Red Dead Online Roles: Which One Should You Pick?

Red Dead Online Roles: Which One Should You Pick?

As of Red Dead Online's newest update: "Frontier Pursuits", you can pick one of three specialist roles. Here's how to know which one is right for you.

Picking a specialist role to play as in Red Dead Online isn’t just about killing time - it’s a statement on who you are and what you’re about when you saddle up for the Old West. But with a high price to break into any of these in-game careers, it’s important to know what you’re getting into, and which one is right for you personally.

Which Role Should You Pick?

Right now there are three specialist roles available: the bounty hunter, the trader, and the collector. Each one is focused on a core activity in Red Dead Online, and your personal playstyle will probably tell you which one is right for you. We’ll go into it more momentarily, but those who like combat should pick the bounty hunter, those who enjoy selling furs should choose the trader, and those who like exploring should find the collector to their taste.

How Specialist Roles Work

Specialist Roles are basically career paths in which completing certain in-game activities rewards you with experience for that specific path, whether it’s a trader hunting animals or a collector hunting treasure. Each one has missions connected to it for big EXP and money rewards, and by progressing through the role you can unlock equipment, clothing and abilities for your character that’ll help in all areas in Red Dead Online, as well as making you better at your chosen role.

Can You Change Roles After You’ve Picked?

You don’t lose the option to try the others after you pick one, though. As long as you have the gold bars, you can do all three if you like.

When Do Roles Unlock?

The option to start picking specialist roles unlocks after getting your own horse in Red Dead Online - about an hour or so after creating your character, and each one requires 15 gold bars to begin.

A bounty hunter delivers another criminal to justice. | Rockstar Games

The Bounty Hunter

Being a bounty hunter in Red Dead Online is pretty similar to playing one in the single player game, with missions based around fighting bandits and bringing them in for cash rewards. This is the role to pick if you like high-octane combat and gunplay: each town has its own bounty board, and every Tuesday Rockstar introduces a new “legendary” bounty, a special target who can net you a big reward, but will likely be a lot harder to bring in than your average crook.

It’s also worth mentioning that the more confident or ambitious players will want to bring in their targets alive by roping them with a lasso and tying them up. Live targets net larger rewards than dead ones, though you have to bring in the body to the local jailhouse either way. Bounty targets will also often try to flee if attacked, so be careful not to lose them in the middle of a gunfight or your whole mission will be for naught.

To start your life as a bounty hunter, head to Rhodes and look at the Sheriff’s bounty board (it should be marked in yellow on your map). There you’ll be asked to pay the 15 gold bars for a bounty hunter’s licence, because otherwise you’d just be a well-intentioned murderer and kidnapper. Once you pay it, you’ll be able to access bounties in every town and earn in-game rewards for bringing in criminals, alive or dead.

Bounty Hunter Abilities and Tools

Those who take the bounty hunter role can unlock these abilities and tools:

  • FOCUS: Targets glow red in Eagle Eye.
  • REINFORCED LASSO: A lasso made with reinforced rope to keep bounties secure.
  • REVERSE SPIN: Learn to perform a Reverse Spin with a single pistol or revolver.
  • TONICS SATCHEL UPGRADE: Store more items in your Tonics Pouch.
  • EAGLE EYE+: Learn to track enemies while sprinting or galloping.
  • SPIN UP: Learn to perform a Spin Up with a single pistol or revolver.
  • KIT SATCHEL UPGRADE: Store more items in your Kit Pouch.
  • TRACKING ARROW PAMPHLET: A pamphlet recipe on how to craft Tracking Arrows.
  • REVERSE SPIN UP: Learn to perform a Reverse Spin Up with a single pistol or revolver.
  • DUCKING: Learn to duck for protection while on horseback.
  • BOLAS: A thrown weapon, perfect for tangling the legs of bounties.
  • BOUNTY WAGON: A wagon for securely retaining bounty targets.
  • PERCEPTION: Receive notification of bounties from a greater distance.
  • ALTERNATING FLIPS: Learn to perform Alternating Flips with a single pistol or revolver.
  • DUAL GUN SPINNING: Learn to perform gun spinning tricks with two pistols or revolvers.
A trader prepares to go hunting. | Rockstar Games

The Trader

In Red Dead Online, traders hunting, skinning and selling furs and meat for money. Knowledge gained in the single player will definitely be helpful here, learning which animals are most valuable, and which guns you’ll need to keep a carcass from getting ruined. Your work partner, Cripps, will help you sell these carcasses across the West, and you’ll have to balance further and further deliveries against greater chance of bandit interference. You might even have to defend your home camp from attack, though progress through the trader path will earn you special tools to help deal with potential thieves.

Unlocking the trader role can be done from your own camp. Once you get your own horse, you’ll be given a letter from Cripps suggesting you start your own business. Head back to your camp, and buy the mandatory Butcher’s Table to start your life as cowboy Elmer Fudd.

Trader Abilities and Tools

Those who take the trader role can unlock these abilities and tools:

  • STEW POT: A camp upgrade that unlocks stew recipes to boost cores.
  • INGREDIENTS SATCHEL UPGRADE: Store more items in your ingredients pouch.
  • AWARENESS: Learn to identify rival Trader Wagons at an increased range.
  • CANINE WARNING: Train your dog to warn of thieves raiding your camp.
  • MEDIUM DELIVERY WAGON: An upgraded wagon that can hold 2 barrels for transport.
  • WEAPONS LOCKER: Store weapons here for later use.
  • LANCE KNIFE: A bespoke knife style available to Traders only.
  • EFFICIENCY: Increase the amount of raw materials from perfect carcasses when donating to a trading company.
  • MATERIALS SATCHEL UPGRADE: Store more items in your materials pouch.
  • LARGE DELIVERY WAGON: An upgraded wagon that can hold 4 barrels for transport.
  • HUNTING WAGON: A sturdy wagon fit for carrying multiple carcasses, hides and pelts.
  • PROTECTION: Learn to reduce the chance of raids at your camp.
A collector and their hard-won loot. | Rockstar Games

The Collector

Red Dead Online’s third role is one based around finding hidden treasures and trinkets across the world, your hunts sponsored by in-game fortune teller/entrepreneur Madam Nazar. Your searches will take you across the entire map, and will rely heavily on your Eagle Eye ability to survey areas for anything of worth. Similar to the cigarette cards in the single player, Madam Nazar is looking for special items that generally have no other purpose but to be sold, though you might want to hold onto your jewels for a while - the treasures you find are more valuable when sold as a set, rather than individually, so those who are patient will earn more money in the long run.

To start your career as a collector, save up your gold bars and look for Madam Nazar, found north of Armadillo and marked on your map with a yellow icon, similar to the Bounty Hunter. She’ll sell you the collector’s bag and later other helpful pieces of equipment for finding loot, but it’s worth remembering that she doesn’t stay in one place for long after that first meeting, relocating every day to one of twelve locations across the whole game map.

Collector Abilities and Tools

Those who take the collector role can unlock these abilities and tools:

  • DIVINATION: Learn to sense when near Collectibles.
  • PENNINGTON FIELD SHOVEL: A state-of-the-art shovel specially designed for archaeological digs.
  • POTENTIAL: Learn to detect disturbed earth when using Eagle Eye.
  • INTUITION: Learn to narrow your search area.
  • COLLECTOR SADDLE BAG: A unique saddle bag with extra pouches and pockets.
  • REFINED BINOCULARS: Specialized Binoculars through which dig sites glow from a great distance.
  • AGUILA MACHETE: A classic machete restyled for the use of adventurous and belligerent Collectors.
  • METAL DETECTOR: An important Collector's tool which can identify Collectibles buried underground.
  • EQUINE ASSISTANCE: Learn to collect items from horseback.
  • HORSE LANTERN: Light the path ahead with a lantern attached to your horse’s breastplate.
  • VALUABLES SATCHEL UPGRADE: Store more items in your Valuables Pouch.
  • WITFORD COMPASS: A decorative compass designed to adorn the Gun Belts of budding Collectors.

That’s everything you need to know about specialist roles in Red Dead Online. For more help with the game, visit our Red Dead Online Guides Hub. There’s also our breakdown of the best horses, and the best ways to make money.

Joel Franey

Guides Writer

Joel loves books, games, comics and drinks that make a person feel like they just got kicked in the head by a mule. He has a Masters in writing from Sussex, which he somehow got by writing about Superman. He is absolutely NOT three children in a long coat, so please stop asking.

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