As details continue to emerge about Red Dead Redemption 2's online offering, Red Dead Online, its inextricable link to contemporary multiplayer gaming comes increasingly into focus. This can be seen in the now confirmed "Make It Count" game mode, which sets players loose in a familiar battle-royale-style format. Additionally, the Red Dead Online beta has provided official confirmation that microtransactions are indeed coming to the Wild West.
"You may notice some areas of the in-game menus are not yet accessible or available during this early period of the Beta," a blog post from Rockstar states. This includes the Red Dead Online Store, which will allow players to use real-world money to purchase gold bars that can, in-turn, be exchanged for "cosmetic items like Camp décor, or a special style for your weapons." At this point, these types of microtransactions for cosmetics are commonplace, however, it seems that Red Dead Online's gold bars may have gameplay implications as well.
The beta also features a vendor that offers to change a player's honor status to "dishonorable" at the price of three gold bars. Honor status will directly impact the types of activities that players are able to engage with, meaning real-world money can be used to alter and expedite the way Red Dead Online is experienced. Additionally, a tooltip shared by RockstarINTEL states that "Gold Bars be used to unlock certain items early" — further evidence of their potential impact on gameplay.
How far the gameplay of Red Dead Redemption 2's multiplayer component can be modified is currently unknown, but at least a complimentary vendor that can change honor status to "honorable" does not seem improbable. More details on this are certain to emerge in the upcoming days.
Separately, RockstarINTEL's tooltip offers another piece of insight, stating that "once you own 100 Golden Nuggets, these will automatically convert to 1 Gold Bar." This appears to suggest that there will be avenues outside of real money expenditures for obtaining gold bars, though how long it will take to do so remains to be seen.
Beyond these small tidbits, little is known definitively about Red Dead Online's microtransactions, though it seems unlikely that Rockstar would deviate too greatly from the system established by Grand Theft Auto Online, considering the massive success of its Shark Cash Cards. If gold bars will indeed alter gameplay in the ways suggested by these early reports, there may be some danger of them feeling compulsory if the free avenues towards honor acquisition (and loss) seem too laborious and grind-y.
However, if Rockstar is able to translate the excitement and originality of Red Dead Redemption 2's single-player campaign, putting a great number of hours into Red Dead Online could prove to be a real treat.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.