Dueling is a gameplay element in all three installments of the Red Dead series. A staple of Western stories, duels involve opponents facing each other over a short distance and attempting to draw their weapon and shoot their opponent before their opponent can do the same to them.
Red Dead Revolver
In Red Dead Revolver, dueling is a major gameplay element featured in ten of the twenty-seven story missions. In these missions, Red Harlow must duel from one to three opponents at a time. In some cases, the duel occurs as a single objective within the mission while in other cases the duel represents the boss battle that ends the mission.
A dueling tutorial is presented to the player during the mission "Ugly Streetfight". Dueling consists of four stages: the grab, the draw, acquiring locks, and firing.
In the grab, the player moves the right analog stick down to cause the character's hand to grasp the weapon. Prior to initiating the grab, the character's hand moves up and down. The quickest grab occurs when the character's hand is closest to the weapon.
In the draw, the player moves the right analog stick back up to remove the weapon from its holster after the grab has been completed. The speed of movement is critical - the draw should be as quick as possible to beat the opponent to the targeting phase, but drawing too quickly can cause the player to overshoot the target.
To acquire locks, the right analog stick is used to move the crosshairs over the opponent's body. During this phase, the crosshairs narrow and cycle colors between yellow (poor shot), dark red (hit), and bright red (critical hit). The right trigger is used to mark shots. Marking shots while the crosshairs are bright red will deal the most damage to the opponent, therefore requiring the fewest shots to drop them. Shots to the head deal the most damage. Multiple quickly-acquired critical hits are required for the toughest opponents in the later stages of the game. Up to six shots can be marked.
Once six shots have been marked or the slow motion targeting phase times out, shots are fired. The player can manually start the firing phase early by clicking on the right analog stick. If the player has caused sufficient damage with sufficient speed, the opponent(s) will be killed. If one or more opponents are not killed, Red will be hit and fall to the ground. If his wounds aren't fatal, he will shortly stand back up and have a chance to finish off his opponent(s) with normal shooting.
- Main article: Battle Royale
- Main article: Showdown Mode
In Showdown Mode, the multiplayer mode of Red Dead Revolver, the "High Noon" game option sets up a last-player-standing dueling contest between two to four players.
Red Dead Redemption
Marston may be randomly challenged to duels by either outlaws or vigilantes, depending on the player's current honor, while passing through a settlement. Marston will also be challenged to a duel if caught cheating while playing Poker. Occasionally, the player may also be challenged to a duel if they knock over an NPC while on horseback.
After accepting a dueling challenge, press the Left Trigger (Xbox 360) or the L2 button (PS3) to draw Marston's sidearm when the "draw" prompt appears on screen. A player may choose to draw anytime either before or after the "draw" prompt. If the player draws early, the camera will be zoomed out farther from the target, making it harder to aim correctly. If the player waits and draws after the "draw" prompt, the camera will be closer to your opponent, making it easier to mark them in vital zones.
Success in a duel means filling your "duel meter" faster than your opponent does his. Once Marston draws his weapon, the player must "paint" the target with a Dead-Eye type expanding crosshair reticle. The reticle will repeatedly grow and turn red, then shrink and turn white. Pressing the Right Trigger (Xbox 360) or R2 button (PS3) when the reticle is red will fill a miniscule portion of the meter, while marking a shot when the cross-hair is white will fill a larger portion of the meter. Shots to the chest and head will fill the meter quickly, while shots to the stomach or legs will fill less of the meter. Keep in mind that the player's meter doesn't need to be completely filled to win the duel, it only has to be larger than your opponents. Once your meter is filled, the R2 button (PS3) or the Right Trigger (Xbox 360) fires the shots.
You may also win a duel by disarming your opponent. To disarm an opponent, the player must mark the NPC's arm or gun, and can still mark others spot on the body after. After the mark is placed correctly, the player's meter will fill by a large amount, likely winning the duel with only one shot.
Killing an opponent generates Fame, while disarming an opponent will generate both Honor and Fame. Most opponents encountered throughout the course of the main storyline and Stranger side-missions cannot be disarmed and must be killed. However, while it is possible to achieve this feat, usually enemies will often produce another weapon such as a backup sidearm and continue to try and kill the player. On some occasions, if a weapon is successfully shot out of an opponent's hand, they will hold their hand in pain. They can still be killed or hogtied with the lasso (the player will receive no bonus for doing this) after the duel, but if not dealt with on the spot, the loser will often flee the scene.
Marston can choose to refuse a duel. If the player chooses to walk away instead of walking to the marker after accepting the duel or shoots the challenger before the duel, honor may be lost. Killing the challenger at this time could also result in a Bounty. However, if the player battles out the challenger with their fists, the duel will be prevented and the player can walk away with no honor penalty.
As with other Stranger tasks, there is no penalty to honor if a player chooses to ignore a random challenge entirely.
Red Dead Redemption 2
In free-roam, the player can only be challenged to a duel in Valentine and Van Horn Trading Post. In both places, two men can be seen entering a standoff, and the winner will challenge anyone else to duel him. At this point, the player may accept their challenge, and initiate a duel with them.
Additionally, in Valentine, the player may be challenged to a duel by a drunkard, if they bump into him when entering Smithfield's Saloon. This time, however, the drunkard will pass out as soon as the standoff begins, and no duel will be fought.
At the Rhodes Saloon, the player might encounter someone bragging about their quick draw and the player can challenge him to prove it. If the player wins the duel by disarming then his "friend" will thank the player for finally shutting the braggart up.
When the duel begins, lightly press RT/R2 (or press and hold RB/R1 if triggers are flipped) to charge the duel meter. When it is full, the player can take their shot. The player can also "cheat" to win duels. In order to do this, partially charge the duel meter and then take the shot manually. This method is faster and the player will be more likely to win the duel. However, unless it’s in the side mission "The Noblest of Men, and a Woman", the player will lose Honor for doing this.
You can also win duels via disarming your opponent. In order to do this, aim for the opponent's gun or hand, and take the shot. Doing this will reward the player with Honor. The player should be aware, however, that disarming the opponent will not gain the player Honor if it is done in the mission "The Noblest Of Men, and a Woman". Furthermore, disarming opponents in this mission will lead to different results - if Emmet Granger is disarmed, he will attack the player with a knife, if Billy Midnight is disarmed, he will laugh and eventually commit suicide, and if Flaco Hernández is disarmed, he will take out a Sawed-off Shotgun and begin shooting at the player. It is impossible to disarm Jim "Boy" Calloway. Conversely, in the duels against Jamie Gillis and Joshua Brown, the player must disarm them. Failing to do so will cause the respective missions to fail.
Opponents in duels will generally die from a single shot (as long as it’s in a fatal area, such as the head or torso), regardless of what weapon is used. The only opponent who may not die from a single shot is Flaco Hernández. During the duel with him, it is advised to either aim for the head or, preferably, shoot twice. If the player does wish to shoot more than once, they should press the "shoot" button multiple times. The number of shots the player can fire depends on the ammo capacity of the weapon they are using.
Duels may also vary slightly in difficulty. Opponents from the mission "The Noblest of Men, and a Woman" will be slightly faster than opponents in free-roam. Jim "Boy" Calloway is the fastest opponent in the game, and the player will have to "cheat" in order to beat him.
In free-roam only, the player may also refuse duels. Doing so will reward them with Honor.
Red Dead Online
In Red Dead Online, dueling is not a standalone activity as such, although two players can duel each other in a relatively similar fashion to duels in Redemption and Redemption 2's single player modes, by standing a short distance away from each other and drawing once a third player fires their gun in the air. Fanning the hammer is the most common method for dueling.
- Even if the player is using the invincible cheat, they will get killed during a duel.
- Red Dead Revolver is the only game where the player character will not fan the hammer in a duel, instead rapidly firing the gun like normally.
- Red Dead Revolver
- If Red is equipped with Twin Revolvers during a duel, he will shoot with one, but re-holster both of them.
- Red Dead Redemption
- Marston will still fan the hammer of semi-automatic guns, such as the High Power Pistol, Semi-automatic pistol or the Mauser Pistol, which is a technique unnecessary on semi-automatic firearms because the action of the slide re-cocks the hammer each time the weapon is fired; in fact, trying to do so would result in the weapon's slide smashing the user's hand. Fanning the hammer is only useful on single action weapons because the hammer must be cocked every time, so slapping the hand against the hammer quickly is much faster than using the thumb. It could theoretically be done with a double-action revolver as long as it is not double-action-only, but would provide little advantage.
- If the player has a wide enough camera view by drawing earlier, they can actually mark onlookers in the crowd and wound or kill them. After the duel, no bounty will be incurred for wounding or killing civilians in the crowd. However, when marking people in the crowd, it will not fill up Marston's meter, essentially making them wasted shots.
- Even if an NPC is killed in a Duel, they will continue to respawn for future duels and minigames.
- Killing a shopkeeper (such as Herbert Moon) in a duel caused by cheating in poker will not cause their shop to be unavailable for five days.
- After killing a person in a duel, sometimes the same exact person can still be found alive; in some cases, they may even stare at their own corpse. This happens with characters like Herbert Moon.
- Trying to disarm the opponent in any storyline duels the duel bar will not fill up, resulting in the opponent winning.
- Sometimes at the start of a duel, the player's horse will wander in between the combatants, causing the player to only be able to aim at his own horse. The player will only be able to see their opponent's lower right leg and will not be able to fill the meter enough, and lose the duel. To avoid this simply make sure you dismount the horse before going to accept a duel.
- Normally, a crawling NPC will eventually die but it is possible to make an opponent crawl and survive by shooting both his legs and his weapon during a duel, this still counts as sparing the challenger.
- Sometimes you might even duel the target from a bounty mission that you have not completed.
- When getting ready to shoot, the player is able to push down on the right-stick (X360), R3 (PS3), to move Marston's hand closer to the holster making for a faster draw.
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Often, shooting the opponent in the leg will have the same effect as disarming them.
- All of the opponents from the mission "The Noblest of Men, and a Woman" have a unique duelling style: Granger uses a throwing knife instead of a gun, Midnight kneels down with one knee as he fires, Hernández dives to one side as he fires, and Calloway is left-handed.