Skip to main content

How to use Dead Eye in Red Dead Redemption 2

Level up to fire critical shots and auto target.

Red Dead Redemption 2 main character Arthur Morgan walks out of a burning building holding two pistols.
Image credit: Rockstar Games

Dead Eye mode in Red Dead Redemption 2 lets you slow down time and pick off enemies with headshots and precise targeting - but it takes some upgrading and getting used to.

Dead Eye is best used in the heat of battle when you're facing off against multiple foes, or when you're on horseback and need to take down tenacious lawmen or random individuals you don't like the look of.

To use Dead Eye in RDR2, just click down on the right analog stick while you're aiming - this will slow down time and allow you to target enemies with a red X. Depending on what stage of Dead Eye you've unlocked, you can tag multiple enemies before firing, line-up headshots, and eventually pick out vital organs to blast.

Once you've lined up the red X, pull the trigger to unleash a volley of deadly shots. But first, you've got to earn all the upgrades.

How to level up Dead Eye

Dead Eye targeting levels up automatically as you progress through the main storyline, so it doesn't require much extra effort on your part.

You can find out below when you'll unlock each Dead Eye level, and the upgrades each tier brings to the table:

Level 1: This is start of Dead Eye, which you earn during Chapter 1's Old Friends mission. It allows you to slow down time and drag the red X target across an enemy. It auto targets the enemy for you and can be frustrating, as it doesn't offer the precision you want. Be quick with your aiming though, and you can tag multiple enemies.

Level 2: This is where Dead Eye gets really useful. You can now manually tag a shot on an enemy by tapping the right bumper (R1/RB) or the Q key on PC. Tag multiple enemies or just one unfortunate guy with six shots from your revolver and pull the trigger for spectacular results. This unlocks during Chapter 2 and the Pouring Forth Oil mission.

Level 3: This seems like an incremental upgrade but is more useful than it sounds. You can now stay in Dead Eye mode after you've fired shots, allowing you to pick off another target you may have missed, or just tag another bullet on an enemy as they go down. Unlocks during Banking, the Old American Art in Chapter 4.

Level 4: You'll need to reach Chapter 5's Fleeting Joy mission to unlock this level of Dead Eye, but you can now see the highlighted head and hearts of enemies. Hit these and you'll perform one-shot kills. This is when Dead Eye becomes really useful for hunting animals as it allows you to get a clean kill and harvest perfect pelts.

Level 5: As well as the head and heart you can now target the lungs and stomach, specifically. You'll be getting a lot more one-shot kills and they become a lot easier.

This is also a perfect upgrade if you're hunting the biggest Legendary Animals in Red Dead Redemption 2. A shot to the lungs may not kill a bison instantly, but it will slow it down and you can track it much more easily. This unlocks at Chapter 6, during the mission Goodbye, Dear Friend.

Red Dead Redemption 2 main character Arthur Morgan firing a pistol.
Image credit: Rockstar Games

How to refill and upgrade Dead Eye

You can refill your Dead Eye meter by drinking tonics, sleeping, and getting kills.

You can improve the amount of permanent Dead Eye bars on your Dead Eye meter by earning XP as you play. To earn Dead Eye XP you need to land headshots, kill enemies in free-aim, and complete specific challenges related to weapons and shooting, as well as regular stuff such as skinning animals, crafting, and cooking.

Also, keep an eye out for Valerian Root - this grants you an XP boost to help reach the next level on the Dead Eye meter.

Watch on YouTube

If you're new to Red Dead Redemption 2, then check out our guides on how to upgrade your bows and arrows, where to find the best horse, and the game's best weapons. You can also head to our pages on how to get rich quick and all the gang hideout locations.

Read this next