Red Dead Redemption 2 Fishing Accessibility Review

Player character holding a large Northern Pike fish

The following review only focuses on physical accessibility for the fishing minigame aspect while using a controller for both Red Dead Redemption 2 Story mode and Red Dead Online after Update 1.15.

YES! They finally added Hold to Reel. I hunted down the lead UX developer on RDR2 earlier this year and asked him about adding this as it would be a great accessibility feature for disabled gamers like myself who had been locked out of catching certain fish from launch. Turns out he hadn’t worked for Rockstar in 2 years, but he did apologize for the design oversight and offered to forward my email to the corresponding devs at Rockstar, but “no promises.” Beats slamming my head on my keyboard dealing with some terrible Rockstar Support agents who didn’t stop short of insulting me due to my disabilities and modified controllers.

A screenshot of the current Accessibility settings in Update 1.15 for Red Dead Redemption 2. "Hold to Reel (Fishing)" is highlighted and toggled "On".

But Rockstar actually did an accessibility thing, because I was persistent… WIN!

Wait… not so fast… I’ve had a few days to go fishing and there’s a definite need for improvement. Here’s what they got wrong:

Using Lures:

This worked pretty well from the start. On consoles, toggling Hold to Reel on makes holding Square (PS4)/X (XB1) “reel.”

Top Left text box says "Fish attracted to the bait will often nibble before taking a bite."

Top Right says which lure is being used: "Special Lake Lure"

Center of image is player character gripping a fishing rod that has been cast out into the water.

Bottom Right displays button prompts for various actions: "Reel Lure" - Square
"Reset Cast" - Circle
"Hook Fish" - R2

I gripped the rod with L2, cast with R2 and while still gripping with L2, began to reel with Square. This is NICE! The lure slowly reels in, as if I were steadily rotating the right stick (but I wasn’t, because that’s the beauty of accessibility toggles). “tk-tk-tk-tk-tk-tk-tk-tk-tk-tk-” as my lure comes in. My controller vibrates, I HOOK with R2 and can now release my tired grip on L2 and begin fighting the fish with the left stick, slowly… side-to-side until it tires out and quits thrashing for a few seconds. Now I reel… Holding Square is so easy compared to expending all my energy and concentration into rotating the right stick as fast as I can, which isn’t fast enough by the game’s standard. I didn’t get to flick the left stick back periodically with the default settings because I was too busy and/or tired. With Hold to Reel, now I can!

Top Right says which lure is being used: "Special Lake Lure"

Center of image is player character reeling in a large fish.

Bottom Right displays button prompts for various actions: "Reel In" - Square
"Cut Line" - Circle
"Control" - <L Stick>
Top Right says which lure is being used: "Special Lake Lure"

Left text box says:
"Daily Challenges
1/1 Northern Pike Caught"

Center of image is player character holding a large Northern Pike fish.

Bottom Left displays information about the Northern Pike:
"19lbs 11 oz Northern Pike
Also called jackfish, pike are a larger fish, with flaky yet bony meat. They will aggressively strike a river lure."

Bottom Right displays button prompts for various actions: "Keep" - Cross
"Throw Back" - Circle

I make a note of the speed of which the lure reels in while trawling. Sometimes it is too slow, especially if you have overcast your lure. Sometimes the bigger fish would swim away before the lure reached them. This is an issue. One that if Rockstar had actually conversed with disabled players might not have been an issue. Still, I finally caught my first 19lb 11oz Northern Pike for a daily challenge. I was happy.

Next the game’s online daily challenge asks me to catch five Smallmouth Bass. Here’s where this new issue rears its ugly head even more.

Using Bait:

In order to catch the plethora of smaller fish in RDR2, you use various baits. Small bits of bread, corn or cheese. Or you can get fancy and buy some crayfish or live worms for the medium fish. Reeling works incredibly different with these smaller baits. It’s full speed. Way too quick to catch anything when you cast and 2 seconds later your line is reeled all the way in and there’s a water ripple trail as if a tiny speedboat just beached itself at your feet.

Rockstar needs to implement a speed adjustment when holding the button to reel. Perhaps pulling one of the thumbsticks up or down while reeling can set the speed like a “throttle”. The right stick is now free, but it may be better suited to go on the left stick’s up/down axis.

Right now, with Hold to Reel toggled on catching large fish is almost perfect, catching medium to small fish is aggravatingly more difficult than using the default setting of rotating the right stick instead.

You did good, Rockstar… but you can do better.

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Melissa Klassen

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