Today, Rockstar Games released what might be one of the biggest, best updates Grand Theft Auto Online has seen in years. While it might not add something as big and flashy as a casino or superyacht, the new “Criminal Enterprises” update expands a huge list of old content, adds new quality-of-life changes, and even adds in a wild new secret agent mission line. It also feels like Rockstar taking a big step toward ensuring GTA Online sticks around for at least a few more years.
Playing the freshly patched GTA Online on my PS5, it’s almost hard to believe that Grand Theft Auto Online was released on Xbox 360 and PS3 all the way back in 2013. It’s easy to forget just how old the game is, and this latest update seems to acknowledge that after nearly a decade of updates, Rockstar’s online MMO needed some love and attention to help bring everything forward.
Criminal Enterprises is themed around a devastating heatwave that is ravaging Los Santos and the surrounding countryside. On top of that, rising gas prices are causing all sorts of panic—and creating new criminal opportunities. And amid the chaos are rumors of a conspiracy and the IAA (GTA’s version of the CIA) needs your help to stop whoever is behind the high prices and all the market manipulation.
Oddly, the most exciting change might be the new ability for players to complete most business activities, including sell missions, inside invite-only lobbies. With this change, Rockstar finally lets solo players who need to sell stolen goods—but who also hate trolls or griefers—escape annoying attacks that can wipe away hours of grinding. It feels like Rockstar finally giving players what they have long wanted, even if it might make the game “easier” or less social.
In fact, that’s an ongoing theme throughout this update: Rockstar giving players what they have asked for after all these years. For example, starting today, you can now run inside the casino and nightclubs. Tiny change, sure, but holy shit does it make a difference. Being able to run up to my nightclub office in a few seconds was amazing, as was being able to sprint over to the casino’s big daily spin wheel. Lovely stuff.
Another long-requested addition this update delivers are new dresses and haircuts for female characters. It’s still not enough, I feel, but better than nothing. I’ve already seen players praising the new dress for actually looking good after years of players sharing their displeasure with the lack of cute options.
Rockstar has also finally added shortcuts for eating snacks and donning armor. Before, you’d have to flip through a few different submenus to access either item. This was tricky in a firefight, and always felt so cumbersome that I assumed Rockstar built it this way to discourage people from eating snacks or changing armor during combat. But now, all it takes is a simple button press with the weapon wheel open. I assumed this change would be big, but actually playing through the new missions with it was shocking. I can’t believe we all spent nearly a decade torturing ourselves with the submenus.
As for the new missions, I’ve not finished them all yet, but have enjoyed them as a nice distraction from all the update’s business-related content. Most of that stuff is nice, with more ways to make cash from rackets old and new. However, I don’t play GTA Online just to grind money, I play to have fun, and these new IAA missions are a nice mix of combat, stealth, story, and humor. Nothing truly incredible, but easily some of the best contact missions in a while, and a nice way to flesh out this already-large update.
I expect some more diehard, math-focused players will soon figure out that the new business options or missions aren’t actually as efficient as running the same heist or payphone mission over and over again. And they will likely bemoan this update. Me on the other hand? I’m excited to play more GTA Online, as these changes help give me more things to do solo and more ways to make money and have fun.
The update isn’t perfect, as the new bolt-action rifle is garbage and the IAA missions could end up being too annoying for some players. But for now, it’s very nice to see Rockstar going back and improving content that already exists instead of just blindly adding more. If Rockstar plans to keep GTA Online going for a few more years, as I think it will, I hope we get more updates like this that focus almost entirely on making the game more enjoyable to play while delivering on content players have been asking for since 2013.