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Improve your Red Dead Redemption 2 combat skills with this guide

© Rockstar Games
Whether you’re in a gunfight, brawling in the local saloon, or hunting in the wild, this Red Dead Redemption 2 combat tips guide will give you the upper hand in any situation.
Written by Chris WhitePublished on
Using weapons in Red Dead Redemption 2 isn’t simply about shooting to get the kill. There are plenty of factors to being successful in a shootout, and you’ll often find that a whole host of different scenarios arise where you may have to be cautious, smart, and always have a plan in place to get the best out of any situation.
There are plenty of different guns to use, as well as melee weapons, and your lasso can always be incredibly useful. Sometimes you’ll need to use stealth, other times finding cover will mean the difference between life and death. This Red Dead Redemption 2 combat tips guide will help you be efficient and deadly in the Wild West.

1. Attach the correct weapons to your saddle

Attach weapons to your saddle
Attach weapons to your saddle
If you’re riding into a mission, always remember to go in prepared. You can only carry a select number of weapons on your person, but your horse will have a selection of rifles, pistols, and shotguns attached to its saddle. Standing next to your horse and pressing L1/LB will enable you to go into your horse’s inventory and pick a few weapons to equip. If you know you’re going into a mission where stealth is important, equip your bow and arrow, or if you’re preparing to take down more than a handful of O’Driscolls, grab a rifle and a shotgun.

2. What are the best guns?

Pistols have bigger barrels than revolvers, which are more accurate
Pistols have bigger barrels than revolvers, which are more accurate
There are lots of different types of guns and becoming familiar with each one is important. You may be gifted one in a story mission, earn them through certain challenges, or buy them from the local gunsmith. Pistols have bigger barrels, and reload a lot faster, allowing you to fire plenty of shots. However, they aren’t as powerful as some others.
Revolvers have better accuracy than a pistol, and will do more damage, but they take longer to load. Rifles are better suited to firing at enemies who are at more of a distance, especially if it’s a sniper rifle you’re using – they are much slower but are vital when approaching enemies from long range. Shotguns are incredibly powerful, and will blow enemy's heads off, but you’re only going to get the best out of them from close range.

3. Get to know your gun

Each weapon has its stats, and by using a specific weapon more, you’ll boost your familiarity with it, which will improve recoil and reload times. Just make sure you remember to keep them clean using Gun Oil (pressing the right analogue stick) or else their stats will start to decrease.

4. How to use the bow and arrow and other stealth weapons

Use the bow and arrow when you need to be quiet
Use the bow and arrow when you need to be quiet
You don’t always need to go in guns blazing and using the bow and arrow will help tremendously. Providing you’ve got the time to line up a precise shot, this weapon will kill an enemy with one hit, but you’re going to need to aim for the head or upper chest to do so.
You can also use weapons like throwing knives to attack from long range, but the bow and arrow will be much cleaner. Another way to be stealthy is to sneak up on an enemy from behind and stab them in the back. Pressing the left analogue stick will make you crouch and sneaking up to an enemy and pressing Square/X at the correct time will give you a clean and quiet kill.

5. Use the lasso

Perhaps the most iconic tool in a cowboy’s arsenal, the lasso has more uses than simply catching an unsuspecting deer. If it’s just one person you’re trying to kill – or capture, depending on your goal – the lasso can stop them instantly in their tracks. Using it on horseback is when it's at its most effective and throwing it on someone who is trying to escape you will allow you more time to focus on them and launch it. To do so, press L2/LT to ready it, then R2/RT to throw.

6. Holstering your weapon

Keep your gun in your holster when you ride into town
Keep your gun in your holster when you ride into town
One of the most frustrating things that can happen in Red Dead Redemption 2 is accidentally firing your gun at an innocent civilian. It can happen more than you think, so always ride into town or walk into a saloon with your weapon firmly in its holster. To put your gun away, press L1/LB. It’s a simple tip, but one that’ll do you a solid when trying to chat with the locals.

7. How to fight

Learn to block to win fist fights
Learn to block to win fist fights
There will be times when you must use your fists, and punching is only the start. Make sure you learn to block by pressing Square/X, and don’t spam Circle/B to punch constantly because you’ll wear yourself out and give your opponent the chance to knock you out.
When initiating a fistfight, or if you simply want to disarm an enemy with your hands, run at them by tapping X/A, then press Circle/B to dive at them and knock them off their feet. When on the ground, your enemy will have less leverage to attack you, and going full mount will leave them defenceless and vulnerable.

8. Always look for cover

Getting shot in RDR2 often causes you to lose a significant amount of health, so never start shooting in the open. Always approach a gunfight after looking for potential cover spots, be it a huge rock, a cabin, or a horse cart. Pressing R1/RB near cover will move you behind it, making it almost impossible for an enemy to get a clean shot in. Holding L2/LT whilst behind cover will make you appear from behind it but letting go will drop you right back into cover. Be smart and don’t spend a lot of time away from cover because you’ll die and will have to replay the whole section again.

9. How to duel effectively

You need to be slow and then be quick to win a duel
You need to be slow and then be quick to win a duel
While duelling isn’t a huge part of RDR2, you’ll still need to know how to do it effectively. Most of the duelling pops up in Gunslinger missions, and when you find yourself in a duel, the screen slows down, and you need to press R2/RT ever so softly. This is the first stage and pressing it too hard will give you less time in the next stage.
Remember: the slower you press, the more time you get to pick your place of impact. Once the meter has filled, you’ll need to aim your shot with the right analogue stick – do this as quickly as you can or else your opponent will get there first. Once you’ve picked your spot press R2/RT again to fire.

10. Use Dead Eye when you can

Dead Eye is a very useful tool, and making sure you use it whenever facing multiple enemies provides instant kills when levelled up. You can enter Dead Eye at any time, providing the meter is full (which can be refilled by using Snake Oil, cigars, and other items). It slows down time and enables you to fire off a shot with complete precision.
Levelling up happens naturally as you progress, and the further you get, the more useful it becomes. For example, at Level 2 you can pick impact zones in multiple enemies by tagging them with L1/LB, and at Level 4, the enemy’s heart will be highlighted in their body, meaning you can achieve an instant kill if you tag it before firing. Keeping the Dead Eye core and bar filled up means that you can use it at key points in combat, whether against an enemy or a dangerous animal.
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