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The best passive ability cards in Red Dead Online

Play your cards right.

There are a variety of ways to customize your character in Red Dead Online. From the role, weapons, style, and more, you are spoiled for choice in how you bring your cowboy to life. One often overlooked aspect of your character comes in the form of Ability Cards. If you’re in that boat, then that’s something that you should rectify with the help of our guide. 

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There are four Ability Cards that you can set up, one active (for Dead Eye) and three passive Ability Cards. They are a great way to customize your preferred playstyle while balancing some of the advantages and drawbacks that they can provide. The passive Ability Cards in Red Dead Online come in three flavors — Combat, Recovery, and Defense. We’ll go through each type and suggest the best options. So let us dive in and discuss the best passive Ability Cards that you can outfit your character with in Red Dead Online.

Related: Red Dead Online surprises players with a new update and missions

All Combat Ability Cards in Red Dead Online

There are eight Combat Ability Cards to pick from in Red Dead Online. They all modify the way your character fights and can largely dictate your preferred combat style.

  • Gunslinger’s Choice: While dual-wielding, you deal more damage and are more accurate.
  • Horseman: You deal a little more damage while on horseback.
  • Sharpshooter: While using a scope, you deal more damage and take less damage.
  • Necessity Breeds: As you get closer to death, you start to do a little more damage.
  • Landon’s Patience: Waiting for up to 15 seconds between shots slightly increases your damage.
  • The Short Game: You deal more damage to targets closer to you, but less to far away targets.
  • Hangman: Lasso chokes enemies dealing damage for every second they are lassoed.
  • Winning Streak: Each consecutive shot on the same target does a little more damage.

The best Combat Ability Cards in Red Dead Online

You are spoiled for choice when it comes to the best Combat passives that you can choose. In this category more than any other, it all comes down to your preferred way of fighting. However, there are a few clear winners:

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  • Gunslinger’s Choice: This card negates the main drawback of using two revolvers and enables you to mow down opponents like no other.
  • Winning Streak: This card is just plain good utility. But if you combo it with the abovementioned Gunslinger’s Choice, you’ll become the deadliest gunslinger around.
  • Sharpshooter: If you prefer to fight from range, this passive is a must-have.

All Recovery Ability Cards in Red Dead Online

There are 10 Recovery Ability Cards in total in Red Dead Online. They mostly serve to help you out with Health and Stamina issues, which can make your character a bit more productive in and out of combat.

  • Iron Lung: Your Stamina regenerates faster, and you take less damage depending on your current Stamina level.
  • Kick in the Butt: Whenever you take damage, a proportion of it is added to your Dead Eye.
  • Live for the Fight: You regenerate Dead Eye slowly over time.
  • Ride Like the Wind: Whenever you take or deal damage while mounted, a proportion of it is added to your horse’s Health and Stamina.
  • Come Back Stronger: Health begins regenerating a little sooner after you take damage.
  • Peak Condition: You inflict a little more damage if your Stamina is at least 75% full.
  • Eye for an Eye: Headshots restore a little Dead Eye.
  • The Gift of Focus: Items and Abilities which restore Dead Eye have their effects slightly improved. You deal a little less damage.
  • Strange Medicine: You regain a little health whenever you inflict damage. Your health will otherwise regenerate at half the normal rate.
  • Cold Blooded: After killing an enemy you will get back a little health over the next five seconds.

The best Recovery Ability Cards in Red Dead Online

Despite plenty of choices, most of the Recovery passives are situational at best. But there are a few outliers that are simply amazing. Consider these when kitting out your character:

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  • Iron Lung: One of the worst things that can happen is to run out of Stamina at a crucial moment. That’s where Iron Lung comes in to make it a bit easier to deal with those situations.
  • Live for the Fight: This ability prevents the self-perpetuating cycle of being starved for Dead Eye with no enemies around to kill so that it can refill.
  • Cold Blooded: During a firefight, a little bit of extra healing can go a long way and mean the difference between winning or losing.

All Defense Ability Cards in Red Dead Online

Lastly, there are nine Defense Ability Cards to choose from in Red Dead Online. As the name implies, these passives mostly make your character tougher and more resistant to damage.

  • Fool Me Once: You take less damage each consecutive time you are shot. This effect ends if you are not shot for 10 seconds.     
  • Friends for Life: While mounted, you and your horse take less damage.     
  • Strength in Numbers: You take less damage for every nearby ally, up to a maximum of three allies.     
  • Hunker Down: Take less damage while in cover.     
  • To Fight Another Day: Take less damage from bullets while sprinting.     
  • The Unblinking Eye: Dead Eye and Eagle Eye drain slower.     
  • Take the Pain Away: Reviving someone gives you and that person less damage taken for 8 seconds.     
  • Of Single Purpose: Take less damage from bullets while unarmed or using a melee weapon.     
  • Never without One: Your hat will block one headshot and then fall off. If you are not wearing a hat you take more damage.

The best Defense Ability Cards in Red Dead Online

There are some very strong choices in the Defense category and it can be difficult to pick when there are so many good ones. But some are still better than others, so our suggestions would be:

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  • Fool Me Once: Acting as an alarm of sorts, this ability will let you live longer to seek cover, fight back, or have a chance to run away.
  • The Unblinking Eye: This Defense passive is quite offensive in the right hands. Use it to your advantage to get more out of your Dead Eye and Eagle Eye.
  • Never without One: There’s no better way of describing this passive than as a free ‘Get out of jail’ trump card. It’s probably the strongest Ability Card in Red Dead Online, just don’t forget to bring your hat (or three) with you.

Related: The best saddles in Red Dead Online

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Miljan Truc
I have been into gaming since the days of Sega Mega Drive and Amiga. Over the years in gaming, I have raided at a high level, completed rare achievements, coached other players, and written about games since 2016. Whether it’s been clicking heads; developing cities, colonies, and empires; or commanding parties of adventurers; I’ve always prided myself on being able to understand the underlying mechanics of games. Outside of gaming, I enjoy a variety of activities and hobbies, including playing with my pup Astra, working out, as well as crafting, painting, and leatherwork.