you may have a cascade of blinking icons on your mini-map alerting you to what you can do next, you’re perfectly free to ignore them all and just take in the wide open sky of the American West. That’s the beauty of an open-world game — and Red Dead Redemption 2 is astonishingly beautiful. So when all else fails, pan the camera around, set your sights on something interesting in the distance, give your horse a pat, and ride off into the sunset.
Red Dead Redemption 2 now available on PS4 and Xbox One.