It's ironic that, since Outlaws to the End was supposed to be Rockstar's "I'm Sowee" gift to players who'd had problems with multiplayer bugs, that the add-on itself debuted with its own wagon-load of errors.
Invisible comrades, and co-op missions with not an NPC in sight were some of the more quirky bugs plaguing the free DLC when it was dispatched, stuck loading screens were the killing blow for most. A quick patch-up though and we're back in the game, but does Outlaws To The End bring anything new to the dusty west?
Taking on bandits, rival gangs or the Mexican army with up to three friends or complete strangers is undeniably new and entertaining. You definitely get a sense of brotherhood when you're all bundled into a stagecoach, rifles cocked through windows, with the guy behind the reigns counting on you to fight off gaining hijackers.
Working as a team is crucial with two new features encouraging cooperation; A familiar bleed-out and revive system means players need to keep an eye out for fallen friends and rescue them if they want any chance of progressing to the end.
In the harsher scenarios, however, there's such a constant rally of bullets that anyone who does stop to revive a friend has a pretty good chance of dying themselves.
Another new feature is the introduction of cowboy classes, which can be selected by approaching one of a number of different weapon sets that determine whether you're a long range specialist with a sniper-rifle, or a bit more up close and personal with a shotgun.
In theory you should aim for a well balanced team that can take out the opposition from all angles. In truth, however, the weapon sets don't vary too greatly and the missions aren't tailored in any way to truly appreciate the effect of a shotgun over a pistol.
We found ourselves constantly going back to the trusty Winchester Repeater, which does the job for both short and medium range shooting. You'll need the extra length, since maps get pretty flooded with enemies and trying to get to the middle of the fray will get you killed to death.
Shoot 'em up
The new missions are expectedly all based around shooting up cowboys, but each has a slightly different slant as a gesture towards variety. 'Amunition', for example, pits you and your men against the Mexican army in the middle of the night with a nasty storm impairing your visibility, where as 'The River' restricts you to a raft with the onslaught coming from on-shore gunmen.
Outlaws To The End basically outnumbers your gang of four or less massively, and really you need three other team-mates to succeed. Mission's like 'Walton's Gold' - where you have to fight your way up to a mine, then into it, then back out again - feels like a big difficulty spike with most of our modest team dying before we even got close to the gold.
Others like 'The Escape', which sees players fleeing and fighting off attackers in a stagecoach, feel a lot tamer and can be rattled off consistently in one go.
Without strong story elements and a thriving community to help enhance the experience, Red Dead's co-op missions are exposed as fairly basic rehashes of escaping some sort of ambush.
Sometimes you're on a river, sometimes you're in a mine, sometimes you're herding cattle (sigh). Either way you're just shooting your way out of trouble. It would have been nice to rob a bank with a friend, or a train, or at least a nun.
It's a solid effort. All the visual integrity is obviously replicated, the world is still great to dash through on horseback and the missions are fun to begin with and a good way to pick up some hefty chunks of XP and a few Trophies or Achievements.
Once you've been through Outlaws To The End for the first time you won't feel a strong urge to go back. But at a price of zero pounds and zero pence it's a cheap day out on the Great Plains and maybe even enough to make us part with a couple of quid had Rockstar not been so generous. Don't tell though.
Only worth a play through once but fun enough while it lasts.
- It's Red Dead with mates
- Free as oxygen
- Plenty of XP to be had
- Nothing but ambushes and shoot-outs
- Frustrating difficulty spikes