So, during my final week of annual leave I decided to take a trip to the ol’ Wild West, bask in the stunning scenery and landscapes, take advantage of the many fine establishments and do a spot of hunting and mingling with the townsfolk. A holiday well spent and here’s a few discoveries I found during my western adventure. (Holiday snaps to follow.)
Do it yourself... By this, I mean manual saving... a lot, which will save you from a haybale load of bother. Yes, the game operates an autosave but when you trigger some nasty hillbillies or lose something valuable you’re going to want to go back just a little bit and not back to when you have already earned bounties and gathered some quality pelts. Make this a good habit, saving along side your autosave after certain finds, loots and events is an absolute lifesaver. This isn’t Macy’s... Money is tight and there’s always temptation to buy some Levi’s or a fox hat, but you already come with a vast range of clothing which you can access from your wardrobe at either your camp or a hotel room. So there’s no need to be spending all you’re hard looted cash on garments. What’s more; you can save three outfits to your horse and with the weather bearing some effect on Arthur’s health, it’s advisable to dress for each occasion. One for hot weather, one for cold and one for average. Boots appear to be the only winter ware you’re missing. Oh, and should you lose your hat, and you will, it’s always on your horse so you can retrieve it there as oppose to bullet dodging. Another tip about clothing is to change frequently, or have an outfit purely for robberies and other unsavoury activities. A bandana on its own won’t suffice in hiding Arthur’s identity and people will recognise you from what you’re wearing. Must buys: There are a few things worth spending your dollar on with some only becoming available after completing certain challenges or chapters, but are well worth it. Grab a coffee percolator from a general store so you can brew your own when camping. And when a fence becomes available, purchase a lock breaker, though this isn’t used on safes, like you might assume, dynamite is your safe option for that one. Spending money on weapons and clothes isn’t at all necessary during the first few chapters of the story, and some things are actually given to you for free later on; if you’ve been a helpful little cowboy that it. I’ll come on to honour benefits later. Lodgings... When upgrading the campsite by either donating cash or valuable items at the ledger, you want to improve Dutch’s lodgings, followed by Arthur’s before anything else. When upgrading Arthur’s caravan, you’ll find a fast travel map on the right side of it. Everything else can wait. And don’t worry about donating cash/items to the camp, it’s all got to be purchased either way. Just give what’s necessary and you can always buy upgrades using your own money. To add to Must-Buys: it’s a long grind but so well worth the trouble, purchase Pearson’s leather workshop for $225 and then grind the mats for the satchels. You’re aiming for the Legend of the East satchel which allows you to carry up to 99 of most items. When attempting the challenges, this is a perfect tool. Earning Dollar... There’s plenty of ways to earn your bullet vouchers apart from cheating with gold glitches; from trading in animal giblets at the butchers to simply robbing people on the road; though this isn’t advisable. If you come across a coach robbery and intervene, you might be able to flog the coach to a fence, the game will inform you if you can. Selling horses at the stables is another cheap way, but stolen horses will only earn you a quick buck whereas the wild ones, especially the rare ones is where the dollar’s at and requires some effort taming. I think you can wrangle livestock from other farms, herding them to the town Valentine but again, unpopular actions aren’t helpful. Collecting bounties is another quick way of boosting the cash but besides doing the missions, looting pretty much everyone and everything you take down; though, be careful when looting innocents as that’ll earn you both dishonour and a bounty if spotted. Another thing to take note of is which loot to sell, jewellery being the obvious fast earner, however some bling is required further down the game to complete side quests. I’ll get a specific list up soon but for now, should you come across a Silver Chain Necklace, any other necklace and gator eggs, keep them for later. Heron, Egret and Spoonbill flumes too, trust me, you’ll thank me later. Treasure Hunting and Home Robberies You should come across more than a couple of treasure maps during your early travels in the game and when you do, if you fancy the challenge, the location of where you first encountered the treasure hunter hints at the first clue. However, beyond that may require some research. You’ll also hear of potential targets for burglaries but don’t go chasing these on your lonesome just yet, as some of these robberies require a helping hand from the camp to get the grand prize, plus killing everyone on premise means you can’t interrogate them to find out where the treasure is being stashed. Arthur “Two Guns” Morgan You can dual weld fairly early on in the game and only requires a little effort to unlock depending on your cosmetic choices. If you complete the easiest herbalist challenge, you unlock an off-hand holster but if you want something a little more gunslinger, completing the second bandit challenge will unlock another holster. Both purchasable at all your local trappers (there’s not many!) Now, there’s something else that having two of is a massive time saver, and that’s another horse. I don’t mind having another in the stable, but another one you roam around with. If you happen to come across another horse. (You should go get the pure white Arabian found north west of Lake Isabelle, north of Grizzlies West, best horse in the game! Make that your main horse.) calm it down, and ride it for a while until you gain bonding level 1, whilst whistling your main horse to follow. Now, when you come across big game you wanna get back to Pearson or a trapper, you can double your load! Remember, traders can only make use of perfect pelts and should you die during conveyance. You’ll lose them. (Hence tha manual save) you can have up to three horses but it can be troublesome keeping them all in rein. Two is perfect but don’t fast travel as the secondary horse generally stays put and out of whisltle range. Something Smell’s fishy... Ever since Zelda, in-game fishing has always been a favourite pastime of mine. However, save precious gaming time for other hobbies like treasure hunting or maiming the wildlife as fishing missions open up a little further down the story and there’s little point fishing until you can get the super lures from the bait shop in the Lagras swamp and the legendary fish map from Gill on the south coast of The Heartlands. Both these sites are free to visit at any point of the game. If you’re going for the 100% completional, just keep in mind certain fish prefer certain baits, so read up before trying to catch anything less than legendary; some fish want cheese, worms or crayfish. Also, the final two challenges of the survivalist chain are fishing related so if you don’t fancy repeating yourself too much, hold off on the standard fishing until you’ve unlocked the later challenges. Survivalist challenge 9 can be easily done during one of chapter 6’s side missions. It pays to be nice... and nice to be paid. Making enemies or upsetting townsfolk isn’t hard to do. So get use to the controls before you misfire the butcher in the gut, kick a chicken or punch your own horse and earn yourself a bounty. This really is a thinking-person’s GTA, so going guns blazing is going to make it really, really tough, and expensive for you. So don’t make enemies, avoid violent confrontations if you can and help everyone you come across; you’re given intel, cash and loot in return, plus the higher your honour gauge is, the more discount you get from merchants. Speak to everyone in your campsite, newcomers too because most will trigger little side quests and sucking someone’s poison out is likely to grant you a freebie from the local gunsmith in town. It’s how I got my gambler’s outfit and varmint rifle for free! It’s Collectible... This game is huge and boasts a large number of collectible items and sights on top of the challenges. Dinosaur Bones, Rock Carvings, Legendary beasties, treasure and dreamcatchers, all of which is probably going to require the help of google. But one tip I can give you here is with the Cigarette Cards; and there appears to be several dozens of them. As you loot everything, and I mean, everything, and everyone given the chance, you will come across Premium Cigarette packets. Each of these packets contains a card each, but if your satchel is already full of them, smoke one and loot the new one to get the card. Something Else Smell’s Fishy... That’ll be Arthur. The game goes into great detail and requires you to keep Arthur from stinking like a rotten dead rabbit’s foot. Being smelly makes hunting a chore as your scent is easily picked up by both prey and predator, so have a wash whether you can at either camp or hotel. Arthur isn’t the only thing that requires cleaning from time to time, your trusty stead will need brushing down if covered in mud and animal blood. Taking your horse for a swim is an effective and easy way of cleaning your steed instead of brushing. Your guns won’t work properly either if you don’t keep them clean. Looting gun oil is an absolute must as your shooters get pretty grubby real easily. But I suggest hunting what legendary animals you can get access to and make the trinkets from them to improve your stats and weapon degradation. Talkin’ of Cleaning... To get the best dollar, or the best crafting materials, you’re going to need perfect pelts which means the more challenging clean kills on animals. Using the right weapons, like a Varmint rifle for hunting rabbits or going bow selecta with improved arrows for birds is party of what you need. Not only do you need the right tools but you need to hit them in the right spot, like the neck or head, so using your dead eye is paramount here. However, for slightly larger game there’s a neat trick of using your lasso from either stalking your prey or from horseback. Throw out your lasso and reel yourself in to use your knife to get the optimal pelts. Just be watchful of your stamina. Also, when seeking the perfect pelt, be sure to use the star rating on the left of the animal’s name. One star means it’s poor, two for good and three for obviously, perfect; so save your ammo and time by only going after the prime targets. Getting the Legendary Buck early on in the game is strongly advised as the trinket the fence makes from this improves your chance of getting a perfect Pelt/Hide, even from a two star critter. Studying each animal will give you advice on what’s best to kill them for perfect pelts. Take a pamphlet. Looting camps and certain locations will give you pamphlets, some can be bought at stores and fences, but it’s essential you read these as they’re recipes for better food, crafting materials and ammunition. There’s no other way of learning how to craft poisoned arrows or miracle cures without reading it in a pamphlets so make a habit of reading them once looted. Pitching Up Camp. You don’t need a hotel or your campsite to rest and regain your health and stamina. You can pitch up a tent pretty much anywhere in the game and this is incredibly beneficial in a number of ways. Obviously you get to rest, craft, cook and brew your provisions anywhere. It’s the best way of speeding up the day. Like fishing is better during dawn and dusk, and many missions and heists become available during nighttime; so pitch up and sleep until the time of choosing. But the best thing setting up camp does, is reuniting you with your stuck horse or when you are in a awkward area on a cliff edge. Set up camp and you’ll be quickly back on safer ground with your horse, so don’t bother trying to reach it. 100% Obsession. If you’re like me and want to collect and complete everything in the game, the collection of animals you encounter is probably the hardest out of everything. Like any great game, the time of day dictates what animals are about. But for all things considered prey and predator, there’s 4 things you need to do before trading in that pelt and if you going for the 100%, best do them all from the very beginning and make it a good habit. Each animal needs to be studied, tracked, killed and skinned and sometimes you achieve these in the wrong order like killing them before you had chance to study or track them. You can’t track or study a carcass. So when seeing something for the first time, find it with your binoculars and R1 to study, be sure to fill the circle and then Triangle to track; after that, you’re free to kill and skin them. Birds and water snakes appear to be the most difficult to study and track whereas key predators normally get the jump on you before you have chance. Farmyard, horses and domestic animals just require studying and you can keep track of all your discoveries in the compendium menu. Eagle-Eye Everything. I reckon this skill isn’t utilised enough and it’s probably the most helpful trick you have that doesn’t cost you anything. Using eagle eye outside will help you see nearby wildlife, plants and other interesting items. Using it when looting buildings highlights all the searchable caches and items so you don’t miss anything. Using it whilst you have your fishing rod equipped helps you see where the big fish are swimming and slows down time to help you break a horse in, it even shows you how smelly you are. But yeah, use that eagle eye of yours all the time.