Red Dead Redemption 2 was a long awaited addition to Rockstar’s library of games upon its initial release in 2018. Now, 3 years and a pandemic later, the base game itself and the online multiplayer mode Red Dead Online (RDO) continue to capture player’s attention through the story, characters, and open world exploration that Red Dead Redemption has come to be known for. Since 2018 and over the course of the pandemic, players have found a way to explore an in-depth world and connect with friends through the game’s two iterations.With the story mode of Red Dead Redemption 2 presenting a vast world in-game and the online version currently expanding offerings to players who are looking for more, it's no surprise that players keep turning to the game as the pandemic drags on, both for escape and connection. KawaiiValentine, a variety Twitch streamer, shared what playing Red Dead Online did for her, especially during the early part of quarantine:“After the Animal Crossing boom, many friends and I began to gravitate towards Red Dead Online because it gave us something we were able to connect more to as adult players once the ACNH nostalgia wore off,” she says. “Even in the early days of the pandemic when we were scared to even go outside—Red Dead gave us that ability; the ability to fish and hunt together, ride horses together, and travel and explore the world together. When the days felt like they were blending together last March, Red Dead gave a sense of structure and togetherness that was missing for many of us, easing our anxieties about the unknown. Even when friends weren't available to play, the community that Red Dead has fostered has allowed players to make new friends, during a time when making connections and meeting new people was seemingly impossible in real life.”Rockstar has taken note of that growing community, and introduced changes to the game and future updates to keep players coming back. Red Dead Online updates of the past have included new missions, competitive fishing and poker, and quality-of-life updates that helped to make it easier to identify players that were griefing or harassing other players.The most recent summer update, “Blood Money”, adds new missions where players embrace their criminal side and conduct coach holdups, train robberies, and kidnappings.
Sam, a tattoo artist from the UK, said that one of the reasons she keeps returning to RDO is primarily because of the freedom to explore the game’s large setting with friends as well as the specialist role. “I’m also a massive completionist so I love being able to collect things and completing the different roles that are available.”