Sunday, December 2, 2018

Fallacy of the Best Horse in Red Dead Redemption 2

I see numerous youtube posts and gaming articles on "How to get the BEST horse for FREE" which invariably regurgitates steps of taming a white Arabian in the wild.  But how can there be an objectively best horse when such designation depends on an individual's play style and the activities engaged in RDR2's vast open world.  While the primary stats health/stamina/acceleration/speed are important, I personally find the secondary attribute of courage to impact my gameplay much much more.  No amount of health and speed makes up for a horse bucking you directly into the path of  bullgators, a grizzly, pack of wolves, or any other kind of predator that menace the landscape.

Not that's a horse! Legs of an Ardennes totally look
like a prehistoric quadruped rather than a modern horse. 
I spend most of my time fishing in the Bayou and Arabians totally suck around gators, snakes, or any kind of predator.  I spawned a white Arabian through the St. Denis glitch and I gladly sold this high-strung high maintenance beast for a few dollars after much exasperation. An Ardennes while a slow tank will tolerate gator country like a champ!  Race horses spook easily even fully bonded and they will buck you straight into danger.

Courage Stats

In game courage behavior appears not to be a consistent blanket attribute as listed in the RDR2 compendium but highly dependent on context. Horses as in real life behave differently under different stressful scenarios, i.e. a horse steady in combat can still spook easily around alligators.  Even fully bonded, I've seen different horse reactions in these following types of stressful situations:
  • human combat, shootouts
  • wild predators 
  • traffic in town like St. Denis- I had an Arabian that was terrible around trolley traffic in St. Denis
  • in deep water crossing
The official game courage levels seem incorrect.  From the descriptions alone, it would appear War Horses have the highest levels of courage, followed by Half War horses like the Turkoman with race horses being the most skittish- however this not the case.   Through experience and in Reddit chat- Arabians are reputedly extremely skittish but the Arabian is listed with the highest level of courage(6/10) while war horses have 5/10 or moderate level of courage.   My husband proudly sticks by his Tennessee Walker(2/10) that he takes hunting everywhere and it does quite fine near alligators. Try to take an Arabian anywhere near gator country.  

Just as speed can differ for different coats of each breed, courage may vary as well and perhaps at the individual level. Even if the official courage ranking seems faulty, I listed the breeds by category ordered by the courage rating listed in the compendium. I've also added the compendium description in underlined quotes that pertains to courage below:
    • Superior
      •  Arabian (6/10 courage listed is highly dubious, just do a google search on "rdr2 arabian skittish")
    • War 
      • Ardennes(5/10 courage) -" This sturdy, brave breed handles well under pressure and will not become agitated while in combat. Ardennes horses are known for their well-built bodies as well as being brave in combat situations."  This is the breed Rockstar added as a pre-order bonus.
        • My fully bonded Strawberry Roan Ardennes is a perfectly dependable tank in combat, but he still bucked me when ambushed by a grizzly and a pack of wolves.
      • Andalusian (courage not listed) - listed as the only breed called out for courage in hunting. "This breed of horse is courageous and will not be spooked easily. Andalusian breed of horses are tough and aggressive in nature which makes them perfect for hunting. "
      • Hungarian Halfbred (courage not listed) - "renowned for its fearlessness making them perfect for loud and dangerous situations
    • War/Race
      • Turkoman(5/10)- "Turkoman is a multi-class horse with characteristics that make it perfect for racing and combat."
        • My fully bonded silver turkoman is fantastic for combat but I have been bucked during predator attacks by grizzlies/wolves/bullgators.  Turkomans also do not like being near gators.
    • War/Work
      • Mustang(5/10) -"They have traits of both work and war horses, so are strong and will not be easily frightened. This loyal and bold breed of horse are invaluable in combat situations."
    • Race/Work
      • Missouri Fox Trotter(5/10) - some conflicting reddit threads mentioning how easily it spooks, or alternatively how it's braver than an Arabian. In truth, anything with 4 legs is less skittish than an Arabian.
    • Draft: 
    • Work
    • Race
    • Riding
      • Tennessee Walker (2/10) - even with this low courage rating, my husband plays exclusively with Tennessee Walkers and they seem do fine in combat and around gators.
      • Morgan (1/10)
      • Kentucky Sadler (1/10)

Appearance - Size, Coat, Shape, Neck Girth, Gait, etc...

More than 50% of game play is trotting around on your steed. You will be consistently staring at your horses head, rear, haunches, and tail more than any other rendered objects in the game. There's no shame in choosing a horse for it's looks in a video game.

Although I had spawned the super rare Tiger Striped Mustang, it just looked too out of place and I traded it away for a Turkoman.

Arthur never looked right on the Arabian- just too "My Little Pony", too bad the stables don't offer rainbow mane. 

My Own Stables

Currently I rotate between the following 4 horses:

Silver Turkoman - really a magnificent beast- too good for Arthur but this horse does not do well around predators.

Strawberry Roan Ardennes War Horse - handles like a tank but great for something steady around
the Bayou near alligators.

Reverse Dapple Roan Nokota - One of the fastest in game (7 speed 5 acceleration), it's actually a lot of fun to ride but spooks easily. Low health and stamina(3/3) were less of an issue.

Nokota Blue Roan - I am partial to his blushing pink nose, and even traded in an Arabian, Tiger Striped Mustang for this low stat Nokota. I want to trade him in for an Adalusian but can't find the heart to sell him.