Rockstar has practically shadow dropped the Red Dead Online Beta, announcing access begins today, November 27th, at 8:30am EST / 1:30pm GMT / 2:30pm CET.

The rollout is a little more complicated than that though, with access today limited to those who forked out for the top-tier Red Dead Redemption 2: Ultimate Edition. Then tomorrow, November 28th, anyone who played RDR2 on launch day on October 26th can gain access, while anyone who played Red Dead 2 from October 26th to October 29th can play. Finally, on Friday, November 30th, all players who own Red Dead Redemption 2 can play the Red Dead Online Beta.

As far as methods go it seems decent enough, albeit annoying for fans who didn’t want to splash out the wholly unnecessary Ultimate Edition. It should help a great deal with the crush of demand though, which absolutely crippled Grand Theft Auto Online during its opening week.

As for what Red Dead Online will be, well, we’re about four hours from it launching and we’re not all that much wiser. Rockstar has said it will blend the “classic multiplayer” of the original Red Ded Redemption with what it’s learned about "deep multiplayer experiences" in the intervening years. GTA Online is still a convoluted mess of menus and systems, so let’s hope it’s not just a straight copy of that, but an evolution.

From the sounds of it, the entire open-world of RDR2 will be explorable in Red Dead Online, with players able to create and customise their own character as well as pack out special abilities and playstyles to make them unique.

Posses can be formed with up to seven players. They’ll have their own camp and can head out to battle enemy gangs, attack hideouts, visiting towns, hunt for treasure, take on missions, tackle challenges, or even just head out and do some hunting and fishing for a more relaxing time.

When Can I Play the Red Dead Online Beta?

- Tuesday, November 27: All Red Dead Redemption 2: Ultimate Edition owners. Please note, players who purchased the physical Ultimate Edition must redeem the Ultimate Edition code in the packaging to be eligible.

- Wednesday, November 28: All players who played Red Dead Redemption 2 on October 26th.

- Thursday, November 29: All players who played Red Dead Redemption 2 between October 26th to October 29th.

- Friday, November 30: All players who own Red Dead Redemption 2.