Rockstar’s latest open world masterpiece set records as fans rushed to a life of crime in Los Santos, but a large portion of the game was missing upon the initial launch. Until now.
Finally fans can take to Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network to shoot, rob, steal or simply pass the time together in Grand Theft Auto V’s massive open world. If you thought the single player side of things was big, you haven’t seen anything yet!
Introducing Grand Theft Auto Online
Relatively little was known about GTA Online even after the game was released. The single player portion of the game is a resounding success, attracting praise from both the press and gamers themselves. Rockstar’s Social Club suffered severely over launch week as millions of players worldwide scrambled to be a part of the biggest gaming launch of all time.
Delivered via a small 60MB update, GTA Online is finally here, and it too, is a thing of beauty. The game uses a “persistent” online world, with servers of up to 16 players able to take part in all manner of activities together. As expected, the title uses Rockstar’s Social Club to pair you and your friends via crews, of which you can be a member of more than one, or you can go it alone and play with complete strangers.
While playing with friends is probably the best way to experience GTAO, multiplayer in Los Santos and its surroundings is fun regardless of who you are with. Rockstar has added a wealth of activities, or “jobs” as they are known, which include the usual deathmatch and last team standing staples, but also races, sports and even legal employment.
To access Grand Theft Auto Online players will need to pause their existing single player game and head to the Online tab in the pause menu. From there it is possible to create a character using the character creator and join the world of GTAO, which involves the usual introductions and city flyovers you should expect from any game in the series. After a brief sequence of events, you’ll be dropped into a server and left (mostly) to your own devices.
Once you’ve set up multiplayer, you can access the mode by choosing the fourth slot in your character switcher while playing the standard single player. The game lobby takes the form of the open map you’re used to in GTA V’s single player campaign. Players can start or join jobs on demand, either by driving to the designated markers on the map or by accessing “Quick Jobs” or “Job List” on their in-game phone.
After each job ends, players involved can decide to go straight into the next activity, enter free mode together or replay the last activity all by voting. Should you quit, you’ll simply be returned to a free mode session and the fun begins all over again.
A Very Different Experience
Grand Theft Auto Online uses a persistent world, and that means one main character to level, develop and groom in any way you see fit. I’m writing this after only a few hours of online play, and I’m already saving up to buy new things for my character. Rockstar have already revealed that they intend to further develop the online portion of GTA V, with several free upgrades already on the way (more on this later).
Unlike GTA IV, this online experience has a bit more scope. For one, you earn GTA$ for your troubles, which you can then use to buy clothing, weaponry, cars and property. If you thought the clothes on offer in Sub Urban and Binco were a little lacklustre and limited in the single player game, you need to take a look at the options on offer in the multiplayer element. Even Ammu-Nation sells a fine selection of apparel.
While you’re wandering around in free mode, either trying to get along with your multiplayer cohorts or making life hell for them, you can die and respawn just like in any other online shooter. When you die, you lose some money, so it’s within your interests to not stay alive (surprise!). If you’re sick of having the same guy shoot you in the head while you’re setting up a waypoint in the pause menu, you can access a mode called Passive Mode for GTA$100. In this mode you can’t be hurt by another player, but you can’t harm any other players either.
This mode is accessed from the “interaction menu” which is activated in-game by pressing and holding the “back” button. This is where you access your inventory including cash, armor and cigarettes (yes, really), set your player mood, challenge a nearby player to an impromptu race or set a quick GPS route to the nearest Los Santos Customs.
Modding your car becomes even more important in GTA Online as two new options are added: insurance and a tracker. Buying insurance means can claim your car back once it has been lost, stolen or destroyed, whereas a tracker places a blip on your map allowing you to always be able to find your vehicle. Merely stealing a random car and driving around is a sure way to get the cops on your tail, and you’ll attract attention unless you respray. You can also modify your online persona’s car using the iFruit app.
And while we’re on the topic of buying things, you can forget the economy you’re used to in Los Santos from GTA V’s single player – everything is different in multiplayer, with an experience-based leveling system providing access to in-game items, but the items themselves costing considerably more than they do in the single player game.
Coming Soon To A Los Santos Near You
The future looks very bright indeed. Despite some teething problems with the initial rush, my experience in GTA’s massive open world with 16 other miscreants has been overwhelmingly positive, with a huge range of genuinely fun activities to take part in. And that’s before all the free updates. If you are experiencing issues with connecting, keep trying, as it is worth the effort.
There are four upgrades planned, all free, including the Content Creator, a tool for creating your own deathmatches and races. A new downloadable content pack called the Beach Bum Pack is also planned, featuring 4 new beach-going vehicles, more than 300 new items of “down tempo leisure wear” and two new weapons.
Finally two new game modes will be added: capture the flag, which takes the standard CTF game mode and drops it into GTA’s massive open world and fully co-operative heist missions that require planning, teamwork and skill in order to pull off with big rewards.
And that’s just the free updates! Anything else Rockstar plans to do with GTA Online will probably take the form of paid downloads, running servers isn’t free after all. At the present there’s more than enough to do (with more coming soon) to keep most players busy after they’ve finished the main campaign, which makes GTA V and its online mode a wise investment if you’re a fan of third person open world multiplayer (and lets face it, who isn’t?).
Have you played Grand Theft Auto Online yet? Did you enjoy finishing GTA V? Let us know what you think in the comments, below.