Despite being three years old, GTA Online is updated with new cars and weapons every month. Maybe you want to jump in for the first time, or are coming back from a break. Whatever the reason, here are some pointers for getting up and running in GTA Online.
Grab GTA V bundled with a Shark Card when it goes on sale
If you don’t have the game yet, patience is a virtue. In this case, going in with a Shark Card will give you some extra in-game money that can make a big difference. In GTA Online, cash is king, and starting with an extra million or two in your bank account will help you buy expensive new weapons and cars.
Play some single player
The story portion of GTA V will teach you some of the basics you need to survive in GTA Online, without any assholes, trolls, or fear of constant death.
If you have friends, bring them along
While it’s possible to play GTA Online by yourself, that’s not the best experience: friends make everything better, after all. I have fond memories of pals getting run over by a car, accidentally pissing off a cop, and other shenanigans that made GTA Online more fun and entertaining. Highly recommended.
Personalize your character
Once you’ve finished up the first tutorial missions and objectives, go rob some convenience stores and use some of your hard earned cash to buy new clothes for your character. Personalizing your character will help you feel connected to their journey from random thug to criminal mastermind. It helps that GTA Online has some incredible threads for you to try on.
Do contact missions
Contact missions are like standard GTA missions, but they separate you from the other players in the free roam session. This means you can focus on the objective without worrying about some random asshole killing you with a jet. Contact missions can be a fun way to make money, as they pay out extra cash for new players.
Contact missions are offered to you randomly via the in-game phone, but you can find them in the pause menu under Jobs as well. Just host a job and select “Rockstar Created,” where you’ll be able to play any contact mission. If you can invite a higher level friend, set these missions to hard. You get more cash and RP.
Take advantage of events
Rockstar is always doing weekly events for GTA Online. Keep an eye on the Rockstar Twitter account or Rockstar’s Newswire blog to know when things are hitting. These events can vary in quality, but many of them give players ways to make extra cash and experience. Events also bring weekly discounts to GTA Online, so if you want a new supercar or house, it pays to wait.
Keep an eye out for the double RP and double $ stunt races in particular, which dole out TONS of money even if you don’t win.
Check out the new stunt races
If you haven’t played GTA Online in a while, you need to try the wild new stunt races, as they are filled with huge jumps and crazy loops. Not only do these pay out well, they are a great way to earn more wins (and thus a good way to unlock new parts for custom cars.)
Play some adversary modes
There’s a mode that allows you to live out your TRON lightcycle fantasies, a tense stealth mode that feels inspired by Manhunt and a mode that recreates the Terminator 2 semi-truck chasing a bike scene.
Don’t waste your money
When you first start out, it might seem like everyone is running around with fancy sportscars, but that doesn’t mean you need to buy flashy and pricey stuff that you don’t actually need. Like the real world, it pays to save!
Don’t buy an apartment right away
Save your money for larger homes that allow you to start heists. Once you do have enough money for a bigger house, do some research. It might seem silly, but you should drive around any prospective property first. Questions to ask yourself: does the locale seem busy? Is it near anything useful, like an Ammu-nation or a CEO Office? Note that such amenities will likely also attract other players, which can be dangerous.
Don’t buy a garage right away
Cars are some of the biggest symbols of status and wealth in GTA Online, but you shouldn’t worry about such appearances at first. Garages might seem cheap when compared to houses, but you probably won’t use them for a good while. Wait until you’ve filled up the garage that your house or apartment comes with before purchasing a separate garage.
Wait for sales
Rockstar has new items for sale nearly every week. Early on in GTA Online money can be really hard to come by, so saving a few hundred thousand dollars whenever you can is a good move.
Don’t buy every gun in the store
Whenever a new gun is released, I tend to buy it and try it out. Don’t be like me. These new guns rarely replace my favorites. Once you find an assault rifle or pistol you like, just stick with it. Eventually you will have enough money to afford everything, but you shouldn’t sweat it early on.
Leave the CEO and Biker stuff for later
Avoid heists until you are confident in your skills
Heists are an exciting way to make cash, but they can also be frustrating and time consuming if you’re not careful. You should try heists with friends, if possible, and only after you learn how to survive during longer firefights. You should also wait until you’ve leveled up enough to withstand more damage, and have a good selection of weapons and bulletproof vests.
If you play with random players, use a headset, but try not to be a jerk. Heists are all about coordinating with other players. Plus some of the longer car rides can be boring, so having some folks to joke around with can help ease the tension and pass the time quicker.
Don’t grind for cash, just have fun
When I first started playing GTA Online I spent hours grinding an easy mission that awarded good money... but after 3 days, I started hated myself for it. Now I only play what I like. Sure, it means I’m not the richest person in GTA Online, but I don’t mind. Now I’m actually having fun.
While money is important in GTA Online, you can still have a blast without spending much. You can start most jobs and races for free, so don’t stress too much about grinding to make millions. As they say, the best things in life are free.
Use the interaction menu
It’s useful. To use this menu, hold down the PS4 touchpad, or the Xbox One view button, or M on PC. Through the interaction menu, you can store bulletproof vests, set your GPS quickly, change your outfit, split cash among your crew, and purchase ammo (though it does cost a little more.) That’s the price of convenience.
Use passive mode
Another useful feature in the interaction menu is passive mode. Passive mode allows anyone to become nearly immortal and avoid other players’ bullets and cars. If someone just won’t stop killing you over and over, go passive. They might send you an angry message or call you a coward, but don’t worry about it. Passive is also a great way to avoid trouble if you want to get a haircut or check out a new car you just bought. If you need a break from all the killing and destruction, passive mode is always an option.
Walls allow you take cover and avoid enemy gunfire, which is useful. You can also take advantage of an exploit while in cover. Normally, when you are low on health, you can eat something—but this requires sitting through a 10 second animation. While in cover, you instantly regain health while eating food instead.
Consider buying a Shark Card
Some GTA Online players might hate this tip, but there’s nothing wrong with buying Shark Cards if you need them. You might be busy, or you might not be able to devote days to catching up in GTA Online. Maybe you want a cool car, a nice house, or some fancy clothes. Shark Cards speed up the process, though they’re not actually necessary to enjoy GTA Online.
Explore, relax and chill
GTA Online can sometimes feel like a job. If you grind too much or focus only on making lots of cash it can quickly become boring or frustrating. So make sure that you have some time dedicated to just chilling. Go mess with the unstoppable train, try to find the jetpack, explore the desert with a dirt bike, find a boat and cruise the ocean. Listen to some music. Don’t worry about that player flying nearby in a jet; they probably won’t attack you.
Zach Zwiezen is a a writer living in Kansas City, Missouri. He has written for Gamecritics, Killscreen and Entertainment Fuse.