Trying to keep in touch with friends and family has never been harder. I used to see friends every weekend, but with the pandemic still going strong, I mostly spend my days sequestered in my apartment. Thankfully, video games are an adequate solution to loneliness. To keep in touch with everyone, I suggested to some of my gaming pals that we should try playing GTA Online. It’s a fun game to fool around in as there are explosions, gunfights, car chases, gambling, and other wackiness to partake in. It really is a perfect multiplayer game for this current, terrible situation.
Or at least it should be. I enjoy GTA Online for what it is, but after playing it for several long sessions I can tell that there are many areas in which it falters. For every great moment I have with it there’s one that makes me curse the people at Rockstar for their poor decisions. There are some improvements that could be made to make it a better online experience for everyone. Here are some suggestions from me: a person who has spent far too much time in Los Santos.
Better Stealth, Less Stealth, Or No Stealth At All
There’s a setup mission for The Humane Labs Raid heist that is infamous for being irritating and time-consuming. I’m talking of course about the part where you need to deliver an EMP to the facility before you hit it. The problem with this task is the same problem that plagues some of the worst missions in GTA history: stealth.
Simply put, GTA V’s version of stealth is not good. It’s as basic as stealth gameplay can get. You click the right thumbstick to go into stealth mode – which just means your character walks like a hunchback – and then you avoid the vision cones of nearby enemies. That’s it. That’s GTA stealth.
Now, I may not speak for the average GTA fan, but I’m pretty sure no one reaches a stealth mission in this game and goes, “oh boy! A slow, boring sneaking section!” These missions suck because they lack many of the mechanics that are present in good stealth games. There’s no option to stop enemy aggression once you’ve been seen, there’s no way to distract an enemy who’s in your way, no gadgets, no strategy, no nothing. Just walk slowly and don’t wander into one of those vision cones. And if one of your crew does get caught, you have to start all over again, even if you made it close to the end. What’s worse, The Cayo Perico Heist almost exclusively relies on stealth, which has made it one of the least popular – although quite lucrative – heists in the whole game.
Rockstar, I’m begging you, either fix your stealth or don’t do it all. Playing your game shouldn’t feel like a chore. Yet, GTA stealth is arguably the most arduous work I’ve had to do in months.
Freemode Heist Prep Is Awful
Speaking of new heists and arduous work, much of the prep work for the more recently added heists requires you to gather items while you’re in an open lobby with other players. Guess what? Other GTA players are dicks.
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been three-quarters of the way through one of these missions only to have progress destroyed by some random douche firing missiles out of a jet. I’m well aware that a big part of the experience of GTA Online is screwing with other players, but sometimes you just want to play the missions and have some good old-fashioned structured fun. That’s hard to do when a gang of guys on flying motorcycles wearing monkey masks decides to grief the hell out of you.
I’m not saying there shouldn’t be parts of the game played in freemode, but prep work for a heist used to resemble story missions from the single-player campaign. Now they feel like fetch quests where all your efforts can be erased by a 15-year-old who’s juiced up their account with a dozen shark cards.
How Do You Do Anything?
Hey, did you know there’s a mute all option for in-game chat in GTA Online? Or that you can drop weapons that you don’t want anymore? Or that you can set your spawn point so you can load in from somewhere other than your main apartment? Because I sure didn’t! Hell, up until recently, I didn’t even know how to access the interaction menu!
There are so many things in GTA Online that I didn’t know were possible to do. I’m not talking about content. I’m talking about the basic functionality of the game. I spent nearly 20 minutes just trying to figure out how to host a job! It’s possible that a lot of this information was covered in the tutorial or one of those big black squares with text on them that show up from time to time. But since most of the people I’ve played with have asked the same questions that I have, whatever Rockstar is doing is not good enough.
Would it kill them to add some kind of encyclopedia or FAQ in the interaction menu so if we’re unsure of something we can find the answer in-game? Perhaps Rockstar thinks that having everyone google these answers is enough of a solution. I think it seems sort of lazy for a game that brings in billions of dollars to not properly teach its players how to play.
So Many Hacks
One of the most vivid memories I have of GTA Online involves a time I loaded into the game on PC. At first, I was in my apartment and nothing seemed off. Suddenly, I was sucked into a loading screen. That black screen lasted for a long time until I was congratulated for buying a new apartment, which was something I had not done. I was then in a new apartment with several other confused players for about 5 seconds before I was whisked away to another loading screen. I was then told that I had sold the apartment that I had not bought. I was standing outside with about a dozen other people when the weather began to rapidly change from sunshine to rain to snow. The time of day fluctuated at an unnatural rate. Missiles then rained down from the sky and I quickly logged off because I was afraid some hacker was somehow going to screw up all my progress or get my credit card number.
This still happens. Hackers and modders still show up even in the console versions of GTA Online. They can be invisible, they may be giving out free money, they might glitch out the world itself, etc. How this hasn’t been addressed by anyone at Rockstar is beyond me. While I love what modders have done with GTA roleplaying servers, the actual game needs to seriously fix this problem before one ambitious hacker figures out a way to screw over everybody.
That’s Just The Tip Of The Explosive Iceberg
This article could be 3000 words long as there are several other things I could mention that could be cleaned up. Like the aforementioned loading screens which can be downright awful, especially after a successful heist. That issue isn’t helped by Rockstar needing to animate every single thing and make you watch every single animation. Opening a door, eating a snack, logging onto a laptop, etc. Everything has a tedious animation even when it doesn’t need to. Oh, and while the cutscenes are occasionally entertaining, some of them are unskippable. How the hell does any game have unskippable cutscenes in 2021?!
I really want to love GTA Online and I do have fun playing this game with friends, but all these problems make it into a pretty good game when it could be an all-time great one. Sadly, as long as fans keep buying those shark cards, I doubt Rockstar is going to consider making any real improvements. They’ll keep adding more grindy heists with awful stealth while new players stumble around and get blown up by a level 1243 player with infinite rockets (oh yeah, skill-based lobbies would be nice too.)
Oh well, I guess if my frustration with GTA Online ever reaches a boiling point, there’s always Red Dead Online…You know, if Rockstar ever does anything with that.
NEXT: Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Ban GTA 5 Amid Rise In Carjacking Crimes
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Jamie Latour is a writer and actor based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. From his hyperactive childhood to his….Well, still hyperactive adulthood, he’s been writing and performing in some capacity for practically his entire life. His love for video games goes all the way back to the age of 4, playing Mega Man 3 for the first time on his NES. He’s an avid gamer and can be found nowadays either messing around in Red Dead 2, or being cheap as can be as Reaper in Overwatch. He’s still starting out when it comes to making online content, but aside from his writing he can found on his Twitch page under the handle SpontaneousJames. You can also find him on social media as @SpontaneousJam on Twitter (because Spontaneous James was too long apparently).
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