Red Dead Redemption 2 Combat Guide – Inner Cores, Stealth, Dual-Wielding

With RDR2, Rockstar Games bring a slower and more realistic approach to how combat works in Red Dead Redemption 2 to make you feel like your actions really have weight.

Below, we’ll take a look at how general combat works detailing the use of firearms, the Deadeye System, utilizing cover, and more in our RDR2 Combat Guide.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Combat

Before anything else, first, let’s talk about drawing your gun out and aiming. By tapping the L1 or LB button, you will draw your selected weapon which you can aim by holding L2 or LT.

If you wish to select a different weapon for use, simply hold L1 or LB while you’re on your horse or near it to bring up the Weapon Wheel.

This is why it’s important to keep weapons and equipment in the horse’s saddle according to the circumstances you will be expecting. Bows and arrow are advisable for a stealth operation, otherwise, a shootout may call for different firearms like rifles, etc.

Here you can choose from all the weapons you’ve unlocked until now and if you want to go to a fight with bare fists. While holding L1, choose one of the options from the Weapon Wheel by rotating the right stick.

Then release L1 to confirm your choice and equip that item. Then get to the shooting part by pressing the R2 or RT button. Finally, you can rotate your firearm and holster it pure-cowboy style by double tapping L1 or LB button.

Do note that in order to reload weapon manually, you will need to press the Circle/B button.

By default, auto-aim is on so nearby targets will be automatically locked-on while you’re aiming with the weapon. You can switch off auto-aim from the “Settings Menu”.

In order to maximize the score for each mission and easing things up generally, you’ll want to go for headshots.

Combat Attributes

These are the five main mechanics or things that you should be keeping in your sight at all times as these will directly affect the gameplay. These five attributes are:

  • Your Character’s Health.
  • Your Character’s Stamina.
  • The Deadeye Mode Durability.
  • Your Horse’s Health.
  • Your Horse’s Stamina.

All these attributes are associated with circular gauges or meters that exist in the left corner of the screen.

As you or your horse perform certain actions like taking damage, sprint or use the Deadeye system, these meters will deplete, and replenish over-time as you rest, take cover, etc.

The gauges are designed such that the outer main Attribute Meter is depleted first and then the Inner Core starts getting affected.

The former can be upgraded with Attribute Points while the latter is fixed and will naturally deplete or replenish over time due to certain actions.

Inner Cores determine how fast the outer meter replenishes back to its normal value, for example, taking enough damage will deplete the outer core and then start eating up the Inner Core as well.

If you find cover just as the outer layer of the attribute, in this case, health; is used up, you can quickly regain that attribute.

However, if you take enough damage to deplete a bit of the Inner Core as well, then you might need to hold off for much longer until your health is fully replenished.

Furthermore, these Inner Cores including health and stamina will depend on hunger, weather conditions, the type of apparel you wear, and how much rest or sleep you get.

Thus for the maintenance of these cores and to ensure they’re always full, you need to utilize special consumables or perform certain actions to fortify these attributes.

You can also apply the Gold Core to any of these attributes with only a select few consumables. During this state, the core will not deplete for a specific amount of time.

Choosing the Right Firearm

Depending on the state and nature of the battle that you’re about to fight in, you can choose from different weapon types in RDR2. With over 50 weapons in the game, there’s a wide variety, so take your time when deciding to opt a particular weapon.

Pistols are the fastest weapons when it comes to fire-rate and reload speed. They also carry much more ammo than the other firearms. However, they lack when it comes to pure damage potential.

Revolvers carry more accuracy than pistols, even when the former has a slower reload speed. Moreover, greater damage is inflicted from Revolvers’ rounds. These two weapon types are best suited from mid to close ranged encounters.

For farther out, rifles are the way to go. They have a good deal of damage potential even when the recoil is much greater and they take an eternity to reload compared to pistols.

Lastly, for close-ranged combat, you won’t find a better weapon type than shotguns. Get up-close and blast your way through enemies with the likes of pump-action, double-barrelled or sawed-off shotguns.

When it comes to making as less of a noise as possible, throwing knives and bows are the way to go. The former is not as effective and lacks accuracy but is good for distracting and luring the enemies in.

Bows and arrow come in real handy in stealth situations and while you’re on a hunt for some animal pelts. A well-aimed shot at the head will be enough to bring down even the toughest of the beasts.

As you use a particular firearm more and claim it as your favorite, the stats are bound to improve over time.

This will enable you to reload the weapon with greater ease and get familiar with recoil effects so you don’t get the full force of the pushback effect. Note; regularly apply Gun Oil (R3 button) to these firearms to keep their buffs up and running.


This represents the amount of damage your character can take before succumbing to death. It will also be depleted upon tiredness or hunger. There are certain status effects that influence the health you gain or lose in special circumstances.

Being poisoned by a snake will result in the health core getting drained unless you can find sufficient herbs to cure the effect. You can also sleep off the poison effect.

Similarly, harsh weather where extreme cold or hotness exists, the Health Core is affected so wear suitable apparel. Lastly, being overweight will result in better resistance to damage as opposed to underweight where you lose HP at a quicker rate.

To maintain and fortify the Health Meter/Cores, you can consume tonics, food, rest, and take a bath. Activities like rowing, melee kills, and fishing will build and strengthen the core to increase its capacity indefinitely.


Sprinting is the main cause of stamina depletion so you need to alternate suitably between max speed (repeatedly tapping X or A) and running (holding X or A).

The same guidelines should be followed for your horse’s stamina as well. You will need to match your X button tapping speed with the galloping of the horse. Other activities that consume stamina include climbing, swimming, and jumping.

The overweight status effect will result in more stamina being consumed as compared to where the rate of stamina loss is slowed down. In addition to consumables to replenish stamina; you can rest, sleep, or take a bath.

To increase Stamina Core indefinitely, you can sprint, swim, and drink lots of Pirate Rum.

Taking Cover

When you’re swarmed by a horde of tough lawmen or vicious bandits, you cannot roam around in the open for so long without biting the dust.

You’ll need to find cover and stay hidden there frequently to regenerate health and throw off the enemy’s idea of your current location.

Pressing R1 or RB near any wall or obstacle high enough to conceal your presence will put you in cover. Even in the open, you can vouch for cover by pressing X or Square while aiming to perform a combat roll and head into cover if it’s nearby.

While in cover, move around with Square or X button which will let you stay in cover or move to another one nearby. You can still aim and shoot by the same buttons you’d use outside of the cover. Finally, you can move out of cover by flicking the left stick.

Using Melee Weapons

For melee attacks, you’ll either need to have no firearm equipped or have a melee weapon (knife, hatchet, etc.) equipped from the Weapon Wheel. After doing so, press Circle or B button to slash away at the enemy.

You can also block their attacks by Square or X button and a perfectly timed block will result in a counter attack. Do note that fistfights work this way as well. While fighting with bare fists, you can also grapple the enemy with Triangle or Y button.

Using Lasso to Stop Enemies Bloodlessly
When it comes to Bounty Hunts or even animals, you need to keep guns and melee weapons out of the business. This is where the Lasso is pretty useful. Once you’ve equipped it from the Weapon Wheel, take an aim with L2 or LT button.

While pressing this button, Arthur will start swinging the lasso. Hurl it towards the target by pressing R2 or LT and move in close to hogtie them with Circle or B button.

This will ensure they remain stationary and helpless until you decide what happens to them.

Deadeye System

To enter the Deadeye system, you are required to press R3 while aiming. This will slow down time so you can take a better aim for accuracy. At the first level, the targets will be marked automatically.

On the higher levels of the Deadeye System (the more you use, the higher you level up), you can manually target certain body parts of the opponent.

Multiple targets can also be targeted by moving the right stick to the nearby targets and pressing R1 or RB to confirm the target.

Finally, press RT or R2 to let loose a stream of bullets. You can opt out of the Deadeye Mode any time by pressing R3 again.

The meter and core for the Deadeye mechanic are increased indefinitely by cooking, crafting, skinning animals and performing long-range kills. Remember, the more you kill, the more quickly you replenish the Deadeye Meter.

Dual Wielded Weapons

For increased damage, increased number of shots sent out in the Deadeye System, and just looking like a total badass, you may want to equip Dual-Wielded Weapons.

This feature unlocks after finishing Micah Bell’s mission in the early part of the game. After getting this second holster, you can equip a combination of two pistols, two sawed-off shotguns, or a shotgun and a pistol – in both of your hands.

To do this, bring up the Weapon Wheel and choose the firearms you want to equip in each of your hand. Then select the “two arrows pointing upwards” icon that lies in between these two weapons you chose to dual-wield.

You will have then successfully wielded two weapons. This works great when you can shoot with the pistol at mid-ranges and for close range, you can utilize the shotgun in your other hand.

Approaching Things Stealthily

When you’re infiltrating a hideout or a large camp where fighting head-on will prove to be merciless, you may want to stick to the shadows.

Although you can always remain in cover and sneak up behind enemies to perform a takedown (Circle or B), there are also some silent weapons you can use. These include all melee weapons and bows that won’t alert the enemies of your presence.

For stealth to really work, you should note that you need to be in the crouch state (pressing the L3 button) at all times.

Furthermore, it goes without saying; try to stay away from being directly in the line of sight of the enemy to avoid detection. Lastly, proceed slowly by moving the left stick carefully and cautiously to avoid making unnecessary sounds from your footsteps.

Fighting in Duels

Though this type of combat confrontation will be occasional, you still should know how to win a duel. Any duel can be broken down into three phases: drawing, aiming and shooting.

All of these phases are triggered by RT or R2 buttons; so essentially, you’ll be pressing the button three times. Timing of the input and how careful you are when pressing the button will ultimately determine how well you perform.

Contributor at SegmentNext.