PSA: Play Red Dead Online at Your Own Risk

UPDATED 13th August 2020

Since the posting of our article, Rockstar published a new patch to Red Dead Online this morning, version 1.22, which essentially rolled back the game to it’s pre-Monday state. All streaks/stats stayed the same of course, but the playable version is now that of when the game last updated with the Naturalist role on 28th July.

Posting on their Rockstar Support website, they acknowledged that the patch had “unintentionally introduced” a range of issues after they attempted to apply security and connection improvements to the game.

Thankfully, this rollback appears to have fixed a majority of the issues we highlighted and playtime has now stabilised. No changes were made to the PC version given they did not experience the same problems as consoles, though the Rockstar Launcher did receive a routine update.

It must be noted that some players were experiencing issues before Monday’s changes, with frequent disconnections and a lack of Legendary Animals spawning being a common complaint, so these issues will essentially have been rolled back as well. Being able to play without crashing is obviously a lot better for everyone at the moment, though! A banner did appear on the Rockstar Support website this evening stating that Red Dead Online will undergo some routine maintenance later on tonight, so perhaps this is an indication that they are continuing to investigate the previous problems.

Thanks to Rockstar for not sitting on this and sorting it out as soon as they were able to!

ORIGINAL ARTICLE 12th August 2020

As you may have noticed over the last few days when you’ve been trying to do your Daily Challenges or rank up your Outlaw Pass, Red Dead Online has unfortunately been experiencing some serious game-limiting issues.

Since Patch 1.21 was applied on Monday, players across multiple platforms, but mainly consoles, have encountered some very strange glitches across the frontier that have left them being unable to play successfully, but also some game-breaking console crashes that stop the game completely. The most reported errors include, but are not limited to:

  • No NPCs or animals in session
  • Invincible/passive NPCs and animals
  • Inaccessible menus such as bounty boards and strangers
  • Glitched horse movement
  • Console overheating
  • Console crashes

We’ve also read some very concerning (but unverified) reports that a random crash resulted in the game install being deleted from their console, and more and more players are now increasingly worried that the recurrent crashing is actually damaging their console and risking bricking.

Our feedback topic on GTAForums has reached almost 23,000 views at the time of posting this article, with discussion still ongoing and new reports coming in all the time, and we’ve been receiving numerous reports on our tweets about the problems. It has also spread to Polygon and IGN in the last 24 hours.

There are unfortunately no official patch notes for the update or information from Rockstar to actually clarify what is causing it; the PS4 update history describes “general stability and security fixes” were added, and dataminers on Twitter have commented that (by looking at the PC version’s files) no online script files (which dictate how RDO functions) have changed, only the executable file, which means changes were done only to game code and not RDO specific features. Some players are theorising that the patch was intended to help increase Legendary Animal spawning while targeting glitched solo lobbies, but without technical information these are just assumptions.

Rockstar Support have acknowledged that “some players” are experiencing problems, with a tweet and article on their website, but we’re honestly not quite sure how such a game-breaking patch got through the certification process on either the Rockstar end or the Sony/Microsoft end in the first place.

We’re positive that developers are chipping pretty hard away at this unexpected rock in the road, and I’d hate to add to that pressure, but until then, we’d highly suggest you limit your playtime on Red Dead Online until the patch is reverted or a new one is released. At the moment, playing on console with recurrent crashes appears to be at our own risk, and the same would apply for gold bar purchases or large transactions.

Personally, I (and many others) would like to keep my streak going, so I’ve been logging and doing the quickest Daily Challenges I can manage to do before unfortunately choosing to log off for the night. Each time I have experienced random console crashing as I try to play.

With most of the spotlight currently on GTA Online’s Los Santos Summer Special update that dropped on Tuesday, Red Dead Online did still actually get some new bonuses for this week as scheduled as well, on top of Monday’s patch. Unfortunately we’ve not had a Newswire article or tweet from Rockstar to refer to, but if you are going to risk playing this week, here they are:

  • New Legendary Animals – Red Streak Coyote and Midnight Paw Coyote
  • Free horse (below level 40) if you complete all Harriet’s Sighting Missions
  • Bounty Hunters – 50% extra cash on bounties
  • Traders – 50% extra cash on sales
  • Bounty Hunter and Trader outfits – 30% off
  • Bounty Hunter and Trader horses – 30% off
  • Bounty Hunter and Trader weapon skins – 30% off
  • Bounty Hunter bounty wagon – 30% off
  • Trader hunting wagon – 30% off
  • All rifles (excluding Elephant Rifle) – 30% off
  • 5 gold bars off Bounty Hunter license and Trader’s butcher table
  • Some select new clothing

What are your experiences over the last few days? Have you had any of these bugs or crashes? Be sure to let us know, and in the mean time, we can only reiterate that playing Red Dead Online this week unfortunately doesn’t come without risks.

Thanks Spider-Vice for help with the technical jargon