Grand Theft Auto Online and Red Dead Online were far from their final form when they released. Both have taken significant steps since their debut to grow in not only the amount of content they offer the player, but also in how it is presented. This includes both barriers to entry and storytelling.
When Red Dead Online: Blood Money released a few months ago, it was clear that Rockstar was putting lessons learned into their now standalone mode. Missions were created with more ways for the player to approach each task, and intriguing characters from Red Dead Redemption 2 continued to get more screen time in Red Dead Online, tying the two worlds together in narrative. The current result is two unique experiences, but each with deep roots connecting it to the other, providing cohesion for players that wish to spend time in both modes.
The way that Rockstar approaches Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online has always been of great interest to us here at Shacknews. After all, we interviewed several Red Dead Redemption 2 cast members shortly after the game released. When Blood Money went live we sent some questions along to the developers to get a sense of how they created Blood Money and the world of Red Dead Online in general. Rockstar was kind enough to carve out some time for Red Dead Online's Director of Design Production, Tarek Hamad, and its Design Director, Scott Butchard, to answer our questions.
Shacknews: With the Blood Money update, Red Dead Online players were introduced to Guido Martelli, the underboss of Red Dead Redemption 2’s Angelo Bronte. What are some of the unique challenges and opportunities presented when bridging a character like Guido from the single-player experience to Red Dead Online?
Tarek: We aim for as much consistency as possible between the world of Red Dead Redemption 2’s story and the shared world of Red Dead Online. Bridging characters and thematic elements helps to ground people in the experience, and it’s something we have really worked on over the last few years in both GTA Online and Red Dead Online.
Scott: In Red Dead Redemption 2, Martelli appears only briefly but he’s clearly an influential man in the underworld of Saint Denis with strong ties to the corrupt side of the law and politicians alike, so it was great to have the opportunity to reveal more about the character’s importance in the world and his relationship with other figures in the story.
Shacknews: Securing Capitale through Crimes isn't the end game with Blood Money, though. Once players have earned the trust of Guido Martelli, he'll have some unique Opportunities for them. Can you elaborate on what these Opportunities involve?
Tarek: Opportunities were our way to add a new set of more complex missions that players could replay to discover new strategies and earn bigger rewards. Opportunities revolve around stealing the three prized Jewels of the West, each gem score coming with a specific set of challenges. In the case of the Covington Emerald, stealing the jewel requires embarking upon Red Dead Online’s first train robbery, and gives players a variety of strategic approaches. Players can eavesdrop around the station to find ways to distract patrolling police to board the train in Saint Denis at the Victory Street station or wait and jump aboard the train after it leaves the city, or even stage a blockade further down the line. In the Ember of the East, players will have to search for clues to the jewel’s location, with the opportunity to use stealth to their advantage. To steal Il Silvrano, players can loiter in the busy saloon to gather intel and set fires outside it as a distraction. Each one of the Opportunities will deliver players a new set of approaches, tactics and challenges, and the chance at some of Red Dead Online’s biggest scores.
Shacknews: What are some of the opportunities presented in an update like Blood Money that’s focused on more single player-style activities in the world of Red Dead Online?
Scott: Now that we’ve established various paths and dedicated roles for players to experience in Frontier Pursuits, such as bootlegging as a Moonshiner or capturing criminals as a Bounty Hunter, we wanted to add a new layer of criminal experiences to the world itself. Not only does Blood Money have its own distinct theme as you navigate a network of criminal opportunities across the world, anyone can take on Crimes to earn Capitale as there’s no upfront investment to tackling these missions.
Shacknews: Red Dead Online continues to evolve with new Roles, storylines, and ways to explore its world -- what’s the best way for those who have only played Red Dead Redemption 2’s story to dive into RDO?
Tarek: Once players have completed the introductory story missions, we would encourage players to think about what kind of character they want to be in this world. In Red Dead Redemption 2, Arthur Morgan is a defined character – it’s up to you to decide who you will be in Red Dead Online, and how you wish to experience everything over time, from the classic cowboy action of bounty hunting to learning more about the animal kingdom with the Naturalist, or experiencing the criminal underworld with Blood Money. With different roles to inhabit, storylines to explore, and new ways to experience the world around them, Red Dead Online should feel like a natural extension for fans of Red Dead Redemption 2.
Red Dead Online: Blood Money is available now for players to dive in and explore, and there’s little doubt that we’ll see more content added to RDO in the months to come. What we can safely assume, though, is that Rockstar will be finding new ways to grow the world and present it to players.