Red Dead Online beta launches in Red Dead Redemption 2 this week

Smash hit game Red Dead Redemption 2 launches its first multiplayer features this week as the Red Dead Online beta goes live.

Players of the latest release from Rockstar Games will be able to battle with or against other players starting from tomorrow.

From 3:30am on Wednesday morning, New Zealand time, owners of the game's 'Ultimate Edition' will have access to the beta.

Red Dead Redemption 2 players who played it on release day will get access on Thursday, then those who played it on the first weekend will follow on Friday and everyone else on Saturday.

The Red Dead Online beta is a test period - so players should expect bugs and gameplay problems, before Rockstar Games releases the complete version.

But the company is confident it's onto a winner.

"With the gameplay of Red Dead Redemption 2 as its foundation, Red Dead Online transforms the vast and deeply detailed landscapes, cities, towns and habitats of [the game] into a new, living online world ready to be shared by multiple players," says Rockstar Games.

"Create and customise your character, tailor your abilities to suit your play style and head out into a new frontier full of things to experience.

"Form or join a posse to ride with up to seven players; gather around the fire at your camp; head out hunting or fishing; visit bustling towns; battle enemy gangs and attack their hideouts; hunt for treasure; take on missions and interact with familiar characters from across the five states; or fight against other outlaws in both spontaneous skirmishes and pitched set-piece battles; compete with other players or whole posses in open world challenges and much more."

Rockstar Games has not announced how long the beta will run for or when a full release will follow.