Red Dead Online is the multiplayer component of the 2018 video game Red Dead Redemption 2. Played from a first or third-person perspective, the game is set in an open-world environment featuring a fictionalized version of the United States. Player progression in the single-player story does not affect the multiplayer game. Upon entering the game world, players customize a character and are free to explore the environment alone or in a "posse" group. Players can partake in organized activities with or against members of their posse, or against other groups. As players complete activities throughout the game world, they receive experience points to raise their characters in rank and receive bonuses, thereby progressing in the game.
Camps can be set temporarily set up throughout the game world, either for an individual player or a posse, where players can rest, access their wardrobe, craft, cook, and fast-travel. Horses are the main forms of transportation, of which there are various breeds, each with different attributes. Players must either train or tame a wild horse to use it. Increased use of a horse will begin a bonding process, which can be increased by cleaning and feeding it, and the player will acquire advantages as they ride their horse. Players must ensure their horse so heals over time and can respawn.
Dispersed throughout the game world are story missions in which four players complete tasks to advance the game's narrative. The game world also features events in which up to 32 players can partake individually or with a posse group. Event types include a deathmatch mode devoid of firearms and a race mode by horseback. Players are notified when a competitive event begins somewhere in the game world and are given the option to immediately travel to the event. Alternatively, players can join specific events at will. Outside events, non-player characters ("strangers") in the game world offer missions, such as contract killings or camp raidings. Up to four players can join a temporary, ad hoc posse group for the duration of a game session. Alternatively, for a fee, up to seven players can join a persistent posse that regenerates when its leader comes online. Within a persistent posse, players can customize the group's style and track player stats. Friendly fire can be disabled so that teammates do not injure each other. If two players continue to kill each other, the game presents two optional modes: parley, in which the players cannot interact with each other for a short period of time; and feud, where the two players partake in a three-minute shootout.
Red Dead Online adds several new systems atop the single-player mode's gameplay. In addition to in-game cash, which can be used for supplies, Online adds gold, a second in-game currency used to purchase luxury and special items. Players acquire gold nuggets by completing challenges and can convert 100 nuggets into gold bars. Rather than having to travel to a town's store, online player characters can order supplies anywhere from a handheld catalog. The orders become available for pickup in any town's post office or the player's camp. Online also introduces "ability cards", in which players can activate one active and three passive powers for their characters. Players receive these cards by rising in rank or direct purchase, and can then upgrade the cards with in-game currency and experience points. Red Dead Online uses the Honor system from the single-player story, measuring how the player's actions are perceived in terms of morality. Morally positive choices and deeds like helping strangers and abiding by the law will add up to the player's Honor, while negative deeds such as theft and harming innocents will subtract from the player's Honor. Some story missions can only be initiated if the player's Honor is at a particular level.