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Red Dead Online Showdown Series game modes explained and complained

What you’re supposed to do and ways to do it wrong

Red Dead Online guide to Showdown Series game modes and what we did wrong while learning Rockstar Games via Polygon

Red Dead Online offers nearly as much to do as Red Dead Redemption 2 does. A lot of what you do, though, will involve avoiding or shooting other players while trying to earn yourself enough money to buy some new pants. But you can also make money and earn XP while shooting other players in Showdown Series matches — and at least these players are opting in to all the shooting. There are five kinds of matches you’ll play in Showdown Series: Shootout, Hostile Territory, Make It Count, Most Wanted and Name Your Weapon.

There are some different rules and nuances to each of the game modes you’ll play during the Showdown Series(es). But once you’re dropped in and the bullets start flying, subtlety kind of goes out the window. In this guide, we’ll explain each game mode and the way to score in each (and what we did wrong while figuring them out).

Shootout and Team Shootout

Team Shootouts add up kills by everyone on your team.
Shootouts are nice and simple — one kill earns one point.
Rockstar Games via Polygon

Both versions of Shootout are your basic, one-versus-all or team-versus-team shootout. The player or the team with the highest kill count when time runs out wins.

There’s not a lot of subtlety to Shootouts. If you see someone not on your team, shoot them. It’s pretty intuitive.

What we did wrong

The big thing to learn about these modes is the value of the weapons you choose. Regardless of what you have in your loadout, every map will also have weapons to pick up scattered around. Here are a few things we learned:

  • A shotgun is invaluable for close-to-mid-range.
  • Throwables like dynamite and fire bottles that are less precise can be great for players hiding behind things.
  • Shoot from the hip when things get hairy. Aiming with the sights takes time and commits you to a direction. If the aim assist isn’t on your side when you pull the left trigger, you’ll be at a severe disadvantage in a short-range fight.

Hostile Territory

One player can capture a zone, but more than one player will capture it faster.
You can see where you need to stand to capture a zone on your minimap.
Rockstar Games via Polygon

These matches are zone capture-style games with three or five locations to capture. To capture a zone, one or more of your team has to stand in the area around the zone — it’s marked on your map by a gray blob. Once a zone is captured, you can leave, but if the opposing team occupies it, the zone will switch sides. One team can win at any point by capturing all of the zones.

There’s not a lot else to think about here beyond shooting the other team and standing near the zones.

Make It Count

A last one standing, bow and arrow or throwing knives only, limited ammo match where the playing field is periodically shrinking. It’s a kind of Red Dead battle royale. This mode is where things start to get complicated.

Staying crouched and moving slowly hides your blip from other players’ radars.
This is the only kill we’ve ever gotten in a Make It Count match.
Rockstar Games via Polygon

In a Make It Count match, you’re both looking for and trying to avoid all of the other people on the map. Here, your minimap/radar is both your friend and your weakness. If you’re standing up and moving fast (and making noise), you’re going to show up on others’ radars. If you’re crouched and moving slow, you won’t. The same goes for other players and your radar. (The crouching and moving slow will hide you on others’ minimaps in the other game modes as well, but it becomes a lot more important in this one.)

You’ll also show up on others’ radars when you stand still for too long — which means you can’t be clever and hide somewhere. The trick to these matches is to watch your minimap for careless players, but devote more of your attention to your screen so you can watch for subtle movement. These matches are about constantly moving while staying out of sight but also staying in places that let you watch for others. Try to stay near the edges of tall grass and woods. Stick close to walls and check around corners before you sprint out into the road.

The secret to Make It Count matches is staying invisible.
If you hide for too long, you’ll become visible to your opponents.
Rockstar Games via Polygon

It’s a lot to balance, and since Make It Count matches are one-hit-kill affairs, you’ll spend more time spectating than watching if you screw up. And you’re going to screw up.

What we did wrong

We didn’t know about the crouching thing. Make It Count matches can be a little boring if you’re the first one killed. And if you don’t know about the radar trick, you’re going to be an easy target for everyone else. Which is what we did for longer than we care to admit.

Most Wanted

Most Wanted works a lot like a Shootout mode match — shoot anyone you see — but the higher your standing is, the more points killing you is worth.

The number of points you earn for a kill in Most Wanted matches depends on your victim’s standing.
Your value is in the upper right corner of the screen while opponents’ value will appear above their heads.
Rockstar Games via Polygon

Everyone starts a Most Wanted match with a value of one, meaning you’ll earn one point for killing them. As the scores start to spread out some as kill counts increase, the people at the top will be worth more points than people lower. The highest value players are shown on your minimap, so you’ll usually know where at least one player is.

What we did wrong

We assumed that everyone would focus on the player worth the most points. Sure, they’re a valuable target, but one point is one point and every point counts. Yes, you should prioritize higher-value players, but you should never ignore a shot.

Name Your Weapon

Tomahawk kills in Name Your Weapon matches are worth six points.
You can see how many points you’ll earn for kills with each weapon in the upper right of your screen.
Rockstar Games via Polygon

These matches work like Shootout or Most Wanted matches where your goal is to just kill as many of the opposing team as possible, but your score depends on the weapon you use — thrown weapon kills are worth six points while shotgun kills are only worth one, for example. You’ll start every match with your normal weapons, plus one throwable tomahawk.

What we did wrong

We assumed everyone would focus on throwables. Every tomahawk kill is worth six times as much as a longarm kill, so we assumed the math was in our favor. But the reality is that it’s roughly six times easier to kill someone with a longarm than with a tomahawk.

The lesson here is to not force yourself to use a weapon that’s too difficult. Sure a throwable kill will bump up your score a lot, but it has a short range and it is very slow. Yes it’s six points, but if you get killed from a distance before you even spot an enemy, you’re not going to earn any points, let alone six. Take the points where you can get them. Don’t get fancy until you’re (relatively) sure of a kill.