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6 Best And 6 Worst Things About RDR2's Gun Rush Mode

The release of Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption 2 was highly anticipated from the moment it was announced. Fans of the first game expected the return of everything they loved, with even more features and fresh possibilities. When the online multiplayer mode was announced, there was wide speculation about just what elements would be included. The most exciting surprise may have been the addition of a battle royale mode. 

The new Gun Rush mode in Red Dead Redemption 2 is essentially just like any other battle royale game out there. Players are dropped into a map and fight to the death to be the last one standing. The concept and execution are relatively simple. But that hasn't stopped Gun Rush mode from getting mixed reviews from fans and critics alike.

Implementing a battle royale mode in a game that already has an established fanbase can be tricky, especially when its online features are still in beta. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to tell which elements of the experience will be changed or improved as everything receives a final polish, and which problems can simply be chalked up to weak game design. With that in mind, here are some of the best and worst things about Gun Rush mode.

Best: The visuals are unrivaled

From the beginning, Rockstar Games has set the standard high for Red Dead Redemption's graphics and picturesque visuals. The sprawling pastoral scenes make for gorgeous gameplay and a screen that's just dying to be recorded for inclusion in a YouTube video. Online games such as World of Warcraft often aren't known for their realistic graphics — these elements are sacrificed for gameplay and the ability to interact with hundreds of people online while playing. Even MMOs that are known to be more visually realistic, like Guild Wars 2, don't have the best graphics. And so, when Red Dead Redemption 2 released the beta version of its online mode, it was somewhat surprising that Rockstar was able to maintain its stunning graphics.

Gun Rush mode was no exception to those high standards. Despite the difficulties and constraints of a multiplayer battle royale, it's just as seamless and photorealistic as its offline counterpart. Though the matches are much smaller than something you'd find in Fortnite or PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Gun Rush mode is currently the only battle royale game you'll find with incredible visuals that match the original game so perfectly. This atmosphere really sets the tone for a unique battle royale experience.

Worst: Clunky controls are a pain

Having the ability to accurately control your player character is important in any game, but it's especially crucial when life-or-death situations are a normal occurrence. In a battle royale, players must be able to use their hand-eye-coordination and agility to outmaneuver and outlast every single opponent. This aspect of gameplay is steamrolled when controls aren't intuitive or even functioning the way they should. Because Red Dead Redemption 2's Gun Rush mode is still technically in beta, it's difficult to say if the many problems seen with the online mode's controls are simply bugs that need to be fixed, or symptoms of a persisting problem in the structure of the game itself.

It's not only agility that has suffered in the implementation of a battle royale mode in Red Dead Redemption 2. There are a few kinks that wouldn't be a huge deal in single-player, but become major issues in multiplayer. The need to manually rotate your camera from an awkward angle is a simple aspect of gaming that most have to deal with. But RDR2's camera setup often allows opponents to essentially sneak around in your blind spot while still being right next to you. If the clunky controls weren't a contributing factor in this disadvantage, one or two of these issues would be acceptable. The combination, though, leaves a bit to be desired in overall gameplay.

Best: It's easy to play in a time crunch

Gaming can be a big time commitment, especially when you play with other people. This is especially true in time-intensive MMOs and battle royale games where there isn't a well-defined stopping point. With MMOs there's always another quest to complete and with battle royale games, you never know how long your match will be. One of the great things about the new Gun Rush mode in Red Dead Redemption 2 is that it takes the guesswork out of match length. This effectively gives players a defined amount of time to expect from each round of the battle royale.

While this timed aspect of the matches may not seem like a big deal, it actually works in a few different positive ways. Not only are players able to make an informed decision where their time management is concerned, but this maximum match length means less loitering for players. If the ever-closing play area wasn't enough to spur people into action, the fact that everyone can lose by the end of the ten-minute allotment for each match means that players will be much more proactive. This keeps things moving and helps avoid a stagnant playing field. Who doesn't want an exciting and action-filled round in a battle royale?

Worst: Auto-lock targeting makes skill irrelevant

Red Dead Redemption 2's Gun Rush mode has many feeling that the gaming mechanics of the single-player campaign were just lazily moved over into the online mode. Though these mechanics were necessary for a single-player version of the game, a lot of the controls don't make a lot of sense in a multi-player setting. In the single-player campaign, auto-lock targeting is a much needed relief from the already difficult gameplay. Many first-person shooter games offer options like this to help players focus more on storyline and immersion than having to target a moving enemy just so. But when this mechanic is placed into a multi-player setting, it suddenly defeats the purpose of honing your skill.

If everyone in Gun Rush mode has auto-lock targeting, all they need to do is see their enemy in order to take them down. This auto-lock mechanic takes the skill away from combat. Players don't have to be a good shot or cool under pressure in order to gain the victory — they just need to utilize auto-lock targeting and let the game do the work for them. Everyone is overpowered ... and if everyone is overpowered, then no one is. This levels the playing field in an unfair way, taking any advantage held by seasoned veterans completely out of the equation and discouraging people from trying to improve their abilities.

Best: Stealth is more prevalent

Stealth is a viable strategy in any battle royale game. Some players enjoy the outright battle of a shootout the second the match starts, and others are more careful and calculated, opting to instead utilize their surroundings to outwit their opponent. Even though stealth is a big part of other battle royale games like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battleground, Red Dead Redemption 2 takes a different approach to it, making the strategy more realistic and more effective.

Fortnite and Red Dead Redemption 2's Gun Rush mode are purposefully different in tone. They aren't trying to be the same game, and this is obvious in everything from the cartoon-y graphics of Fortnite to the smaller scale of Gun Rush mode. Even in the elements they share, there are obvious differences. Because of the more animated look and feel of Fortnite, it's a bit more difficult to blend into your surroundings. The vibrant colors and textures mean that even when your character is hiding in a bush or a building, it won't take an eagle-eyed opponent to spot you. In the Red Dead Redemption 2 Gun Rush mode, incredibly realistic graphics mean that your character, in all of their muted colors and subtle costuming, will be able to blend into the tall grass without any trouble. In place of blocky texture packs, you have individual blades of brush creating an ideal place to crouch down until your opponent comes walking by, unaware of the threat right beside them.

Worst: Limited weapons make for predictable gameplay

There are a lot of positives to having a battle royale in a realistic historical setting. The idea of being able to live history and find new uses for old and familiar things is exciting. The Gun Rush mode in Red Dead Redemption 2, while unique in its realism, falls prey to a lack of variety. Though the setting of the mode negates the need for crazy abilities and weapons that look like they're straight out of science fiction, it is an opportunity for developers to create items that are period-appropriate and pay homage to the alternate history of RDR2. Taking some artistic license with realism would do a lot to keep Gun Rush mode from falling into the trap of the predictable.

Though the limited variance on weapons can offer the opportunity to find unique ways to utilize a tried and true asset, there's only so much that can be done with a pistol. With such a small inventory, players are beginning to find that Gun Rush mode is becoming predictable right out of the gate. That's not to say that Fortnite's wild and wacky weaponry should be shoehorned in, but a little imagination could have spiced up the armory. Alternate history aesthetics, like steampunk, could be used to create new skills and abilities that still fit within the mythos of Red Dead Redemption 2.

Best: The playing field starts off level

There are only so many ways to switch things up in a battle royale — the rules have remained relatively similar across each major entry in the genre. Players are thrown into a map, they find helpful resources, and they fight to the death with the last one standing as the winner. Games like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battleground even have the same concept of jumping out of an aerial vehicle down to a water-surrounded island. This is one of the tropes absent from Gun Rush mode.

Instead of letting players find what they believe to be the best starting point at the beginning of a match, all of the players are dropped around the edges of the playing field. Everyone starts off on the same footing. Everyone has to fight just as hard and run just as fast to get to the horses, weapons, shelter, and eventually, the center of the map. While many may argue that this takes a key point out of a battle royale game, it actually sets Gun Rush mode apart from other games similar to it. Instead of relying on your knowledge of the map and where you'll find the best loot, you're forced to think on your feet and outsmart the person next to you, who has the exact same opportunities. This element of Gun Rush mode makes everything feel just a bit more desperate and realistic.

Worst: The system doesn't necessarily reward winning

The main point of any battle royale game is to win. Victory is the goal against your enemies, and to achieve it, you need to be the last one standing. This isn't necessarily true in Gun Rush mode. Instead, the setup of the rewards system actually encourages players to wait out the clock, rather than dominating early on. At the end of each round of Gun Rush, golden nuggets are awarded to players based on how long they were able to stay in the game. Because of this rule, it's incredibly easy to exploit the system and get the maximum amount of gold every single time, regardless of skill or dominance.

This reward system makes a late loss better than an early win. If, for example, you were to win the game quickly by killing all of your opponents in only a matter of minutes, you may get something like four golden nuggets. Instead, if you were to hide out until the very end of the ten minute round and then fail to kill the last person standing, you could get eight golden nuggets for losing. In order for Gun Rush mode to be a truly legitimate contender in the world of battle royale games, this needs to be fixed to incentivize people to play it for more than just gold, rewarding them for their high kill counts and ability to be the last person standing.

Best: No one else is doing this in battle royale

Battle royale games are exploding in popularity right now. With the immense success of games like Fortnite and PlayerUknown's Battleground, game developers everywhere are looking for a new way to make their battle royale game stand out from the crowd. While most of these games are pretty cut and dry with their lore, setting, and execution, Red Dead Redemption 2's Gun Rush mode offers something that sets it apart from the crowd: a battle royale that takes place in the wild west.

Coming up with a new take on something that's currently saturating the market can be difficult, but in the world of battle royale games, drastically different genres have been relatively unexplored, sticking to a typical Hunger Games-type scenario in an ambiguously postmodern setting. In Gun Rush mode, instead of feeling like you're in a place that's vaguely futuristic or dystopian, you're placed in a historic setting, heavy on the authenticity. You are given weapons that are recognizable and asked to use them in a way that feels real. There are no superpowers or sci-fi weapons. Instead, the realism of Gun Rush mode invites players to be innovative and resourceful. It also doesn't hurt that acting out an alternate history wild west battle royale scenario is, in and of itself, pretty epic.

Worst: There are still a lot of glitches that need to be ironed out

The reward system utilized in Red Dead Redemption 2's Gun Rush mode doesn't necessarily reward players for winning matches. It instead rewards them for the amount of time left on the clock at the end of the round. This is enough to discourage players from trying out the battle royale mode, but when combined with an easily manipulated glitch in the system, players don't even need to stay alive to be rewarded with gold at the end of a match.

Glitches are to be expected in newly-released games. While it's unclear whether certain imperfections in the Gun Rush mode are bugs or just the result of poor planning, the ability to win gold without staying alive until the end of the match needs to be fixed. Players are able to manipulate a weakness in the system that allows them to respawn after they've been killed off. They only respawn for a few seconds before dying again, which makes this glitch seem harmless enough. The problem comes when players continue to respawn over and over again until a match is completed. By doing this, they're able to run out the clock and get gold for staying in the game far longer than they actually did. This and other glitches have discouraged many players from getting too invested in Gun Rush mode.

Best: Important resources can be seen on the minimap

The minimap found in Red Dead Redemption's Gun Rush mode is something of an innovation. While minimaps themselves are found in most battle royale games to show where the restricted playing field is, Gun Rush mode does things just a bit differently. On the minimap, players will find small icons indicating where weapons, horses, and other resources are placed. This takes the guesswork out of the mad dash for items. With the focus shifted off of the hunt for weapons, players are able to focus their energy on the more strategic elements of a battle royale. Time you might have wasted looking for hidden items in the tall grass can instead be spent thinking of ways to outsmart your enemy.

With the minimap in Gun Rush mode showing players which buildings contain desirable items and which paths will lead them past horses or even armor, there's a new sense of freedom offered for differing forms of gameplay. Like the "stealth versus open range fighting" argument, having access to knowledge of where items are placed brings in an opportunity to decide whether you'd rather spend your time on the outskirts of the match waiting for your enemies to kill each other, or whether you'd like to be the first to the center of the map to create a fortified outpost to pick off opponents one by one. These decisions make for exciting and adaptable gameplay.

Worst: Formulaic layouts encourage zero exploration

While starting players out on a level playing field is a great tool for encouraging competition and innovation, failing to add any kind of spontaneity will do the exact opposite. There is a point in a game where players will need to stop trying to gain the advantage over opponents who are given the same opportunities, and start using their own investigative skills to gain an advantage.

The layout of weapons and other useful resources in Red Dead Redemption 2's Gun Rush mode has failed to wow many players. The order in which you find these items is predictable and discourages creativity in gameplay. Though the weapons themselves may differ, it's safe to say that as you run towards the center of the map, you'll get a low-level weapon at roughly the same time as anyone else using the same strategy. The only way to mix it up is to travel sideways across the playable area rather than making a straight beeline for the center. This would put you at a disadvantage, as you won't find high level weapons on the outskirts of the zone. Because the better items are in the middle of the fight, there's no advantage to hunting around the edges for something rare. You'll never find unique items anywhere other than the center, and the other players will know what to expect from you if you arrive after them.