Battle royale modes seemed to permeate the whole of gaming in 2018, and to kick off Red Dead Online's first major update of the new year Rockstar Games has launched Gun Rush, the multiplayer beta's flavor of battle royale. For players who have tired of Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, as well as for those new to the genre, Red Dead Online's newest competitive mode is bringing battle royale to the all-new setting of the harsh American frontier.
Red Dead Online, the online component of Red Dead Redemption 2, was released in a beta state in November 2018, tossing players into the same unforgiving slice of the Wild West in which protagonist Arthur Morgan's story plays out in the main game. However, Red Dead Online focuses on players' own journey to win the west, which is made even more merciless by the presence of other players setting out to do the same. Much like GTA Online, Red Dead Online comes complete with a main questline of its own, along with a bevy of side content that can be accessed in the game's open world. Like other games' multiplayer components, Red Dead Online also sports a handful of game modes, ranging from traditional deathmatch fare found in Shootout and Team Shootout to Make It Count, the game's first take on the battle royale genre, lauded for its refreshingly stealthy and brutal approach.
Unlike Make It Count, which pitts up to 32 solo players armed only with bows and knives against one another, Gun Rush seems to be a more mainstream take on battle royale, but that's far from a bad thing. Rockstar Games announced the mode on Jan. 10, releasing it the same day. Introducing Gun Rush as a mode "where you’ll put your survival instincts to the test, gathering weapons and ammunition while the play area shrinks in this new mode for up to 32 players," Rockstar seems to be playing it safe in what essentially sounds like a miniaturized version of Fortnite (minus the building mechanic and whimsy) and PUBG (minus the poor optimization and performance). Of course, Gun Rush wouldn't be a proper battle royale mode without allowing players to go it alone or as a group in the mode's Free-for-all and Team variants, and as always the end goal is to be the last player(s) standing.
Rockstar had much more to announce than just Gun Rush, though, noting, "Red Dead Online will stay in beta for a few more months yet as [they] have many more new gameplay features to add across the board as well as further changes to improve, stabilize and refine the overall experience." Rockstar promises that it will soon implement daily challenges and address griefing by tweaking the game's law, bounty, and parley systems, in addition to limiting the visibility of player blips on the game's map based on player proximity. Rockstar teases that "lots of new content" is coming to Red Dead Online in 2019, including more story missions and game modes, the introduction of dynamic events, new weapons and clothing, and "lots more that we’re not quite ready to announce just yet."
Having previously been updated a month after launch in order to address justifiably lingering concerns about the game's grindy approach to player rewards, it's nice to see that this surprise update wasn't made as a response to community backlash, and it's even nicer that it appears Rockstar is making early and substantial efforts to diminish the impact of player griefing on its online community. This issue and the perceived unfair focus Rockstar paid to microtransactions (which were recently implemented in Red Dead Online in the form of a premium currency called "gold bars") were among players' most prominent gripes about GTA Online. Accordingly, the ways in which Rockstar chooses to address each of these in 2019, all while balancing them with a steady flow of free content, will undoubtedly be deciding factors as to whether or not the developer and parent company Take-Two Interactive will see the same level of success in Red Dead Online that it enjoyed in GTA Online.
Source: Rockstar Games