Red Dead Online doesn’t seem long for this world. After Rockstar announced last month that RDO would no longer receive “major” content updates, players have alternated between explosive violence and silent grief (opens in new tab). A few just quit the game altogether.
Including, apparently, the NPCs.
A recent bug, first documented on Reddit (opens in new tab), has turned the bustling metropolises and rolling plains of Red Dead into abandoned ghost towns. Horses pull empty carriages through desolate streets, wares stand unattended on market stalls and you can’t even find wild animals if you venture into the countryside. It’s like someone told them the game is doomed and they’ve all run off to find a new job.
Judging by the comments, the bug has been randomly hitting players over the past week, plunging unsuspecting RDO fans into their own personal “Twilight Zone” episodes as they dash across the map in search of nonexistent human life. It’s almost too direct as a metaphor for the state of the game, which has always been a black sheep in Rockstar’s lineup, even before Rockstar came out saying it wouldn’t get any major updates. Of course, almost any game you can name would look like an underachiever compared to the money printing success that is GTA Online. (opens in new tab).
It’s actually pretty cool, both as an inadvertent bit of satire by the game’s own NPCs, and as a weird, creepy experience that players can immerse themselves in without warning. Launching a game that is normally so adept at recreating the indescribable “feel” of living spaces and finding it utterly devoid of life is a fun twist. The Halloween-style driverless carriages and the subtle panic of running from street to street while trying – and failing – to find another living soul are just a ghostly bonus.
For old players, however, it’s just another reminder of RDO’s inevitable fate. Numerous comments have been from disgruntled fans, angry that Rockstar still hasn’t patched the bug after about a week of problems, and sadly reminded that – without major updates to keep people engaged – RDO’s future is likely to have many empty streets and missing recognizable faces.
It’s not hard to guess why Rockstar doesn’t prioritize patching RDO bugs like this one. Development on GTA 6 means that the company is currently putting any game that makes no more money than a small country on the back burner (opens in new tab). But don’t worry, as Red Dead’s online component fades away, the excellent single player is as strong as ever, and modders keep expanding it every day. (opens in new tab).