GTA Online: How to get the most out of Grand Theft Auto Online

Originally written for Nerve Magazine. 

We’ve spent nearly all of our free time last month on Rockstar’s masterpiece Grand Theft Auto V. No matter how you feel about the game, it’s insane success –$1 billion in three days is both insane and successful– has made it inescapable. But to get the most out of Los Santos, you’re going to need a little help from your local student paper; so chuck that unlucky fellow out of the car, clamber in and get ready for a spin through Los Santos.

Free mode is crueller than the Wild West

Get ready to be gunned down, ran over and stabbed when you step into GTA online. A lot. Don’t worry though, because for all the times this will happen to you, you will do it ten times over. Free mode on GTA Online is the greatest evidence yet for the power of Karma. You get run down, so you retaliate by finding this person and giving them a lead welcome. Before you know it, the two of you have spent an hour chasing each other down, unwilling to let your opponents sins go unpunished. So don’t get mad if someone shoots you randomly, get vengeance.

Races are based on how well you can take a good crash

Races on GTA online depend on one of two things. The first one is simple, turn on the catch up setting. This will mean that no matter how far behind you get, you will have a chance to claw back some dignity. Infuriating if you’re in first, but at least it keeps things for the second thing you need to pay attention to. You will crash at some point. Either you’ll get shunted for fun at the start or you’ll be breezing along and then BAM… a random car will do its best to shunt into you and your dreams of winning. When this happens, you’ll be glad the catch up is on, as it keeps every racer on their toes.

Jim Carey it up and wear masks

Robbing stores is a bit part of the game online, you’ll need to hit stores to turn a quick buck and nothing bonds a crew quite like a good robbery and escape. But, lest you want to return the scene of the crime and get caught, you’ll need masks to make sure you’re not recognised next time you rob Los Santos’ version of the Kwik-E-Mart. Plus, it gives you an air of mystery that should – no guarantees – strike fear into the hearts of any hoodlum who tries to jump you.

Bank, bank and bank again

There’s plenty of reasons not to online bank in real life, especially when you’re student. If you’re lucky enough to remember all of the security checks, then you get the privilege of seeing just how empty your account is and all the money your bank will charge you for being poor. Fortunately, GTA is all make believe, which is why you have no excuse to deposit your money any chance you get. It’s quick, simple and you won’t need to worry about losing that $20,000 you spent all afternoon earning.

Time to join a crew

Grand Theft Auto Online wasn’t designed to be played on your lonesome, it was built for crews to roam about and show the world how important they are. Or go in and ruin other peoples day. Or pull off a succession of incredible/awful robberies. Or chill out with some golf and tennis. There are already thousands of crews open to anyone online to join and even more weirdly specific ones – like one exclusively for Bournemouth journalism students. Don’t be the fool without a friend, crew up and share in the madness of a sixteen person motorcycle race.  Still not convinced? Here’s The Lost and The Bammjd providing the sort of impassable road block that Gandalf would be proud of.

Don’t pimp your ride, insure it.

The police – or 5-0 if you’re a fan of The Wire – in Los Santos isn’t known for its restraint. Which is a polite way of saying that if you even think of committing a crime, chances are you’re going to be looking at the business end of a thousand guns. So don’t make life easy for them and flaunt the cars you’ve politely borrowed/stolen in their face, get them sprayed and covered! Insuring cars may seem pointless when you’re used to stealing whatever you like, but the hassle of escaping the fuzz every time you drive past them or running into traffic so you can commandeer any vehicle close by just isn’t worth it.


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