'Red Dead Online' Is the Right Mixture of Story and Anarchy

Red Dead Online Beta Header- Publicity-H 2018
Rockstar Games
As the week goes on, more will be granted access to the massive online open world.

The beta version of Red Dead Online for Red Dead Redemption 2 dropped Tuesday morning — and the offering is the best of two worlds. 

As with GTA V online, PlayStation Plus is required. 

It all begins with players designing and naming their character in a sheriff's station. From hair, height and weight, to complexion and teeth (some truly wondrous choices for both of those), the avatar begins the story. And that was a neat surprise. The avatar is not just dropped into the open online world to wander around. There is a story of why the character exists. 

From there, the player sets up a bare-bones camp (you can't be attacked by other players if your flag is raised) and learns a little more about what the world has to offer. Instead of Arthur Morgan's journal, the player has a catalog for goods. 

I tooled around with Red Dead Online for three hours as soon as it was available at 5:30 a.m. PT. In that time, I was able to get a new horse, a new outfit and complete two minor missions. Money, of course, was scarce. However, I did find a gold bar on a basic treasure hunt.

First impressions are the game is the best of two Rockstar worlds: The first Red Dead Redemption (2010) online and GTA V online. The story (no spoilers) which goes with the online version is what puts it over the top, as it is like extra missions in the story mode for Red Dead Redemption 2. And just like story mode, the player can either be a good person or a bad person with their actions.

I experienced only a single bug, which happened on a loading page after completing a minor mission. I had to reset the console, but, again, this is the beta. 

And, of course, just like GTA V online, the experience can be total anarchy. From being shot for no reason by another player who is just obnoxious to being robbed during a mission (super frustrating...unless you are the robber), there is a sense of unease and always looking over your shoulder — not unlike how it must have been in 1899. 

Needless to say, the world is addicting, and just as with GTA V online, players will want to increase their experience points as quickly as possible so they are not sitting ducks for bandits.

The world was only open to ultimate edition owners Tuesday. On Thursday, that window will open to include gamers who played the game between Oct. 26 and Oct. 29, and by Friday all players who own Red Dead Redemption 2 will be able to play Red Dead Online by launching the game and selecting the "Online" option in the top right of the title menu.