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Red Dead Online Legendary Animals guide: How to find and sample Legendary Animals

Red Dead Online Legendary Animals
(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

The premier addition of the latest Naturalist Update is no doubt the Red Dead Online Legendary Animals introduced into the wild. These pesky critters have been brought to the game alongside the Naturalist role, which lets players sedate and sample animals for a variety of incentives.

In this guide, we’re going to show you how the Red Dead Online Legendary Animals system works, delving into the process behind hunting these unique beasts in the open-world, as well as explaining all of the missions tied to them. We’ll also be providing some pointers on how to sedate and sample these unique beasts efficiently in Red Dead Online, so you can progress in the Naturalist role and reap this update’s most exciting rewards.

Red Dead Online Naturalist | Red Dead Online Harriet Davenport | Red Dead Online Gus McMillan | Red Dead Online Elephant rifle | Red Dead Online Gypsy Cob horse

How to unlock Legendary Animals in Red Dead Online

Red Dead Online Legendary Animals

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

For Red Dead Online Legendary Animals to appear, you’ll have to reach Rank 5 in the Naturalist role. First off, head to the Welcome Center in Strawberry, complete the cutscene and buy Harriet Davenport’s 25 Gold Bar Sample Kit to kickstart your Naturalist journey.

From there, you’ll have to start delivering samples by using Harriet Davenport’s Varmint Rifle Sedative Ammo, which is available at any of Davenport’s camps, denoted by the magnifying glass symbol on the open-world map.

Once you’ve purchased and equipped the ammo, you can fire at them to put them to sleep. Once they’re down, you can draw a sample from the animal and bring it back to Davenport to gain Naturalist XP. Although the Legendary Animal Missions will be greyed out when you talk to her, check the bottom right for a prompt to accept the Poached Animals missions she offers to get to Rank 5 faster.

How to find Legendary Animals in Red Dead Online

Red Dead Online Legendary Animals

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

Once you hit Rank 5, Davenport will provide you with a Red Dead Online Legendary Animals Map accessible from your radial items menu. From here on out, legendary animals will start to spawn in the open-world. The map is a rough guide for where the legendary animals will appear and will be upgraded as you progress through the role. You can also purchase expensive Legendary Animal Pheromones from Davenport to further pinpoint their location.

In my own experience, the spawn system is unreliable and adversely affected by the actions of other players in your session. You’re better off sticking to the missions or simply exploring the map and server-swapping until you stumble into one. There are 42 in total, so forget about trying to find specific legendary animals, at least for now!

As well as the handy map, Davenport will start to offer the player Legendary Animal Missions. In-person, she will always provide two instanced expeditions that reset on a timer, as long as you haven’t upset her by killing animals. The format varies but you’ll mainly be dropped into a part of the map and then asked to follow a series of objectives to find the unique animal in question, before sedating and sampling it, or killing it if you do so desire. These missions dish out big chunks of Naturalist XP.

You can also find legendary animals during the Naturalist free roam events, which are unlocked at Rank 4 of the role. You’ll either be protecting a legendary animal with other players or taking part in a group tagging session. In both cases, there’s a chance for players to acquire a sample of a legendary animal, so accept them when they pop up.

How to sample or hunt Legendary Animals in Red Dead Online

Red Dead Online Legendary Animals

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

Now that you’ve unlocked legendary animals and you know how to find them, here’s how to easily sample or hunt them, by procuring the right in-game equipment.

To sample a legendary animal, you need to purchase Varmint Rifle Sedative Ammo from Harriet Davenport’s camp. If you want, you can also pick up her Blending Tonics so the animal will find it harder to detect you. Then all you need to do is follow the steps above to activate a legendary animal mission, and when you’re left with the animal, fill it full of sedative bullets until it is put to sleep. Sadly you can only use the Varmint Rifle to sedate animals, so it may take quite a long time depending on how big the animal is. Keep in mind that dead eye does not work on legendary animals, so you’ll have to be accurate when you’re shooting. Pursue it on horseback if it flees, and once it’s down, walk over, holster your weapon and draw the sample to complete the mission.

To hunt a legendary animal, you need to bring your strongest weapons. The Elephant Rifle was introduced in the Naturalist Update, and deals incredible damage from mid-range, making it the ultimate weapon for taking down big legendary animals. Usually, it will only take a few hits before the animal meets its maker. Again, you won’t have dead eye to hand, and the Elephant Rifle only has 20 rounds, so make your shots count. If you can’t afford the Elephant Rifle, bring a powerful shotgun and long-range rifle in your two main slots. You may also wish to bring throwables such as molotovs, moonshine and throwing knives if you wish to speed up the process. You won’t hurt the pelt by shooting legendary animals - all you need to do is kill it to get the skin, so go wild, be trigger-happy, and don’t worry about shooting its vitals.

Red Dead Online Legendary Animal types explained

Red Dead Online Legendary Animals

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

Once you start your career as a Naturalist, you’ll be given access to the Animal Field Guide, in which you’ll note that Red Dead Online’s animals are grouped into categories. Much like the Collector Role, you’ll earn more XP and cash from trading in full categories rather than individual animal samples. There are 42 Red Dead Online legendary animals in total:

Legendary Animals: Dark
There are 11 dark-coated legendary animals to find in Red Dead Online.

Legendary Animals: Light
10 legendary animals share a pale coloring due to a pigmentation anomaly.

Legendary Animals: Red & Blond
12 red or blond-coated animals can be found in Red Dead Online.

Legendary Animals: Patterned
9 super rare legendary animals feature patterns on their pelts.

Harriet or Gus? Red Dead Online Legendary Animal Rewards

Red Dead Online Legendary Animals

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

Once you’ve encountered a legendary animal, it’s worth thinking about your options. As well as sedating and sampling the animal for Harriet Davenport, you could also just kill it and take the pelt to Gus MacMillan. The choice is yours - the only real issue that stems from playing both sides is that Harriet will become increasingly angry with you if you kill animals, and will stop working with you for a short period of time. Here’s what you’ll be rewarded with if you choose either vendor. Gus’s Garment Sets are purely cosmetic, but his special trinkets offer improvements to stamina cores, resource yields and other benefits.

Harriet Davenport

  • Naturalist Role XP
  • RDO$ Cash

Gus MacMillan

  • More RDO$ Cash
  • Garment Sets
  • Stat Buff Trinkets

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