Highly anticipated: Red Dead Redemption 2 is already a serious contender for Game of the Year. I'm on my second playthrough, and it has my vote. But so far we've only seen the single-player campaign. Many are wondering what the multiplayer mode will offer. The wait is over.

As promised, the Red Dead Redemption 2 multiplayer (officially called Red Dead Online) beta began today. There is a story that goes along with the multiplayer mode, but I will avoid talking about it to avoid spoilers. What I will say is you start by getting your mugshot taken, which is how you customize your avatar. After that, you go to prison. Beyond that, you will have to play the game or watch someone streaming it on Twitch because I will say no more.

Aside from the story, many want to know about the gameplay. I've never been a huge multiplayer fan, but I do like MP when it is done right. Rockstar did it right with RDR2. Multiplayer mode is pretty much modeled after Grand Theft Auto Online. It's free roaming with a variety of missions or jobs in which you can participate.

Some speculated that Rockstar would merely copy the successful battle-royale archetype that is currently saturating the market in multiplayer shooters. While there are BR-style jobs (called Make It Count), they only make up a very small slice of the gameplay.

Currently, there are only four Make It Count missions on different maps --- Strawberry, Stillwater Creek, Tall Trees, and Saint Denis Plantation. The Strawberry and Stillwater jobs have players equipped only with throwing knives. The Tall Trees and Saint Denis maps outfit players with bows and arrows. Other than the weapon limitations, the game mode plays out the same as any other battle-royale game.

Limiting players to the same type of weaponry in the BR missions was a good move by Rockstar. Everyone is equal, and I found that to be more fun. Throwing knives and bows do not make for good sniping weapons, so you have to get close to your target. This aspect makes the matches very thrilling and exciting.

I only had time to play a few missions this morning, but according to the admins over at Red Dead Base, Make It Count jobs are only four out of a total of 43 multiplayer missions.

Nine are Contact Missions. These are the jobs that follow the multiplayer storyline. They will introduce players to several of the various locales.

There are two Team Shootouts (Deathmatch). These are 4-on-4 gunfights using standard weapons with unlimited lives --- one point per kill. One is on the Bolger Glade map; the other is in Saint Denis.

Hostile Territory jobs take place on six maps. In this mode, teams work to control sections of land. As long as a territory is being held, they earn points. Capturing all of the regions wins the match outright. Otherwise, the team with the most points wins.

Most Wanted events are the standard Free-For-All on six different maps. Every man for himself with each kill racking up points. However, there is a twist. The higher a player is on the leaderboard, the more points other players will get for killing them. You literally become the most wanted outlaw --- if you're good.

Name Your Weapon is a x4-team mode that awards points based on the type of weapon you use for a kill. Riskier kills score the highest --- Repeater x1, Revolver x2, Shotgun x3, Cannon / Maxim Gun x5, Sniper / Tomahawk x6, Melee x7. Players have unlimited lives, and the team with the most points wins.

If you love racing around on horses, then Races and Open Races are there for you. There are two circuit races, both in Saint Denis and three point-to-point, making five regular runs in total.

There are also five Open Races. These have players dashing through signal fires in any order they wish. First to go through all fires wins.

Regular races and open races are free-for-all. Players start with no weapons but can pick them up along the way. So run or shoot your way to the finish.

So far Red Dead Online is looking pretty solid. It is certainly exceeding my expectations, but I'll need to put in more time to make a truly fair assessment.

See you on the trail cowpokes.