Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I adore Grand Theft Auto V, especially GTA Online. I’ve met some friends while playing it, I’ve divulged in the editor to make my own racing circuits, and I love seeing the support that Rockstar Games put into it monthly. Yet the game is frowned upon by so many, and that really bothers me.
Sure, the game has been out since September 2013, and has since been re-released on PC and modern consoles. Sure, fans are dying for single player updates and expansions, and I can’t argue with that point either. Rockstar are focusing solely on GTA Online and while many mumble at the thoughts of playing GTA in a public lobby full of kids, hackers and homicidal harassers, there is still a lot of joy to be found in the city of Los Santos and its country surroundings.
One of the simple joys of GTA Online is loading up a friends only lobby, dressing up your character for the day ahead, and choosing one of your many cars to take for a spin. Pick a point on the map and just drive. Not fast, not aggressively, and why not obey the rules of the road? “BUT THAT’S NOT GTA!” No, it’s not, but it’s different, and optional!
Invite a few friends over to your apartment, go visit the fairground together, enjoy some time in the shooting gallery in Ammu-Nation. A game of golf for up to 4 players. A set or two in tennis (which is actually fun!). GTA Online could do with some bowling or poker, which are also found in GTA IV so it shouldn’t be too hard for Rockstar to implement. Or why not go shopping for new clothes and weapons? Treat yourself!
Then there are the many, many ways of making money. To name a few, let’s do it in bullet point form.
- Contact missions (missions for 1-6 players)
- Adversary modes (updated regularly, and huge amounts of fun and variety including events like Hasta La Vista ‘Terminator 2’ style chases, Relay racing, which is hilariously addictive, Hunting Pack, which is awesome if someone plays the Knightrider theme over the headset, Slasher, for a Halloween-esque survival horror, Sumo, for last car standing shunting off of high buildings, and loads more).
- Races (land, sea and air)
- Cunning Stunts update (absolutely amazing)
- Deathmatch/TDM/Last Man Standing/Survival (Horde) modes
- Freeroam missions
- VIP missions
- CEO missions
- Various festive/seasonal events
Heists, on the list above, have been with us for some time, and while there are only 4 to choose from (the 5th being the 2-player tutorial one which is still fine), can still bring hours of entertainment and good payouts. They can test your patience and cause the loss of friends (“stop dying at the keycodes mission in the Humane Labs Heist!!!”)
Don’t like the races that feature in the game? Make your own! Even better variety now with the Cunning Stunts update! Want to make your own corridor shooter locked into first person? You can do that too. I did!
Better still, Rockstar have added all these update for absolutely free! Not once have they asked for more money, except for the Shark Cards. I have never bought one, but they’re optional. Sure, some of the content they add requires a sum of money to pay for them. $8 million in GTA isn’t easy to come by, but it’s something to work towards. The cars don’t come cheap either, but some of them are, and again, it’s something to set your sights on and look forward to unlocking. I bought a 16 seater bus just to take my friends on a road trip. Why? Because my imagination pictured a bit of a fun evening on a bus together.
It’s a massive game world to explore, and there’s so much to do. You can just walk around, go for a cycle, find interesting viewpoints or road layouts that would be suitable for a unique race track. Go on a few missions with friends and feel like an absolute gangster or criminal and take out some of life’s frustrations into the early hours of the morning.
Of course, one may argue that the servers and loading times in GTA V or GTA Online are not the best, and that is true. Sometimes you’re just disconnected from lobbies without warning or reason, the game can take what feels like 5 minutes just to start up and get into a GTA Online game. Don’t get me started on friends being kicked for being idle. Urgh, it irritates me! Let them pee in peace, Rockstar!
Once you’re in a lobby though, working away, having fun, catching up with friends, it’s all good though. It’s a game that I hope Rockstar continue to develop and grow into the future, even if rumours of a new Red Dead are on the horizon, and the one day in the future Grand Theft Auto VI, but for the hours I have already put into GTA Online, I just don’t want it to end. I’ve certainly gotten my money’s worth and I didn’t have to spend a cent beyond the price of the game itself.