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Six tips for Old West video game success


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If you’ve got “Red Dead Redemption 2” we’ve got tips and advice to help you
USA TODAY

Out for more than a week now, the video game “Red Dead Redemption 2” has generated blockbuster sales and stellar reviews.

Want to know how the West can be won in Rockstar Games’ open world adventure? We’ve gathered some advice and tips from the Rockstar brain trust and video game journalists who reviewed the game to aid your explorations in “Red Dead Redemption 2” ($60, for Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4, rated Mature for ages 17-up).

Camp counsel. Early in the game, your protagonist, Arthur Morgan, and the rest of the Van der Linde gang set up camp in the mountainous Horseshoe Overlook. As you earn money, you will want to use the ledger to improve the camp, says Matt Bertz, managing editor of Game Informer, who reviewed the game for the site. Doing so “unlocks the ability to store horses, resupply valuable consumables like ammunition, and fast travel right from your camp,” he said.

Arthur Gies, who reviewed the game for Variety, concurs. Upgrading “your camp to tier 3 to unlock fast travel … (is) one of the most important tips I can think of,” he said. “It’s still limited to a pretty small number of points around the world, but it can save a lot of time at various points.”

Exploring the game’s impressive landscapes on horseback is a pleasure, but sometimes you want to get somewhere quickly. When your camp is upgraded, “you can fast travel directly from the gang camp to any of the cities you’ve previously visited,” Bertz said.

Also, when upgrading the camp, make sure there’s plenty of ammunition and health tonics on hand.

More travel advances. If you are riding with the gang, you can have your horse automatically follow the crew. Just hold the Run button (X on PS4 or A on Xbox One) and that will pace your horse and he won’t get as tired is if you were pressing the button regularly to keep up.

Eventually as you start making your way through the various regions, you may get tired of holding that Run button. “Red Dead 2” has an app to resolve that.

Before you head out on an excursion, set a waypoint on the map. Then, while you are riding your horse, engage the cinematic camera by pressing down on the right stick. Then you can take your finger off the Run button and check out the view. Change back to the traditional third-person and first-person view by pressing down on the right stick.

Make sure to visit train stations because you can buy a train ticket that will let you fast travel to nearby stations the train has already visited as well as any other active train station you’ve been to.

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On the hunt. Early on in the game, you will wind up on a bear hunt with Hosea. You will encounter a Legendary Bear. Make sure to continue the hunt after you encounter the bear. This will give you an early introduction to the Trapper and net you “an amazing cold weather hat,” the Rockstar gurus say.

Also early in Chapter 2, you can begin bringing crafting materials to the camp’s cook, Pearson, and have him make you a new satchel that holds more than your initial one.

Before you hunt, read the Compendium for useful information on where animals can be found and what ammo to use. When aiming at an animal, you’ll see a star rating for that animal’s pelt or carcass. Only 3-star carcasses can be used in crafting, and you must get a clean kill to have the pelt remain perfect.

Studying animals will give you useful information on how to get that clean kill. Don’t forget to use your binoculars to track them from a distance. For smaller animals, use the varmint rifle and small game arrows.

Beyond the pelt and meat from game you kill, you can gather animal fat that can be made in crafting fire bottles (like molotov cocktails) and explosive ammunition. You can also sell the fat to butchers and trappers.

Also, you can collect bird feathers, which can also be given to the Trapper who can use them to add flair to Arthur’s hat.

Gunplay. Want to get some upgraded guns early in the game? When in the town of Valentine, speak to the biographer at the saloon to start the Gunslinger series of missions, “The Noblest of Men, And A Woman.” These optional stories give you access to some incredibly customized weapons.

There will be times you face numerous enemies, so you will want to take advantage of the Dead Eye feature, says GameSpot Associate Editor Kallie Plagge, who described the game as “emotional” and “thought-provoking” in her review.  “This is the ability that slows down time during combat so you can nail precision shots on enemies,” she said. To engage Dead Eye, you hit RB on the Xbox One controller or R1 on the PS4.

“It’s a great option in situations when you’re overwhelmed, since you can target multiple enemies at once and thin out the opposition,” Plagge said. “You’ll unlock abilities like manually targeting enemies and even seeing hotspots where your shots will be the most deadly.”

Horsing around. Your horse is an important part of your success, so take time to bond. That gains you new abilities such as rearing and skidding to a stop.

In addition to feeding and brushing your horse, another easy way to bond with your horse is to click the left stick while riding to pat and calm it down. Purchasing higher-end saddles and stirrups will increase your horse’s speed and acceleration.

“Feed, ride and brush your horse to bond with it; as its bond grows, you can call it from greater distances, and it learns new maneuvers like strafing,” Plagge said. “You can also break wild horses, raise them and sell them for a profit once they’re well-trained. The trick is approaching them slowly and calmly.”

And since you spent so much time connecting and improving your horse, make sure to have a horse reviver tonic in your inventory, so you can heal your trusty steed.

Stay focused. As you make your way through the turn-of-the-century setting, pick a task and stick to it, says Chris Plante, executive editor and co-founder of video game site Polygon.

An open-world adventure, “Red Dead 2” allows you to explore beyond the game’s storyline to hunt, fish, collect bounties and other activities. But Plante said he enjoyed the game more “when I focused on one activity at a time. For example, if I needed pelts to craft a fancy outfit, I went hunting with purpose, bringing the appropriate gear: bait, tonics, a rifle.”

Cutting out distractions, he said, “allowed me to get into the moment, rather than treating each activity like an obligation on the way to whatever’s next.”

More: ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’: First impressions from once upon a time in the West

More: ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ rakes in $725M for Rockstar Games in blockbuster weekend debut

Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.

 

 

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