Red Dead Online features a variety of optional challenges called Awards which involve completing different tasks. These awards are not so different from the Challenges seen in the Red Dead Redemption 2 Story Mode, helping players better understand some of the game's mechanics.
The online awards are divided into different categories, depending on the task players need to do to complete them. They are divided into Sharpshooter, Combat, Hunting, Survivalist, Crimes, Travel, Trade, General, Horse, Posse, Free Roam and Competitive categories, and each category includes challenges with single or multiple tiers. An Award is fully complete only when all tiers have been cleared.
Completing awards is in no way required to access additional Red Dead Online content, but the game still provides some good incentives for doing so, as you can get additional XP for ranking up and unlock more items, and a Gold Buckle, which testifies the completion of a specific award. Gold Buckles are also tied to one of the game's Trophy's/Achievements, as you need to get five of them to unlock "Buckle Up".
In this guide, we will cover all of the Free Roam Awards and provide some tips on how to complete them as quickly as possible.
The Free Roam Awards are strictly related to activities that can be completed while in Free Roam mode. This mode is unlocked right after completing the Red Dead Online tutorial mission, so you can start working on completing these awards from the very beginning. Unfortunately, it will take quite a bit of time to complete most of them, as some of the required tasks are not available at all times.
Help a Stranger Out
The first three Free Roam Awards are related to the stranger missions, which are optional Red Dead Online side-missions that require players to help a stranger.
Unlike the Red Dead Redemption 2 story mode, not all players will experience the same stranger missions, as the available missions change depending on the character's current Honor rating. If your character is honorable, expect to escort caravans, help kidnapped people, kill bandits and so on. If your character is dishonorable, however, you will end up committing crimes during these missions.
The first Free Roam award requires players to complete Free Roam missions given by 10 different characters. This is a multi-tiered award requiring players to do 10 times to clear the first tier, 25 for the second, 50 for the third, 75 for the fourth and 100 for the fifth and final tier. Missions are available every in-game day from different characters, and once a mission has been completed, you will have to wait for it to become available again.
The character giving the mission will change location, and so will count as a different one. For this reason, it takes a very long time to complete this award, as you will have to wait for in-game days to pass. You will be making good money while attempting to complete this challenge, however, so completing the Trade Awards will become slightly easier.
The second Free Roam challenge is a little less time-consuming than the first, as players need to just complete set amounts of Free Roam missions. This is a multi-tiered challenge requiring 10 completed missions for the first tier, 50 for the second, 100 for the third, 500 for the fourth and 1,000 for the fifth and final tier.
If you play Red Dead Online for a very long time, you will unlock this award naturally, as stranger missions are among the best ways to make money, and money is very much needed in Red Dead Online, as certain new weapons and horses can only be purchased with it.
The third Free Roam challenge is one of the easiest to complete in all of Red Dead Online, as you just need to complete four Free Roam missions in a single day. Considering there are usually more than 4 available in a single in-game day, getting the Gold Buckle for this challenge is very, very easy. You likely won't even have to try.
The final two Free Roam challenges are related to gang hideouts. Unlike the Red Dead Redemption 2 story mode, where gang hideouts are found in specific locations, and once cleared, they are cleared for good, in Red Dead Online players can clear a single hideout multiple times.
Unfortunately, these hideouts don't spawn all the time, so you may end up having to travel to multiple spawn locations in order to find one. The effort needed to find and clear one, however, is well worth it, as you may receive a treasure map after killing the hideout's boss.
The first two of these Free Roam challenges requires players to clear 4 hideouts in a single day. As mentioned above, there's no guarantee that a hideout will spawn at all possible locations, so you will have to go from one spawn point to another hoping that you will find one. As you need to clear four in a single day, we suggest you use the fastest possible horse, like an Arabian, to save some time while traveling. A good stock of Horse Stimulants helps as well.
The final Free Roam challenge is a multi-tiered challenge where players simply have to clear hideouts. You need to clear 5 for the first tier, 25 for the second, 50 for the third, 75 for the fourth and 100 for the fifth and final. As gang hideouts are useful for completing several other awards, there's a good chance you will have made good progress for this challenge if you have been attempting to complete a few of the others.
Since you can get some nice rewards for clearing hideouts, trying to complete this award will make completing some of the awards requiring players to spend money, such as the Sharpshooter Award requiring players to obtain 19 guns or the Horse Award requiring players to purchase 5 horses of different types.