A GTA Online player goes to the top of a building and walks towards the end of the roof. Before they reach the edge, their character suddenly dies and is teleported to the ground below. Another player is walking up a set of stairs when the same thing happens. There are no gunshots or explosions—just a quiet death and the body is then teleported away. What’s happening? These players have stumbled into death spots, invisible and unmarked locations in GTA Online that kill players instantly.
Death spots aren’t new in GTA Online, but many players don’t know they exist until they accidentally walk into one. There is no warning or pop up. A player is just walking towards a wall, up some stairs or near a concrete barrier and suddenly find themselves dead. Some players might, when first encountering these deaths, speculate they were taken out by a modder. The real answer reveals the inner workings of GTA Online.
Death spots are a result of Rockstar trying to stop players abusing wall breaching glitches. Wall breaching is a popular thing to do in GTA Online: a quick search on YouTube will turn up hundreds of videos all about wall breaching. This glitch involves players finding spots in the map where walls, roofs or rocks can be clipped through. If done properly, these wall breach exploits can be used to kill other players and NPCs without them being able to hurt the glitching player. In fact, you often can’t even see the wall breaching player. These types of exploits have been in GTA V since launch and were even popular in GTA IV’s multiplayer.
To stop players from using these exploits, Rockstar basically applies a death zone to the area where the exploit occurs. Enter this area and your character is teleported away and killed. Most of these areas are somewhat out of the way, under a bridge or behind a random building in an alley. Others are easier to accidentally walk into, like this one on the roof of building located near player-owned apartments in Los Santos.
While this solution might accidentally kill some innocent players, it’s an easy and effective solution to stop cheating. Some players have discovered death spots during missions and heists, which sounds really frustrating, but by and large these death spots prevent a much more frustrating form of griefing. I’ve been killed by wall breachers in the past; it was annoying and ruined my session. If a few players accidentally dying in random spots can stop wall breachers, I think it’s a fair trade.
The wall breaches and death spots have also created an interesting back and forth between glitchers and Rockstar. One fan shared a wall/ground breach using the Deluxo, and a few weeks later updated the video title warning players that Rockstar had patched it and added a new death zone. Another GTA Online fan finds a new wall breach and shares it online. Rockstar adds a new death spot. The cycle continues. It’s almost like a digital war. Sometimes players will go back to old patched spots and discover the spot is working again, only for Rockstar to add back the death spot. Rockstar doesn’t really talk about wall breaching, instead just quietly watching and updating as players find new breaches.
Could GTA Online be completely covered in these instant kill zones one day? Probably not, but the next time you randomly die in GTA Online while walking up some stairs, you’ll at least know what killed you.
Zack Zwiezen is a a writer living in Kansas City, Missouri. He has written for Gamecritics, Killscreen and Entertainment Fuse.