Rockstar just announced some interesting content coming to Red Dead Online later this summer.
It will bring new gameplay mechanics and structured roleplaying for those of you who want to get more immersed in the life of your character and in the world around you. But how indicative is this of the direction Red Dead Online is going to take?
Roleplaying communities quickly pop up in every multiplayer game's player bases. There are a lot of players who look at these virtual worlds as something more than just a way to pass the time or to chill out. Stepping into the shoes of your character and living in these worlds is a major draw for a sizeable crowd.
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Red Dead Online may not be an RPG, but it sure has a few RPG elements in it already, and the upcoming update will be expanding those even further. Players will be able to take on the roles of Bounty Hunter, Trader and Collector. Each come with their own perks, items and activities - a bit like Classes in traditional RPGs, but watered down some.
There's also the aspect of taking on each role simultaneously if you wish. If someone is a completionist, or imagine their character as something of a polyhistor, they can progress through all three roles' activities and unlock their perks. However, if you want an immersive experience and you have a specific kind of character in mind, there's nothing stopping you from sticking to one role.
Rockstar taking this route with Red Dead Online makes a great deal of sense in the grand scheme of things. Their main earner for the past five years has been Grand Theft Auto Online, one of the most popular games of all time, that somehow managed to break its own player count record, again and again, each year. GTA Online has its own highly dedicated roleplaying sub-community.
However, the difference is that, in spite of being a very populous sub-community with some of the most-watched Streamers and Influencers among them, proper roleplay isn't quite supported in GTA Online, and third-party mods and servers are needed if you really want to get into it.
It's already apparent that Rockstar is taking a more direct approach to roleplaying with Red Dead Online. They saw the massive popularity of these third-party RP solutions in GTA Online, and this time figure they'll be the ones to facilitate it. Presumably, the reason GTA Online didn't get any official roleplaying DLC is that it would require too much wrangling with the already established structure and code.
Red Dead Online is more malleable - and, in spite of its obvious success, is still small fish compared to the behemoth that is GTA Online. Experimentation carries with it fewer risks. This is a dynamic we'll likely be seeing more evidence of. Red Dead Online will be a sandbox in which Rockstar's developers will be trying out wilder ideas, while they stay safe and on-brand with GTA Online. Simply put, it's less of a risk to put out a Red Dead Online update that doesn't stick.
We're interested to see where this line of development will take the multiplayer component of Red Dead Redemption 2. We're pretty sure more roles will be added over time alongside these three and are hoping there will be more ways to interact with other players and characters that let us define the personality of our avatar in a more intimate way.