Red Dead Online Vitalism Studies Guide: How to Transform into an Animal

Red Dead Online - Playing as a Buck

The Naturalist role in Red Dead Online brought a lot of new gameplay elements to the table back when it launched. However, Rockstar wasn’t finished with the role back then, as a new component was only recently added: vitalism, a.k.a. animal transformation.

Of course, in order to take advantage of this, you must reach rank 5 in the Naturalist role. Once you do, Harriet will give you a vitalism pamphlet that tasks you with finding an herb called Harrietum Officinalis (sigh).

Red Dead Online - Harrietum Officinalis

Harrietum Officinalis is a purple flower that grows in several locations, though it’s incredibly difficult to find. A few hints:

  • In Eagle Eye mode, the flowers will give off yellow “scent” like the Collector’s Wild Flowers (rather than a white “scent” like basic herbs).
  • Harrietum Officinalis will make your controller shake like a normal herb rather than a Collector’s Wild Flower (as in, your controller will vibrate once when you walk over it, but it won’t throb as you get near the herb).
  • They tend to grow along the Kamassa River, though I’ve also found some out near Manzanita Post.

Rather than trying to explain where I found all of my Harrietum Officinalis, here’s a Dirty Tyler video with some locations.

You will need five Harrietum Officinalis to proceed. Once you have it, you’ll need to head to the location that’s ever-so-vaguely referenced in the pamphlet.

Red Dead Online - Vitalism

If you don’t want to spend hours scouring Red Dead Online‘s enormous world for a single tree, I can help you out. The location is a hollowed-out tree near Little Creek River.

Red Dead Online - Little Creek River

Here’s where it is on the map (Little Creek River is north of Strawberry, in case you aren’t familiar with this location):

Red Dead Online - Little Creek River

Once you find the tree, you’ll notice some deer hoofprints on the ground. If you’re struggling to find them, go into Eagle Eye mode — the “scent” is glowing yellow and red so it’s pretty hard to miss.

Simply inspect the hoofprints to ingest the herbs and begin your life as a buck. You won’t be able to leave the area or die, otherwise you’ll return to human form. You can always get more herbs and come back to this location, though, if you’d like to begin the process over again.

I recorded my first attempt at buck-dom.

I wanted to go surprise Harriet, but I wasn’t able to travel that far. I figured this meant I also couldn’t go into Strawberry, so I hunted down some travellers. With R2 (on PS4), you can use your antlers to freak out a horse and make it buck its rider, then you can attack the rider while they are helpless on the ground. It’s good fun. Just be careful, because the horse will also try to kick you, which will kill your buck form and return you to human form

Now, I assume there will be more animal transformation coming soon, as one of the items you can earn from the Outlaw Pass is a discount on a vitalism pamphlet. The discount is in gold bars, so I’m also assuming future transformations will require gold bars to purchase.

And there you have it. That’s a pretty complete guide to animal transformation in Red Dead Online. Have fun in the wilderness, you wild buck!

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