A couple of years ago, I had a lot of fun streaming Red Dead Redemption from Xbox One to my Windows 10 desktop. Outside of reports of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 emulated versions of the last-gen game, streaming from Xbox One to Windows 10 PC is the only way to play Red Dead Redemption on PC.
It’s a shame, but it’s not entirely unexpected. Read into the development history of the game and you might uncover whispers of nightmarish code. If you’ve wondered why Red Dead Redemption never made it to the new-gen consoles let alone PC (a la Grand Theft Auto V), that may well be the likely culprit. Regardless, even years after its initial release, there’s still a lot of fun to be had in Red Dead Redemption.
And if you own a shiny new Xbox One X, well, you should definitely take Red Dead Redemption for another ride. The backwards-compatible game is now part of the Xbox One X Enhanced line-up, and it looks great. For the most part, the recent Xbox One X patch is an update with 4K textures, which obviously helps drag up the overall fidelity, but it has some fantastic gameplay benefits, too.
For starters, the frame rate feels a whole lot smoother and the game feels more responsive. This is particularly important for streaming from Xbox One X to the Xbox app in Windows because of the inherent input delay (albeit relatively small). It also makes things a whole lot easier to see when streaming.
Back in 2016 when I first tested streaming Red Dead Redemption to my desktop, the comparatively fuzzy graphics didn’t always translate so well to streaming, especially when it automatically dropped from ‘Very High’ encoding level to something lower to preserve the frame rate. Fast forward to today, and it’s a different kettle of fish. Originally, I feared the Xbox One X might not like streaming from a 4K output to my 2K monitor but, as far as I can tell, the console’s inbuilt supersampling mode translates to streaming, too (you can check out my video at the bottom of the article to see how it looks). That’s a really fancy way of saying it worked a treat.
The best bit of the better-looking, more responsive gameplay is best reflected in how Red Dead Redemption plays online. I wasn’t surprised to find a game after the patch launched—after all, wayward fans tend to return after game updates go live—but what did surprise me was the state of the game. Put simply, two years ago, Red Dead Redemption was unplayable online.
You’d join free roam and regularly discover that there were no NPCs, no animals, invisible players, and your horse wouldn’t come when summoned. At first, this seemed like rampant cheating, but after dozens of hours of play testing and research, I discovered it was an odd Agent Smith-like bug that was, for lack of a better term, an in-game virus. If you joined an infected server and, understandably, left to find another one, you took the virus with you.
Restarting the game was the easiest way to cleanse the game-session issues if you were infected, but you could also manually disinfect a server by travelling to three specific locations and killing any cloned NPCs you encountered. The trick was, when a player connected from another infected server, the process started again. Hardly viable, even if you did feel like playing sheriff, and it was reliant on quite a bit of knowledge from the community to keep things working. If you want to read more about the state of multiplayer then and complexity of the issue, check out another article I wrote at the time here.
In my recent play sessions, though, I haven’t encountered any of these problems, which suggests that the servers have reset, either officially by Rockstar, or there was a point where nobody in the world was playing multiplayer and they reset automatically. (According to the modder indirectly responsible for the infected servers, this was the proposed solution to the problem.)
But I digress. The higher-res textures and consistent frame rate mean it’s easier to spot enemies. Previously, Red Dead Redemption felt like playing PUBG with the wrong graphical settings: the kind that make enemies melt into the background. Now, it’s a cinch to identify where you’re being shot from and adjust accordingly. The only proviso to that is actual cheaters clearly returned to test out the patch. Sigh.
Thankfully, they’re incredibly easy to spot and, at least in my experience, other players are quite diligent in voting them out (it only needs four votes to kick someone). Still, it’s the unfortunate reality of servers that are shared between moddable last-gen Xbox 360 consoles and (at least as far as I’m aware) the unmodded Xbox One.
I hope that the whispers of Red Dead Redemptions nightmarish code are disproven by an announcement that the game is, finally, being ported to PC. But I won’t hold my breath. Still, given that there’s no official word on whether Red Dead Redemption 2 will come to PC, streaming a prettier version of Red Dead Redemption from Xbox One X to PC will have to do for now.