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How Is GTA Online, 5 Years Later?

Playing Rockstar's most lucrative mode in its twilight years


I remember the early days of GTA Online back on the PS3. My buddy had just climbed up at Rank 10 and we were just having fun jumping off helicopters onto the ocean and blowing up the armored truck for giggles. Really though, the early days of this mode were the bare-bones experience of what it became over the course of five years. In that timeframe, GTA Online rose to be a major player in the online multiplayer scene, for better or worse.

Its constant updates help keep them have a substantial player base, which doesn’t include the custom PC servers like FiveRP and RAGEMP. Think of GTAO as the starting point for creativity to flourish (which 2K Games almost put a stop to it in 2017 but that’s another story), giving a chance for players to a jerk, a police officer or anything really. It’s that flexible.

So, on the anniversary of the mode’s initial launch back in the 1st of October 2013, I picked up a copy of GTA V for PS4 (without the Criminal Enterprise pack) and dive straight into Online for a week straight.

Starting off sans money

Mission Run

After doing the tutorial missions (race cars,steal drugs, put tracker on a stolen car), the game opens up Los Santos for you to explore. No seriously, once they opened up, the only mission that’s open during this time is those Martin Madrazo’s dispatch missions, which if you played your cards right (and found a AK on one those missions), you can easily grind them to get your first good guns/apartment/car.

A subtle way for newbies to learn the ropes with a fairly simple start, really.

“Grind work for that paper”, I think.

The current bane of this mode really are those Oppressors bikes, really. Not the crippling economy, which usually turn off most early-stage players but you can quickly take a mission or go passive to avoid them.

Surprisingly though, you can get a few nice players if you hang about long enough, like in one of those sessions, I bought my Sultan on the road when a guy texted me:

“Hey, change it to that Tokyo Drift color”. 

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Fulfilling that original line, “Cruse with your Friends”.

This was my first non-hostile interaction with a random player, we did some stuff together and we began a string of good cash flow. At one point, I jumped onto his Yacht (for reasons unknown) and we grabbed one of his choppers to do the VIP assassination mission, on Hard for extra payout and I enjoyed it, makes the grinder not that repetitive.

Speaking of which…

“What should I do?” “KEEP AIM ON IT”


GTA Online is notorious for its grindy nature when Rockstar went all-in with them price inflation and the introduction of those Shark Cards. And if you’re stubborn like I am, then spending 4 hours on doing missions is no problem because buying overpriced fake money is always a bad idea and a majority of the community agree it’s quite of a joke.

Around this time, I had amassed enough cash to buy a house (which in real life is already an astonishing feat).

This is considered cheap.

But here’s something that I hated wholly is the constant reminder to buy a Nightclub/Bunker/Club by quest givers which resets every time I enter a session. It’s annoying that a mid-level player without any disposable income is barrage reminders each time and I thank the makers that Red Dead Redemption 2 is a western cowboy setting, so that these “calls” won’t exist in that game.

…unless of course they implement a sort of system that can relay to you each time,like a pigeon delivering a mail, which I hope we can shoot ’em to stop receiving the notifications.

I hope this won’t be in RDR2, Rockstar.

Transform..To An Adventure

One of the newer add-ins in its current state is those transform races, which you race with others in three or more vehicle and in some cases, a werewolf (yeah it’s silly that way).

And wow, they payout are incredible when you count the fact that the rewards are timer-based. So, the longer the race, the more you make (GTA logic indeed). But as a content on its own, it’s by far the 2nd best thing I’ve done here.

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It looks weird already.. It gets weirder still.

The one best thing I had done in a week of GTA was interesting, to say the least.

I was doing the usual dailies when someone texted me if I’m interested to do the first Doomsday Act and get the completion bonus for first time players. I said yes. Next thing I knew, it’s 4AM, I was doing the final mission, hoping my head-shot lands as enemies keep rolling in as we went inside the IAA server, the PA system in the building yelling THE POTLUCK HAS BEEN CANCELLED”. The endgame was interesting because not only have I made a new friend, I made quite a lot more too.

Final Thoughts

With the release of RDR2 and its online component coming a few weeks away (at time of writing), it’s nice to look back on a mode that has taken the MMORPG element into a sandbox and work it quite well,most of the time. And while Rockstar will be focusing on Red Dead Online, they will be working on GTA in tandem, saying they have big plans for it. Maybe they’ll lower prices or add a Story Mode DLC finally, who knows. But whatever it is, I don’t think GTA Online will fade to nothingness anytime soon. It is the most successful entertainment title ever for a reason.

So happy 5th anniversary, you grindy bastard and I’ll keep coming back to you anyway.

Disclaimer: Please note that this feature is based on the author’s opinion, but does not necessarily represent the other authors thoughts on this game. Also shoutout to killu-2 and Iznhard for all their help on GTAO.