Beginner’s Guide to GTA Online

gta onlineI have contemplated writing a GTA Online guide for some time, but considering it released in 2013 initially, it felt like I may be too late. However, looking at how well the game still sells to this day, and the amount of content Rockstar Games add to the game regularly, I feel now is as good a time as any. It can be tough, confusing and overwhelming, but follow this hand-crafted guide and you will soon be strutting your stuff in Los Santos with swagger and confidence!

First things first. I will reference button commands based on Xbox and PlayStation controllers where applicable. Secondly, I will assume that those reading this will have already experience GTA V’s story mode to some extent, and have a fair idea how to do most tasks, such as changing and firing weapons, driving, flying and other gameplay elements. For the purpose of this guide, I won’t be discussing CEO missions, MC missions or Heists. They’re a bit more complex and beyond beginner levels.

When you first load up GTA Online, you’re greeted with a character creator. Spend whatever amount of time you like here, but note that in a recent update, you can now pay to alter your appearance. That was a long time coming! Following that, you are greeted with a cinematic, as you arrive in Los Santos for the first time, and get introduced to Lamar.

From here, you begin a few tutorial missions such as a street race, contact mission, convenience store hold-up, and a spot of car-jacking. You will be introduced to Los Santos Customs, which allows you to customize any owned vehicles.

I feel overwhelmed, and lost

With the tutorial finished, you’re out of the woods, but just as quickly, you begin to feel lost and disoriented, not knowing where to go, what to do, and who the hell is that shooting at me?!!!! GTA Online allows you to jump into a Public, Solo, Friends Only, or Crew Only lobby. Whenever you load the game up and arrive in single player mode, pause the game, tab right to the Online tab and choose which one suits you best. Solo or Friends Only is a good starting point, without the pressure of online griefers and explosions causing you alarm.

In GTA Online, you have the ability to own multiple properties from houses to apartments, garages and yachts, to CEO offices and Motorcylce Club hideouts, as well as a range of land, sea and air vehicles. Following the tutorial’s completion, you will have one car, and nothing else. You need to find some work!

Finding a job in Los Santos

Every job or event you take part in in GTA Online pays you in cash. The payout varies on the job type, the number of players present, and the duration of the job. At the beginning, it’s best not worrying about how little you get; instead just enjoy the experience alone or with friends. Preferably the latter.

Through your phone, you will receive text messages with job offers. Tap d-pad up to bring up your phone and click on texts and invites (middle and top middle apps). If you want to find work manually, click into your contacts and call them. Don’t call actual players, look out for names with a GTA-like profile picture. This will activate contact missions, which range from killing a target, stealing a vehicle, retrieving illegal goods and items, hijacking a helicopter, or anything in between. Completing them grands you money, and as you progress, more job opportunities arise.

If missions aren’t to your liking, you can take part in Races or Stunt Races, although avoid the Stunt variations while you’re still learning the game. There are also Deathmatch events if you fancy some shooting action, and there are also some parachuting events which are relaxing, and let you explore the world of GTA Online from above.

gta online contact

Adversary jobs are really good fun with friends, and are ideal for groups of 4, 8, 12 and 16 players. They are all themed with great gameplay gimmicks and fun situations, like the memorable chase scene from Terminator 2 or Slasher, which sees one player hunt the other players with a shotgun, while the runners only have a flashlight. Hours of excited screams and panic!

Free-roam events in public lobbies offer a lot of fun and variety too. From collecting the most checkpoints, falling the longest distance without dying, driving the longest time without crashing, staying within a moving boundary in a last man standing kind of game, and much more.

You can search for jobs to join by visiting the Quick Jobs button on your phone (middle left app) and from there, choose what type of event you want to be match-made into. Another helpful option is to pause the game, go to Online, Jobs, Rockstar Created, and from there, choose any job that sounds like fun to you. You may even end up being the host, allowing you to invite friends into. Keep it varied, and as always, have fun!

Can’t sleep on the streets forever

You have arrived in Los Santos and as it stands, you don’t have a home. Sure, it’s only a game and nothing happens to your character when you switch off, but it’s more comforting knowing you’re making a living for yourself in this second life of yours. You will soon need to find accommodation, and a garage for your personal vehicle collection.

Housing in GTA Online doesn’t come cheap, but you can find a two car garage for your cars at least, and that’s something. This will set you back $25,000 which is pocket change in the grand scheme of things. To find it, and a list of accommodation in GTA Online, visit your phone (press up, if you forgot already). From there, drop down to the bottom middle app, the internet. Helpful tip: Use the d-pad to move the cursor quickly instead of dragging it around with the stick. Visit the Dynasty 8 website and choose to narrow your search by ‘lowest first’. When looking at garages, look at the number that tells you how much storage space you have.

gta online guide garage

Buying houses or apartments also grant you some car storage space, so bear that in mind, along with your living location, when making a purchase. Sometimes it’s worth saving up a little more, if it means being in or closer to the city, rather than living out in the desert on your lonesome.

Buying a garage grants you access to a Mechanic, which you can then access from your phone contacts at any time. Call him, and he will deliver any of your purchased vehicles, from any of your garages, directly to you. However, you need to pay him each day, which comes straight out of your bank account, so don’t worry about having to do it, just focus on making money.

gta online house

You can own multiple living spaces but it’s nothing to worry about right now. Find a cosy little spot with some garage space, and get back out on the streets to do more jobs.

Do I need a bank account?

As you complete missions and jobs, you will notice the monetary figure in the top right of your screen. Two figures in fact. The top one is what you have on your person, the bottom figure is what you have in your automatically created bank account. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of banking your cash whenever you can. Simply visit your phone (tap d-pad up) and visit the internet (bottom middle app). From there, go to Money & Services, then scroll down to Maze Bank, deposit, and confirm how much you want to store away. The money magically leaves your pocket and is in the hands of your bank manager. It’s safe, don’t worry!

gta online deposit

Getting killed while carrying cash means someone else can steal a portion of it from your dead body. Don’t be irresponsible! Note that purchasing items in shops comes out of either your physical cash or banked cash. However, you can only pay for some services like taxis with cash-in-hand.

Strutting, waving, and dressing for the occasion

To achieve a lot of functionality in GTA Online, you have to make use of the Interaction menu. This is opened by holding down the Select or View Button (next to your left stick). In this menu, you can invite people to your home or garage when you’re in it, you can adjust your clothing ‘loadouts’ if you’ve made multiple saved outfits, apply hats or masks, access Quick GPS (essential!) to set routes to garages, houses, mission objectives, nearest clothes shop or convenience store, etc etc.

It also allows you to visit your Inventory, where you may have some stored Body Armor or Snacks. These are essential purchases from Ammu-nation and Convenience Stores. Always stock up, and get used to accessing your Inventory screen as and when needs be. It’s a life-saver!

gta online interaction menu

Since the launch of GTA Online, Rockstar have streamlined the Interactions menu for ease of use, making it a bit more compact. Anything relating your character’s look, clothing or actions are in ‘Style’ while all vehicle related features are in ‘Vehicle menu’. It’s worth spending some time exploring the Interactions menu and its sub-menus to familiarize yourself with what is available to you.

Style lets you adjust your ‘action’, which range from waving at players, giving them the finger, saluting, and more. Tap A on your Xbox controller or X on your PlayStation controller to see what they do, and while in game, push both sticks in together to activate it. You can also adjust your ‘walk’ with a number of options, to give your character that extra bit of personality.

Lastly, it allows you to look at your Daily Objectives. Completing these guarantee you $25,000 as well as any money made for completing the tasks. It’s an ideal way of getting to grips with what the game has to offer, and is also a fun way of making money. Give it a try!

gta online daily objectives

OMG, I love your shoes!

Shopping for clothes in GTA Online is a guilty pleasure. Sure, you can wear the same gear from the day you arrive in Los Santos, til the day you die, but what’s the fun in that? When you have some spare money laying about, treat yourself to some retail therapy in one of the many Clothing store outlets in the city. The list of items is immense, and whether you want to dress like your real life counterpart, or as your fantasy self, you’ll be sure to find what you want to satisfy your needs. Choose between tops, pants, shoes, accessories and hats, while visiting the clerk directly opens up the ability to buy ready-made outfits. They cost more at face value, but these prices represent purchasing the items individually. Once purchased, they’re yours forever and can be mixed and matched as you wish, from the comfort of your home.

gta online clothes

Why not organise a themed night with friends, where you all try to dress like cowboys, or boyband members, or psychotic killer clowns, or spring break youngsters?

The A in Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto, at its roots, is all about the cars. Sure, you can shoot people, enjoy the story and drive from mission to mission, but the cars are always part of the series, and GTA Online lets you enjoy them to the fullest.

gta online cars

Hijacking a car on the street doesn’t make it yours, but buying a car from Legendary Motors or Southern San Andreas Super Motors does. Visit the Travel & Transport option via your phone internet and gander through a wide range of available cars. Cars come in many classes, including Compact, Sedan, SUV, Coupe, Off-road, Muscle, Sports and Super. Then there are bikes, and bicycles.

Cars in Legendary Motors are a lot more expensive than San Andreas Autos, so go with the cheapest option first to get yourself up and running. Helpful tip: Register on the Rockstar Social website and the Elegy motor will be free to purchase, and is one of the sexiest cars in the game.

gta online car buying

You can’t steal a high performance vehicle off the street and claim it for your own however. Some mid-range cars and lower can be taken to Los Santos Customs, and you can pay for a tracker and insurance, making it yours from then on. Feel free to customize it to your liking, from colours, wheel types, bumpers, bonnets and more. Customizing your car is costly, but for online races, it’s much better than using a regular car. If your car is available for that race type in terms of class, it will say Custom beside the car name, but you will surely recognise it by appearance.

My advice is try to own a car for each category. It gives you an edge in any racing event you take part in, and besides, it’s your car. You’re proud of it. If your car happens to get blown up in a free-roam lobby, just call the Mors Mutual Insurance company and they will replace it for you. Whoever destroyed it, will have to pay some of its insurance fee. It will cost you nothing, unless you destroyed it yourself.

Big guns, small guns

Guns are important in GTA Online, for tackling gangs, completing missions and protecting yourself from other players. When you start GTA Online, your choices are limited, but as you progress, more weapons and customization options become available to you.

Visit Ammu-nation across the world map and have a look around at what’s available to you, and how many levels are required before you can unlock a particular weapon. Compact weapons like the SMG or Uzi are a must, because you can fire them while driving or riding a motorbike. You can do it with your pistol too, but at a slower pace. In free-roam, hold LB or L1, and this will bring up your weapon wheel. If you have more than one pistol for example, use the d-pad while highlighting it to change which one is the active one. A short description in the middle of the wheel will tell you what attachments, if any, are on that weapon.

gta online ammu nation

You can stock up on ammo via the Ammu-nation store, and via the Interactions menu by holding the Select or View button. Simply visit the Inventory sub-menu and choose what kind of ammo you want to resupply on the spot, from bullets, to grenades, to rockets and sticky bombs.

Also, don’t forget to constantly stock up on Body Armor. The higher you rank, the better the armor you can buy, and the more you can carry at a time.


I have covered most of the basics of GTA Online and how to get started. Personally, I imagined myself helping a friend out who is unfamiliar with GTA in general, so that inspired me to write this, in a way. So let’s recap in bullet points what you should take away from this guide:

  • Have fun! The best way to do that is keep yourself busy with missions, jobs, races and co-op gameplay.
  • When you load up GTA V, try jumping into a private lobby instead of a public one, so you can explore the game without any strangers giving you trouble.
  • Familiarize yourself with the in-game phone and its features, especially the internet browser! Use it to call Contacts, search for jobs quickly and feel free to customize your phone’s wallpaper and sounds via Phone Settings in the bottom right app.
  • Explore the Interactions menu (hold Select or View until the menu pops up) to find where everything is, and don’t be afraid to press buttons to see what happens.
  • Get yourself a garage or living space as soon as you can, to store cars and have the option to dress yourself up!
  • Always bank your cash if you’re carrying more than say, $5,000. Just to be safe. Maze Bank via Money & Services on your phone internet!
  • Try out different cars in free-roam, either by stealing them or by driving your friend’s car before making a purchase for yourself.
  • Always stock up on body armor and ammo!
  • Keep an eye on the loading screens each week, as Rockstar offer weekly discounts on goods, services and motors, as well as double $GTA and RP on various jobs and missions.
  • Last but not least, don’t be a ass online. Be friendly. Sure, you may get shot at in public lobbies, but don’t become a griefer!

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