Among the many changes introduced in Red Dead Redemption 2 is the new Honor system, which works differently than that of its predecessor; it’s far more sophisticated. Many of your actions impact the world, and you’ll have to face the consequences that can unfold based on what you do, even if it’s something as simple as drawing your gun. Based on our experiences with the game, we’ve rounded up some thoughts and important things to know to help you on your way. It’s worth noting that Arthur is a remorseless outlaw who skews toward the morally dubious side given his place in the Van Der Linde gang. But he does have some redeeming qualities, and he isn’t totally stone-hearted. In this piece we break down all the key components of the game’s honor and morality system.
Performing actions as simple as greeting people will boost his honor, which is represented in the game through a slider that is white and red, and a hat moves up and down. The white hat icon pops up on screen for good deeds, while a red hat emerges when you’ve done bad things. You can check your honor status at any time by pressing down on the D-pad.
Some of the other ways you can improve your honor are by throwing back fish that are too small to keep, offering to help people you meet on the side of the road, and sparing people when you have the choice in key situations. You can also pet dogs to boost your honor. Basically, if your deed gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling, you can bet Arthur’s honor will improve.
Things that negatively impact Arthur’s honor include any number of actions that run from running someone over with your horse to blasting their head clear off with a shotgun. On the other hand, you may become a worse person in the eyes of Red Dead Redemption 2 include assaulting innocent people, looting innocent people’s corpses (even if you didn’t kill them), murdering people for no reason, mugging people, and running them down with your horse. Keeping fish that are too small also hurts your honor, while failing to mercy kill an animal after you miss a clean kill shot also incurs an honor hit (as it should!).
There are benefits for being nice and honorable, and consequences when you’re a jerk. For example, you may come across a man wailing in pain on the side of the road who informs you he’s been bit by a poisonous snake. You can suck the poison out and save his life or leave him to die. Upon saving the man, he gushes praise for you selfless and courageous act, but then you just go on your way, presuming to never seen him again. But you later see this man in Strawberry (or another town in the world), and he thanks you again and rewards you by paying for any gun you want from the gunsmith. If you chose to leave the man to die, this most likely never would have happened.
You might accidentally run someone over with your horse or click the shoot button when you meant to simply talk. Thankfully, the honor and morality system is flexible and fluid. So even if you gun down a group of innocents, you can swing back your honor pendulum by making an effort to do more good in the world. Or you can re-load a past save. It’s also a good idea to be careful when you’re on the extreme edges of the morality meter, as a single action in the opposite direction can knock your rating up or down significantly. For example, editor Edmond Tran accidentally knocked someone over with a horse and saw his honor meter drop by about one eighth, which is a lot.
In my playthrough, I tried to be an absolute monster who constantly engaged in dishonorable actions. I was able to get my morality meter almost completely on the dishonorable side—and I never bathed or contributed to camp—and ended up experiencing a number of adverse effects. Due to my criminal behavior, some missions were listed as temporarily unavailable due to my «Wanted» level, and it can take awhile for these to become available again. This can happen even if you’re playing as a more honorable Arthur, so that’s something to be aware of.
What’s more, when you accidentally mow someone over with your horse in town, you may not be able to defuse the situation and convince a witness to decide not to report as you could if you were more of a nice guy. I was unable to pay off a witness or threaten them to stop, presumably due to how much of a scumbag I’d been in the past. Not only is it more difficult to persuade witnesses to not report your crime when you’re a degenerate, but once they do, you’ll encounter heavy patrols of well-armed law enforcement coming after you. On top of that, Bad Arthur racks up bounties individually by region, so you’ll always have to be vigilant when traveling around. You can pay your bounty at any post office in the game, but doing so won’t instantly make you a white knight.
Your honor level in Red Dead Redemption 2 affects the game in ways you may not immediately notice. For example, the music changes depending on your status, while the journal entries that Arthur records reflect the decisions he’s made in the story. What’s more, the killcams become more gruesome when you’re a detestable jerk who only looks out for number one. If you’re playing as Nice Guy Arthur, you’ll enjoy benefits like store discounts, among other things.
Rockstar Games has teased that honorable and dishonorable activities will have consequences that you might not see or notice for a very long time, so it will be intriguing to see how some key choices play out in the long run as we continue playing.
What do you think about the honor system in Red Dead Redemption 2? Let us know in the comments below.