Red Dead Online Should Learn from GTA Online’s Launch

After a two year wait that seemed much longer, Rockstar’s latest open world epic hit consoles last week and has received near unanimous praise for its incredible attention to detail, polished gunplay and a massive landscape that reacts in consistently surprising ways. While most players are still waist-deep in the lengthy singleplayer campaign, the developer is hard at work on Red Dead Redemption 2’s Online mode, which has plenty of promise thanks to the solid foundation laid by the core game. While this is far from Rockstar’s first foray into multiplayer gaming, Grand Theft Auto V’s online component has grown to become one of the most prominent open world multiplayer titles out there, even encouraging the studio to incorporate ideas from its planned single player DLC into GTA Online to continue the mode’s growing momentum. It wasn’t all positive for GTA Online at launch, however, as the world felt shockingly devoid of things to do despite the increased number of players. As Red Dead Online lingers on the horizon, there are several lessons the upcoming multiplayer frontier can capitalize on from GTA Online to help the experience reach its full potential.

Context Matters

To say that GTA Online was lacking missions at launch would be incorrect, as there was a decent number of relatively brief errands to complete that featured several key side characters from the GTA V campaign. These missions felt barebones, however, not only from a gameplay perspective, but in how these tasks attempted to immerse players in the world of Los Santos, an objective which the single player campaign completed with ease. It wasn’t until years later that Rockstar would add some much-needed context as the missions became more crucial and complex, employing the usage of cutscenes and well-written conversations that helped these events become more relevant, and as a result, replayable. Regardless of how many missions Red Dead Online has at launch, making sure the vast majority of them feel like they affect the in-game world on a small or large scale will help ensure that one of this year’s biggest multiplayer releases gets started off on the right foot and keeps players coming back.

Lessen the Simulation Elements

In an attempt to truly immerse players into the world of Arthur Morgan and his compatriots, Rockstar has implemented a number of simulation attributes including weight tracking, hair growth and overall cleanliness. While none of these elements are overly intrusive in the single player, they may prove to be more distracting when players are simply looking to spend time with their friends and not interested in ensuring their player-character is in peak physical condition after a period of playtime. It wouldn’t be too surprising to discover that some of these elements are too integrated into the core game to be removed without some drastic alterations, but that doesn’t remove the need to look into which ones can be lessened or removed altogether. Instead of filling the world with a bunch of underweight, dirty players, Rockstar should look into reducing or possibly eliminating the need of several of the simulation aspects to keep the action focused on the multiplayer shenanigans that players will inevitably get into, a mantra that has always remained a central focus of GTA Online.

Fully-Realized Character Creation

For as much as Rockstar gets right in their multiplayer ventures, the character creator has never been one of those facets, with GTA Online requiring players to choose their character’s parents to shape their facial appearance and skin color. This mechanic proved to be disappointingly vague and frustrating to those looking to invest more in how their character that they would spend dozens if not hundreds of hours with ended up looking. Much like the gameplay elements of Red Dead Online, Rockstar has stayed characteristically quiet on just how players will be able to shape themselves beyond the apparel and hair choices that are already present in the single player portion. The character creator doesn’t necessarily need to go into Saints Row or WWE 2K-levels of depth, but a creator that offers something more straightforward and intuitive compared to the measly offerings of GTA Online would be a step in the right direction for player representation and expression.

What are you hoping for when Red Dead Online goes into public beta later this month? Let us know in the comments below.