Red Dead Redemption 2’s online beta hasn’t been as warmly received as its single-player offline experience. Red Dead Online has been going through some serious growing pains since its launch in late November. The in-game economy is stilted and feels tailor-made to be overrun with microtransactions; Griefing from other players happens a little too often even for a game set in the Wild West. Yet one of the biggest problems with Red Dead Online isn’t in what does wrong but what it is missing compared to the original game.
Admittedly, Red Dead Online is a very different experience from the online mode of the original Red Dead Redemption. While there was free roam in the original Red Dead Redemption it wasn’t nearly as robust Red Dead Online and its MMO-like story journey. However, the more regrettable change has come in Red Dead Redemption 2's matchmaking multiplayer. Red Dead Online is missing the Standoff mechanic from Red Dead Redemption - and it needs to return.
For those who didn’t play Red Dead Redemption or its online mode, the Standoff is exactly how it sounds. Most multiplayer modes, whether it was Free For All or a Team Deathmatch, began all the players lined up against one another. The timer would count down and, when it was over, a quick draw duel similar to those found in the main game would occur. The team or player who won the Standoff would then get an advantage through gaining extra XP or being able to move throughout the map freely and find the best position for the incoming match.
The Standoff added something unique and quintessentially Red Dead to the online multiplayer experience. It wasn’t just an exciting way to begin a standard team deathmatch. It gave every match a distinct Western feel and provided an extra level of involvement from the very first second. Without the Standoff, Red Dead Online’s multiplayer modes feel rote and just slightly uninspired. Nearly every game has Team Deathmatch or a Free-For-All mode, only Red Dead Redemption began those modes with a pulse-pounding Standoff.
Red Dead Online has two basic playlists in its beta form; one that involves large scale brawls (including Red Dead Online’s Battle Royale mode) and the other has matches with a smaller player base. To Red Dead Redemption 2’s credit, the new modes that have been added for the sequel are fantastic. Make it Count - the game's Battle Royale mode - will probably never overtake Fortnite in popularity, but it’s a solid mode to play through. Similarly, Most Wanted, where players try to jump to the top of a leaderboard by killing the top players in specific manners, is a great spin on the Red Dead Redemption 2's bounties.
But the Standoff wouldn’t work with these or every multiplayer mode in Red Dead Online. Make it Count would be very quick if everyone started lined up next to one another. There’s really no excuse for the Standoff to not be included with Red Dead Online’s more traditional multiplayer modes, though. Red Dead Online’s Free-For-All and Gang Shootout modes are fine, but they’re easily the most boring of the bunch in their respective playlists. Matters would be made significantly more interesting if the Standoff was added back to give the expected Red Dead flair.
There is hope for the future, however. Rockstar Games has promised that the Red Dead Online is far from the final version, so changes are incoming and some have already arrived to attempt to fix the game’s economy. Even after the online beta is over, if GTA Online is anything to judge by, Red Dead Online will continue to evolve and grow. Hopefully, a Standoff will be one change that Rockstar makes to Red Dead Online, because it’s necessary.