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Rockstar have done it again, creating nothing less than the most immersive open world ever created in gaming history, in the form of the breath taking Red Dead Redemption 2.
This guide will explain everything you need to know about character and horse attributes, including the quickest and best methods to maximise the meters, which are displayed at the bottom left of the screen above the mini-map.
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From left to right these are Health, Stamina and Dead Eye as shown here. The two additional gauges to the right of these are the Health and Stamina meters exclusive to your horse, which I will explain in detail later in this guide, so make sure to keep reading!
Each attribute consists of two separate gauges, the outer ring gauge which is the Main Attribute Meter, and the inner circle which is the Attribute Core. These attribute meters will deplete as you take damage for Health, sprint, swim, climb or jump for stamina, and when you trigger the signature slow-motion state for Dead Eye.
You can actively replenish the attribute meters by sleeping, resting and bathing, or using consumables like food, tonics and tobacco. Your Dead Eye meter will also slightly fill with every one you kill when not using Dead Eye.
The attribute cores at the centre of each meter, have two functions. The primary function serves as a last resort extension of the corresponding attribute. For example, if the main attribute gauge is fully depleted around the core, the core itself will then begin to deplete. In the case of the Health meter, if the core continues to deplete until empty, this will mean instant death.
The secondary function of the attribute core is to determine the replenishment speed of the corresponding attribute meter. When the core is full, you enjoy the fastest possible recovery rate over time. The more the core is depleted however, the slower the recovery rate will be.
However the recovery rate of the Dead Eye meter operates differently to the health and stamina meters, as it does not replenish automatically over time. Instead, the Dead Eye meter refills with each kill you perform, at a rate determined by how full your Dead Eye core is. So if your Dead Eye core is full, every kill will add the optimum amount to the Dead Eye meter.
Cores will naturally drain slowly over time through hunger and tiredness. In normal conditions and no intervention, it takes 90 minutes for a core to completely drain from full to empty. Its worth noting that 48 minutes of real world time equates to one full day in the game.
Certain in game conditions will affect this natural drain, such as being poisoned or being too hot or cold, in which case the drain speed is just 10 minutes. Wearing appropriate clothing can circumvent harsh weather conditions, while sleeping, returning to camp, starting a mission, or consuming a herb will all remove the poison status effect.
Additionally, being mounted on your horse will reduce core drain speed by 25%, and while at a camp the drain speed is completely removed.
Your character weight can also have a significant effect. The weight parameter has a range from 0 which is skinny, to 20 which is overweight, with 10 being the ideal peak condition.
You naturally lose one point of weight with every 24 minutes of real world time, which is approximately 12 hours in the game. Naturally, weight loss is prevented by consuming food, with each type having its own calorific value.
The bonuses or penalties for your current weight will scale in one point increments between 9-0 which is average to skinny, and 11-20 which is average to overweight.
Being overweight will drain your cores faster by up to a maximum of 25%, and your stamina meter will also drain faster at 0.75% per increment, up to a maximum of 7.5%. However being overweight will provide you with improved damage resistance of 0.75% less damage per increment, up to a maximum of 7.5%.
Being underweight will also drain your cores faster up to a maximum of 25%, and will increase the damage you take at 0.75% more damage per increment, up to a maximum of 7.5%. However, being underweight will provide you with reduced stamina drain of 0.75% less drain per increment, up to a maximum of 7.5%.
To check your current weight and how its affecting your performance, open the Player menu, then open the General tab and scroll down to the weight entry.
As you can see from this screen, it sais I am underweight and currently take 5.25% more damage from all sources, and my stamina loss is reduced by 5.25%. If you multiply the 0.75% per increment by 7 this equals 5.25%, so this means I am currently seven increments below the ideal peak condition of 10, and just 3 increments away from 0 which is skinny, this means I need to eat more food whether I need it or not, to get my weight up.
Attribute Cores, therefore, require regular maintenance to keep them in optimal condition. Having full speed recovery and minimal drain in tough fire fights will allow you to heal much quicker when in cover, which can mean the difference between life and death.
The cheapest and most convenient way to keep all your cores regularly topped up is by sleeping. Early in the story you are given a mobile camp, allowing you to sleep, craft and cook, anywhere in the game world besides towns, auto-saving with each use. So make sure to use this handy feature as often as possible keeping you prepared for chance encounters.
The outer ring meters which circle the cores, consist of segments known in Red Dead 2 as tanks. At the start of the game you are allocated a specific number of tanks per meter as follows:
- Health meter starts at 3 tanks
- Stamina meter starts at 2 tanks
- Dead Eye meter starts at 2 tanks
You can permanently increase all three main attribute meters by up to 10 tanks each by performing certain actions that generate attribute experience. If you manage to unlock the full 10 tanks for any attribute, the meter will fully circle the attribute core when fully replenished.
You can check your tank progression on any attribute meter by looking in the Player menu, then clicking on the corresponding attribute page, health, stamina or dead eye, as shown here.
Every time you reach specific experience thresholds by performing certain actions, the attribute in question levels up and the corresponding meter gradually fills clockwise with each new tank.
The table on this screen shows all the actions required, and the relative XP earned, to build experience for the Health attribute meter:
The table on this screen shows all the actions required, and the relative XP earned, to build experience for the Stamina attribute meter.
The table on this screen shows all the actions required, and the relative XP earned, to build experience for the Dead Eye attribute meter.
As you can see in this attribute experience progression table, a total of 1,100 experience points are required to level each main attribute by 8 levels. The natural growth of all three attributes is capped at level 8. The only way to unlock the remaining two bonus tanks to reach max level 10, are by completing certain set challenges to unlock reinforced sets of equipment which are then made purchasable from the Trapper shop.
Unlocking and purchasing all the available reinforced sets of equipment from the Trapper, will unlock both the bonus tanks for all three attributes.
These challenges can be found in the Progress menu and there are 9 categories in total which are Bandit, Explorer, Gambler, Herbalist, Horseman, Master Hunter, Sharpshooter, Survivalist and Weapons Expert.
These 9 categories feature 10 challenges each, giving 90 challenges in total. The 10 challenges within each category must be completed in order with each challenge being a pre-requisite to the next as it states here. There are 9 associated reinforced sets of equipment to unlock, one per category, which are gradually unlocked as you complete the challenges.
For example, completing all 10 Bandit challenges will unlock the Bandit reinforced set of equipment, and completing all 10 Explorer challenges will unlock the Explorer reinforced set, so on and so forth.
You can check out what the different reinforced sets look like by visiting a Trapper, and opening the Reinforced Equipment menu, where you will see the 9 associated sets relating to the 9 challenge categories.
As you can see all 4 pieces of the Explorer reinforced set are available for purchase, this is because I have completed all 10 challenges in the Explorer category.
All reinforced sets for all 9 categories will always have 4 pieces of equipment to unlock, the Bandolier, the Gun Belt, the Holster, and the Off-Hand Holster, and these are always unlocked by completing challenges 1, 3, 7 and 10 for any given category.
As you can see all of the Sharpshooter reinforced pieces are locked and informs me at the bottom of the screen that Sharpshooter challenges 1, 3, 7 and 10 need to be completed before they become available for purchase, which is true for all 9 categories.
The remaining 54 challenges do not unlock any equipment, but reward attribute experience points anywhere from 25 to 150, as well as money anywhere from 5 to $20, the higher numbered the challenge is, the higher the rewards will be.
As you can see from this chart all 9 reinforced sets have the exact same bonus perks and simply differ in appearance only. The improvements they offer are significantly superior to even the gunsmith upgraded sets, as follows:
- All reinforced Bandoliers grant +100% ammo capacity for all longarm weapons
- All reinforced Gun Belts grant +100% ammo capacity for all sidearm weapons
- All reinforced Holsters grant -20% weapon degradation
- All reinforced Off-Hand Holsters grant -10% weapon degradation
To check progress on which pieces of reinforced gear you have unlocked for which categories, simply go into the Challenges menu and highlight the individual challenges within the categories, and you will see a note to the bottom left as shown here. As a reminder only challenges 1, 3, 7 and 10 will unlock reinforced equipment.
As previously mentioned, by obtaining complete reinforced sets, you can add two permanent bonus tanks to your three main attribute meters, Health, Stamina and Dead Eye.
Each attribute is associated with three reinforced sets, as you can see on this table. You are awarded the 1st bonus tank when you obtain all four pieces in any one of the three related reinforced sets, and the second bonus tank is given when you complete all three sets associated with that attribute.
For example, to unlock the first bonus tank for your health meter, you will need to purchase one complete reinforced set for either the Horseman, Sharpshooter or Weapons Expert categories. To unlock the second bonus tank for your health meter, you will need to purchase all three complete sets.
The same rule applies to unlock the two bonus tanks for both Stamina and Dead Eye, except you will need to work toward the Bandit, Gambler and Master Hunter sets for Stamina, and the Explorer, Herbalist and Survivalist sets for Dead Eye.
There is a worthwhile incentive to completing all 90 challenges the game has to offer, and thats to unlock the awesome Legend of the East outfit, easily the best looking outfit in the entire game.
Nailing all 90 challenges will no doubt be a time consuming and challenging endeavour, but acquiring the Legend of the East outfit will also provide several significant combat, attribute and quality of life perks as you can see on the above screenshot.
You may notice some of the challenge categories are locked and you cannot access them, this is because you must perform certain actions in the game to unlock each category.
Many of these are unlocked as you simply progress in the story, but its good to know what events trigger which categories as follows:
- Holding up someone in a town will unlock the Bandit challenges
- Finding a treasure map will unlock the Explorer challenges
- Winning a game of Poker will unlock the Gambler challenges
- Picking a Yarrow herb will unlock the Herbalist challenges
- Killing a rabbit while riding your horse will unlock the Horseman challenges
- Skinning a deer will unlock the Master Hunter challenges
- Killing a flying bird will unlock the Sharpshooter challenges
- Catching a bluegill fish will unlock the Survivalist challenges
- And finally killing an enemy with a knife will unlock the Weapons Expert challenges
Unlike health and stamina, the Dead Eye ability improves through ranks 1-5 as you advance in the main storyline, offering new functions that make you even more effective during shootouts.
You are given the Dead Eye ability in Chapter 1 as Rank 1, allowing you to slow down time and automatically tag enemies multiple times by simply hovering your reticle over them.
Rank 2 is unlocked during Chapter 2, giving you the ability to manually tag targets allowing for improved marksmanship.
Rank 3 is unlocked during Chapter 4 allowing you to remain in Dead Eye slow motion when you fire your weapon, even if you have not tagged a target.
Rank 4 is unlocked during Chapter 5 which highlights fatal areas on humans or animals when using Dead Eye, maximising your chances of one hit kills.
And finally, Rank 5 is unlocked during Chapter 6 which highlights critical areas on humans or animals, allowing you to deal massive damage with each hit.
Its highly recommended to unlock rank 4 for Dead Eye before becoming too invested in hunting, this will make taking down larger prey, especially Legendary animals, significantly easier.
Its worth noting that during Dead Eye mode, the meter’s drain speed increases by a further 5% for each tagged target, up to a maximum of 40% which is 8 targets, so make sure to keep a close eye on your meter when tagging several enemies.
This table shows some noteworthy Talismans and Trinkets available to craft at the Fence using rare materials. These unique items will help build attribute experience faster or improve the function of the abilities.
- The Cougar Fang Trinket which Increases stamina XP gains by 10%
- Lion’s Paw Trinket which Increases stamina XP gains by 10%
- Coyote Fang Trinket which Increases Dead Eye XP gains by 10%
- Moose Antler Trinket which Increases health XP gains by 10%
- Fox Claw Trinket which increases Dead Eye duration by 5 seconds
- Panther’s Eye Trinket which reduces Dead Eye drain by 10% for 3 seconds
- Owl Feather Trinket which reduces health, stamina and Dead Eye core drain speed by 15%
- Alligator Tooth Talisman which reduces Dead Eye core drain speed by 10%
- Bear Claw Talisman which reduces health core drain speed by 10%
- Bison Horn Talisman which reduces stamina core drain speed by 10%
- Eagle Talon Talisman which increases Eagle Eye duration by 5 seconds
- A further two handy Trinkets to unlock are the Elk Antler Trinket which increases the money you obtain from looting by 10%
- As well as the Buck Antler Trinket which increases the quality of the pelts you receive when skinning animals
OK onto the four primary attributes for your horse, stamina and health are displayed above the mini-map to the right of your main character attributes as shown here.
While speed and acceleration are only displayed on the animal’s info card when examining them, on its info page in the compendium, or in the Player Horse menu screen for your saddled horse.
Each of the four primary attributes start at a specific level depending on the horse and its category. Just like the main character attributes, the attribute meters for your horse are all divided into 10 tanks or segments.
Horse health and stamina attributes can both be significantly improved by bonding with your horse as well as purchasing saddles from any stable. The speed and acceleration attributes can both be improved by up to two tanks each by purchasing stirrups from any stable making them a worthwhile investment.
However, unlike the main character attributes, you cannot level all horse attributes to max level 10 for any horse you desire, this is due to varying breeds possessing different strengths and weaknesses, only a few horses are able to reach near perfect stats which I shall detail shortly.
There are a total of seven categories of horses which are as follows: Riding, Draft, Race, War, Work, Multi-Class, and Superior, with Riding being the most common all the way up to Superior which offer exceptional attributes.
There are also four handling archetypes a horse will fall into, these are Heavy, Standard, Race and Elite. So this means the best horses in the game will fall under the Superior category, while possessing Elite handing, and there are only three such horses which exist.
The first of these is the White Arabian which you can get from Chapter 2 onwards, it can only be found in the wild to the north west of the map directly to the left of Lake Isabella near this marker. As it can only be found in the wild, the White Arabian will need breaking.
A quick tip to prevent being thrown off while breaking wild horses is to continually hold the left stick down as instructed. When the horse bucks up and down and is looking straight forward simply keep holding the left stick down at the 6 o’clock position.
However, when the horse veers to the right, you want to hold the left stick at the 7 o’clock position, and when the horse veers to the left, hold the stick at the 5 o’clock position. Bear in mind the right stick is not used when breaking horses. This method will break any wild horse quickly and easily.
The second superior elite handling horse is the Black Arabian which can only be purchased from the Saint Denis stable during chapter 4 and will cost you $1,050 to buy.
Finally we have the very best horse in the game in terms of maximising attributes, which is the Arabian Rose Grey Bay which can only be purchased from Blackwater Stable, during Epilogue 1 after Chapter 6, for a total of $1,250.
However, there is a way to get any of the 60 available horses for free as soon as you can visit Saint Denis, assuming it hasn’t been patched. By chance any horse, including the aforementioned superior elite Arabian horses, will appear randomly at this point in Saint Denis ready for you to simply hop on and ride away.
If you don’t see the horse you want, just keep checking back every time you leave and come back to the Saint Denis town, as fresh ones will spawn with each visit. Rinse and repeat until you get the one you want, this can take several tries so patience is the key, assuming Rockstar haven’t patched it out.
To check the effect your horses currently equipped tack has on its attributes, go into the Player Horse menu and scroll down to the tack section. Remember not to confuse stamina core drain with stamina meter drain. As explained earlier in this video, core drain rates are completely different to main meter drain rates.
You can also add up to three additional tanks to your horses health and stamina meters by simply interacting with your horse to build bonding experience.
You can achieve a maximum level four bond with your horse as you can see by this gauge, reaching bonding levels 2, 3 then 4 will in turn, unlock a tank each for health and stamina. Also if your horse falls in battle, it will remain alive a lot longer the higher your bond level is, giving you more time to revive it. The revive time is just 12 minutes for a bond level 1 horse, and 60 minutes for level 4, before its gone for good.
To build bonding experience with your horse simply interact with it in any way, such as feeding, cleaning, calming, patting, leading and riding.
Higher end horses will take longer to level and build bonding experience, with the superior category Arabian breeds taking three times as much bonding experience to reach max level 4, when compared to a Riding category breed like a Morgan or Tennessee Walker.
A few good tips to keep in mind regarding horse attributes are as follows:
- If a horse’s stamina core is fully depleted, or its health core is dangerously low, its top speed will be reduced by a third.
- When a horse carries an additional human, or a large carcass, its top speed will decrease and its stamina will drain much quicker when traversing steep inclines, so avoid steep areas in these situations.
- Health and stamina cores and meters for your horse are fully restored when you sleep, whether that’s at a camp, hotel, or a strangers bed.
- When you hitch a horse to posts, or lead a horse by hand, it will refill its health and stamina cores by 55% and 45% respectively.
- When your horse is dirty, indicated by a blinking red brush icon displayed in its health core, it will drain its health meter 25% quicker. So make sure to brush it regularly to keep it clean, or simply walk it through deep water for the same result.
- A good Talisman for your Horse is available from the trapper called the Boar Tusk Talisman which permanently reduces health and stamina drain by 10%. To craft this Talisman you will need a Silver Chain Bracelet, a Quartz Chunk and a Legendary Bear Claw.
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