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Red Dead Redemption 2 XP guide

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How to gain XP

Arthur Morgan Red Dead Redemption 2 XP guide Rockstar Games via Polygon

Red Dead Redemption 2 has XP, but it’s obscured and buried deep inside of menus.

The good news is that you don’t really have to worry about the details — this isn’t a role-playing game. Still, wrapping your mind around how XP works in Red Redemption 2 can make the game (and what you might want to do in it) easier to understand. In this guide, we’ll teach you all about Red Dead Redemption 2 XP, including how you can see it and what you can do to earn it.

How (and why) to earn XP

Arthur and his horse both earn XP. Arthur earns XP to increase the length of the rings (or “bars,” as the game call them) that surround his Health, Stamina and Dead Eye Cores, while Arthur’s horse earns XP for the rings that surround its Health and Stamina Cores.

Red Dead Remption 2’s Health, Stamina and Dead Eye Cores in the middle, surrounded by their rings
Health, Stamina and Dead Eye Cores in the middle, surrounded by their rings.
Rockstar Games via Polygon

When you earn XP, you’ll reach new Levels, which also correspond to the rings that surround your Cores. Earn more XP, and you’ll ascend to the next Level and your rings will grow around their Cores, giving you more Health, Stamina and Dead Eye. The bigger the rings, the longer you can perform an associated action like aiming with Dead Eye.

Unlike in many other games, you won’t earn XP from completing missions. Instead, Red Dead Redemption 2 uses what we like to think of as the Skyrim model. If you want more of something, you’ll need to perform an action related to the thing that you want more of. For example, Arthur needs stamina to run. If you want more stamina, then run. The more you run, the more XP you’ll earn. Think of it like working out to get in shape.

As you do XP-related activities, you’ll see little icons that correspond to Health, Stamina and Dead Eye appear on the right side of the screen. (We’ll talk about this more below.) That’s your indication that you’re earning XP. You’ll also occasionally see your progress on the left side of the screen, letting you know that you’re, say, 75 percent of the way to the next Level.

Generally, how much you earn isn’t important. Again, this isn’t an RPG. What’s important is that you’re earning XP, which brings us to our next topic.

How to get XP

Running to increase stamina makes sense, but it’s not always obvious how you earn XP. In the menu, navigate to Player > Arthur (or Horse) and select Health, Stamina or Dead Eye. Then highlight Progression on the right. On that screen, you can see some of the activities that’ll earn you more XP.

Red Dead Redemption 2 - how to earn more Dead Eye with progression Rockstar Games via Polygon

To increase your Health, engage in fistfights, shoot your bow and arrow, and go fishing (among other things). As you do those activities, you’ll see a little heart icon appear on the right of your screen. In the screenshot below, you can see that we earned 10 Health XP while fishing.

Red Dead Redemption 2 - gain Health XP from fishing Rockstar Games via Polygon

Here are some activities for increasing your XP:

  • Health XP: fist fights, bow shots, fishing and other physical strength-related activities
  • Stamina XP: Sprinting, swimming and performing other strenuous activities
  • Dead Eye XP: Trick shots, hanging, crafting and other survivalist-related activities
  • Horse Bonding Level XP: Feeding, grooming and riding your horse
  • Horse Health XP: Tack and Bonding Levels, cleaning your horse
  • Horse Stamina XP: Tack and Bonding Levels

How to see your current XP

Red Dead Redemption 2 - Arthur’s XP in numbers Rockstar Games via Polygon

If you go to Menu > Player, you can dig into the stats for Arthur and his horse. From there, highlight and click on Stamina (or Health or Dead Eye) Conditions. Highlight Progression on the right, and you’ll find more detail about XP than you’re likely to ever need.

At the bottom left of each menu screen for Health, Stamina and Dead Eye, you’ll see “Progress to Next Level.” That’s your numerical health XP. But again, it’s not worth worrying about in any sort of specificity. Broadly speaking, in the screenshot above, we know that Arthur is pretty close to getting to the next next Level of Health (which makes the ring bigger). That’s the most useful part of this information.

As long as you keep doing activities related to earning Health XP, you’ll increase that number. Each time you see the little icon appear on the right side of your screen (often without a number associated with it), you’ll know you’re gaining a modest amount of XP (often three or five points, based on our testing). Keep doing what you’re doing (or check the list above), and you’ll eventually make your way to the next Level.