A bounty is acquired when the player commits a crime and a witness is able to report it. Additional crimes increase the bounty level. Unwitnessed crimes, and those where all witnesses are bribed or killed, incur no bounty although Honor is still lost. Sheriffs, deputies, bounty hunters, and other lawmen will attempt to apprehend or kill the player to collect on the bounty.
The Heads-Up Display provides a wanted meter to indicate the intensity of the pursuing bounty collectors or lawmen and the remaining time until pursuit is broken off. The player must avoid detection in order to escape pursuit, though eventually a new set of bounty hunters will pick up the trail.
When a crime is witnessed, the eyewitness can be killed or bribed before they are able to notify the law.
John and Arthur can be a bounty hunters themselves; bounties will be issued on NPCs and the characters can track down these NPCs and either apprehend and turn them in, or kill them for reward. Bounties can be found either through missions or posters.
Posses form in the wilderness, with composition and size based on bounty amount. A posse is made up of three or more lawmen, and if the bounty is high enough they arrive with dogs. The player cannot hide from posses that have at least one dog alive; they always know where the player is is. Sometimes, the posse is made up of bounty hunters instead of lawman.
Posses may appear in one of the two circumstances:
- If an eyewitness gets far enough away, a posse will form at the point where the report took place.
- If the player has a bounty over $150 and are in the wilderness, a posse may come after you. This will take place every 30-40 minutes in real time
Posses will have a number of members dependent on the players bounty level
|Bounty Greater than..||Posse Amount|
3 or 4 members; (3 if this is the first posse response)
|$1700||6 members and 1 dog|
8 members and 2 dogs
|$5000||10 members and 3 dogs|
|$7000+||12 members and 4 dogs|
The player can escape them only by getting outside the law radius on the map, which is much larger than usual if dogs are part of the posse. The posse will accept surrender and take you to jail, or kill you if you resist. The player can lose the Wanted level either by staying hidden, bribing, or by killing all members of the posse. If the posse was formed from a witness report, and the player killed them all, the bounty will then be rolled back to the value it was before the posse started, since there is no one left alive to tell the tale.
Acts Relating To Bounty Increase
These acts must be witnessed and reported in order to cause the bounty.
|Killing an owned dog||$3|
|Shooting an owned Horse||$5|
|Threatening an Officer||$5|
|Killing an owned Horse||$20|
|Killing owned Cattle||$20|
|Abducting an officer||$30|
|Shooting an officer||$20|
|Cheating at poker||$25|
|Killing a non-hostile/hostile person in town||$40|
|Stealing A Vehicle (Stagecoach)||$20|
|Murdering An Officer||$50|
All of these values may be cut in half by obtaining the highest Fame rank.
Acts Relating To Bounty Decrease
When the player has an active bounty of their own (single player only), completing a bounty hunting mission will decrease the player's active bounty based on the reward for the outlaw that was captured. Performing Nightwatch tasks will also reduce an active bounty. Being shot by a marshal will decrease bounty by a certain percentage.
If Marston does not resist arrest (holsters his weapon and stands still while the lawmen close in), he will be placed in jail. Money will be deducted from the player's balance to pay off the bounty when leaving the jail. If the player has insufficient funds, they will have to complete bounty hunting missions or simply earn more money to pay off the balance.
Affecting Bounty Level
Honor directly affects an active bounty. Bad deeds increase the bounty, while good deeds can decrease it.
Wearing a bandana while evading pursuit from the law will cause the wanted meter to decrease at a slower rate. If being pursued, remove the bandana in order to better evade apprehension by law officers and bounty hunters. A bounty that exceeds $150 will result in posses trying to ambush the player (the higher the bounty, the more ambushes occur).
- An effective way of losing a bounty would be to bring the lawmen away from a town and then kill all of them.
- The only settlements in game where it is impossible to acquire bounties under most circumstances are Thieves' Landing and Casa Madrugada, however the player will get shot at if they cause trouble in those locations.
- The best way to escape from a high bounty is to cross the border to Nuevo Paraiso, since the two countries have their own bounties. Be careful, as bounty hunters and lawmen may be waiting at the edge of the border.
- An effective way of gaining a bounty in multiplayer, is to form a posse and go to El Presidio. Once there, decide on who takes the cannons, and the gatling guns. Once the positions are placed, start shooting the Mexican Army, until your posse gets a sufficient bounty. Make sure to cover both doors, as the Army is persistent and dangerous at your back.
Accumulating a bounty is required or can contribute towards completion of the following Trophies/Achievements:
Use the Pardon Letter with more than $5,000 Bounty in Single Player.
Evade the U.S. Marshals while riding the Hungarian Half-bred in singleplayer.