After gamers turned on GTA IV, many doubted Rockstar’s ability to bounce back strong - especially with a title that was mostly under-marketed until just a few months before its release. And yet, behold! Red Dead Redemption is a bonafide Game of the Year contender, and easily the developer’s strongest open-world effort to date. It’s almost as if Michael Pachter said it was sent out to die or something.
Yesterday saw the release of the first DLC for RDR, a free co-op-centric mission pack, titled Outlaws to the End. After playing it with some fellow high plains drifters, I’m ready to share my thoughts on the missions, the new additions, and possible proof that the Crackdown 2 demo is taking over the interwebs.
While the single-player in RDR was widely praised for its solid narrative and amazing environment, the multiplayer was a hit or miss affair for most. While some gamers have gravitated towards competitive matches, it’s generally accepted that kicking the free roam mode with your friends is a far superior way to spend your time. No surprise, then, that the game’s first DLC chose to focus on co-operative gameplay.
Outlaws to the End consists of 6 missions for you and up to 3 friends to tackle. Most of these missions are basically just multiplayer versions of missions from the single player game, but that’s not to say that they weren’t mostly fun.
The quality of the missions did vary quite a bit. On the lame hand, you have a vanilla rescue-the-damsel mission and a frustrating cattle drive mission. On the awesome hand, you have a shooting-gallery style raft trip with pit stops for land combat, and a town defense where your position is surrounded by troops and artillery, which was equal parts amazing and nut-kickingly hard.
A bit of variety comes into play with the fact that players can choose one of four loadouts going into each mission. A solider build is the option for the well-rounded bandit, but if you want more specialization you can hit up the miner, gunslinger, and marksman load-outs for short/medium/long range focused weapons, respectively. Choosing loadouts that complement the mission type can be helpful, but once you’ve dropped your first group of baddies you can just pick up their weapons, so you’re never stuck with your original gear for long.
An added bonus is included, in the form of co-op challenges which are unlocked by scoring silver and gold ratings on each of the missions. For completionist gamers, there are a few more rocks for your crack-pipe here.
Missions implement a checkpoint system, but it doesn’t work quite like you’d think. If all the players die, the mission will start over from the beginning, but if even one posse member survives to reach the next checkpoint, then everyone else will respawn to tackle the next leg of the mission.
Additionally, this DLC includes the ability to revive downed posse members, so long as another player reaches them before they bleed out. This helps keep players from dying so quickly and then being out of the action until the next checkpoint. This does become a necessary addition for some missions, which leads me into some of the problems I had with the DLC.
The difficulty adjustments that were made in some missions to account for four players were fairly cheap at times. Enemies would constantly respawn on the outskirts of many areas, which basically renders flanking a useless strategy. A player trying to create a crossfire or get behind a turret or cannon would often be cheap-shotted by an enemy who appeared directly behind them.
The fact that the co-op missions couldn’t be accessed from the free roam mode was extremely puzzling. The game basically creates a separate instance of the world just as a portal for the missions. I had to search through the menus just to find the option to launch the co-op missions.
Ideally, I would have preferred to to ride to locations in the free roam mode with a posse to launch the missions. It would still allow for loading an instanced area for the mission without having to menu surf.
These are small gripes when compared to the value you’re getting for the price, which is a bargain at the cost of zero MS Points. For a game about outlaws, it’s really nice to see Rockstar not fleecing the flock and instead supporting the longevity of their title, when people would happily pay for more RDR. I personally hope that it eventually results in some substantial expansion style DLC in the vein of a Lost and Damned or Gay Tony; a separate story or stories set in the RDR world would be right up my alley.
So, missions ripped from the single-player, cheap respawn solutions to difficulty, and difficulty in accessing the missions in-game are all cons. However, heavily weighted in the pro column is the fact that the voice actor they got for the narrator of the co-op missions sounds uncannily like the voice of the Agency in Crackdown.
His IMDB page doesn’t list RDR as a credit, so it’s most likely someone else, but it is hilarious to hear the similarity. Outlaws to the End is worth downloading for this alone. Skills for kills, cowboy. Skills for kills.
Gamer Limit gives the Outlaws to the End DLC a 7.5/10.