Skip to main content
If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Red Dead Online guide - how to play Red Dead Online on PC right now

It's like GTA Online but with horses

With Red Dead Redemption 2 at long last released on PC, we've got a whole new audience of players just starting to ask questions about Red Dead Online, RDR2's multiplayer component and their wild-west equivalent to GTA Online. Our Red Dead Online guide will walk you through everything you need to know, from how to get started playing online on PC to details of all the activities and mischief you can get up to once you're past the opening mission!

Red Dead Online guide - getting started

How to play Red Dead Online

How to play Red Dead Online

Red Dead Online is extremely simple to access once you've purchased and installed the game via the Rockstar Games Launcher. Simply load up the game, and then from the main menu you'll see in the top-right corner two tabs: one for Story, and one for Online. Use the hotkeys to switch between them (Q and E for keyboard and mouse users, LB and RB for controller users).

From the Online tab, if it's your first time playing you can simply click Play. Once you've created a character and started playing, the next time you return to this tab in the main menu, it'll showcase the many activities that you can do in Red Dead Online (more on these further below!).

Is Red Dead Online free to play?

Is Red Dead Online free to play?

While Red Dead Redemption 2 itself is not free, once you have purchased the base game you'll be able to access Red Dead Online immediately without any additional costs required.

That's not to say there are no microtransactions associated with Red Dead Online - as well as the traditional currency of cents and dollars, specifically for Red Dead Online there is a new currency of Gold Bars (each made from 100 Gold Nuggets), which are required to unlock certain avenues and activities. Completing activities and partaking in events will earn you a few Gold Nuggets at a time, but you can also pay real money to bypass the grind and start spending Gold Bars instantly. For further details, look no further than our Red Dead Online Gold guide.

What to do in Red Dead Online

What to do in Red Dead Online

Once you're in the grand world of Red Dead Online and both the character creation screen and the introductory mission are behind you, you might well wonder what on earth there is to do. The answer is: quite a lot!

  • Story-based Missions - as well as the linear introductory mission in Red Dead Online, there are a great many characters, stories, and missions to busy yourself with in Red Dead Online, just like in RDR2's singleplayer campaign.
  • PvP activities & Battle Royale modes - Accessible either from the Online menu or by heading to one of many markers dotted about the world map, you can engage in all sorts of PvP activities, from races and shootouts to fast-paced battle royales. Learn about all these PvP modes in our Red Dead Online modes guide!
  • Bounty Hunting, Trading, Collecting - Specialise your character by purchasing one of three permits that unlock new activities to do in RDO: go on Bounty Hunts, learn to be a master Trader, or make your fortune collecting rare items for Madam Nazar.
  • Upgrading your Camp - Your Camp, just like in RDR2, starts modest and humble, but can be upgraded with the right tools and quantities of money to give you greater benefits when resting there.
  • Form your own Posses - Squad up with friends or strangers in order to complete PvP activities or free-roam co-op events. Create a temporary Posse if you only want to squad up for a limited time, or create a Persistent Posse for your friend group.
  • Free Roam - If you're one of the many who mainly just play RDR2 to saddle up and gallop around the beautiful wild western world, then you can absolutely choose to ignore all the missions and activities that have been set up for you, and just go off on your own and do your own thing, just you and your (or someone else's) bestest buddy equine.

Hopefully that's enough to allow you to get your bearings in the wide-open wild-western world of Red Dead Online. But be sure to check back here every so often, because Rockstar will doubtless continue adding new features and activities to busy yourself with over the coming weeks, months, and possibly years!

Rock Paper Shotgun is the home of PC gaming

Sign in and join us on our journey to discover strange and compelling PC games.

In this article

Red Dead Online

Video Game

Red Dead Redemption 2

PS4, Xbox One, PC

Related topics
About the Author
Ollie Toms avatar

Ollie Toms

Guides Editor

Ollie is sheriff of Guidestown at RPS, and since joining the team in 2018, he's written over 1,000 guides for the site. He loves playing dangerously competitive games and factory sims, injuring himself playing badminton, and burying his face in the warm fur of his two cats.