Grand Theft Auto Online, the online component of Grand Theft Auto V, has a lot of promise. Although we can’t ignore the initial connection problems, the wait was well worth it and the level of addiction to the vast land of criminal mischief is beyond imaginable.
Server growing pains aside, Grand Theft Auto Online is really unlike anything that’s come before it. In a persistent online city, players race, buy property, compete in deathmatches, and have street level shootouts. It’s the online GTA we’ve always wanted, and it’s completely and utterly engrossing.
So on the off chance that you can actually connect to Rockstar’s servers, you’re going to need some tips before you can start wasting fools. After all, it’s a brave new world out there.
Trust no one
Rule number one: trust no one. Everyone you see while you’re playing Grand Theft Auto Online is an enemy. You’ll learn that the hard way, usually on your first encounter, when a stranger pops you in the face for no reason.
There are deathmatch modes, but even running around the city online is a strange mix of standard deathmatch and open world gameplay. You’ll respawn nearby right away when you die, and you even get to keep all your weapons. But other players can still steal a chunk of your money, your car, and your dignity.
Playing Grand Theft Auto Online is like being a shark: if you stop moving you’ll die. Other players roam around the city looking for easy targets, and there’s nothing easier than running over the dude standing on the corner fiddling around in the menu or taking a piss.
Thankfully there are quick menus (hold the “back” or “select” button) to help you set waypoints and accomplish other tasks without having to stand still and make yourself a target.
Don’t answer the phone
We learned this one the hard way. When your in-game phone starts ringing in the middle of a game of GTA Online, don’t pick up unless you’re in a safe place. Not that there are really any safe places, but try anyway.
Because when your phone rings it might be a character with a mission—and it might trigger a cut scene, freezing your character and leaving you vulnerable to ambushes from other players.
You may have trouble in GTA Online if you’ve gotten used to relying on the special abilities in the main game. The three protagonists each have their own superpower, like Franklin’s slow-mo driving or Trevor’s extra damage and defense.
But in GTA Online, clicking both sticks—which activates the powers in story mode—simply activates a gesture. Remember that; you don’t want to find yourself barreling through traffic expecting to jump into slow motion, or jumping out of cover thinking you’ll be temporarily invincible, all because you forgot which mode you were playing.
Don’t shout into your headset
This is just common courtesy, but for everyone’s benefit please don’t shout into your headset. Early in Grand Theft Auto V’s online mode you’ll get the option to stick up liquor stores and other locations for cash, and the game instructs you to shout into your headset to make the poor cashiers move more quickly.
The thing is, though, that’s really fucking annoying to everyone else you’re playing with. And doing it is like wearing a sign on your back that says “I’m annoying, please kill me.” So for your own safety, please don’t.
Take all the necessary precautions
All that said, there are steps you can take to help ensure you don’t become a victim of roaming trolls and gankers. Open up the interaction menu (again, hold “back” or “select”) and play with the options there to turn on passive mode, making yourself invulnerable to other players’ attacks (you can’t attack them either), and make your car locked to anyone but you.
That way you won’t be attacked by random players on the street, though you can still join jobs and deathmatches. And other players can’t steal your car, though they will still be able to destroy it.
This is another necessary precaution. Although there are numerous ways to protect yourself, you don’t want to leave things up to chance in GTA Online. That means arming yourself to the teeth.
You’ll have to level up before you can purchase the big guns, but right away you should have access to a sawed-off shotgun at an Ammu-Nation store. And the more you level up, the better the weapons you have access to. Pretty soon you’ll get an SMG, and the drive-bys will be that much easier.
Play with friends
Grand Theft Auto V multiplayer is better with friends. That’s the whole point, after all—isn’t it? Don’t get caught with no one on your team.
Join a crew, or make your own, and you’ll be a lot happier. Missions and jobs are easier with a buddy, and you get more reputation points that way anyway. Even playing in free mode with a buddy is better—it’s easier to shoot out the window when you’re not trying to steer, too, and you’ll rack up kills quickly.
Be a good sport
This may seem obvious, but in GTA V multiplayer there are real consequences for playing dirty. That includes quitting matches and generally being a douche.
What are the consequences? Why, you’ll have to play with other douches. Rockstar matches “bad sports” together so they can make one another miserable instead of us law-abiding (relatively speaking) players.
If you’ve been playing for a while and you feel like you’re stagnating, you probably need to do more jobs. Running around the city in free mode killing other players and getting killed is fun, but it’s no way to make progress.
Your leveling and revenue will be slow going unless you start doing a lot of jobs and missions. Luckily you can access them right from your phone.