The world Rockstar has created in Red Dead Redemption 2 perfectly encapsulates the wild west era. Every inch of the map is dotted with interesting locations and details that no one should miss. Everyone should comb the entire map to appreciate the work the developers have truly put in.
To do this, we need the ability to freely explore the map. Many players get confused by the fog covering the map and whether they can free-roam from the start. So when can you free-roam in Red Dead Redemption 2?
You won’t be able to free roam in Red Dead Redemption 2 at the start of the game i.e. Chapter 1: Colter. Once you are done with this chapter and begin Chapter 2: Horseshoe Overlook, only then can you free-roam as you please.
However, you still can’t access the Blackwater area or anywhere south / southwest of it which will unlock in later chapters.
Chapter 1: Colter – RDR 2 Starting
Red Dead Redemption 2 will begin with Chapter 1: Colter. This chapter is more of a scripted series of events that will introduce you to the Van der Linde gang and the current predicament of your posse. Here you will be stuck in the northern section of the map with no ability to freely explore the map.
You will have to complete the set of missions within this chapter to progress and unlock the entire map essentially. Before that, you can only stay in this region and can’t free-roam.
Chapter 2: Horseshoe Overlook – Free-Roam Begins
Once done with Chapter 1, your gang will pick up their bags and move to a new camp location near the town of Valentine in Chapter 2: Horseshoe Overlook. This is where the map will be open to exploring. You can free-roam as you wish and lift the fog that is hiding the map.
There are no limits other than the Blackwater area and anything south / southwest of it. Blackwater is accessible but there is a Dead or Alive bounty placed on your gang (depicted by the red boundary around the area).
You can go to Blackwater but the authorities will make quick work of you so there is no point going there.
Blackwater and its neighboring region, New Austin, will only be legally accessible after you have completed Chapter 6: Beaver Hollow. These later chapters are the Epilogues of the game and without going into any spoilers, this is when the whole map will be available to free-roam.
But before the Epilogue, you can check out every part of the map minus the two areas mentioned above. This explorable area is massive and filled to the brim with stuff to do so you won’t be running out of activities anytime soon.
Just play the game normally and soon the whole map will be yours to completely free-roam in.
When you are limited by the game at the start, do not be bothered by it as the game will open up for you to free-roam in Chapter 2. Also do not get fixated on the locked southern regions, you will get to them eventually. Focus on the map you are given and investigate every nook and cranny of it and you will be amazed by what the world is hiding.