"I’m not sure I’m having fun": Our road to Rank 50 in Red Dead Online continues

Previously on the Road to Rank 50: I escaped prison, got a new hat, stole an ugly horse (which I got to keep...yay?) and got my first taste of competitive multiplier. It tasted like dirt - in other words, I'm not a fan. But now it's a new week and my journey continues. 

This is the second week of my 10-week challenge to get to rank 50 in Red Dead Online, and sweet prairie dogs this week was a struggle. It’s worth pointing out that at the time I was documenting this week's journey Red Dead Online was still in Beta, so there were a few technical issues which may have been ironed out by now. The performance in the multiplayer games however, is all me. And yes, I'm still terrible. 

This is what you see when you lose a match. I saw this screen a lot. 

This is what you see when you lose a match. I saw this screen a lot. 

Tell me a story

I start this week's journey with a story mission and my first wrong assumption. Having done some of the story missions on the way to rank 5 I assumed that selecting ‘quick join’ from the menu would put me in a lobby with people who were at the same stage in the story as me, thus allowing us to all play that mission together. I assumed this because it’s logical. 

I assumed wrong. 

I’m seemingly just thrown into a lobby that needed an extra player and now I’m watching a cutscene that makes no sense. There's a guy who I've not seen before asking me to do things for him. WHAT’S HAPPENING? 

What followed was actually a pretty good story mission called The Right Side Of The Tracks that ends with each of your posses chasing down an outlaw each on horseback and lassoing them off their horse before taking them to the train tracks, where we can decide to leave them there or set them free via a vote. Everyone seems to be playing nice so we set them free and collect our money. 

Despite now knowing that I won’t be continuing my story by selecting ‘Quick Join’ I do it again. No idea why. 

However, it fails to load and all I get is an error code and returned to free roam. Clearly desperate to earn some more XP (and fast), I decide that now is the time to return to a series playlist. The first game type is Most Wanted, a variation on Deathmatch where the higher up the leader board you get, the more points you’re worth to other players. When I start I’m already 17 points behind the leader. 

My first kill gets me those 17 points but by that stage the leader has 63. I continue to get shot and give everyone else points until at one stage I just jump on the ground for no reason. Twice. The rest of the game consisted of me spawning in, running towards the action and dying.

At one stage a lady even tackled me to the ground and strangled me to death. I don’t even know how to do that! I lose. The winner has 248 points. I have 61. I’m not sure I’m having fun. Someone commented last week saying they were getting GTA Online flashbacks watching me not kill people. That’s exactly what it’s like. But they did offer some advice “Snap aim, while pulling back SLIGHTLY on the left stick and you'll get a headshot every time”. Okay, we’ll see. And thanks for the advice, internet stranger!

Name Your Weapon - a match type I’d played before - is next. This one felt better (maybe that tip is all I needed), but I seem to have developed a unique technique of jumping when I see people instead of aiming my weapon at them because I’m a fumbling idiot. Despite getting five kills, I lose. Obviously. 

This pattern continues in Hostile Territory (a capture the flag mode). To be fair this time it was only me and one other player on the team so we didn’t really stand a chance. But I do get the prestigious award of ‘No Show’. Lucky me. I've had enough of repeatedly getting shot by this stage so quit back to free roam. 

Horse whisper

The first thing you always do when you arrive in free roam is whistle for your horse, and my horse is apparently now deaf as well as ugly because after calling for him I get the message ‘your horse couldn’t find you’. I swear Dominus, if you keep this up I’ll lead you to the gators and leave you there. During my horse-calling time I’m invited to a Free Roam event which, it turns out, is just like multiplayer only on a different map. Want to have a guess at what happened? Correct: I lost.  

 So it’s back to Story missions for me and because I didn't learn the first time I select ‘Quick Join’ again. During this mission I spent a lot of time looting the bodies of the men we’d killed which meant I was nowhere near the scene when my buddies caught up with the Lieutenant we were meant to be shooting. Still, after some more killing, we catch up with the mission's big bed Montez and I expertly lasso him off the carriage and onto the floor…except it isn’t Montez. He’s run off and almost gets away in the confusion. Lucky someone else is on the case and we complete the mission. 


This is by far the best way to earn XP and, for me, it’s the most fun. So it's back to the 'Quick Join' menu for more. I’ve all but given up on doing the story missions in order now and I don’t really think it matters. Essentially everyone wants somebody else dead but for one reason or another can’t kill them themselves, so they want you do it. In the case of ‘More Than One Way To Earn A Buck’ a bunch of men are hauled up at Fort Wallace and need to die, but you do get the added bonus of blowing up ammunition dumps here as well.

The reason I wasn’t doing the missions in order is because the markers are always so far way from where I am on the map. But what that means is that all the ones I'm doing don’t actually count towards my story progress. It’s time to bite the bullet and just go there. On the way I pass a barbers in Valentine and there’s no way I'm NOT sorting out my ridiculous hair. Half my funds later (yes, half), and I look better. Not great, but better. 

It honestly takes me 10 minutes to get from Valentine to Blackwater, and when you’re trying to rank up fast that’s a long time to not be earning XP. Alright, so I stopped to kill a White Tail Buck on the way, but even so. I dropped the Buck off at the butchers and i'm greeted with this...

 After I’ve recovered from the trauma I make it to Horley and he tasks me with visiting three sheriffs in the area and helping them out. All the sheriffs want somebody dead (of course) and despite half the posses quitting out mid mission and a guy walking out into a barrage of bullets, we finish the mission by taking the outlaw back to the sheriff. And by 'we', I mean me. 

I’m at rank 7 now and seemingly forgetting how much I didn’t enjoy the competitive experience just a few hours ago, just jump into a Showdown playlist. Again I seriously don’t know what I was thinking. I stay in it for over an hour racking up loss...after loss...after loss. And the best thing? I keep forgetting to buy ammo at the start of each match so end up with 6 bullets every time I respawn with no way to get anymore until the next match...where I forget to buy bullets again. 

I really hope this becomes an automated process where if you try to enter a multiplayer match with a limited amount of ammo the game will ask if you’d like to buy some before you ready-up. I didn’t even do anything that notable. I just died. A lot. At one point I even switched to first person in the hope that my aim would somehow be better. It wasn’t, and I forget to buy bullets again!

Mission Critical 

Despite being terrible I’m up to rank 9 after all that, so with just a few more bits of XP to earn I decide it’s time to turn my hand to racing horses. Except I’m only allowed to watch a race at first and then when it is my go the game gets confused, thinks I’ve won, and then I’m promptly disconnected from the server. Yay. 

Now here’s a thing. I have the Ultimate Edition which means I get free stuff! Free stuff I’ve forgotten to collect until now (I say forgot, but I also didn’t know how to get it). Turns out it’s as simple as opening your catalogue and buying all the free things. FML.

There’s just time for one or two last missions before it’s time to call it a day, so I head to the mission marker and start the matchmaking. And do you know what mission it is? Yeah, it’s the one I did at the very start. That I’ve already completed. Only this time the team aren’t as competent. We fail the first time (and not just because I was looting bodies again). Having done this mission before, once we got the bodies to the train track I thought I’d vote to leave them on the tracks this time, just to see what happened. But the vote was split, and as we got a  message telling us to move them off the track, I assume the game picks the morally good option in this situation. I have no idea what happened next but I ended up under a train. I mean what the hell! 

On the way to the next mission I get stuck down the side of a cliff for ages because I always assume I know better then the marked path, and go off route to get there faster. When I eventually get there though the mission is another good one involving a shootout out, of course, but then an escort mission appears. I do accidentally shoot a horse in the throat and then another one just collapses. But let’s gloss over that. 

And now I’m at rank 10 which comes with a whole bunch of unlocks. I’m happier with my character now he’s had a shave and got some decent clothes but i’m still struggling to really enjoy the competitive side of Red Dead Online. Still, the missions are good and get you a fair amount of XP for the time and effort you have to put in.

Next Week: More missions and I might finally get a new horse. 

James Jarvis
Executive Producer, GR Video

Hi I'm James or JJ if you like, I'll answer to both. I'm the Executive producer for GR video which means I've had at least a part in all the hot moving pictures you'll find on the site (even if that part was just saying, yes that's a good video). I also produce the Future Games Show and Golden Joystick Awards. Away from the office you'll either find me playing Fortnite, or walking my dog. I'm better at one than the other, I'll let you decide which.