How to Use Dead Eye in Red Dead Redemption 2?


It is no secret that Red Dead Redemption 2 is already filled with a plethora of amazing features. And when talking about the features that define the game, Dead Eye easily ranks among the top ones. Players who have been playing RDR2 for a while should know how significant the Dead Eye Bar is and what role it plays.

Dead Eye comes in handy when facing off with numerous enemies at once or simply aiming better. What this does is slow down time so that you can get out of a do-or-die situation unharmed. Needless to say, if you learn to use Dead Eye properly, you can take your RDR2 gaming experience to newer heights.

Below, I will explain everything you wanted to know about the Dead Eye feature in Red Dead Redemption 2. Read on to get an in-depth idea about one of the best game mechanics out there today.

What is Dead Eye?

Dead Eye is a distinctive game mechanic found not only in Red Dead Redemption 2 but also in every Red Dead game. It empowers players to decelerate time to shoot their targets most precisely. After they mark or “paint” their targets, the speed of time returns to normal, and a barrage of shots gets released from their guns one after the other. Naturally, this drastically reduces the enemy’s or just a huntable animal’s chances of survival. 

The first game featuring Dead Eye was Red Dead Revolver, and since then, it has become an integral part of the Red Dead franchise. The Dead Eye Targeting in Red Dead Redemption 2 has shown some changes from the previous installments. 

dead eye red dead redemption 2

Unlike Red Dead Revolver (which has 0 levels) and Red Dead Redemption (which has 3 levels), Dead Eye in Red Dead Redemption 2 has 5 levels. Also, the player used to receive no damage while in the Dead Eye mode in Red Dead Redemption. But in Red Dead Redemption 2, the player is not invincible anymore while utilizing Dead Eye and will take damage from the incoming shots. 

Furthermore, let me remind you something: using Dead Eye doesn’t automatically mean guaranteed hits on your target. If your target moves out of your gun’s range or takes cover, your shots will miss as usual.            

How to Unlock Dead Eye in Red Dead Redemption 2?

As mentioned before, having the Dead Eye Targeting activated can be advantageous in situations where there are lots of enemies. It can also prove its worth to those who simply want to elevate their aiming skills to a new level. 

However, unlocking Dead Eye is the first thing you have to do. Everything else comes later. Now the question is, how to unlock your Dead Eye Bar? Well, it is not anything too complex. There are 5 tiers and 10 levels of Dead Eye in Red Dead Redemption 2. 

How to Unlock Dead Eye in Red Dead Redemption 2?
  • Tier 1 Dead Eye unlocks when you complete the Chapter 1 mission, ‘Old Friends’. At this tier, you can just enter/exit Dead Eye, and that’s it! You won’t be able to control where and how Dead Eye places the ‘X’ markers on a target’s body. Everything will happen on its own.  
  • Tier 2 unlocks when you finish the Chapter 2 mission, ‘Pouring Forth Oil IV’. At this tier, you get the ability to manually place the ‘X’ markers on the enemies while in Dead Eye. It is a major upgrade, if you ask me, substantially increasing your convenience. 
  • Tier 3 will unlock upon completing the Chapter 4 story mission, “Urban Pleasures’. Achieving Tier 3 allows you to stay in Dead Eye after you shoot your foe without marking them. Nonetheless, placing an ‘X’ marker on a target will cause you to exit Dead Eye, and fire your shot. 
  • To unlock Tier 4, you must finish the Chapter 5 mission, ‘Fleeting Joy’. This unravels Dead Eye’s ability to mark the heart and head of a target, dramatically increasing accuracy.  
  • The last tier of Dead Eye, which is Tier 5, lets you use Dead Eye to its fullest. It unlocks after you complete the Chapter 6 story mission, ‘Goodbye Dear Friend’. Along with all the perks of the previous four tiers, it now marks the lungs and stomach of your targets. One-shotting your enemies has never been easier!

Apart from the 5 tiers, there are 10 levels of Dead Eye in RDR2. Leveling up your Dead Eye level (no matter the tier) can help you stay in the Dead Eye mode for longer durations. For the unaware, leveling up your Dead Eye up to Level 8 requires nothing special. You can do that as normal as you keep doing things like performing daily chores, hunting various animals, crafting, etc. The remaining two levels will only unlock when you complete special achievements (don’t worry! I will talk about it shortly).

How Can You Use Dead Eye in Red Dead Redemption 2?

Now that you understand a thing or two about Dead Eye Targeting, let me enlighten you about the way to use it. 

Once you unlock at least the Tier 1 Dead Eye, you can start using it. For more advanced features, unlocking more Tiers will be necessary. Also, your Dead Eye Meter should fill to a certain extent first. 

When that has happened, simply click down on your right analog stick while aiming at your enemies. On the other hand, press the Caps Lock or Mouse Scroll if you are on PC. This will trigger the Dead Eye mode in an instant, and everything on your screen will begin to move in slow motion.

If you are at Tier 1, Dead Eye will auto-mark the enemies or animals you have targeted with a red-colored ‘X.’ As I said earlier, you have no control over where and how your targets get ‘X’ marks on their bodies at this tier. But provided you have achieved Tier 2 or higher, you can manually ‘X’ mark your target or targets. 

How Can You Use Dead Eye in Red Dead Redemption 2?

Once you have placed the markers, you will exit the Dead Eye Mode, and things will return to normalcy, but with one difference. Your target, who was in a healthy condition seconds ago, will now suffer from a flurry of bullets penetrating their body. 

All you need to do is to line up your targets with the red ‘X’ marks and bang! Down goes your enemies (or an innocent animal). 

On the PC, shooting your targets requires a left mouse click

Also, remember every time you use Dead Eye, your Dead Eye Bar will go down. You must refill it before you can utilize it again.       

How To Refill Your Dead Eye? 

Filling your Dead Eye Bar is necessary to activate it in times of need. Each time you slay an enemy or a wanted criminal, your Dead Eye Meter will fill up steadily. 

Still, sometimes the slow refill of the bar ends up irking you (it surely irks me!), and you may find yourself looking for quicker ways to refill your Dead Eye Meter to save time and eliminate the inevitable frustration that comes with it. Well, worry not! There are proven ways to refill your Dead Eye way faster.

How To Refill Your Dead Eye?

The first is by consuming the Chewing Tobacco, and the second is by drinking the Miracle Tonic or Dead Eye Tonic. These are the two sure-shot methods to replenish the meter at an increased speed. 

If you have a few of them, you can access them from the item wheel. Opening the item wheel is easy. Just hold down the left bumper, and the item wheel will appear on your screen. 

item wheel red dead redemption 2

In case you have run out of such consumables, don’t fret, gamer! Navigate to your nearest town and search for the general store or the doctor in the area. The general store will have the Chewing Tobacco for sale, and the doctor will sell the Miracle Tonic. 

How To Upgrade Your Dead Eye?

As you keep playing and progressing in RDR2, you are bound to utilize your Dead Eye a lot. And I mean a lot! The good news is that each time you use your Dead Eye, you are contributing to its upgrade.

Depending on the tier your Dead Eye is at, your abilities will go through upgrades. From auto-marking of targets to manual marking to staying in the Dead Eye mode without marking an enemy to critical points highlighting – your Dead Eye will witness a massive transformation.

Hey, remember the 10 Dead Eye levels I spoke of earlier? Let’s see how you can reach each level. The more XP you gain from performing Dead Eye-related activities, the more you advance level-wise. You need to earn a total of 1100 XP to reach Level 8.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Level 1 (0 XP)
  • Level 2 (50 XP)
  • Level 3 (100 XP)
  • Level 4 (200 XP)
  • Level 5 (350 XP)
  • Level 6 (550 XP)
  • Level 7 (800 XP)
  • Level 8 (1100 XP)

There are a couple of ways to earn Dead Eye XP as you go about playing the game. The foremost is killing your adversaries with headshots. The second is by slaying foes without your Dead Eye. Third, by awakening the craftsman in you and crafting various items. Cook your meals, and it will increase your Dead Eye XP. You can get Dead Eye XP from skinning animals you hunt too. Plus, don’t forget to partake in and complete weapon challenges.

How To Upgrade Your Dead Eye?

Leveling up your Dead Eye through XP-gaining only works till Level 8. For the last two levels, there is no shortcut. Reaching Level 9 requires obtaining any one of the three available Trapper SetsExplorer, Herbalist, or Survivalist. To get to the final level, however, you have to get all three of these sets.

FYI, you can find these special sets at any Trapper under the section called ‘Reinforced Equipment’. Each set comprises four items that are obtainable by spending your time, cash, and hunting.

Want to hear a little secret? By getting your hands on special items like Trinkets and Talismans, you can further improve your Dead Eye. From boosting your Dead Eye XP earnings to increasing your Dead Eye duration – they come with various benefits. Drinking Valerian Root can help increase your XP as well.          

Final Words

To conclude, Dead Eye Targeting is a feature that truly stands out in Red Dead Redemption 2 – a game already full of wonderful features. By slowing down time, enabling players to mark enemies, and highlighting critical organs, it makes precise shots a cakewalk.

In this guide, I gave you a thorough idea of what Dead Eye is and how to use it right. Hope it helps you become a better gunslinger and rule the Wild West. With Dead Eye at your disposal, becoming a crack shot is no longer merely a dream.

If you really want to test your Dead Eye skills, check out our Red Dead Redemption 2 gang hideouts guide. You’ll find plenty of enemies for target practice, and clear out gang hideouts at a single go!

Samyak Goswami
Samyak Goswami
Samyak Goswami, a passionate gamer and skilled gaming content writer, indulges in the world of virtual adventures. With a penchant for tinkering with tech, he brings a unique blend of expertise and enthusiasm to the gaming website.

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