Don’t just stick to the critical path.
Your camp is your home base in Red Dead Redemption 2, and you’ll find yourself returning to it again and again as you play the game. It’s also home to a large number of activities- for instance, every now and again, some of your fellow gang members might want you to ride out with them to do any number of things, from hunting or fishing to robbing a homestead or hijacking a stagecoach. These appear as white little dots in the camp on your minimap, and not only are these a lot of fun (most of the times anyway) and can net you with plenty of useful rewards (such as a lot of money, or pelts, and so on), they also usually add a lot of context to the characters involved, with some really well written dialog and interesting conversations.
DONATING TO YOUR CAMP
The van der Linde gang is a lot like a family, and just like any other family, they rely on each other for sustenance. The gang’s camp requires all members to periodically contribute to its funds whenever possible, to keep things afloat. You should, at least once every few hours, put a bit of money into the camp’s funds, or alternatively, contribute some of the valuable trinkets you find on your journey. Why is this important? Well, other than not wanting to hear snide remarks from your fellow gang members about how you haven’t donated in a while, or replenishing your camp’s food and medicine reserves, it’s important for the following reason:
UPGRADING YOUR CAMP
One of the most important things you can do with your camp’s funds is upgrading it. You can increase the amount of both food and medicine you can find in your camp, while you can also have better of both kinds of supplies in store as well. Finding all that stuff at your home base in the middle of missions can be quite useful (and also very convenient).
These aren’t exactly critical to anything that happens in the game (for the most part), but I’d say they’re really, really important nonetheless. The conversations your fellow gang members are constantly having around the camp add quite a bit to the experience, from character development, to adding great deal of context to every situation, to finding out bits and pieces of history of several characters, to finding out what your fellow gang members’ headspace is at any given moment.
EATING FOOD AT YOUR CAMP
On regular occasions, Mr. Pearson, the camp’s cook and butcher, will prepare a stew for the entire camp- don’t skip these meals. You can, of course, always just feed yourself, or buy your own provisions from towns and cities, but why not save that money? Save it up so you can spend it on a a beautiful, expensive horse maybe? Not to mention the fact that your own provisions don’t replenish nearly as much of your stats in one go as Pearson’s meals do.
Hunting animals is an important part of Red Dead Redemption 2’s gameplay loop. Legendary animals, as their name suggests, often yield the best rewards for hunting, which often allow you to craft some of the best gear and equipment in the entire game, both for yourself and your horse. Additionally, the pelts you get from these beasts usually go for really high prices when sold, in case you ever want to make an extra bit of money.
Treasure hunts in Red Dead Redemption 2 are, of course, entirely skippable, and to be fair, they don’t add anything to the game’s critical story- but they’re a great way of making a lot of extra money. The gold bards you get from some of the hunts can be sold for pretty high prices, so we’d recommend that you make use of the treasure maps you get whenever you can. There’s also the fact that these hunts are all just really, really fun.
CLEANING YOUR WEAPONS
Weapon degradation is one of Red Dead Redemption 2’s most important mechanics, and it goes without saying that keeping your weapons clean is vital. You should make sure that you have plenty of gun oil with you at all times, because a weapon that hasn’t been cleaned in a long time not only has significantly lower stats, it can also jam up on you at crucial times.
CLEANING YOUR HORSE
Similarly, making sure your horse is clean is also very important. How clean your trusty stead is has an impact on its cores, which means that if your horse is dirtier, it will have lower cores, which results in its health and stamina being refilled slower than usual. Make sure you brush your horse every once in a while. If you don’t want to do that, just take it for a swim.
Early on in the game, your fellow gang member Leopold Strauss (or Herr Strauss, as he likes to be called), who’s a loan shark, will tell you about some people he’s lent money to, tasking you with making sure that they pay up their debts, and he’ll give you new “targets” at regular intervals. Don’t ignore these missions. Though their setup might seem a little rote, these lead to some really interesting side stories and decisions, not to mention the fact that both you and the camp also make a bit of money thanks to them.
An outlaw’s life is the life for you, and few things give you a good chunk of money after a relatively easy and quick job like stagecoach robberies do. A few hours into the game, you’ll meet a character who regularly gives you tips of stagecoaches that you can rob, and we would not recommend ignoring these. Not only do these give you a good amount of money, robbing stagecoaches is also a lot of fun- especially if you gun down everyone guarding it with a quick flourish of Dead Eye mastery.
There’s a good chance that you’re already not ignoring stranger quests in Red Dead Redemption 2– if you’re not, good on you, you’re doing everything right. If you are- don’t! These appear as white question mark symbols on your mini maps, and as side missions, these are entirely skippable. But they have some of the best mission design, characters, writing, and shorter stories in the entire game, so you definitely should should not be skipping them.
Riding around from one place to another (of which there’s a lot) in Red Dead Redemption 2 can take plenty of time, but the game tries to keep things fresh by having random dynamic events occur every now and then. People on the side of the road might be asking you for help with a broken carriage, or a dead or injured horse, or needing medicine. Helping them is usually a good idea, because not only does it help with your Honor meter, you’re also often rewarded with stuff, which could be things like money and treasure maps, or tips about potential robberies, or even what kinds of poisonous herbs you should avoid ingesting.
Bounty hunts may not be as important in Red Dead Redemption 2 as they were in the first Red Dead Redemption, but you still shouldn’t be ignoring these. Tracking down criminals and bringing them in, either dead or alive, is not only a low of fun, it also nets you with some useful rewards, while also often contributing to your Honor meter.
Often in the towns and cities of Red Dead Redemption 2, you’ll find people selling newspapers, and just like it was in the first game, these usually contain some really interesting stuff. Make sure you take out the time to read one of these every now and then, because they contain some pretty interesting lore information, as well as details and backgrounds on some of the game’s most important characters, including Arthur Morgan himself.