Red Dead Online - Armadillo

Red Dead Online is sort of the opposite of most other online games in that higher player counts tend to detract from the game experience rather than enhance it. With a low player count in something like, say, Star Wars Battlefront, you’ll spend a lot of time waiting around in lobbies. In Red Dead Online, scantly populated lobbies mean fewer glitches and a lower chance of running into griefers.

With Red Dead Online becoming a standalone game, servers are going to be packed for a while, and that means an influx of griefers is inevitable. But fret not, for I’ve created a complete guide to avoiding grifers in Red Dead Online.

My Red Dead Online playtime is approaching 600 hours, which means I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time fending off griefers. Here is absolutely everything I know about avoiding them, defending yourself, and retaliating against them.

This is almost certainly more information than you’ll ever need to know about Red Dead Online

Play Red Dead Online in Defensive mode

Red Dead Online

Rockstar has seemingly acknowledged the fact that some people want a griefer-less game experience in Red Dead Online. Thus they’ve created Defensive mode, which causes other players to be unable to lock onto you, use auto-aim on you, or deal extra damage via headshots. You, in turn, are unable to do these things to other players. If someone attacks you while in Defensive mode, you are allowed to attack them back, but attacking a player while in Defensive mode increases your hostility by a substantial amount.

To go into Defensive mode, simply bring up the online menu (by pressing left on the D-pad if you’re playing on PS4), and scroll all the way down to Online Options. Now go down to Playing Style and toggle it from Offensive to Defensive.

Red Dead Online

Note that there’s a 30-second delay between the time you toggle it and the time it actually activates. Presumably, this is set up this way so you can’t harm another player then quickly switch to Defensive mode before they can retaliate. (Additionally, you can’t go into Defensive mode if your hostility is too high.)

Are there any downsides to playing in Defensive mode? Well, there aren’t really downsides, per se, but there are some caveats.

For one, there are some activities that will kick you out of Defensive mode. Here’s a partial list:

  • Trader deliveries
  • Legendary Bounties
  • Story missions
  • Some Stranger Missions
  • Free Roam Events
  • Showdown Series

Note that when you partake in any of these listed events, you will be automatically put into Offensive mode. When the event is finished, you won’t automatically be put back into Defensive mode; you’ll have to do that manually.

Now here’s a partial list of things I’ve confirmed that you can do in Defensive mode:

  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Most Stranger Missions
  • Treasure maps
  • Hideouts
  • Having a Wanted level
  • Bounty Hunt poster missions
  • Moonshine deliveries
  • Poacher camps
  • Naturalist sighting missions
  • Trader resupply missions

Personally, I take the bad with the good in Red Dead Online. I don’t think Defensive mode is how the game is intended to be played, so I don’t play it that way. I also really enjoy a moment of respite after a long, drawn-out battle against griefers — it makes those moments of peace feel so much more peaceful. Also, there’s an adrenaline spike every time you see another player approaching, and that gets kind of addictive.

So if you want to avoid griefers without playing the game in Defensive mode, keep reading. I’ve got a whole bunch of information about how you can do that. Probably too much information…

Play Red Dead Online on a console rather than PC

Red Dead Online

Hardcore PC gamers don’t always like to admit this, but cheating is a real problem in any multiplayer game on PC. In the PC version of Red Dead Online, there are some really horrible things that trolls have been able to do to other players. I won’t get into all the details here because PCGamesN already did a great article about this.

The bottom line: Hacking is a problem on PC, and it’s one that Rockstar seems very slow to address. Playing on consoles is simply going to be safer if you don’t want hacks impacting your gameplay experience.

Keep your camp flag up

Red Dead Online

You have a white flag at your camp, and as long as it’s raised, other players can’t mess with your camp. If you lower that flag, though, it makes you vulnerable to other players, as well as bandit attacks (which Cripps will actually help you fend off).

Basically, putting up the white flag puts a circle of safety around you and your camp, which makes other players unable to attack you. (Allegedly, they can still show up and push you out of the circle if you’re AFK, then hogtie you and leave you in some random spot. Allegedly.)

If you’re working the Trader role and you do a resupply mission or a delivery, your camp flag will automatically lower during the mission. It should raise automatically when the mission is over, but this doesn’t always happen. It doesn’t hurt to check your flag status after a mission.

Also, I should probably point out that any player camp in the world will cause horses to slow down. Keep that in mind if you’re making a mad escape from someone and you see yourself heading toward a camp.

Disable your mic and mute other players

Red Dead Online

As you’re roaming around in the world, whenever you get close to another group of players, you will automatically join their in-game voice channel. Sometimes, this leads to other players being weird, annoying, or straight-up creepy. It’s better to simply disable this feature entirely.

The easiest way to do this is to go into your game settings (by pressing the Options button on PS4 and going to the Settings option), then go to Audio. Here, you can toggle Voice Chat Enabled to Off.

The trouble with this method, however, is that if your friends hop on and you want to join them, you’ll have to remember to toggle this option back on.

There’s another solution on PS4, but it’s been a lot tougher to pull off ever since the PS5 compatibility update. Simply set up a private party in the PS4 menu and set your chat options to prioritize party chat over game chat.

You used to be able to set up a party of just yourself on PS4, but you can’t do that anymore. What you can do, however, is set up a party, then invite one of your offline friends to it. That puts you into your own private party (until that friend logs in and wonders why you sent them an invite, that is).

Report players for bad behavior

Red Dead Online

You can report players for bad behavior if things get really, really out of hand. However, note that a player repeatedly chasing you down and killing you, even if they’re specifically targeting you, is actually playing the game as intended.

This changes if that player starts messaging you and making threats. Once their messages become a legitimate threat, absolutely report them. If you’re playing on PS4, you should also report them to Sony (here’s an article about how to do that). The offending player might get their account perma-banned if the offense is bad enough.

I admit, I have a close friend who has a perma-banned PSN account, and I can tell you that it’s an absolutely miserable thing to have happen.

Parley with a player after they’ve killed you

Red Dead Online

After you’ve been killed by another player in Red Dead Online, you might be given a few options before you respawn: Parry, Feud, and Press Charges. I’ll talk about the Press Charges option later on, but for now I’ll just say that it’s pretty much worthless in the short term. Parley is a better option if you simply want to end the griefing immediately.

Parley causes you and the offending player to not be able to harm each other for ten minutes. The other player doesn’t have to agree to this; you can simply end the harassment with the push of a button.

If you want to fight 1v1, then Feud is perhaps the option you’re looking for. There are some caveats to this, however: 1. The other player has to agree to it, and 2. This is almost certainly what the griefer wants to happen. I will only ever accept a feud if I’m riding with a posse and know we have the manpower to go toe-to-toe against our harassers. Otherwise, you’re just playing into their hands.

Press Charges after a player has killed you

Red Dead Online

A weak form of retaliation lets you Press Charges against a player who killed you. Your hostility level must be low, and you can’t use the Press Charges option if you’re marked as an enemy to that player.

What does it do? It increases that player’s hostility level, and increases their bounty. Neither of these things amounts to much as a deterrent, I should point out. Bounties are going to be really, really low, and griefers typically don’t spend a lot of time sweating over their hostility level.

I Press Charges sometimes, simply because it’s an option, but I’ve never felt like it was an ample deterrent for trolls and griefers.

Try to find a less populated server

Red Dead Online

This is perhaps an exercise in futility, but you can try server hopping until you find one with a meager population. Simply press the Options button on PS4, then go to the Online option. Now you can select a new state to spawn into, or even just the Free Roam option, and that will cause you to jump into a new server.

There’s no guarantee that this will result in a less-populated server, though, and loading into a new server takes a really, really long time. This is one of those “Hail Mary” attempts at finding a friendly server.

Still, hopping servers is a way to clear out a lot of Red Dead Online issues, so it’s worth knowing about at the very least.

Avoid troll hangouts

Red Dead Online

There are parts of the map where griefers tend to congregate. Obviously, these aren’t the only places in the game where you’ll find griefers, but there are three major griefer hangouts: Saint Denis, Valentine, and Blackwater. When the servers are densely populated, I will almost always find trolls hanging out in these towns.

Of course, I occasionally see gangs of trolls way out in Tumbleweed or even Strawberry, but that’s a lot rarer than the three hotspots mentioned in the previous paragraph. Still, keep in mind that griefers can be anywhere in the game, from the richly populated Saint Denis to the most remote, snowy mountaintops of Ambarino.

Exploit the Red Dead Online login system to start out in a less populous area

Red Dead Online

Okay, so at this point, we’ve moved pretty far beyond what pretty much every other anti-griefer guide will tell you, but we’re going to keep on riding anyway. These are the lesser-known tricks that can sometimes get you out of a jam.

One thing you should know about Red Dead Online is that the game always tries to spawn you in at least relatively close to other players. So if you spawn in at, say, Saint Denis, the game will try to find a populated server that has people already playing in the Saint Denis area.

Since the game lets you choose which state you log into, you can exploit this.

For reference:

New Austin – The desert on the left-hand side of the map. Towns include Tumbleweed and Armadillo.

West Elizabeth – Immediately east of New Austin. Includes Blackwater and Strawberry.

Ambarino – The northern, snowy, mountainous region. This is where you’ll find Colter and Wapiti Indian Reservation.

New Hanover – This is the Heartlands region, which stretches from Bard’s Crossing all the way to Brandywine Drop. Includes Valentine, Emerald Station, Van Horn, and Annesburg. It’s a big freaking state.

Lemoyne – The southeast portion of the map, which includes the swampland of Bluewater Marsh, as well as Rhodes and Saint Denis.

If you know the map pretty well, you can use this to your advantage.

When you log into the game, simply select the opposite part of the map as the one you want to play in. Select New Austin on the main menu if you want to play in Saint Denis (which is in Lemoyne), then fast travel there once you load into the game.

I should point out that this isn’t guaranteed to work. Players inevitably spread out across the map no matter where they log in, and the more players learn this trick, the less likely it will be to work. Plus, if you do this multiple times in a row, those fast travel fees can start adding up.

Still, it’s worth a shot.

Exploit Red Dead Online‘s fast travel posts

Red Dead Online

Speaking of fast travel, did you know you are invincible whenever the fast travel menu is open? Well, you are. You can exploit this if you’re running from griefers, as long as you’re close to a fast travel post. Run to the nearest post, activate it, then just wait there with the menu open. Any griefers should eventually grow tired of waiting around and go look for a fresh victim elsewhere.

Of course, this is really only good for those instances in which you’re already close to a fast travel post and you’re being chased down by enemy players. This is basically a last-ditch effort to avoid a losing gunfight.

At this point, you could also just fast travel elsewhere, but sometimes it’s kind of fun to see griefers get frustrated when they can’t harm you.

Learn what mini-map player icons mean

Red Dead Online

When players get close-ish to you in Red Dead Online, they’ll appear as icons on your mini-map. These icons can actually tell you a lot about a player at a glance.

Color: Player icons will usually be blue, pink, or red (they’ll be other colors if you play Showdowns). A dark blue icon means the player has a low hostility level, pink is medium, and dark red is high hostility. Players who recently attacked you will be bright red. Your posse members will show as a light blue. In Showdowns, there will be other colors, like purple and orange, but these are simply to denote which team the player is on.

Shape: A circle icon is a normal player. A spur-shaped icon is a posse leader. And perhaps most useful of all, an eyeball icon means the player is aiming a weapon.

As you can see, these icons are feeding you a lot of really important information. If you, say, pass by a player on a road, you can tell what their hostility level is at a glance. If suddenly the circle turns into an eyeball, there’s a good chance the player is aiming a weapon at you. If you see a red icon turn into an eyeball, get ready for combat.

Of course, the player might also simply be hunting, though seasoned RDO veterans know not to aim weapons when other players are near in order to avoid confrontations.

Use emotes to signal your intent

Red Dead Online

If you want to actively signal your intent to another player, you can use emotes. Some emotes feel more aggressive than others (you can tell a player they stink, for example), so if you’re really trying to avoid conflict, signal that with a friendly emote.

The Prospector Jig was, at one point, a universal RDO signal for peace, but I don’t know that people are using that much these days. I’ve honestly never seen another player do the jig. From my personal experience, hat tipping seems to be the go-to emote for declaring peace between players.

Then again, some people are trolls, and they’ll deliberately use a friendly emote so they can startle you with a bullet to the back of the head later. Still, I find that most players who will tip their hat at you will actually leave you alone so long as you leave them alone.

Check player levels in the menu

Red Dead Online

If you bring up your menu (press left on the D-pad), then go to the Players option, you can see how many players are in your server, as well as what level they are. If you see a lot of triple-digit numbers here, you might want to play pretty cautiously.

Now, from my experience, most high-level players tend to be pretty good at leaving lowbies alone. However, I have seen packs of players, all level 500+, going after lower-level players aggressively. So be warned.

Avoid high-level players

Red Dead Online

I have to make a confession. As a high-level player myself, I have very little tolerance for grief from lowbies. If, say, a level 9 character starts making trouble, I will aggressively chase them down until they either Parley or log out.

Here’s the thing. If you’re level 9, I guarantee I have better weapons and ability loadouts than you. And that’s to say nothing of the skill difference between a level 250 player (me) and a level 9 player. I’m not amazing at this game, but a level 9 character doesn’t stand a chance against my Tier III Ability Cards and the armory of explosives I carry around with me.

I will usually allow them to get the first kill, in case their initial aggression was an accident (the controls can be a bit overwhelming when you’re just starting out, leading your character to do erratic things), but once they take that kill, the gloves are off.

If you are a low-level player, I would advise you to be friendly toward higher-level players. Maybe they’ll even help you out. But whatever you do, don’t make them angry, because they might come after you with a full posse and a massive armory of tools you didn’t even know existed.

Use the Collector role to make a fortune

Red Dead Online

There are currently five roles (or jobs) in the game. Of those, three will make you somewhat griefable: Trader, Bounty Hunter, and Moonshiner. Then there’s the Naturalist, which is straight-up just not a good way to make money. And this leaves you with the Collector.

Here’s a quick breakdown of each role, based on how easily griefable each one is:

Trader: This is the absolute worst role if you’re avoiding griefers. While you can do most of the Trader activities in Defensive mode (hunting and even resupply missions), it’s your deliveries that make the money here. Doing a delivery will kick you out of Defensive mode, and a distant delivery will expose your location to other players on the map.

Moonshiner: You can actually do the entirety of the Moonshiner role in Defensive mode (except for the story missions, which are instanced anyway). If you decide to play in Offensive mode, however, Moonshiner can be a real nightmare. Not only do you have deliveries to make, but rattling your wagon at all will cause moonshine jugs to break. If you get jumped by trolls, you could end up losing half your supply, even if you successfully fend them off.

Plus, Bootlegger missions (especially the checkpoint ones) can oftentimes be magnets for other players. You can unintentionally get into scuffles by beelining for a Bootlegger mission that pops on your map

Bounty Hunter: Like Moonshiner, the essential tasks can all be done in Defensive mode (Legendary Bounties, however put you into Offensive mode, though they, like story missions, are instanced). I’ve had people drop into a bounty gunfight and cause me to fail, though this is actually pretty rare. Plus, a lot of bounty locations are pretty far removed from the more trafficked areas of the game. Bounty Hunter is somewhat safe to do without getting griefed too badly.

Naturalist: The Naturalist is a fun role, and you can do all of it in Defensive mode (including the Sighting missions). The thing is, it’s really hard to make money as a Naturalist. Plus, Harriet gets mad at you for killing animals, so it forces you to play a bit more carefully. Play Naturalist for the fun, not for the cash.

Collector: So that leaves the Collector, which is hands-down the best way to earn money in Red Dead Online. It’s a super relaxing role, and all of it can be done in Defensive mode.

To be successful as a Collector, simply complete full sets of collectables and mail them to Madam Nazar. If you have any trouble finding collectable locations, there’s a really handy interactive map that will help you out. Just note that it tends to be less accurate after any big update, and it might take a while for it to be updated to be fully accurate again.

If you work the Trader role, choose local deliveries over distant ones

Red Dead Online

If you insist on playing the Trader role regardless (which is still my favorite role in Red Dead Online) and it comes time to make a delivery, you have the option to choose either local delivery or distant delivery. A distant delivery gets you more money, but it also puts a target on your back. When you’re making a distant delivery, other players in the area will be alerted to your presence, and you’ll show up as an icon on their maps.

Making a delivery also pulls you out of Defensive mode, meaning you’re vulnerable to attacks by other players. Their reward for successfully ambushing your cart isn’t really worth the effort (they’ll get supplies if they can successfully rob you, which can be converted into sales goods if they have their own Trading operation set up). However, just having you show up on the map makes you a mouthwatering target for those griefing wolves.

Now, this is actually the exact opposite of the advice I gave in my complete Trader guide over at Lightgun Galaxy. When you upgrade your delivery wagon to its maximum capacity, it can carry 100 goods, which you can sell locally for $500. If you decide to go for a distant delivery, you’re looking at $625. If you’re willing to take the risk, that extra $125 is nothing to scoff at. If you have a posse at your side, you might be even more willing to make the trip (and their earnings will be on top of yours rather than a portion of yours).

But really, Trader is the easiest role to grief by an enormous margin.

And speaking of posses…

Ride in a big posse

Red Dead Online

If you can get a group of friends together, you should definitely posse up. Red Dead Online is a lot of fun with friends, plus riding in a big posse is a good way to discourage griefers from attacking you.

You can form a posse of up to four players normally, but if you opt for a large camp instead of the normal one (which costs a small fee), you can have seven members in a posse at once. I’ve ridden in a seven-member posse, and it’s glorious.

If your posse is big enough, even a group of low-level players can intimidate a solo griefer out of messing with them.

The world of Red Dead Online is safer when you play as a community rather than a lone wolf.

Escape from lassos

Griefers love to lasso and hogtie innocent players. The good news is that you can actually escape a lasso, as long as you’re quick. Once you’re hogtied, it’s too late.

One of the cool things about this is that this usually catches people off guard giving you enough time to maybe get a kill and then escape into the woods.

The video above explains how to escape lassos.

Always carry plenty of healing items

Red Dead Online

Obviously, it’s a smart idea to carry a lot of healing items on you. Thankfully, there’s a fast and easy way to stock up if you’ve got a little extra scratch (and if you’ve been playing the Collector role, you should have quite a bit of extra scratch).

In the pregame lobby for Showdown Series events, you have the option to buy ammunition and healing items. Simply join a Showdown Series, purchase some healing items and ammo in the lobby, then back out. Easy Peasy.

Always carry plenty of horse revivers

Red Dead Online

Any griefer worth their salt is going to know that you’re pretty much worthless without your horse. That makes your horse a target for griefers. Remember, if your horse is down, you can’t switch weapon loadouts, so if you’re carrying, say, a Varmint Rifle and an Elephant Rifle, you’re maybe not in a great position to be swarmed by griefers (I shouldn’t speak too disparagingly of the Varmint Rifle, actually, but I’ll get to that in the weapons section of this guide). With your horse down, you can’t even swap those weapons.

On top of that, you can’t make a swift escape. If you’re on foot and your griefers are on horseback, you’ll never outrun them.

You can buy Horse Revivers at any stable, so it’s a good idea to stay stocked up. Being without your horse can be really, really rough in Red Dead Online.

Own multiple horses

Red Dead Online

There’s a caveat to the previous point, though. Some griefers will intentionally shoot your horse so they can kill you when you’re trying to revive it. Knowing exactly where you’re tyring to get to is a huge advantage for a griefer, and they can easily camp your dying horse to keep sniping you off every time you go in for a revive

There’s a really simple solution: Own multiple horses.

There’s a neat trick that you can pull if a griefer downs your horse: Simply call another one. Got to your menu (by pressing left on the D-pad), then go to Stables. From there, select Horses, then select Owned Horses. This should bring up a list of your currently owned horses.

Select a new horse, and the current one will be dismissed. If it’s been downed, it will get sent to the vet, and the player who downed it will have to foot the bill (it’s only $4, and most griefers are willing to make this sacrifice for a good griefing). There will be a two-minute cooldown before you can call the first horse back.

If a griefer is camping your wounded horse, you can sometimes surprise them by showing up on a second horse. I currently own six horses, so even if a griefer is really, really persistent, I have enough horses that I can keep cycling through them until the cooldown on the first horse expires.

Of course, horses are pretty expensive, and you also have to pay for stable slots and fees. But if you’re rocking the Collector role, none of this should be an issue.

Use the Paint It Black Dead Eye Ability Card

Red Dead Online

If you’re a newer player, you should be using the Paint It Black Ability Card as soon as possible. This lets you draw an X on your target when you’re in Dead Eye mode, and then fire your gun at the X. As an added benefit, it reduces the bloom of your gun’s aim to almost nothing (and it tightens the spread of shotgun fire).

Red Dead Online

This is a ridiculously powerful card, and you unlock it at level 2. You should start learning how to take advantage of it pretty much as soon as you start playing Red Dead Online.

I’ve created a beginner’s guide to the Paint It Black Ability Card for Lightgun Galaxy, so I won’t repeat all of that information here. But if you’re new to Red Dead Online, or just new to Paint It Black, that should get you up to speed on what I think is probably the best Ability Card in the game.

Know about griefer Ability Card loadouts

Red Dead Online

So the Ability Card system in Red Dead Online is ridiculously imbalanced, and the community is generally pretty quick at finding ways to combine cards to make absurdly overpowered combinations. Rockstar, in turn, is not quick about re-balancing them, so these broken card loadouts stay in the game for way, way too long. You’ll just have to learn to deal with them.

First off, if an enemy player seems impossible to kill to the point where you suspect they might be cheating, you should take a look at their card loadout. You can do this by bringing up your menu (by pressing left on the D-pad), then going to the Players option. Select the player’s name from the list and press X (on PS4), and a new menu should pop up. Here, go to the View Ability Loadout option to see which cards that player has equipped.

Now, there’s something you should know about. This loadout is stupid:

If you’re having trouble with a griefer who simply feels invincible, it’s probably because of that loadout right there. It’s just… I don’t know. It’s absurd. As far as I can tell, this hasn’t been nerfed yet (and the video above is more than a year old).

Another thing I’ve seen griefers do is run a Gunslinger loadout. Basically, they start with the Focus Fire card, which gives them and their posse members increased damage. They pair that with Gunslinger’s Choice, which increases the damage output for dual-wielding revolvers, then they dual-wield Navy Revolvers. Next up is The Short Game, which increases damage against players close to you, and Winning Streak, which causes each consecutive hit to deal more damage than the previous one.

With that loadout, they’ll run up super close and unload both revolvers straight into your chest. Your health bar just melts away at that point. The good news is that all you have to do to counter this loadout is not let them get too close. Keep your distance and use the Bolt Action Rifle with Paint It Black. As long as you can keep a good amount of space between you and them, you’ve got the advantage.

Now, those are just a couple examples of how Ability Card abilities play off of each other. If you’re having a particularly tough time against an enemy player, take a look at their loadout and see if you can figure out what’s going on. If nothing else, it might give you some ideas for loadouts of your own.

Have the right weapons on hand

Red Dead Online

What are the best anti-griefer weapons? Well, that depends on the griefers, but I tend to prefer a balanced loadout. My weapons of choice when dealing with griefers are the Pump Action Shotgun for close combat and the Bolt Action Rifle for those distance shootouts. Many people swear by the Double-Barrel Shotgun, which is more powerful than the Pump Action, but remember that it only has two shots before you need to reload. If you don’t connect, you’re going to be vulnerable until you can get two more shells in the chambers.

If you want to use the Double-Barrel, put in some practice time. If you get good with it, it will beat out the Pump Action for sure. I’m just a really sloppy player, and I like having additional rounds to cover my mistakes. That’s just me, though.

As for the Bolt Action, many people prefer a repeater because they fire faster. If you miss your long-distance headshots frequently, you might want to try the Lancaster. Of course, the Evans hold 22 rounds, which means you almost never have to reload. When you do reload, though, it’s going to take a while, so that’s the downside of the Evans Repeater (it’s also not as powerful as the Lancaster).

I also try to keep explosives on hand, though you’ll want to be careful with those. If you end up blowing yourself up while trying to fight off a griefer, they’re only going to laugh and probably harass you even worse. Still, you can actually increase the amount of explosives you keep on hand by learning the recipe for Volatile Dynamite ($785, available at level 77) and Dynamite Arrows ($895, unlocked at level 93). With all three types of dynamite, your carry limit for dynamite has grown from 8 to 24. If you get really good at using dynamite, you’ll have a really big supply of it this way.

Also, craft some Incendiary Buckshot if you can. The pamphlet costs $860 and it doesn’t unlock until level 80, but it adds a real sting to your shotgun burst. It will prevent a non-fatal shotgun blast from turning the tables against you, as the enemy will catch fire and be unable to retaliate until the fire is out. Usually by that point, they’ve died.

I also try to always keep a sniper rifle on my horse for those really, really long-distance shootouts, and having the bow on hand gives me access to Dynamite Arrows, which are absurd so long as you’re careful with them.

You should definitely avoid the more “fun” weapons, though. Trying to lasso your griefer almost always ends badly for you, and setting fire traps with moonshine jugs has never once worked for me. Screwing up either of those makes you vulnerable, which results in you being the one to die rather than your tormentor.

Now, about that Varmint Rifle…

I spend a lot of time hunting in Red Dead Online, which means one of my active weapon slots is almost always occupied by the Varmint Rifle. Now, there’s a neat thing about the Varmint Rife: It fires quickly and it’s super accurate. Even better, you can get one-shot headshot kills with it. Yes, it’s a wimpy little .22, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be really effective in the hands of a skilled player. Rockstar did nerf the Varmint Rifle at one point, but even after the nerf, it proves to be a surprisingly competent combat weapon.

Get better at Red Dead Online

Red Dead Online

If you really want to keep griefers at bay, get better at the game. Thankfully, if you’ve read this far into this guide, you’re probably already better than you were when you started reading it. There’s a ton of information here that will make you a better player simply by knowing it.

Your journey hasn’t reached its end, though. Now it’s time to put everything you’ve learned into practice.

Check out more guides like this one. Watch Twitch streams and try to get pointers from players who are especially good. Jump into Showdown Series matches (PvP) and try to hold your own against other players — seriously, nothing sharpens those anti-griefing skills quite like putting them to use in PvP.

I’m honestly not an amazing Red Dead Online player. I know a lot, and I’m certainly better than the average player, but I wouldn’t stand a chance against many of the other players that are around the same level as me. I just don’t have great reaction time, and I probably never will.

Still, I’ve been able to hold my own against griefers on countless occasions. For a while, I was actually practicing at the game and studying loadouts and things. Getting better takes time, but if you invest that time, you’ll soon be a griefer-stomping machine. Or, if not a griefer-stomping machine, at least someone who’s not perpetually at the bottom of the Red Dead Online food chain.

Run griefers off the server

Red Dead Online

And finally, once you hone those skills, put griefers in their place. I can’t even begin to explain how satisfying it is to see griefers ragequit because you absolutely stomped them in a gunfight. When Red Dead Online stops being fun for griefers and trolls, they’ll be forced to go do something else (most likely, they’ll retreat back to GTAV where they came from). And that means a more peaceful RDO experience for those of us who stay.

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Gwen Hembrock
Gwen Hembrock
9 months ago

Thanks! That’s a lot of info for a newbie to the Red Dead world, but I bought the online game with the idea of trying out the Old West virtual world. However, I don’t like pvp and it’s good to know I have options if I need them. BTW, prior to reading this I’d checked out the descriptions at the Rockstar website of the roles and had decided on Collector thinking it was a potential role for a pvp averse loner. Sounds like it might work. I’m sure I’ll be back to refer to this once I’ve had a chance to get in the game and play a bit. Thanks again.

Gwen Hembrock
Gwen Hembrock
9 months ago
Reply to  Josh Wirtanen

Great article. Probably no comments because what was left to say after a rundown like that! BTW, gorgeous game, but I’m finding the game controls crazy unintuitive. I’ve played online multiplayer games since the release of Everquest, so I’m used to every game switching things up, but this is a whole new level of confusion. Maybe it’s due to Rockstar being use to controller controls or something. I got stuck standing in front of an npc and not able to figure out how to interact with him. Never did figure out how to take a screenshot to show friends how pretty the game is! Looks like I need to take the remedial course before coming back to this article for advancement advice, lol.

Mjibo
Mjibo
8 months ago

Hello and thanks for all the explanation!! Taking 95% of all your anti-griefer tips, except buying a PS4 as I don’t have enough money or space, and controllers are just a nightmare to me :-D. Trying to get better with Showdowns but generally speaking most PVP gives me a lot of stress and the gameplay is zero joy to me, it feels more like work :-D. That is why I never enjoyed full PVP games like Rainbow 6 or Battlefield 1-5. I tend to stay outside in the forest and always wary of any player icons. When I see blue dots turning red I get an assault of adrenaline and can’t even aim properly while wasting dead eye. It happens a lot and adds to my general stress. Server hoping has saved me a lot of times at the costs of losing items and restarting missions, but I somehow enjoy simple grinding activities instead of heated pvping. Landscapes are amazing in the game, even with my average computer. Tried to join a posse once but as I am a “casual” so I cannot be online every time and the posses tend to quick me out. And all of my friends are not gamers 😀 That is why I remain a lone wolf, but I don’t complain about it, so I can play at my own rhythm and having my own fun. Thanks again!

Rockyb123button
Rockyb123button
7 months ago
Reply to  Mjibo

Your casual play style and loner gamer attitude ring true for me as well. Nice to see a kindred spirit. I play mostly in the early AM hours to avoid the hackers/griefers but even then I have encountered a few.

Stop by and say hello if you see me in your session …

Eathernaut
Eathernaut
6 months ago

TY Nice article w great info for a newbie. I personally think they should just code block to keep them out of your sessions, period. Put red w red & blue w blue. Reds prolly spend more irl $ so Rockstar is happy to feed them blues. But they have all the hacks who cheat them out of irl $ as well. So if you take into account the big picture, Rockstar gets less & less when more ppl just stop playing. You high lvl players who aren’t just there to grief low lvls r great ppl in my book tho. Salute O/

Lauren
Lauren
6 months ago

This is a great article! I’m new to MMOs. I had some friends encourage me to try RDO in order to hangout because I enjoyed the story mode so much. The ability cards layout really sparks my interest, as well as your recommendations for weapons and explosives. Thank you for such a thorough article!

David
David
3 months ago

Thanks for this v helpfull-these people are a blight.Only a few hours in and not even close to first role yet so have to avoid them and suck it up if I cant.With my loadout n ability would be better off throwing my gun at them.Could give them some kinda respect if they geiefed their own level or higher.Take some comfort from the fact that their inner lives in real life must be a howling wilderness but mostly try to let it wash over me.Going to tough it out till I git gud and can hold my own n join possees.Good to know their are cool players in the game-have a good one.

Sadster
Sadster
2 months ago

Ty for this article. I too hate every griefer in RDO! They should be ashamed! I’ve only played like a week and have seen many of these no-lifes already. When I read about defensive playing style, that helped me a LOT! After I started using that, everybody lets me be. I highly recommend switching to that (if you are a part of posse, your leader has to switch it on and then you all have it).

Jer
Jer
1 month ago

Josh….Great insight, truly. Especially the part of being lassoed. But riddle me this. I’ve been in my Camp several times and had some psychos come out of nowhere with my white flag raised, lassoed me, I’ve broken free, and tried to fend them off with dynamite, lasso them but never able to lock on to them, and to no avail nothing ever kills them or gets them out of my camp. Cripps never defends me, my dog never moves and I inevitably I just die. WTF? It totally takes away from the game. Griefer isn’t the right acronym for these types of players. I’ve got others……What’s the point of the White Flag if other players can invade your camp if in fact your set to the defensive mode with the white flag raised and they can come in anyways. Isn’t this “players” attacking you? I thought this “White” Flag being raised kept them out and you safe? I would define that experience as being attacked. What’s the point of the white flag being raised then? I had some psycho come in about a week ago level 700+ lasso me at least 6times twirl their guns just to show off while they were doing it knowing that they couldn’t die while in my camp. Seems like this is an issue RD2online should be addressing? Of course you can’t address Rockstar with this issue because they don’t actually have a direct path for it. I’ve tried and they just lead you to their general submission page. I imagine it’s just about the money for Rockstar and a big playground for the next generation of “I wish I could do things like this in real life” but I don’t want to go to prison or join the military.

What are your thoughts or suggestions? I’ve been playing this at level 150. Maxed out every role (except naturalist), but somedays it just doesn’t seem like it’s worth the time when you have a multitude of people screwing with you while your just trying to enjoy the game.

Thanks again for your insight and analysis on the game. You clearly put a lot of time into Josh.

rudi pretorius
rudi pretorius
1 month ago

hi there, i am new to the game and need some help please, if a player attacks me and then rides off or even fast travel to another part of the map, how do i find that player again, a certain player keeps shooting me and rides off, i don’t know where to find him to fight back

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