GTA Online — A late-ish review

Grand Theft Auto V (or ‘vee’ if you’re weird) is a third-person action-adventure videogame developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. The game is the latest in the series even though it released in the year 2013. The story revolves around the escapades of three men — Michael De Santa, Trevor Phillips, and Franklin Clinton. Playing the game as these characters, you get to rob banks, run over pedestrians, carry out contract killings, torture some innocent dude and shoot some more for the government, and a lot more; ya know, typical GTA madness.

The single-player campaign has a wonderfully written script and the three protagonists shine throughout the game. The game is filled with satire and content meant to take a dig at the real world. The game is filled with little details that add life to the game world. The developers have taken the time to make sure that the world and the people of San Andreas have that GTA charm and character to them. As much as I love the tiny little details, it is disappointing to find that the mission structures have not changed. You still have the usual “drive somewhere, do something and then drive back to the same place to complete the mission”. The main missions are enjoyable but the side missions are mediocre at best.

Enough about the single-player, let’s talk GTA Online. Oh boy, where do I even start with this one? GTA v has outlived any video game out there due to its unique Online multiplayer. You create your character by selecting how parents look like, tweak around a little bit with the minimal sliders for facial features and you are set to jump right in. You can opt to skip the tutorial (I highly discourage skipping it) after which you can do anything you want. And by anything, I mean absolutely anything.

Pull off crazy heists? Sure. Rob the same casino a million times? Check. Race cars through the city? Rockstar has you covered. Want to make lots of in-game currency and buy that amazing car you love? Now that is where the problem lies. You see, the money you make from heists and contact missions is microscopic when compared to the price each item costs. To establish yourself as an uber-rich, gun-toting criminal genius you want to become, you will need to work. Not play, not enjoy but work your virtual butt off till you save up enough. This is where Rockstar pops up from underneath that storm drain and offers you its range of microtransactions called Shark Cards.

If you are one of those instant gratification-craving individuals with cash to spare, you’ve just stumbled upon the holy grail. But I must emphasize how bad Rockstar tries to uphold this pay-to-win (more like pay-to-enjoy) culture. All items in-game are priced ridiculously and the money you make from missions and businesses is just chump change. Despite all this, Rockstar still manages to escape the wrath of the community probably because the current player base is full of players who are new to the game.

Enough with the microtransactions. If you are like me, then you probably can’t afford all this. To work for the fake cash, you have several options.

  • Heists

Excluding this list, you have character missions from GTA characters like Lamar, Gerald, etc as well as a wide variety of races ranging from open-world races to stunt races. I don’t consider these options as viable money-making opportunities solely because I’ve never earned more than GTA$35,000 from any of them. To be honest, the problem with the mission structure is not that there isn’t anything to do but rather the fact that most of them are just the same. There are more than 550+ missions and activities to play in yet all of them are pretty much the same.

This similarity is quite apparent when you run active businesses like the Crime Organization or the MC Businesses. You buy a business, set it up, supply it over and over again, and sell the product. That’s it. It is the same across all the different businesses. The gameplay is so monotonous that only the most hardcore of players keep up the grind culture.

Another major facet of an already painstaking process is the fact that you have to buy these businesses to make money. It is like the developers have been asked to put wall after wall in your pursuit of money and happiness. While the easiest way out of this issue is to pay up, you could grind out missions in a strategic manner to make it as bearable as you could. There are a lot of youtube channels (I recommend TGG) out there that help you make good decisions in your virtual career path. (This is a videogame and here I am talking about career paths and strategic decisions…😩)

I haven’t even begun talking about the servers that the game uses. If you are from Asia or the Middle East, get ready for some crazy shenanigans because both regions are filled with modders and hackers. These players are known to blow everyone off the map just to feel significant and their antics are known to get out of hand. If you spot a modder, LEAVE THE SESSION (Expert Opinion). On top of their menace, the servers are absolutely abysmal at times. Lost connections, corrupted save files, glitches, bugs, and ludicrous loading times make the experience shoddy at best.

I must say that the game can be delightful to play, provided that you have some buddies to play with. The game is a heck of a lot of fun when your mates are there to help out and the whole “wait-a-gajillion-years-for-someone-to-join-your-heist” scenario can be avoided. Another great aspect of having friends is the ability to tackle annoying griefers. Two or three against one is a definite advantage to have.

Some of you might think that I’ve largely been a bit critical of a game that came out in 2013. And you are right. I am being critical because this game has raked in nearly 6 billion (yes,.. Billion with a ‘B’) USD. Rockstar made 500 million USD in microtransactions from 2019 and yet they can’t seem to figure out why their servers feel like navigating the Internet using the Internet Explorer.

7 years from release, GTA Online still has an active player base and enough content to dive into. The COVID pandemic has opened countless doors for people who don’t know what to do with all this free time and gaming is one prominent door. Hope this late-ish review can help you make that decision. You can pick up a copy of the game from Steam or Epic Games.

Blogger, Gamer and Procrastination Extraordinaire!