7 Tips To Help You Survive And Thrive In Red Dead Redemption 2

Wild Wild West

You lucky, lucky individual, you. Whether you already got off to a snowy start to your adventure at midnight, have taken the day off or are patiently waiting for the end of your shift at work, you’ll soon be able to play Red Dead Redemption 2 and say goodbye to your ‘real life’ for a while. For those who have only just embarked on this massive adventure – or for those still waiting for this massive adventure to download/install – we thought it might be prudent to provide you with some advice to help you on your way.

Hide Your Identity

It’s easy to forget, before starting on an epic and exciting train heist, to pull up your bandana and cover your face, which is why I’m reminding you to do it now. The sheriffs in RDR2 aren’t psychic, so they only know about a crime when a witness reports it. If that witness knows it’s Arthur Murray then the constabulary will attempt to track you down, but if you’ve kept your identity a secret then once you’re out of the ‘investigation zone’ you’ll be scot free.

Either that or you can just kill or threaten every witness to your crime. I find beating them around the face with your butt is the best approach. Just to clarify, I mean the butt of your gun. RDR2 gives you a lot of freedom but I think even Rockstar Games’ draws the line at beating a man to death with your bum cheeks.

Be Kind to Your Horse

You can get away with being horrible and mean to everyone in the game, but not your horse. You’ll need your equine pal to ferry you around the massive landmass that makes up RDR2’s game world, as without your trusty sidekick it will take you a very long time indeed and you won’t be able to jump from your horse to a stagecoach in an unbelievably cool manner.

The easiest way to be nice to your horse (mine’s called Barry) is to click the left analogue stick whilst out riding. This will cause Arthur to whisper sweet soothing sounds into the horse’s ear, not only will this calm your horse if you’ve just been attacked by a wolf, it will also quickly increase your bond and unlock lots of fun horsey manoeuvres like being able to rear up and shout ‘Hi Ho Silver!’

[Please note: You have to shout ‘Hi Ho Silver’ yourself, but Ade tells me it’s totally worth it – Ed]

Check Your Saddlebags

Your horse – along with being your best friend – is also a travelling storage box. Its bags and pouches are filled with all of your junk and, most importantly, all of your weapons. It’s easy enough to forgot to collect your prized repeater rifle from your saddlebags upon dismounting and end up on a mission with little more than your pistol and a knife. This has happened to me on more than a few occasions. It was not good and often resulted in Arthur having a severe case of premature death.

You’ll want to bring two hand guns (a six shooter and a sawn off are an effective combo) as well as a long range rifle and a standard shot-gun, this should see you through most violent encounters with only a few mild bullet wounds. Don’t worry if you do gain any extra holes because this is a video game; any hot lead related maladies can be quickly healed by eating a tin of beans.

Clean Your Weapon

No-one likes a rusty weapon. Whip out a stained pistol during a gun fight and you’ll be the laughing stock of the outlaw world. To avoid this make sure you regularly coat your weapon in oil, lube it up real nice, then give it a polish and a rub down – I’m still talking about guns here, guys. Do this and it will be much more effective at killing people.

You clean it yourself by buying (or looting) gun oil. the stuff is pretty cheap but with it being single use you’ll need a lot to sort out all of your weaponry. For example, even by the mid-point of the game I’d accrued an arsenal of eight different guns. Much easier to head to a gun shop – there’s one in every town – where the gunsmith will clean your weapon for only a few dollars. Bargain I say.

Go For a Run

It can be tempting to stuff your face with biscuits, beans and liquor, and that’s just in real life! It can also be tempting to do it in RDR2. After all, quickly selecting a tin of biscuits will top up Arthur’s stamina core without having to set-up camp and cook yourself a meaty meal. The only downside is that Arthur will soon put on weight. To prevent this, why not go for a run? Leave your horse behind one time and run to the next mission objective. Not only will it burn of those calories, it will also build up Arthur’s overall stamina levels as his fitness improves.

I discovered this by accident when I stole a stagecoach and forgot to bring along my horse for the exciting escape. Once I’d sold off the coach to a fence I soon realised that I had no way to get Arthur back to HQ other than run. Suffice to say that fifteen minutes later Arthur was a lot fitter and my thumb was a lot sorer from spamming the sprint button one thousand, two hundred and fifteen times.

Bonus Tips: Tap, Don’t Hold! Hold, Don’t Tap!

We’re living in a new era of video games, my good people, an era where we get to choose whether to tap buttons or hold them. Running in RDR2 defaults to holding the run button, while outright sprinting still needs you to repeatedly tap to go fast, but scroll all the way bottom of the Controls menu  to the Accessibility section and you can switch run from holding to a single tap toggle.

In the same place there’s ‘Tap Assist’ so that you can reduce the amount of tapping needed in action sequences, or simply turn it to a button hold.

Look the Part

If you’re going to emulate Clint Eastwood in RDR2, then you’ll have to make sure that you look good, bad, or just plain ugly. The easiest way to achieve this? Visit a barber and get your facial hair trimmed to accentuate your style, be that the ‘honourable outlaw’ or ‘surly stagecoach stealing six shooter’. You can shave yourself at the gang’s very first camp site (just find the shaving mirror next to Arthur’s bunk) or – if you prefer to be pampered – head up to the barbers located in the back of the saloon in Valentine.

There’s a humongous array of styles to choose from – I ended up going for the ‘spartan’ beard and a shaved head. Do bear in mind that you can’t just pick any length of facial hair, instead you’ll have to let your beard grow through the course of playing the game, before having it trimmed to the desired length. Do you want a super long Merlin beard that you can thoughtfully stroke whilst staring into the middle distance? Then you’ll have to get some hair elixir from a general store, each treatment will see that beard grow a little longer and gather extra luscious volume.

Be Careful When Hunting Bears

So, here’s the deal, hunting in RDR2 is pretty straightforward. If it’s a rabbit? Galop over it with your horse. If it’s some sort of deer? Track it with dead-eye and then shoot an arrow into its cute bambi-esque face. If it’s a bear, though? Run. Run and never look back!

Bears are suitably terrifying and are able to soak up a tremendous amount of damage. You know that bit in The Revenant were Leo is mauled so badly by a bear they gave him an Oscar to make up for it? Well, it’s like that, but worse. Your best bet is to stay atop your horse, keep dodging it and blast away with your shotgun until you stop crying in fear, either because the bear is dead or you are. Good luck!

Written by
Ade reviews video games. He writes Playing With History. Read more of Ade's stuff at www.adewritesstuff.com


  1. Some nice tips here. I’m still early game, saved a guy on a cliff! But I will admit I found the X button confusing. Sometimes my horse galloped, sometimes not. Think I’ll need to get into the settings and have a fiddle about.

  2. Weirdly it explains horse galloping further into the game. You’re best off tapping X in cadence with the gallop of your horse. This minimises the expenditure of stamina and as your bond with your horse improves the easier this gets.

    Holding X is handy as well, it’ll maintain your speed with the rest of your posse and prevent accidental – and embarrassing – collisions.

  3. What helpful tips are there to prevent me stabbing someone in the face while I’m waiting for the bloody thing to install? Half an hour left of the data disc, then another 50 minutes for the other disc. And there’s still the update to download, but it won’t even start doing that while it’s installing the first disc.

    • Two discs??!! I read ‘discs’ pluralised in the review and thought it it meant the many individual disc belonging to TSAers. Two discs, wow, we’re there then. Good tip MrYd

      • It’s about 42GB for the “data disc” you need to put in first, and then 47GB for the “play disc” you put in second and presumably leave in for about 4 years.

        Less than an hour to install each disc. About 90 to 100 minutes in total? Longer if you take a dog for a walk and come back to discover it’s sat there waiting for the second disc.

        Also, it doesn’t look like it’s going to check for the update until it’s installed all the data. So that’s another 3GB to wait for once it’s done. But that should only be 15 minutes at most.

        2 hours after waiting 8 years isn’t too bad, is it?

        It seems to be selling well though. Picked it up in Argos at 9.30 this morning (I had gift cards for some reason), and of about 10 things being bought in the 10 minutes I was in there, 2 were RDR2. Young lady serving me said they were playing a game today and drinking a shot every time they sold one. And they’d sold about 10 already. She won’t make it to lunchtime.

      • I’m happy to report that the update queued up as soon as the data disc started installing, so maybe that was a server side thing?

        I love the working drinking game, good to see they’re enjoying themselves! I grabbed it at Sainsbury’s for free thanks to many many months of hard nectar point grinding. Took the empty box to customer services and they tried to give me the game on XBox, I said nooo thanks, the lovely old lady apologised and said I looked like I’d like a green box rather than a blue box! Ahh bless her, that was very sweet, but she’s so screwed when her boss finds out :)

    • Meditation?

    • Mine started downloading the update file on the first disc. I think you have to press X on the game though to get it started, that’s what I did anyway.

      • Yes, somehow it quietly downloaded the update and installed it when I wasn’t looking.

        And now I’m almost 4 hours into the game and loving it. Apart from looking and sounding great, it’s the little details I’m enjoying. Saw a deer running away from a train. Just ran across the bridge and darted off to the side once it was back on solid ground.

        Then I had a bath in a hotel, and a lady offered to help me wash myself, which seemed unnecessary.

        Took 2 hours before I saw any green. Thought it looked good in all the snow, but then it gets better.

        And my hat keeps falling off. But if you forget to pick it up, it’s ok because it seems to be a magic hat and eventually comes back to you.

        So 4 hours in, and it’s everything I was hoping for after the previous game, and then some. They really have done the impossible and made the best game for 2 generations of hardware in a row.

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