Grand Theft Auto: Online Review – Heists with Friends

It’s finally here, Grand Theft Auto: Online, the game world where you can cause havoc, pain, and mayhem in order to get paid and get paid goodGTA: Online is a whole new ball game as far as the Grand Theft Auto world is concerned. This online-only mode allows you to join randoms or friends in another living and breathing Los Santos. You can start missions, heists, or a variety of creative and fun game modes such as stunt races.

Gameplay and Game Mechanics

Character Creation and Customisation

The majority of online game worlds have one thing in common – they allow players to create an image of themselves within the game world (or an alter ego in most cases). The customisation here is no different and comes in a variety of formats including haircuts to clothes and tattoos to make-up or face paint choices. You can truly make your in-game player feel like you, or not, and Rockstar is constantly including new content updates throughout the months.

With developers focussing entirely on loot boxes and microtransactions at the moment, it is interesting to see all said content updates and new additions to GTA: Online is free.

Two customised players in GTA: Online

Missions and Ranking

After each activity, GTA$ and RP are earned, the former being in-game money and the latter being XP which will increase your overall rank. The higher your rank the more items and missions that become available to you. Once this is done you are then able to freely go around the map as you wish; walk, run, drive or fly, you play it however you want to. Cruising around the middle of the hustle and bustle, listening to Fergie on the radio and shooting up some online punks is fondly entertaining.

Missions are varied and can include being put into two teams for faceoffs, chasing down AI gang members in the battle for drugs and racing against opponents or friends just for the glory. Missions can be found using the phone or can be quickly accessed using an in-game menu to select where you want to go or what you wish to do. Like in the main game this is then shown via GPS.

Your phone is your lifeline and does almost everything. You’re not endlessly messing around with menus like you seemed to do in GTA IV and you can quickly browse contacts, jobs lists and more. You also have the ability to take photos using your phone and share them with the world via the in-built Snapmatic feature.

Crews, Heists and More

A big factor of GTA Online are crews, something which the Rockstar Social Club has been touting for weeks in advance of the actual games release. You can join any public crew you like or create a private one for just you and your friends. In these crews, you can conduct activities and heists together and gain extra RP to increase your ranks. Inviting your crew members is easy and you can simply find them in the contacts area of the phone. Give them a quick “call” and they might come and join you. It’s wise to bring a friend along as back up due to the fact playing out in the open world can become troublesome, especially when someones packing more than just a pistol.

Money Makes the World Go Round

With the mountain of updates that the online portion has seen since release, you can now buy specialty bunkers and airports and even start your own biker gang. There really is no limit to how much fun you can have in Los Santos, though this does come at a hefty price in some cases. Buying a bunker for instance to conduct special missions can cost you upwards of $1,000,000 and this cash takes a long time to earn unless you’ve been taking advantage of Rockstar’s Double RP events throughout the year.

This brings me to something I had mentioned earlier – microtransactions. Whilst it is true that the content available doesn’t require you to spend real money in order to obtain, there is the option to speed up the process by using real money to purchase GTA$.

Speaking of money you have two options for storing your hard earned cash: the bank and your back pocket. Money that hasn’t been banked is up for the taking should you be attacked online and killed, but money in your bank is safe and can’t be stolen. This is a great mechanism, albeit small, and I have found myself either using my phone after an event to bank my hard earned cash or quickly making my way to an ATM. Yes, really.

Player shooting from an armoured vehicle

Get a Crew or Go Lone Wolf

If you’re not a fan of playing with others but you still want to experience GTA: Online you can. The “passive mode” enables you to become immune to attacks from other players. You cannot be shot by other players and you cannot shoot them, as the tip screen says, “it’s widely unrealistic!” This stops anyone from losing or gaining money and can be useful when you just wish to cruise around the city to see what’s on offer.

Likewise, if you don’t like joining crews but you still want to find other players to mingle with some missions require more than one person, so there’s always going to be someone around for you to enjoy the mayhem with.

Weapons, Cars and the Little Things

In the world of Lost Santos, you have access to a plethora of shops including Ammu-Nation’s, clothing outlets, hairdressers, Pay N’ Sprays and more as you play, though some of these need a certain rank to unlock. The only noticeable difference between the single-player and online regarding these are the prices, everything is far more expensive in the online world.

One issue I have are the weapons and when they’re able to be used. From the start of the game, until you rank up, you’re stuck with a pistol. The majority of the good weapons are locked for a portion of the start and I would have liked to have seen a couple more weapons available from the get-go.

Garages aren’t unlocked at the start either, which is a shame, but once you’ve ranked up you’re then free to find cars you like and store them there. Cars are fully customisable, like your character, just as in the single player. You can beef up one ride specifically for races and have another for riding out in the dirt up North. Purchasing an apartment also gives you the ability to store your vehicles and the bigger your garage the more you can keep in your collection. A new addition regarding cars is the ability to add a tracker and purchase insurance, meaning if you lose your ride or it ends up totaled you can just ring up and get a new one and only pay a fraction of real-world prices. Isn’t that nice?

GTA: Online Lowriders extra content artwork

Audio and Visual

There really isn’t much to say here as this game world is an exact replica of the single-player. I had no audio or graphical issues during my time online and didn’t come across an abundance of frame-rate jumps or stutters due to the online nature.

If you have read my review of Grand Theft Auto V you can expect more of the same quality.

Grand Theft Auto: Online
There is a mountain of content within the online that will keep you coming back for more. Rockstar has done a great job at making the game world feel alive. If you can, grab a few friends and delve into Los Santos and get ready to take-over and get shit done.
Things I Liked
Exact replica of the single-player game world and so there is plenty of space to roam
Ability to play on your own or with friends as a crew
Customisation options are plentiful and updates for this is constant
Things I Didn't Like
In-game pricing is on the high side - that and microtransactions don't mix

What are your thoughts?

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