One of the weird things about Red Dead Redemption 2 is that, despite dumping tons of information on you, it doesn’t always explain itself that well. Case in point: for much of the game your itinerant band of outlaws will be based in a camp that offers various services and serves multiple purposes, most of which aren’t clearly laid out by the game. Let’s straighten that up a bit.
Your crew’s camp isn’t just a place to sleep. Here you’ll eat, talk, play games like poker and dominoes, and even sing songs around a campfire. It’s also where you store all your various outfits and hats, and where you can stock up on food and ammo. Eventually, you’ll even unlocked a limited version of fast travel here; if you’ve played the game at all, you know how vital that will be after spending countless hours on the trail between towns and missions. The camp is the most crucial spot in the game, and it’s important to understand how it works. So here goes.
The most obvious use for the camp is getting sleep. You can actually camp almost anywhere in the game—setting up camp is an ever-present option in the menu wheel—but when you head back to camp you can just walk up to Arthur Morgan’s bed and pick how long to sleep. Sleeping is an easy way to restore all of Arthur’s cores, and also lets you control the clock so you don’t have to stand around waiting for the right time to come around. It’s important to keep an eye on Arthur’s status, and sleeping at camp is the quickest way to get him right.
One of your first goals once you set up camp at the start of the second chapter should be to unlock the camp’s ledger. You won’t have access to that until after finishing the Money Lending and Other Sins mission, where you help the camp’s money-lender, Leopold Strauss, collect on some debts. Once that mission ends, the ledger will appear near Dutch’s tent. At Horseshoe Overlook, the ledger will be on the side of Dutch’s tent that faces the cliff; you’ll find it right next to the donation box. With the ledger you’ll be able to use the communal camp funds to buy various upgrades for the camp, from aesthetic updates to your tents, to a better selection of ammo, food and health items. And if you want to unlock fast travel, which should be a priority, you can do that after upgrading both Dutch’s tent (which costs $220) and Arthur’s (which is an additional $325). After upgrading Arthur’s tent, you can then upgrade everybody else’s lodging for $300, which will improve morale and make others donate more money and items to the camp fund.
Other upgrades to target:
Leather Working Tools ($225): Pearson, the camp cook, can use these to craft new bags that’ll let you carry more stuff.
Chicken Coop ($175): If you buy a coop, Pearson can add egg to the daily stew, and that extra protein will boost the health properties of slurping down a big ol’ bowl.
Horse Station ($300): This upgrade lets you recall any horses you might have stabled or left throughout the country.
Eventually you can also buy a boat. Uh, that spoils some story stuff, but hey: it’s a boat. Boats are cool. Get psyched for that boat, y’all!
Mr. Pearson, the camp cook, makes a new stew for the camp every day. It’s a free, ever-present way to get some nutrition, although you can only eat from the communal pot every other day. Pearson’s a one-stop shop for all your food needs. You can give him any meat you picked up on the trail, which he’ll use for his stews, and as you upgrade his chuckwagon you’ll find canned goods and vegetables you can take on the road with you. You’ve got to stay well-fed in this game, and the camp helps.
Leopold Strauss’s main gig might be usury, but he’s also your group’s de facto doctor. The Austrian money lender keeps a variety of medicines in the back of his wagon—or at least the kind of pseudo-medicinal claptrap that predominated back in the late 19th century. You can grab some when needed, for immediate use or for the road.
Despite being a homeless criminal who never once takes a shower, Arthur Morgan is still something of a fashion plate. You can check out all the outfits in his collection at his tent. If you stand at the foot of his bed you’ll see a prompt to peek into his wardrobe; there you’ll see both the various clothing items you’ve acquired throughout the game, including hats and whatever special outfits you had the Trapper make for Arthur. You can also create custom outfits by combining bits and pieces, and save them for quick and easy access in the future. Beyond clothes, you can also groom Arthur’s facial hair in his tent. You can adjust the length of his beard and mustache or go completely clean shaven. I’ve got to say, though, if your Arthur Morgan doesn’t have a beard, you’re a cop.
Every time your reenter your camp you’ll see three icons at the top of the right side of the screen: a bullet, a cross and a turkey leg. The color of these icons tell you how full your ammo, medicine and food wagons are. If an icon is red, you’re almost out; white means you’ve got a decent supply, and yellow basically means you’re full. It doesn’t matter how well-stocked Arthur’s personal supply is: you need to keep all three items in abundance within the camp for the welfare of everybody else. You can resupply all three wagons using the ledger. Look for the restock option at the bottom of the pages for medicine, provisions and ammo.
The camp’s also just a place to hang out with your friends and colleagues. You can talk to any of them at any point, although it’ll mostly just be repetitive dialogue loops. At night there’ll usually be a singalong by a fire, and somebody will almost always be up for a game of poker, dominoes or five-finger fillet. And if you ever see a big yellow logo with a letter or two in the middle floating above the camp on the map, that means one of your fellow campers is ready to send you on a mission. That’s just another thing that makes the camp the single most important location in Red Dead Redemption 2.