Red Dead Redemption 2 story, Red Dead Online, characters, trailers and everything else aspiring outlaws need to know

It's just days until Red Dead Redemption 2 is in our grabby little hands, and we're already fake coughing in the office to justify the sick days we'll need to wallow in it. We've already gone hands on with the Wild West world, and we can't wait to get back to the giant world of train heists, saloons and equine care. Every day we're getting new details that just make the wait feel longer, like the fact that there's around 2,000 pages in the script for just the main story, and 1,200 actors involved in the production. And yes, you can pet the dogs. 

You can pre-order the game now, then just start counting down the days, minutes and hours until you can experience life as an outlaw for yourself. The game is released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on October 26. Until then, find out everything you need to know about Red Dead Redemption 2 below.

  • Red Dead Redemption 2 release date: October 26, 2018
  • Formats: PS4, Xbox One
  • Developer: Rockstar
  • Price: $59.99 / £49.99

Red Dead Redemption 2 - we've played it

We spent a few hours in the Wild West, riding horses, accidentally pistol whipping strangers, murdering the odd bovine, and just left us hankering for more. You can read all about it here,  but our main impressions were of the size, scale and authenticity of the whole experience. It's like nothing we've played before. "So far I've only seen the tip of what's likely to be one of the biggest games in several years," says our writer. "That said, even after this brief glimpse, I'm ready to kiss goodbye to the end of 2018, and - now that Red Dead Online has been confirmed to the surprise of precisely nobody - probably the rest of my life too."

Red Dead Online is confirmed

Red Dead Online's release date is set for November, at least in beta. The only way to play Red Dead Online will be to buy a copy of Red Dead Redemption 2, but you won't have to pay anything extra to access Red Dead Online. 

"Red Dead Online is an evolution of the classic multiplayer experience in the original Red Dead Redemption, blending narrative with competitive and cooperative gameplay in fun new ways," says Rockstar. "Using the gameplay of the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2 as a foundation, Red Dead Online will be ready to be explored alone or with friends, and will also feature constant updates and adjustments to grow and evolve this experience for all players."

Dan Houser talks Red Dead Redemption 2

An interview with Rockstar's Dan Houser is a rare thing, but the reclusive co-founder has gone on the record with Vulture to mark the impending release of Red Dead Redemption 2. Here's what you need to know from that article.

  • The final script for the main story was 2000 pages long.
  • For the motion capture, Rockstar employed 1200 actors, 700 of who have dialogue. "We’re the biggest employers of actors in terms of numbers of anyone in New York, by miles," says Houser. 
  • You unlikely to know any of those actors well, because Rockstar has steered clear of celebrities this time. "I don’t want to speak ill of the dead, poor bugger,” Dan says of Burt Reynolds, who Rockstar has hired in the past, “but we don’t bring in name actors anymore because of their egos and, most important of all, because we believe we get a better sense of immersion using talented actors whose voices you don’t recognize."
  • Whole missions and a love interest have been cut, "we removed a mission on a train where you had to deal with bounty hunters, because it was fun at first, but then it wasn’t. This part of the process is always about compromise and horse trading. Everyone always loses bits of the game they love."

Red Dead Redemption 2's latest screenshots to obsess over

We've just gone hands on with the most anticipated game of the year. You can read all about it here, and then obsess over this bounty of new rootin' tootin' screenshots. 

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Some outlaws are lone wolves, but usually not the kind that live very long. In Red Dead Redemption 2 you'll journey with an impressive assortment of renegades and thieves. Some of them you've met before, like Dutch van der Linde, Bill Williamson, and Javier Escuella - all targets of John Marston's manhunt in the original Red Dead Redemption. But many more are new faces that help round out the gang as not just a band of thieves but a little society unto itself. Traveling with the likes of Susan Grimshaw and Charles Smith sounds pretty cool.

Red Dead Redemption 2's new hero

 Arthur Morgan is an outlaw, part of Dutch van der Linde's gang and not the sort of cowboy you want to take home to mother. While robbery and violence are an unavoidable part of the outlaw job description, you can decide how honorable Morgan will be. The choices you make will - according to Rockstar - have consequences down the line, opening up new opportunities depending on your behavior, 

Some familiar Red Dead Redemption faces are back

Dutch van der Linde was, of course, one of the major antagonists of the first game, and this prequel will let you spend some quality time with the criminal boss as you travel the American West. Some other key players also return, including John Marston, right around the time he got those manly scars. 

John Marston vs John Marston

Rockstar has also revealed that Bill Williamson, Javier Escuella, Sadie Adler, Charles Smith, Micah Bell, Hosea Matthews and assorted other travelers will all play important roles in outlaw life. It'll be interesting to see the origin stories of some of the characters, like old Bill, after hunting them down in Red Dead Redemption all those years ago. 

Camping and hunting is a big part of Red Dead Redemption 2 life

Red Dead Redemption 2 - Abigail and Jack

Being an outlaw means adopting a nomadic lifestyle, so camps will be a key part of surviving and thriving on the prairie. Camps will act as a hub where you can get to know gang members, learn secrets and pick extra missions. It feels like relationships with your allies will be key to your experience of the world, and you can improves things by contributing to the camp by hunting, contributing provisions or just sharing your wealth. How much you contribute is optional, there's a lot of world to explore out there on your own, and a lot of hunting and fishing to keep you away, but you can bet there'll be benefits to communal living. The latest trailer suggests that camps are a family affair, with a small child - a young John Marston, Jr? - visible by the campfire. 

Meeting the locals

Of course there's a world away from the campsite too, and with the honor system and more choices on how you interact with its inhabitants, you'll have your chance to make a mark on strangers. You can start chatting to anyone in the world, from a casual "nice horse" as you're riding by to holding up a passing stagecoach just because you feel like it. Someone up to know good might be willing to let you pass without a fight if you move along fast, while hanging around will mean a shoot out for sure. 

Life as an outlaw also means shootouts, robbery, and intimidating witnesses into silence. Or just killing them. Both work right? The fact that the newest trailer showed Arthur being berated for killing someone's cousin suggest your actions will have consequences though, so it might be worth thinking about who you send to the great saloon in the sky.

Red Dead Redemption 2 sleeper train

Red Dead Redemption 2's wildlife

The Old West is full of beasts both big and small, friendly and ferocious. Some you'll hunt to stay alive, others have valuable pelts you can sell to traders. Still others are... well, they're just out living their lives, minding their own business, continuing the circle of life. You can see a few of the more than 200 species below:

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However, the most important animals in Red Dead Redemption 2 are horses, because just like in the first game they're your companions, and your transport. Just as with humans, a new level of depth has been added to your interactions with your steed, and building a relationship with grooming, feeding, care and time will be key to having a horse that will stand by your side - or under your butt - when things get wild in the west. Different breeds will be better suited to different situations, and different horses will react differently to terrain, water, fear and Arthur himself. 

Your horse will also act as living luggage, allowing you to carry extra weapons and the carcasses of any animals you've slain on your travels. The latest trailer showed wolves, bears, moose, deer, vultures and fish, and you can get you'll be able to take a shot at all of the above when you're out in the wilds. Some animals will take more than a single shot to kill, and we saw Arthur tracking a moose in-game. 

Most importantly, dogs confirmed.

The Red Dead Redemption 2 release date is confirmed as October 26, 2018 for PS4 and Xbox One

We have a confirmed Red Dead Redemption 2 release date of October 26, 2018 with publisher Take Two CEO Strauss Zelnick saying he was 'confident' there would be no more delays. This isn't the first time the game has been pushed back, however. When Rockstar first announced it was pushing back Red Dead Redemption 2’s release date from Fall 2017 to Spring 2018, our inner outlaws were crushed. Hadn't we waited long enough for a sequel to the 2010 masterpiece? The developer cited the upcoming sandbox sequel “needs some extra time” to get it up to the standards we all expect from the first game out of the studio since Grand Theft Auto 5. Since then, an earnings call with Rockstar’s parent company shed further light on the reasons behind the delay. 

Speaking to investors in late May 2017, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick was adamant that Red Dead Redemption 2 has merely been delayed to ensure can Rockstar “deliver the most extraordinary [experience] we’re capable of providing.” When an analyst subsequently asked if the delay signaled the epic Old West adventure is suffering development woes behind the scenes, Zelnick was quick to shoot down the suggestion. 

"We have not run into particular issues," Zelnick said. "We are building a new game from the ground up for the first time for new-generation consoles. And the pressure that we put on ourselves to deliver excellence and to delight consumers is extraordinary.”

Zelnick went on to add that Rockstar has the full backing of Take-Two over the delay. "We support emphatically the label's decision, and we are utterly confident that it will prove in time to be wise first and foremost creatively and artistically, economically as well." Turns out, when your previous game sells over 70 million copies (and counting), a publisher is going to back you no matter what. 

A new leak has even suggested we might see it on PC too, if someone's badly thought out LinkedIn update is anything to go by.

Red Dead Redemption 2's multiplayer, Red Dead Online, hits open beta this November

Rockstar recently confirmed that Red Dead Redemption 2 will feature a multiplayer mode largely inspired by GTA Online. It's called Red Dead Online, and Rockstar says it's a mix of GTA Online and the original Red Dead Redemption's underrated multiplayer. Red Dead Online will go live after Red Dead Redemption 2's release, and a public beta is planned for this November. Anyone who owns the base game will be able to play the online mode for free. 

"Red Dead Online is an evolution of the classic multiplayer experience in the original Red Dead Redemption, blending narrative with competitive and cooperative gameplay in fun new ways," Rockstar says. "Using the gameplay of the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2 as a foundation, Red Dead Online will be ready to be explored alone or with friends, and will also feature constant updates and adjustments to grow and evolve this experience for all players." 

Speaking with IGN, Rockstar design director Imran Sarwar described Red Dead Online as a totally separate product from Red Dead Redemption 2 which will "grow and evolve independently." Sarwar said it will leverage the strengths of GTA Online and build on the multiplayer mode in the original Red Dead to combine "really fun and complex competitive and cooperative experiences" with new narrative elements.

Red Dead Online's announcement didn't touch on the rumored Red Dead battle royale mode. However, we still don't know what game types the online mode will feature, so it's entirely possible Rockstar may add battle royale to its stable as well. 

Red Dead Redemption 2 probably isn't going virtual reality (in case you were wondering)

Sure, Rockstar is currently hard at work giving LA Noire the virtual treatment - but don’t expect Red Dead Redemption 2 to have any PlayStation VR-specific bonus modes for now. Speaking at a Take-Two telecom conference on May 31, Zelnick sounded pretty down on virtual reality games and their ability to generate cash. “So far there is not a significant entertainment market for VR software," said Zelnick. "I think that’s a factual statement.” Unless LA Noire in virtual reality sets new sales records, don't get your hopes up over Red Dead squeezing in some VR six shooter battles. 

Red Dead Redemption 2 pre-order details

Pre-orders are now live for Red Dead Redemption 2 on Xbox One and PS4. If you place your order early you get the War Horse - a pretty iron-grey-colored Ardennes steed - and Outlaw Survival Kit, which gives you items to replenish Health, Dead Eye and more.

If you pre-order the Special Edition you'll get the above plus exclusive content for Story Mode including a Bank Robbery mission, a Gang Hideout, a 'Dappled Black Thoroughbred', Talisman and Medallion gameplay bonuses, gameplay boosts, cash bonuses and discounts, and the Nuevo Paraiso Gunslinger Outfit, plus free access to additional weapons. 

The Ultimate Edition gets you all the above again, but with extra online bonuses like bonus outfits for your online character, rank bonuses, a black chestnut horse, free access to the Survivor Camp theme and more. Plus an exclusive Ultimate Edition printed map and collectible steelbook. 

This isn't even to mention the physical Collector's Edition (£89.99/$99.99), which is basically a giant "Metal Tithing Box" complete with (among other things) playing cards, bandana, and an actual puzzle. You can currently only pre-purchase this from the Rockstar Warehouse, and it doesn't actually include a copy of the game itself (boo!), but the studio has promised that select retailers will also be selling the product in time for release.

Real Rockstar diehards will want to grab the Collector's Edition which doesn't actually include the game - you'll download that anyway right? - but does come with an insane amount of real world goodies like playing cards, a cowboy bandana, a collectable coin, a sturdy lockbox, a treasure map and more. 

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