Grand Theft Auto Online:
Don’t wait around to play this unique massive multi-player component
Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 00:10
My what a beautiful time we live in.
At no other point in history have we actually been rewarded for running around a city and committing heinous crimes towards both strangers and friends.
OK, I confess, I may have left out the fact that this is a virtual world I’m talking about, that of Grand Theft Auto: Online, Grand Theft Auto V’s online multiplayer component. The game takes Grand Theft Auto’s largest contribution to the industry, fully realized sandbox gameplay, and combines it with typical online game modes. What results is one of the best examples of a massively multiplayer world to date.
We’ll get to the matchmaking games in a bit, but first I want to talk about how the sandbox map, although sandbox world is probably a more accurate way to describe it.
When you first start up GTA:O, you create your character and are immediately plunked down into the sprawling metropolis of Los Santos. Other than a single racing mission, there’s no real tutorial. You’re told to go anywhere and do anything that you want. Occasionally a friendly non-player character will call you up and have them do a task or two, but that’s not the main attraction here. What really makes this wonderful is the other people with you.
Currently, each individual session can support a maximum of 16 players (though there is currently some evidence in the game’s programming that points to that number doubling in the near future). You are free to interact with them however you like. Want to hold up a store together? Go nuts. Want to race each other around the city in a ‘quick race’ that you designed? You’re free to do that. Want to take them exploring the mountains, only to put a bullet in their head when you get bored of them? I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t done it. The interactions with each player take the virtual world of Los Santos and transform it from an extremely realistic city, to a real city. You can buy an apartment and invite your friends up to have a party, or buy and run a parking garage.
The one downside is that with only 16 people in a world as gigantic as Los Santos means that it’s perfectly possible to spend an entire game session without ever running into someone. I never happened upon anyone unless I went out of my way to find somebody. It would improve things greatly if Rockstar could boost the numbers a bit. If it meant as many as a hundred people, I’d even consider paying a small subscription fee to help support the servers.
As for the other game modes, they’re pretty standard. That isn’t to say they’re not unbelievably fun (I spent eight hours just doing deathmatch), but they’re quite as ground shattering as the city. Each different game type can be entered easily through either your in-game cell phone or from hopping into one of the blue nodes littered around the city. From there you are given the choice to either host or join a game. Find one that suits your liking and have fun with it. There’s the standard fare (death match, capture the flag, racing, etc.) but there are also some more creative modes, such as the free-fall race, where players take a dive from 4,000 feet and race each other to the ground.
Completion of each match rewards the player with money to be spent around Los Santos, as well as hefty chunks of experience. The higher the player’s level, the more content they will have access to, including more game modes, vehicles and customizable options for their character.
So what are you waiting for? The city of Los Santos waits for no man. It’s your turn to plug in and start making your mark. We’re all waiting for you.