Many gamers around the world, myself include, have put nearly 100 hours into Grand Theft Auto V already, and that is just with the single player portion of the experience. On October 1st, the world of Grand Theft Auto is getting even bigger when Rockstar launches GTA Online, the online functionality for the game, which is looking to be absolutely huge.
As we near the release, I think now it is prudent to go over what we’ve learned will be featured in GTA Online. This editorial feature is designed to help you prepare yourself for when you hop in online for GTA on October 1st.
Origins of Online
Rockstar has said that they’ve wanted to do GTA Online since they worked on Grand Theft Auto III. Grand Theft Auto IV saw the first steps of online multiplayer Rockstar-style, and we saw them expand on those online features in subsequent titles such as Red Dead Redemption, which took open world online multiplayer to the next level.
With Grand Theft Auto V, that dream is becoming very close to reality. Rockstar hopes to create a product that will keep people busy for years to come, even with the impending launch of next-generation consoles Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Rockstar plans on supporting Grand Theft Auto Online for the next few years, so gamers that shelled out the cash for GTA V have a lot to look forward to.
Using Rockstar Social Club, players are able to create an online Crew that spans across all Rockstar titles. After creating a crew, players can add their friends to it and give them ranks within it. While doing this is not required for the GTA Online experience, it will definitely make it much better.
The reason for that is of all the extra benefits that come with being in a crew. Crew leaders are given special privileges when playing the game with the rest of their crew online, having the ability to start up impromptu street races when everyone is just driving around using their phone, for example. Crew leaders can also decide how the cash is split up after a heist or edit mission settings before actually starting them, changing things such as the time of day, weather, and how many lives are allotted for each mission.
But of course, the real benefits of being in a crew will be what benefits the entire team, not just the leader. Crews will be issued special challenges and be able to unlock exclusive rewards in-game. There will be worldwide rankings of crews, with rivalries possible to set up as well as the ability to directly challenge other crews online.
In addition, being in a crew will have a direct effect on how an online world is populated. Rockstar has a goal of having players spend as little time in lobby as possible, so worlds will be populated and generated based on three factors:
A) People on your friend’s list
B) People in your crew
C) Players with similar skill levels in the same area of the game
Up to 16 players will be able to play GTA Online in the same world at any given time for free roaming.
Off the plane
When playing Grand Theft Auto V and switching between the three main protagonists, you’ve probably noticed that there are four potential character slots instead of just three for Michael, Franklin, and Trevor. This fourth slot is in the bottom of the character wheel, but don’t worry, as it is going to be filled when GTA Online launches on October 1st.
That slot will be filled by the GTA Online character that is created by the player. Those that don’t want to deal with other people online can simply create their multiplayer character and then use that character in the GTA V solo world if they so wish.
This means that for the first time in history, a GTA protagonist has the potential of being female. While players won’t have direct control over the appearance of their created character (more on that in a minute), players will be able to determine the sex of their created character, and whether or not they want them to be male or female.
GTA Online will feature cut-scenes that use this created character and such, but the player’s created character will not having any speaking lines, similarly to Claude, the protagonist from Grand Theft Auto III.
So instead of directly changing the look of the created character, players instead choose the parents and grandparents of that character. How the grandparents and parents look will determine how the created character appears.
After that, players are free to edit other traits about their created character to influence how they act in the game. For example, players will be able to choose what their created character likes, their personality type, and what kind of lifestyle they wish to lead. These choices will have a direct effect on the base stats of the created character right out of the gate.
In the actual game, players can change the hairstyle and clothing of their created character, as well as get them tattoos if they so wish. Masks can be equipped and even taunts can be chosen as well.
Stats can be upgraded by practicing at the skills, just like in the single-player mode. So if you create a character that winds up being bad at flying, spend some time in an airplane with them to boost their stats and level them up.
Old friends and old faces
I mentioned earlier that GTA Online has cut-scenes, which would normally seem odd for a multiplayer component of a game, but it should feel right at home in GTA Online. The reason for that is the multiplayer character has their own story to go through, it’s just that the world and story of the created multiplayer character can also be populated with the other created characters controlled by other, real world Grand Theft Auto players.
In terms of the plot, GTA Online actually takes place before the events of Grand Theft Auto V. Because of this, there will be some returning characters. So far, confirmed returning characters include Franklin’s friend Lamar, the technical whiz Lester, and the sleazy credit scammer Simeon. All three of these characters will be in the game and have missions that they will assign to the created character.
Befriending these characters has added benefits. For example, getting in good with Lester will make it so he can hide your blip on the enemy radar during multiplayer matches.
Players can also align themselves with organizations encountered in the single player mode. They can become a part of the Lost and have that popular motorcycle gang follow them around as back-up. Or they can join the ranks of Merryweather, which leaves the door open for calling in air strikes from the violent mercenary group.
For online play, players can partake in traditional deathmatches as well as sanctioned races. Or they can just get together with friends and cause mayhem, whatever they want, which is part of the appeal of GTA Online. If you can do it in the single player, you can probably do it in GTA Online. It’s the most expansive and impressive online offering Rockstar has ever put on the table, and if they play their cards right, it could be a game changer.
At launch, there will be 500 co-op missions available right from the start. Players can choose to partake in these missions or ignore them completely. The ultimate goal in the game, however, is to build up a large bank account, buy real estate, and grow one’s empire in the GTA Online world.
500 missions is a lot of missions, but the mission types will be separated into different categories. The game will keep track of how the player actually plays the game, and then offer missions that best match with that particular style of play, whatever it is.
Using money from these missions and by other means will give players the opportunity to purchase new apartments and houses. The best houses will also come with huge garages, with the maximum amount of vehicles that can be stored in a single garage being 10 at a time.
To take care of their vehicles, mechanics can be hired to keep them in tip-top shape. In addition, car insurance can be purchased if a player decides on taking one of their cars out for a joyride and wants it back after it blows up or is lost in the ocean or something.
Besides cash, players will earn Respect Points by completing missions. In GTA V, players will be able to rank up, so it is a safe bet to assume that Respect Points, or RP, is basically the GTA Online equivalent of XP in any other game.
When not out on missions, players can invite friends over for a variety of activities. They can play sports, go to strip clubs, go out drinking, or even just sit around and watch TV. Speaking of TV, the TV in GTA Online is actually implemented in a very, very cool way.
Let’s say that you’re just sitting around watching the news channel in GTA Online with a few buddies from your friend’s list or crew. There will be other players populating that world as well (unless you restrict them from doing so in the settings that can be set up before each session of GTA Online begins), and they will probably be getting themselves into a variety of hijinks.
If their exploits warrant attention from the local authorities or news teams, then the Weazel News helicopter will start following them around. So players can literally just sit around and watch other players wreak havoc outside their window, or choose to indulge in the chaos themselves.
Apartments will also serve as safehouses, but instead of using a bed to save and rest, players are able to take a shower to heal their wounds. These wounds will probably be from crimes committed either alone or with friends. By the way, when you’re holding up a store in GTA Online and if you have a headset on (as you should), yelling at the shopkeeper through the headset will actually get them to bag the money even faster. Just a neat little feature Rockstar decided to include that I thought I’d mention.
One of the biggest hooks of GTA V are the heist missions. In the single player mode, players are able to set up heists by choosing the members of their crew, deciding on their methods, and then finally launching the plan. Heists will return in GTA Online, rest assured.
In preparation of these heists, players are asked to choose their specific roles before going in. These roles range from distraction to sniper to getaway driver and whatever else.
After the roles are chosen and the mission begins, objective markers specially tailored for each player to help them find where they need to be and what they need to do in order to successfully complete their goals will appear. This will give direction to the players and allow them to be much more effective during the Heists.
A dangerous open world
After a big heist, players can choose to betray each other and kill one another in attempt to get a bigger piece of the pie. Obviously, this is very risky behavior. And someone that does this a lot must be punished, right? So how is that done? Well…
Players are actually able to put a bounty on the heads of other players. These bounties last for a certain period of time, but whichever player is able to hunt down the one with the bounty on their head and successfully kill them within the time limit will be given some extra cash for their efforts.
Since you’ll always have to be on the lookout for other online players ready to kill you and take your money, ATMs in the game work as a sort of bank. If you are worried about losing your cash, just stuff as much of it as possible in the ATM electronic banking system. Don’t worry about having to constantly get money out of it either, as purchases can still be made in a debit card manner in the game.
For those that don’t want to run any risk of being killed or attacked while playing GTA Online, they can even turn on Passive Mode. This mode basically makes them invincible to everyone else, but it is automatically turned off when that player decides to use a weapon of any kind.
When GTA Online launches, players will be able to create their own deathmatches and their own races. This new editing system is a first for Rockstar, and they are excited to put user creation tools in the hands of the players for the first time.
While only deathmatches and races can be created at the launch of GTA Online, Rockstar does plan on adding other, more complicated modes in the future, though specifics were not mentioned. They did say that they won’t hand over these tools until they feel the community can handle it.
To make sure that the best user-created content is always available, Rockstar will be handling this in a couple of different ways. For one, players will be required to rank up at least a few times before even having the ability to access these user creation tools.
For two, creators will be ranked based on the quality of their contributions. And finally, Rockstar themselves will actually play the created deathmatches and races and score them. The best of the best will be given a stamp called Rockstar Verified that will ensure that Rockstar tested out the content and approve of it for players.
Just the tip…of the iceberg
The addition of GTA Online to Grand Theft Auto V already seems like a mammoth next step for Rockstar, but that’s not all they have in store. Like I said, they plan on supporting GTA V for years to come, and they are dedicated to that promise.
Rockstar has promised a continuous flow of new content into the GTA Online experience. In fact, they have said that the first few weeks of GTA Online going live will be more like a “beta” stage, with people dedicated to weeding out the stuff and missions that work and the ones that don’t with seamless updates.
This content may even include expansion packs that will add new playable characters onto the pre-existing GTA V world. Nothing explicit has been stated by Rockstar, but they did say that the map was built with “expansion in mind”, which is a pretty exciting choice of words to me.
The rest of this content will be handled through controversial microtransactions and special events that Rockstar can create at any given time, similar to how Call of Duty and other shooters do double XP weekends and such.
For microtransactions, players have the option of purchase GTA$, the in-game currency for GTA Online, using their real money. Of course, this means that they will have access to the big houses and what-not before other players, but I don’t think it will breed a “pay to win” environment, though we will see. By the way, $20 of real life dough will net you $1,000,000 in GTA Online cash. It’s just a matter of seeing how long it takes to raise funds in GTA Online before I call Rockstar out on a possible scam they may be scheming
Rockstar’s ultimate goal with GTA Online is to create an entire GTA World that players can explore with others at their leisure. While this dream may not become a reality with this iteration of GTA Online, it is hard not to imagine what Rockstar is going to be able to do with the next-gen consoles at their disposal in a few years. Could this dream being realized just be right around the corner for Rockstar? I wouldn’t doubt it. Next stop, GTA World?
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GTA Online is a game changer. It has people talking about it more than anyone is talking about the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and that is saying something. Rockstar definitely has the potential here to completely alter the landscape of online multiplayer gaming with the ultimate open world sandbox multiplayer game.
A few questions still remain. Since GTA Online is being considered to be in an unofficial beta state for the first few weeks, is that Rockstar’s way of admitting to possible issues when GTA Online launches? The game has made over $1 billion since it has launched (and it hasn’t even been out for two weeks yet), so just imagine the millions upon millions of people attempting to access the servers all at once. If the recent launch of the Final Fantasy XIV MMO has taught us anything, that kind of thing can be disastrous…
Can Rockstar pull it off? Just a few more days until we can know for sure. Check back to Cheat Masters for all the latest on Grand Theft Auto V and the Grand Theft Auto Online experience, including articles, editorials, guides, and much more!