For those of you who still can't get enough of forming posses and shooting each other in the face in Red Dead Redemption, you'll be pleased to hear that the second DLC pack, titled Legends & Killers, will be released on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network on the 10th August. Ahead of the add-on's launch, I was invited to play a few rounds of multiplayer with the Rockstar crew.
A batch of eight new characters have been included in this pack, and they all come from the Western action series' first game, Red Dead Revolver
. It's great to see old favourites such as Red Harlow, Jack Swift and Annie Stoakes fit right into this brave, new world.
Choosing any of these characters won't give you any gameplay advantages or special weapons, unfortunately ? you're picking these guys just for the aesthetic pleasure. That's not to say that there are no new weapons at all in the DLC package. This will probably end up being the reason you plonk down the virtual cash for it, in fact ? Tomahawks.
Players have the ability to use these small, versatile throwing axes in many of the nine new multiplayer maps ? and it's really quite a deadly toy. After aiming carefully with the Left Trigger, you launch your limited number of Tomahawks at unsuspecting enemies with the Right Trigger. A couple of hits and your opponent is done for.
It's really best used as a close-range weapon, as its deadly effectiveness is increased the closer you are to your enemy. The best method I found was to fire some long-range shots with the pistol or an available carbine, get up close with the Tomahawks and dodge incoming gunfire whilst aiming for the chest or head. Instant death.
Although if you're very skilled, the new weapon can be useful in a long-range situation too. Get the throwing angle just right, and you get an Achievement (?Hail Mary!?) for killing foes from very far away.
The first of the new maps that I played almost seemed like it was designed with the Tomahawk in mind. Rio Bravo, the mountainous area between Tumbleweed and Fort Mercer, contains a huge rocky hill that can be climbed up and explored to take advantage of all kinds of narrow pathways and high vantage points. Around the base of the hill is an open wasteland full of plantlife to hide in, along with a road circling it.
Crouching and hiding behind one of the rocks proves to be an awesome method of stealth combat ? unlike using guns, throwing Tomahawks doesn't give away your position on the map, meaning you can expertly hide in any of the nooks and crannies and get your shots on unsuspecting victims. That also means, however, that other players will be able to do the same to you. You should get used to being killed by a Tomahawk to your back.
After a riotous shoot-out in Rio Bravo, I took part in a Gold Rush session in Fort Mercer, situated in New Austin on the Red Dead Redemption
world map. Essentially, you're trying to carry as many gold bags as possible to the deposit chests without dropping them by dying under enemy fire. Fort Mercer is a great setting for this as it contains a big open space to host stalemate shootouts, while providing various doorways and indoor areas for bag runners to dodge bullets effectively.
Thieves Landing is a dusty town in the same vein as Armadillo, only with a body of water separating two halves of the arena, and rickety wooden bridges the only way across. I played some Grab the Bag games here, which was as fun as it was challenging ? you need to cover three different bridges to avoid stealthy opponents infiltrating your camp, while gold bags appear right in the middle of a particular bridge, setting the stage for the perfect gunfight. Add a gun turret to the mix, and you've got one mental stage.
Two 'Hold Your Own' games were set in a couple of new arenas ? the first, Tall Trees, is a snowy woodland that is so expansive you'll need horses to travel to the other team's camp and steal their gold. Tree trunks provide cover from multiple angles, and it can be dangerous to gallop with gay abandon as bullets can suddenly come flying from anywhere. Definitely a team effort stage, that. The second, Blackwater, is a complex city at the forefront of modernisation, and offers tons of opportunity for hiding from enemies thanks to the many alleyways that cut through the blocks of residence.
Perhaps the most strategic multiplayer map of them all was Escalera, a large village in the shadow of Colonel Allende's huge mansion. Situated at the very top of a hilly landscape, our Gang Shootout match was essentially a race from the bottom of the map to the highest viewpoints. If the other team managed to gain control of all the roofs, you'd have a very hard time surviving, as those areas give you the lay of the entire land. If you're caught on the lower end of the map (as I was, very frequently), the trick is to take it nice and slow, and stealth your way around the back of the map and pick off the enemies atop the roofs. It's easier said than done, though.
All in all, there's plenty of additional gameplay hours packed into the Rio Bravo map and the Tomahawks alone make this worth a punt on the DLC price. I've not managed to get bored of the online multiplayer in Red Dead Redemption
yet, and usually when I'm in a position like that I tend to hold off on DLC until the core experience runs dry. I'd recommend getting these maps and characters ahead of that moment though, because it adds some whole new stealthy dimensions to an already entertaining boxed product.
Red Dead Redemption: Legends & Killers will be released on Xbox Live (800 Microsoft Points) and PlayStation Network (£7.99) on the 10th August.