Updated: Jan 21, 2022
The map of Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the most lived in, detailed, and vibrant maps this generation of video games has to offer. This is all well and good but there's only one part of the map I care about: the many saloons scattered throughout the wild west.
There are 9 saloons in total, all of them with named bartenders (points to rockstar for attention to detail). In my opinion these wonderful establishments have been criminally overlooked and are deserving of the spotlight so I took it upon myself to give each one a fair and comprehensive review (which I'm amazed no one else has done).
Saloon #1: Keane's Saloon (Valentine)
The first stop on my saloon tour of the map. Keane's Saloon is not a nice place, so I'm getting it out of the way immediately. It's small, it's dull, and the vibes are just off. There's no food to be found here, not even a bowl of almonds. But it does earn points for the prices, with whiskey costing only 50¢ (the same as a beer), a real bargain. I did also find an unattended gin bottle at a table which is always a nice bonus. These are the only two positive takeaways I can offer and I'm being so generous. Just when I thought Keane's couldn't look any worse, I got attacked by the first patron that walked in which as anyone will tell you is never a good look for any shop.
Keane's Saloon earns itself a 1/5. A very poor start.
Saloon #2: Smithfield's Saloon (Valentine)
After my experience at Keane's I found myself wanting more. I ventured across Valentine and found myself at Smithfield's Saloon. Smithfield's is iconic. Smithfield's is to Red Dead Redemption what Cheers (the bar) is to Cheers (the TV show). It has music, it has poker, and unlike Keane's they serve food!
I'll admit the bowl of almonds on offer doesn't exactly constitute fine cuisine but it's definitely better than nothing. Much like Keane's the drinks are cheap, both beer and whiskey are priced at 50¢. Smithfield's is nicely sized with two floors and a bedroom at the back, a wonderful contrast to the other bar in valentine.
But maybe the best and most used part of Smithfield's is the barber. That's right, a barber in a saloon. This alone puts this establishment up with the best of them.
If I were rating these, which I am, I'd give the Smithfield's a 4.5/5. It loses half a star because the floors could do with a clean and I reckon it probably smells a bit in there.
Saloon #3: Old Light Saloon (Van Horn trading post)
Josie Dawson (I told you the bartenders were all named) deserves credit for Old Light Saloon. Van Horn is a lost cause, easily one of the worst locations on the map, so you would be forgiven for assuming that its only saloon is as well. Old Light is far from a lost cause though. Sure it's a little rough around the edges, it doesn't serve food, it's a little run down, and it probably smells of damp, but Old Light Saloon has a whole lotta heart and a big helping of soul on the side. There are also bonus marks up for grabs for the excellent pianist and the locals who didn't attack me once (looking at you Keane's). Old Light walks away from this one with a solid 3/5 which is 2 more than I thought it might get before I got here.
Saloon #4: Doyle's Tavern (Saint Denis)
Oh dear, a step in the wrong direction. I had no expectations for Doyle's Tavern and I still found myself disappointed. Doyle's doesn't serve food, not even a bowl of porridge, which might be excused if it was a nice saloon but it's honestly just a bit grim. As any story mode player will remember there is also the small matter of rats everywhere, not exactly the sign of a nice place to be.
Old Light is a nice bar in an awful place, this is the other way round.
Doyle's has music which is always nice but it just feels out of place. Doyle's doesn't make me feel like dancing, it makes me feel like leaving. Which is exactly what I did.
1/5 for Doyle's, not even it's location can save it.
Saloon #5: Bastille Saloon (Saint Denis)
Cutlery is laid out on tables, the piano is being played beautifully, and the floors are clean.
I've entered high society, oh wait it's just Bastille's saloon. This is more than a saloon, this is a high class dining experience (even if they only serve almonds). I feel underdressed and out of place.
Bastille's is spread over two floors in the nicer half of Saint Denis. The location alone earns it a couple points.
There is no excuse for the high drink prices though. $1 for a whiskey. One whole dollar. Insanity pure and simple. Minus one point.
I'd live at Bastille's if I could.
4.75/5, so close to perfection but ruined by its extortionate prices.
Saloon #6: Rhodes Parlour House (Rhodes)
A breath of fresh air. That's what Rhodes Parlour House is. It ticks all the boxes: 50¢ drinks, Almonds on offer, pleasant atmosphere, and even an antique goat hairbrush to be looted. Perfect.
I don't even have any negatives other than maybe that I got killed immediately by the other online players in Rhodes (which is not rare at all in this location). But what kind of critic would I be if I let that ruin my day
A trip to Rhodes Parlour House is a trip worth making.
5/5 for Rhodes Parlour House (spoiler alert this is the only perfect score)
Saloon #7: Blackwater Saloon
I'm biased on this one. I hate Blackwater with a passion solely because of the people it attracts. Only the worst people come here so I'm not stopping for long. Drinks are 50¢ but I didn't stay long enough to drink one as I was being chased by the online locals. There is no food on offer but there is poker and music, a fair trade off I feel. It's pretty inside with nice paintings and lots of light. What more can you ask for?
3.5/10 for Blackwater Saloon. A lovely bar but I hate it here. Sorry Blackwater fans.
Saloon #8: Armadillo Saloon (Armadillo)
Armadillo Saloon could do with some TLC (not the girl group). It's extremely run down and grubby and definitely not somewhere I'd want to eat, although maybe I've just been spoiled by Bastille and the Parlour house.
Surprise surprise there's no food on offer, no music, no poker, and the locals (both NPCs and online players) are overly aggressive.
It's also in the middle of nowhere, who goes this far south in Red Dead online out of choice?
It's a 1.5/5 for the Armadillo Saloon, and I only give it that extra half because it isn't Keane's.
Saloon #9: Tumbleweed Saloon (Tumbleweed)
The final stop on what has been one hell of a ride. I'm teary eyed, honestly.
Tumbleweed Saloon feels like what you'd get if you moved Smithfield's to a bad location. The bar itself is nice, the town it's in is sadly not. Tumbleweed could be removed from the map and I'd never notice and if I ever did I wouldn't care.
There's a tarot card to be found here too, well done Tumbleweed Saloon. There's a pack of cigarettes available to pinch as well, a welcome bonus.
If I could remove my location based bias I'd give tumbleweed bar a solid 4/5. But I can't remove this deep-seated dislike for the southern area of the map and so I'll give it a 2.5/5. A* for effort though Tumbleweed.
This has been the most comprehensive review of every saloon on RDR2 on the internet. Inspired by the livestream we did covering the exact same thing.