UPDATE 20th May 2019: Rockstar has said it's sorted out an issue with Red Dead Online that caused players to stumble across piles of dead horses.
"The issue affecting some players in Red Dead Online that was causing reduced numbers of animals in session and other knock-on effects has been resolved," Rockstar said in a statement given to Eurogamer.
ORIGINAL STORY 19th May 2019: Red Dead Online players are stumbling across inexplicable piles of dead, skinned horses.
First posted on reddit (thanks, Polygon), a screenshot entitled "So I'm getting back into RDO and I was going to play poker in the saloon..." shows a unwitting cowboy discovering a field of deceased horses in Valentine.
The appearance of the equine graveyard seems to coincide with a dearth of wildlife and NPCs anywhere else on the map, too. For some, horses aren't spawning when players whistle for it, either, and going into the stables manually "forces [players] back into that endless cutscene ffs".
"There are no humans and animals at all in online for me right now. Feeling like Will Smith in I Am Legend, the world is absolutely dead but you can still hear the ambient sounds, it's really spooky," said redditor MYNAMEISHENDRIK. "Every ten minutes a stagecoach without rider appears and the only people who appear are shop owners. Sometimes quest givers appear at their spot, sometimes not but missions will not start. There are no more animals, not even small rabbits. When I played yesterday there where only few NPCs on the streets in comparison to story mode but I thought they decreased the amount of people just for performance reasons but now every living being is gone. Must have something to do with the burned animal pile in Valentine."
As the discovery seems to come hand-in-hand with game crashes, some believe the mass graves aren't intentional, whereas others don't believe it's a bug or a glitch, either. As opined by redditor, N8-97, this could possibly be "a historically accurate landmark".
"In 1899 a man named Charles Winchester slayed 30 horses after a man riding a black horse stole his deceased wife's necklace," N8-97 said. "Nobody saw Charles for about 6 months after the event and everyone thought he was dead. He'd actually been rounding up similar looking horses, killing them and adding them to the pile as some kind of twisted revenge. When authorities found him he was arrested and sentenced to death for animal cruelty."
As yet, Rockstar has not commented on the phenomenon, and there's been no replies to questions on reddit or social media just yet, either.
Shortly after Take-Two announced the Red Dead Online beta would end within the next two months, it's happened. The game left beta last week, and is celebrating with a major new content update that introduces new co-op missions, expands Free Roam, and adds poker.
Guess it's time to update the video below, eh?
Cover image credit: u/RedSpecialFX