Red Dead Online guide: Everything you need to know to succeed in Rockstar's online Wild West

Red Dead Online Races

As well as the competitive game modes, there are also Red Dead Online races to compete in. These horse races pit you against up to 15 opponents, as you try to either complete a checkpointed route first, or collect a series of targets then reach the end point before the other players. There are three different ways you can access Red Dead Online races, with the easiest being to open the Online menu and select 'Race Series' from the Series Playlist at the bottom. You can also open the map then hover over one of the chequered flag Race Series icons, found in Blackwater, Tumbleweed, Valentine, and near Van Horn Trading Post, then follow the 'Start Matchmaking' prompt, or physically go to one of those icon locations and hit the marked button for 'Enter Race Series Matchmaking'.

All three methods achieve the same outcome of entering you into Race Series matchmaking, which currently drops you into a random race so there's no way of choosing which race you enter. You will most likely be asked if you want to spectate, and you should say yes otherwise you'll be kicked back to Free Roam. Once spectating, you'll need to watch the current race to its conclusion, at which point you'll be able to join in from the next race onwards. If you feel things are taking too long, you can always manually quit back to Free Roam and try matchmaking again. There are two different types of race available, as follows…

Standard Race

These are straight point-to-point checkpoint races, where you need to complete one or more laps of the course ahead of your opponents. At the start, don't be afraid to hang back a little while the players in front pick each other off once combat is enabled - once the pack has been thinned, you can then push to overtake those who remain. Your focus should be on hitting the stamina barrels to keep your horse energised and maintain your pace to hold your position.

Weapons are less of a priority during races, but if you can grab one then it'll help with protection. If an enemy is behind you and armed, weave from side to side to make it harder to hit you, and if possible drop back then shoot them from behind to deal with the threat. There are currently five different Races you have access to on rotation:

  • Bard's Crossing
  • Fort Wallace
  • Pike's Basin
  • Saint Denis Plantation
  • Saint Denis Streets

Open Race

Unlike the standard Race, an Open Race features a series of signal fires dotted around a town, which you need to ride through to collect in any order before reaching the large fire in the centre to finish. As before, your priority should be picking up stamina barrels to keep your speed up - you can also collect weapons, but due to the open nature of the race and spread of players across the area, they'll end up being more of a distraction so just try to ignore your opponents.

By looking at the colour/transparency of the yellow markers around the edge of your minimap you should be able to plan your route to the nearest signal fire - using the expanded radar will help with this. Try to clear all of the signal fires in one direction before changing course, rather than zigzagging back and forth across the area too much, or you'll fall too far behind your enemies. As things stand, there are five Open Races in the playlist:

  • Blackwater
  • Rhodes
  • Saint Denis
  • Tumbleweed
  • Valentine

Why are players circling around at the start?

If you've entered any Red Dead Online Races, you may be confused as to why a number of players are just walking around in circles at the starting spawn. Currently, players receive a reward of gold nuggets, cash, and XP for every race they enter that completes, even if they receive a DNF for not finishing it. This reward increases the longer the race goes on for, and it appears the countdown timer to end the race won't kick in until either more than half of the players have finished or a cap of around 14 minutes is reached.

For this reason, players are rubber-banding their pads to walk in circles to prevent getting kicked for being idle, then just leaving the game to let the rewards roll in. This is making races incredibly boring for players who actually want to compete properly, as they can't move on until the race times out, so expect Rockstar to make future changes to address this issue.

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Iain Wilson
Guides Editor

Iain originally joined Future in 2012 to write guides for CVG, PSM3, and Xbox World, before moving on to join GamesRadar in 2013 as Guides Editor. His words have also appeared in OPM, OXM, PC Gamer, GamesMaster, and SFX. He is better known to many as ‘Mr Trophy’, due to his slightly unhealthy obsession with amassing intangible PlayStation silverware, and he now has over 550 Platinum pots weighing down the shelves of his virtual award cabinet. He does not care for Xbox Achievements.