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Red Dead Online’s animals and NPCs are missing on Xbox One

It’s a huge mess

Red Dead Online - three people riding down the main drag of Van Horn Trading Post Rockstar Games

For almost a week now, Red Dead Online fans on Xbox One have been playing in ghost towns. Horses won’t spawn when called. Townsfolk who typically mill about are gone. There are no animals to track and hunt. What little can be done within Red Dead Redemption 2’s online component in this state, players say often just freezes or crashes the game.

Issues range widely among players, but on social media, many Xbox One fans say that their games are borderline unplayable in its current state. Some people can’t get their games started at all. Those who can load into Red Dead Online right now often find eerily empty maps.

Red Dead Online - man standing in Saint Denis with no NPCs Rockstar Games via Terry Binion

For example, animals can be heard, but not seen. Terry Binion sent Polygon footage where he calls his horse endlessly to no avail. Fortunately, Binion did find a workaround — a horse can be spawned if you reload the map enough times, or if you change between modes. But once you have a horse, things can still break down. In the footage he sent us, players straight-up disappear once they mount their horses. Sometimes it’s the other way around: On Reddit, a thread with 22,000 upvotes showcases a rider on an invisible horse.

It’s not just the horses. There’s also nothing populating the world anymore. In the footage sent to Polygon, Binion rides for ages without encountering any animals to hunt. At one point, he tosses in a lure that usually attracts fish within seconds — except nothing bites, even as he stands there for minutes.

“There were no animals in the game, including my horse!” one aggrieved player complained to Rockstar on Twitter. “Everyone is just running around the lobby with no horses. WTF?”

What makes this glitch especially creepy is that it has raptured nearly all nonplayable humans in the game as well. While shopkeepers are still at their stands, all townsfolk are gone. In Binion’s footage, he roams through Saint Denis — the biggest city in the game — and there’s nobody there.

Rockstar Games via Terry Binion

Normally, the game should look more or less like this:

Red Dead Online - Saint Denis at night Rockstar Games

While horses won’t appear for players, the game still generates them for empty carriages, making for an especially spooky sight:

Rockstar Games via Terry Binion

“Red Dead Online on Xbox is unplayable right now,” one player said on Twitter. “No NPCs, no animals. My horse won’t even spawn. Been this way for a while.”

Rockstar did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Red Dead Online, which is currently in beta, is slated to get a big content update early next week that will bring a variety of new features and modes to the game. Xbox One players are afraid that none of this content will be playable if the base game isn’t working to begin with.

Rockstar appears to be aware of what’s going on — in one support ticket shared with Polygon, a player was told that the developer has received multiple reports about this and is “working diligently to resolve the issue” before the new patch comes out. However, players say that issues have only compounded as the week has progressed, thanks to a variety of stalls and crashes.