October 1st was meant to be a day to ditch responsibility all for the chance to play GTA Online, the brand new multiplayer experience for Grand Theft Auto fans. Instead, it was a heartbreaking and frustrating day for fans everywhere as they encountered broken servers and unhelpful support from Rockstar Games. Now on day two, things are a little bit smoother, but it’s obvious that Rockstar has a lot of tweaking to do. And as a gamer, tweaking is horrible because I’m impatient. Just like every one else.
Entering GTA Online was even more exciting since I was finally able to pass the tutorial and join other online players. My character was acceptable, I was earning money, and things were… okay. The one thing to understand about GTA Online is this: You can play it by yourself in a lobby full of strangers (most of them malicious), but the game really shines when it can be experienced with friends and crew members. Unfortunately, that is one quality that is still horribly broken at the moment. When GTA Online works, it is one of the best multiplayer games you’ll ever play.
Even with just one friend in tow, things become 10x more interesting in a world where most of the strangers you encounter are hostile. Having that extra bit of backup is almost necessary. One area that shined was the ability to rob convenience and liquor stores. Things become so much easier once you can create roles. Having a friend go in to intimidate the cashier while you wait in the getaway car makes things so much more entertaining, and while I haven’t had the chance to play with my actual crew yet, I know the group experience will be worthwhile.
Money & Jobs
Money is way more difficult to acquire in Online, however there are plenty of jobs on the map to help you build your funds. Races, missions, deathmatches, and more will easily help you earn some cash and raise your Reputation Points. While the servers are still a little wonky (as expected), entering job lobbies isn’t always a smooth transition. Even when it works, though, inviting and waiting for people to join can be a bit tedious since you’ll often invite people that are busy or just too impatient to wait for others to join. However the games, once started, are entertaining and they really make you feel like you’re earning your worth.
Racing is my all-time favorite thing to do so far since most of the matchmaking for gametypes like deathmatches haven’t really worked out yet, and there are several different ways to race in Los Santos. So far, weaving through traffic in a motorcycle race has been my favorite, but others races like sports cars, compact cars, and bicycles are available. One thing I do enjoy is the fact that you don’t have to drive to race locations if you don’t want to. Pulling up the main menu will help you select different jobs, allowing you the ability to choose between joining another instance or hosting your own. And when people actually join and stay, it’s a great way to meet others and it can make your lobby more active.
Even if you struggle with jobs, you’ll still earn money and RP, so while earning a whole lot of money is difficult, it is possible to slowly build up funds in a fun way. And if you’re not interested in joining a job, you can easily rob the multiple liquor and convenience stores. Yelling in your mic during a stickup will raise the intimidation bar and force the cashier to give you money faster. It’s definitely a tiny quality that really makes the experience more hilarious.
Customization and Cars
Once you’ve earned some money, it’s time to explore the customization options that Los Santos has to offer. You can change the way your character looks by visiting the barber shops, tattoo parlors, and multiple clothes stores to change your look. One thing that kind of frustrates me is the fact that all of the clothes stores are essentially the same despite their style differences in single player mode. No matter what clothes store you visit, the selections are identical based on what you have unlocked. While it isn’t a huge annoyance, particularly since sometimes it’s difficult to shop for the exact style you want when someone else is trying to shoot you, it would have been a nice detail.
Cars can also be customized but you have to be careful. You’ll earn a wanted level if you’re spotted with a stolen vehicle, and most places like Los Santos Customs won’t mod an expensive car. However once you are able to mod a car of your choice, you’re able to change the tags and even add your own personal protection like theft prevention and insurance so you’ll never lose your main ride. In my short time playing, however, spending wads of cash on your own personal vehicle just isn’t worth it, at least not at the moment.
Stealing cars is still simple despite how easy it is to obtain a wanted level, and when you’re in the process of robbing a gas station or running from a pesky, trigger happy enemy, locating your own car and running to it is just not the best thing to do.
While I’ve mentioned in past articles how much I enjoy free roaming in GTA, it can get pretty boring Online unless you’re playing with friends or shooting other players in the lobby. Plus you’re not making money, and when you don’t have money, you can’t fully enjoy the game. There are so many different properties you can buy like apartments, houses, and garages! While I haven’t gotten to the point where I can purchase property (the cheapest apartment is around $80k), it is my main goal since having an actual safehouse will most likely come in handy in the future.
One thing I do wish Rockstar would allow is letting friends pay for apartments together and use it as roommates. As someone who wants to eventually focus on Crew gameplay, it would be wonderful to have a property owned with another crew member. Having a safe meeting spot is going to be essential.
As of right now, especially with all of the issues GTA Online still frustratingly contains, I’m truly loving the multiplayer experience. Look forward to more pieces like this once I progress through levels and earn more money. Playing with friends and crew members is what is going to turn GTA Online into a number one experience. If you play on PS3 and would like to join my crew, feel free to join and add me personally on the Social Club. Both links are below.