It’s My Birthday and I’ll Shoot NPCs in the Face if I Want to: RDO Call to Arms

Ammo at critical levels, minty and thyme big game meat damn near gone, buffs applied every couple minutes, enemies surrounding the roof where I’ve posted up, I’m in deep shit now. And I love it.

I’ve been leveled up in Red Dead Online for a minute. All the best ammo and weapons. Full health, stamina, and dead eye stats. Ability cards set so I’m damn hard to kill. Players that f@#k with me get they head blown off, several times till they choose to parley or leave the lobby. Even the new Blood Money Crimes posed little challenge. What’s a bored gamer girl to do with all this gear and gold buffs? Well, Rockstar, you done got it right for once (at least in RDO, I know GTA Online is a pampered, spoiled little game)

I woke a little late Tuesday morning and Charles was already on his PS4 as I padded out of the bedroom, yawning and stretching. I asked what he was up to. He said A New Source of Employment missions. Meh, I curled my lip. Wasn’t overly impressed with those re-packaged stranger missions. Then he said the magic words: “And these Call to Arms missions are tough.”

Whaaaaa? What’s that now? Something in the game I’ve never heard of. Wait! It’s update day…could it be? My breath caught in my throat. New content? It’s f@#king Christmas morning! Now, hold on now, Cindy. Don’t get too excited. Remember the first Quick Draw Pass. yawn-a-palooza for the most part. But as soon as Charles loaded into MacFarlane Ranch and wave after wave of pissed off NPC kept trying to murder him I got that sweet shot of adrenaline. Oh yessssss. Let’s do this.

Tried it solo at first, thinking I’d face-tank my way through it like I do every other mission in RDO. Then, it happened. I got my a$$ handed to me. Oh yes! Please hand me my own a$$. Make me try, make me think, make me bring my A game cuz I been coasting far too long. One lost day and night later, we finally defeated one of these beast missions. Granted I’ve been trying to solo or duo it with Charles. Nope, can’t do it yet. We had a very helpful high level and the three of us finally got the damn thing done.

The other cool thing about these missions is that they take place in different locations, each posing a different strategic and tactical challenge. Valentine requires more of a rooftop, pick ’em off approach, Fort Mercer you gotta have a player posted at every corner. MacFarlane Ranch takes a whole lot of running and gunning. Strawberry and Blackwater need a balanced plan of attack with their many avenues of entrance and egress.

Properly armed for bear and loaded with recovery items, waves 1-5, possibly even 6 don’t pose too much challenge and are totally possible to solo for a higher level player. It’s just a lot of killing hordes of enemies and you’ve got your NPC allies to back you up. But as they get picked off in the battle and the enemy brings in heavy artillery (Maxim guns and/or cannons), not to mention those hard-to-kill jerks with the machetes, things get a lot hairier. I’ve made it half way through wave 8 completely solo (in the video above I did clear wave 8 mostly alone, but my teammates were there for the other waves). I am bound and determined to solo one of these beasts before I officially consider myself satisfied. Yes, I’m a masochist. I admit this freely.

I don’t know that I’d recommend this update for lower levels (anyone under level 75) because it might prove overwhelming. However, if you’ve got a couple high level friends or are just a sucker for pain like me, why the f@#k not? Jump on in. It’s great practice for flickshots and running and gunning. And even if you fail, you still get a ton of gold, RDO$ and XP. When we first started these missions I was level 206, in two days time, I’m level 213 which is unheard of progress if you grind the old-fashioned way on this game.

Though I often give Rockstar a lot of crap for treating Red Dead like the red-headed stepchild of their online endeavors, I am woman enough to admit that this time, they done good. I hope to see more cool, challenging updates like this one. It’s so freaking awesome to have to focus and sweat and cuss my way through a mission. Explosive ammo isn’t just for trolls anymore! Yay! Yes, I’ve found a whole new method of anger management.

Don’t get me wrong, based on my last post, while I am happy, happier than I’ve been in decades, I still got lots of frustrations to take out on NPCs (cuz I don’t mess with other players unless they mess with me and I try my best never to take my bad mood out on those I love). But yeah I still got stuff. Little things like the IRS is taking its sweet time “reviewing” my tax return, cuz, you know, they owe me a lot of money. And big things, like it’s my birthday tomorrow and both my parents are dead. It’s not the first year without them, but things were so fresh and raw last year that I didn’t celebrate, I didn’t even think about the fact that it was my birthday. I just soldiered on with probate headaches and ignored the day. In fact, I think it was about that time last year I hit level 100 on RDO. Coincidence? I think not.

But this year my baby daddy (not the guy who tried to kill me, that’s a different ex) and my son want to throw me a party. Charles and I are headed back to WV with his son for the festivities. While having my blended family together for the first time warms my heart, that same heart breaks a little for the people who will be missing. I mean, my parents were the reason for the day after all. Most folks might sit and have a good cry about that, and I might, but really, I prefer to shoot machete wielding a$$holes in the face. Yep, that’s what works for me. Get the bad stuff out and game on.

Until next time, my friends! You know where I’ll be, battling it out in the Old West till I can’t see straight.

Rockstar, Where’s My F@#king Fast Travel?

Image credit: Red Dead Online gameplay “If I stare hard enough, maybe I can fast travel”

Dear Rockstar,

Why do you continue to break my heart? Actually, it’s my fault because I continue to let you do it. -Sincerely, Cindy.

As soon as weird sh!t started happening in free roam on Red Dead Online, like wave after wave of wolves spawning in places they don’t usually spawn, I knew the update was imminent. it’s happened that way before and I was so excited. There’s been so much speculation about what the Summer update would include.

So, the Blood Money update. Where to f@king start? Let’s start with the positive. The contracts and emerald heist were a great deal of fun. The general missions to earn the newest currency, capitale, weren’t all that different from usual stranger missions, but you know, RDO is like pizza. When it’s good, it’s great, and when it’s bad, it’s still pretty damn good. They also seem to have fixed the legendary animal spawns in free roam. I came across five just getting from place to place.

Which brings me to my biggest gripe. As I’ve written about before, I’m a spoiled little outlaw. I’ve got the best of the best gear and cosmetics. I love the damn game even when it doesn’t seem to love me. Like right now. I’m loading in and I’m stuck at 90%. For like fifteen minutes. Sigh.

I’ve done every update to completion and beyond. The biggest reward, for me, from the Naturalist DLC was the wilderness camp from which you could fast travel. I abused the hell out of that perk. So last night, as I worked my way through the Blood Money missions, I figured it didn’t matter that Lemoyne is hell and gone from my camp and moonshine shack because I could just drop my wilderness camp and fast travel. Ummm…nope.

To my surprise and dismay, that feature is GONE. I’m hoping it wasn’t intentional and a later patch will fix it (and of course break something else). And don’t get me wrong. I’m not dogging on the devs. I’m sure coding a video game is the same type of sweat shop work situation we all seem to deal with these days. Longer hours, higher metrics goals, less pay and less benefits.

There was some other wonky stuff, such as every flavor of moonshine listing as selling for $75 even if it’s the correct buyer. You do however get the appropriate amount of pay at the end of the mission so it’s more of a typo than a bug.

Also, the surroundings were slow to load in at times. And my horse seemed oddly fragile. Never used so much horse reviver in my entire RDO experience. But all these things I can deal with. Why…oh why, did my fast travel have to disappear? Yes, you can still ride to a FT post, but sometimes those are quite far away. My right thumb is killing me today, lol.

Did I love the update, no. Did I hate it? Nope, wouldn’t say that. I just wonder when Rockstar is going to stop treating Red Dead Online like the red-headed stepchild and let it blossom into its own. Yes, GTAO is their main money maker, but RDO has a solid fanbase. Just once, it’d be nice to be treated like we’re important to the company.

Keeping it 200: Red Dead Online

The goal is a waste of time. I know this. After level 100 on Red Dead Online you gain no more advantage from leveling up further. That’s it, all weapons, horses, clothing items, and abilities are unlocked by then. Okay, yes, every five levels you get a treasure map. Whooptie freaking doo. I’ve got more gold and RDO$ than I know what to do with.

So why can’t I stop playing this f@#king game?

There’s so much about RDO that irritates me. The forever load time. The way my saved outfits magically disappear from time to time. Cripps and his sudden need to pack my camp up while I’m en route. How my character gets stuck walking like John Wayne after certain missions. I picked the flamboyant walk because she’s a cute little ladylike outlaw, dammit. I don’t want her walking around like she’s saddle sore. You get my meaning 😉 Sorry, sorry. That bug really bothers me.

There are countless other bugs and glitches, not to mention the always half-baked updates. So I ask again: why can’t I stop playing this f@#king game? Not just continue to play it, but grind on it so often that I’m almost level 200?

To put this in perspective, once you hit level 100, it takes about 10,000 XP to rank up. And that increases little by little so that at this point it’s around 11,000 XP to level up.

For the sake of simple math let’s stick with 10,000. That means I’ve earned almost 1,000,000 XP. And to put that into perspective, the average bounty yields around 300, naturalist and moonshiner missions, maybe 500. The motherlode is the trader goods delivery which takes forever to build up to, but it rewards players with 2000 XP. Yes, there are other ways to get a little extra XP here and there, but when you consider chalking up 1,000,000 in a few months time, that’s a lot of wasted days and wasted nights. It’s okay, I’m woman enough to admit it.

So, if the game irks me and it’s grindy as all hell once you get to a certain level, what attracts me to it over and over again? It’s kinda like that lover that’s no good for you but who’s too much fun not to answer the phone when he calls.

But what’s so fun about it? I don’t know. Really I don’t! There’s just something about shooting a bandit in the face after you’ve tackled him. There’s a thrill to the ever increasing difficulty of the Legendary Bounties. And yes, I’m that player who’ll start Harriet’s naturalist missions but instead of sedating the Legendary animal, I kill it, skin it, and give the pelt to Cripps. But c’mon it makes the trader role so much easier. And then there’s the almost slots like discovery of collectibles throughout the world. Most of the time it’s just going to be a measly playing card, but once in a while you hit the jackpot and get jewelry or a rare flower.

Okay, so I do love unleashing my inner bada$$ in RDO. And it could be said that IRL, I’m a bit repressed. I follow rules. I’m nice even perhaps when I shouldn’t be. So maybe RDO gives me an outlet for all that inappropriate behavior I’ve got locked inside me. Better to release it in virtual reality than real reality.

I also think my affection for RDO comes from my love of the story mode. Red Dead Redemption 2 moved me in a way I can’t quite explain. I wanted so much to save Arthur, but we all know how that turns out. Perhaps continuing to inhabit his world is a way to stay connected to a character I grew to love.

What ever it is, I’m level 196 and I know I won’t stop until I reach 200. And then, really, who am I kidding, I’ll keep playing because I love the game. Maybe it’s just that simple.

What Do You Mean I Don’t Have Explosive Ammo? Red Dead Replay

Gameplay from Red Dead Online

Someone I care about very much told me he’d never played Red Dead Redemption 2, story mode…at least not all the way through. Well, that’s just not acceptable. Friends don’t let friends NOT play RDR2 story mode!

After much gentle persuasion (like nagging him incessantly), he finally acquiesced and installed the game. Actually, I found out later this was a very kind and ingenious plot to distract me from Father’s Day since my dad’s passing is still pretty fresh. What an awesome friend! IKR? And loving this game as much as I do, I was happy to start my 3rd replay and have a twelve hour parallel gaming sesh.

Aside from being absolutely in love with the tragic hero , Arthur Morgan, I also spend a lot of time of Red Dead Online. Yes, the portrait of the Old West painted by the game can be dark, disturbing, and at times kinda gross–par for the course for Rockstar– but I still love roleplaying in it.

While I’m not an outrageous rank online, like 396 or something crazy like that, I’m a respectable 188, which means I’ve got all the good guns, best horses, fully upgraded passive abilities, and all the cool perks like explosive ammo. I’ve become accustomed to playing at a certain level. I’ve also gotten lazy and sloppy.

I face-tank most online missions because I can. I’ve got more minty big game and thyme big game than I know what to do with. Plus I heal when I’m in Dead Eye. Cover shmover, I say. Yes, a good old-fashioned headshot will still take me out, but most of the NPCs aren’t skilled marksmen or markswomen…um, markspeople?

Anyway, starting back at the ground floor with a brand-spanking new Arthur, I learned just how lazy and sloppy I’d gotten. Taking cover suddenly became important again. As did flick-aim for headshots because Arthur’s beginning revolver sucks. And you’ve only got regular ammo. Regular ammo, ugh. I’m not saying I need explosive ammo, but at least express. Throw me a frickin’ bone here, people.

No more portable fast travel with my wilderness camp. Nope. Gotta get back in the groove of tapping X in time with my horse’s galloping if I want to get anywhere without taking all day. And Arthur’s starter horse, well, he’s no big beautiful Breton like my Bacchus.

Yep, I’ve been a spoiled little outlaw and I’d stop challenging myself. At least on Red Dead. So tonight I decided to undertake some 3 and 4 star Legendary Bounties solo. Some went great, some not so much. I think it’s in the times we fail as gamers that we learn the most.

This got me thinking about life in general, as gaming often does (hence the blog). Every experience teaches us something. While we can learn a great deal from success, we learn much more by trying, failing, learning from the failure and attempting to solve the problem a different way. That’s how we grow, learn new skill sets, and become more well-rounded human beings.

So, yeah… challenging myself more as a gamer (still not going the Sekiro route, ain’t nobody got time for that). As for life, don’t usually have to go looking for adversity there. Life has a way of punching you in the gut, perhaps repeatedly, and as you struggle to get back up, sometimes the most beautiful opportunities present themselves. Like a friend who will play your favorite game with you all day because you’re sad.

One of Those Nights: RDR2 Online

Last night was “one of those nights,” but finally in a good way. For some reason, I’ve had a little gamer ADHD, bouncing from game to game unable to focus for a couple hours. Aside from leaving me with way too much time on my hands for my more self-destructive tendencies, it’s also difficult to post about gaming if I’m not freakin’ gaming.

Couldn’t figure out what the issue was. The quality of the games? No, couldn’t be because I alternated between Biomutant, Red Dead Redemption 2, and The Witcher 3. One very good game and two masterpieces. Maybe outside stress? Well, considering I usually handle difficult situations by diving into a game, I doubt it. There’s a slight chance my dopamine needs were being handled elsewhere, but that’s another post for another day.

I never did figure out what went wrong the past few days. And I don’t know what stars aligned last night when I opened Red Dead Redemption 2 Online. When I broke off from other writing projects to jump on the PS4, Biomutant had an update file downloading. Time to mess around on RDR2 because I’m not about to spend the downtime doing something adult like battling dust bunnies or folding laundry. Heavens no!

The warm up was a bit slow, but as soon as I completed my first Legendary Bounty for the evening– flick shot game stong and headshots abounding–the adrenaline hit my bloodstream. I accepted right then and there it was going to be a long night. A joyous, long night of completing unrealistic solo battles, leveling up not once but twice, and generally getting in the groove.

I turned on the PlayStation around 10pm, I finally crawled into bed around 6am. Irresponsible? Yes. Oh so needed? Oh hell yeah. And technically it wasn’t all that irresponsible. At the moment, I have my life set up so I don’t have a whole lot of grown-up stuff to do. And yes, that’s another post, too. I did say this was my mid-life crisis.

But what falls into place when your A-game bubbles to the surface? Is it a special blend of focus and hand-eye coordination? Or maybe it’s a mood thing? Perhaps it’s a combination of all that. I don’t really know what clicks into place. I can say this: no matter the cause, for a gamer, there’s nothing more intoxicating than hitting that perfect storm, then hitting the bunk, bleary-eyed. Which is what I’m fixing to do again because I’ve still only had about three hours of sleep. (See, I’m a little responsible. I got up to post.)

I’d love to hear what makes your perfect gaming night (or day). As always, all comments, likes, and follows returned. All right, nap time!

That F@*king Cougar

No, I\’m not referring to myself or other woman of a certain age who enjoy the company of younger (MUCH younger) men. No shame in my game when it comes to hunting and stalking twenty-something human males…and I have a lovely twenty-five years old BF to prove it. However, that f@#king Sapa Cougar in the Red Dead Redemption 2 Online Naturalist update has shamed me left and right.

I\’ll admit it, I was feeling pretty cocky. While I will be the first to tell you I am not super-skilled as a gamer, when I sedated three regular wolves and then free-aim sedated the Moonstone wolf, all without my horse bucking me off, I felt as though maybe…just maybe…my skills have improved a little. Don\’t worry, the Sapa Cougar put me right back in my place.
The first time I tried this mission I planned to sedate it just as I had all the other legendary animals in the missions accessed through Harriet. My thinking was that I\’d take the samples on the first playthrough for each and then kill and skin them on a second playthrough. Despite the fact that I surprisingly hit the damn cougar with four or five sedative rounds, it still ran up and ripped my face off. About the sixth time it mauled me to death, the game gave me thirty seconds to finish the mission which I of course failed. Irritated with myself, I switched to the Legendary Icahi Boar and forgot about the cougar for the night.
Today I\’ve had a pretty decent gaming day and I felt ready to take on the cougar again. But this time would be different, none of that tree hugging $h*t this time. Today that cougar would be slaughtered skinned so Gus could turn it into some god-awful piece of clothing. Needless to say, that f@#king cougar tore me a new one yet again.
How do you kill that evil beast?! I shot it three times with my Springfield rifle which didn\’t slow it down at all. It ate my face. Once I respawned, I switched to my sawed-off shotgun with which I shot the bastard twice. Granted it was from a bit of a distance, but still! Why won\’t that f@#king cougar die???
I bought the elephant rifle earlier today just because I wanted it. Perhaps that gun will take it out. Or maybe I\’ll just go for the explosive ammo and see how kitty likes that. At this point I don\’t even care if the pelt is too wrecked to make a garment set, I just want that stupid cat dead.

Camp Stew

Still on a RDR2 Online kick and every time I take stew from my camp, it looks delicious. So here\’s what\’s for dinner tonight:

Red Dead Camp Stew

This is just as easy as the Cowpoke Supper, especially if you have a Crock-Pot, it just takes a longer time. If you don\’t have a Crock-Pot, you\’ll simmer all ingredients on low for approximately 4 to 6 hours and you\’ll have to get up once an hour or so to stir it.
Brisket roast 2-3 lbs
1 bag of petite carrots
1 lb of baby potatoes (red, gold, white or whatever kind you prefer)
2 cups beef broth
1 can of tomato paste
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp crushed rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
Throw all ingredients into Crock-Pot or large stew pot. Cook on low for 4-6 hours until meat is fork tender.
If you are gonna hork it down as Arthur or you\’re RDO character does then let it cool for a good while before eating!

Today, We Ride

I\’d you\’re a gamer, you know what today\’s post is about. It\’s Red Dead Redemption 2 Online Summer Update Day. Get yourself caffeinated, prep the snacks, join up with your crew, and let\’s ride, ladies and gentlemen.

Oh I\’m so excited I can hardly stand it!
All this pent up energy made me want to eat like a cowgirl not only in-game, but IRL too. I created this RDR2 inspired dish to keep us nurished throughout what promises to be a long and grindy day.
Cowpoke Supper
1 can of chili
6 frozen biscuits
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Add chili to baking dish. Top with biscuits. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, sprinkle with cheese, bake for 10 more minutes. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
As Marcel would say bon appetit!

My Little Pony

One of the wonderful things about being a higher rank in Red Dead Redemption 2 Online is a surplus of RDO$. Passive ability cards fully upgraded, explosive ammo pamphlets purchased and put to good use against griefers in the game, all pursuits seen through to rank twenty, and camp decked out with the rustic comforts a gal could want… What to buy, what to buy?

I’d already splurged on what was the finest horse in the game which required real life money to obtain. The Arabian and I, however, well, we never quite hit it off. I named her Artemis as she was to be my goddess of hunt. She’s fast, no doubt about it, the fastest horse in the game at the time I bought her and her handling is without compare even still…that is when she isn’t spooked by her own shadow. Fussy and prissy and given to flee at the slightest hint of danger, she was no goddess of the hunt.
So after a little research, I purchased Mercury, a Norfolk Roadster. He is big and beautiful and a lot less skittish than Artemis, but still not quite as brave as I would like.
Having heard good things about the Criollo, I purchased Hephaestus. Again very fast, a little braver but very tiny and strangely colored. Just not quite right, though a lovely horse indeed.
This brings me to my plumpy pony love: Bacchus. Bacchus is a Breton, a mixture of race and war horse, he is a wolf trampling, gator stomping, enemy battering hunk of greased lightning wrapped in beautiful bronze fur. No, I haven’t gone all Catherine the Great, but he is my plumpy little pony baby.
Well, actually, if Bacchus were a real horse he would stand 16 hands high and weigh a whopping 1700 pounds. So while I think of him as my little pony, he’s a rather large beast indeed.
You’ll hear all of the aforementioned horses proclaimed by different gamers as the best horse in the game. I think that’s because they are all fantastic breeds and the horse that will suit you best depends on your gaming style. My BF is a beast of a gamer with lightning quick reflexes so he makes full use of the Arabian’s elite handling. I on the other hand lack such gifts so I need a horse that makes up for my gamer shortcomings. Bacchus does just that. He is my partner in crime, my brother in battle, and my loyal protector in the face of danger. It’s no wonder we get along so well.