Red Dead Online, much like Red Dead Redemption 2, gives the player a horse as their primary means of travelling through the world. In Red Dead Online, your horse cannot die, and players carefully weigh the pros and cons of each horse for each competitive task, unless you are me, in which case I just picked a giant horse and all of my friends fucking hate him. Meet Hayseed, my loyal friend.
My first two horses were a lean gray stallion named Wild Eye and a chestnut PS4 special edition horse named Duchess. Wild Eye was basic, and everyone was using the chestnut horse; I wanted to be special. Is the purpose of a shared game world not to express your individuality?
No one else is using the big Belgian Draft horse, and as it turns out, that’s because it kind of sucks.
Hayseed’s stats are lower than those of most other horses. His long-term stamina is garbage, he has a definite curve to his turns, and in a straight sprint down a path he will lose to most racehorses. Hayseed has one advantage, and it’s a potent one: He is so large that I can use him as a brick wall.
In races, I often score top three by using Hayseed as a physical barrier. Nimble steeds with slender frames smash into Hayseed as I continue on at my relaxed pace. When players are forced into choke points and all of the horses are jostling, Hayseed is the shore upon which the weak, cowardly waves break. One time, a guy openly scoffed in voice chat: “Who brings a Belgian into a race?” I do. I knocked that guy over a fence with Hayseed’s mighty haunches.
Not only does he work as a barrier, but I utilize Hayseed as a weapon of war. I have specialized my character to take all perks related to horseback damage. That is largely redundant, because I just charge at people and trample them under Hayseed’s big powerful hooves.
Despite all of this, Hayseed is a friend. Look at those placid, beautiful eyes. Hayseed is just a large lad who doesn’t know any better, and he must be protected.
Unfortunately, my posse disagrees with me. I catch them throwing molotovs at Hayseed while he gambols in a field. One time, I got off my horse to hogtie my good friend Matt for chuckles, and his brother Jake jumped on Hayseed’s back, gave a peal of joyous laughter, and immediately ran Hayseed off the nearest cliff. To Jake’s horror, while he died upon the jagged rocks, Hayseed survived the fall and got up. I gave him oatcakes, brushed his beautiful mane, and whispered apologies in his ear.
I love you, Hayseed.
If you ask my friends, Hayseed is the aggressor. I will admit: Some of this is on me. I sometimes forget that I have to manually brake, and so I often veer into friends with Hayseed. Even with friendly fire turned off, Hayseed’s bulk knocks them over, and they have to scramble back to their feet. Sometimes, when they get back up, I accidentally knock them over again. Sometimes they die. Does that ethically count as murder? Is this Hayseed’s fault? Who can truly say?
Also, since Hayseed is my friend and trusted confidant, I try to bring him into every quest area and mission giver’s house. This enrages Jake, who is half in character at all times, regularly takes photos, and demands total immersion. On more than one occasion, Jake has turned around after accepting a quest only to see Hayseed’s giant head poking through a cabin door or gate, and I can hear him howl over voice chat.
I asked my friends to comment on this article, and they kept their thoughts brief. Matt simply wrote, “Hayseed is not a friend. He is a sin.” Jake paused thoughtfully over voice chat before saying, “Hayseed is a mistake and a burden.” Another friend, Aron, chimed in with, “Hayseed is obviously being fed some sort of performance-enhancing substance, so it’s not unreasonable to have both it and its owner exiled to the far reaches of the snowy north.”
Horses are companions. There’s a reason why one of the first pieces of downloadable content was armor for your horse in The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. The world of Red Dead Online can sometimes feel a little quiet, and a little empty. Playing with my posse has proven to be a fantastic social experience, and part of that is the stories we generate together. Sometimes, those tales come from fighting with other posses and robbing stagecoaches out on the far reaches of the West.
And sometimes, those stories come from me accidentally trampling my friend with Hayseed, my big beautiful horse. Please, ignore the hollers of agony coming from these people. It’s fine — you can trust Hayseed.