We’d never seen games like the Grand Theft Auto series. At a time when every other game developer was focusing on small, compartmentalized first-person shooters, ridiculously long and complicated role-playing games and licensed titles, Grand Theft Auto offered a giant sandbox for users to do whatever they wanted. With GTA 5, developer Rockstar Games improved on that sandbox in key ways. Guns feel better, giant aircraft are actually something players can steal. GTA 5 even has an engaging story that goes well beyond the directionless stuff that was in past games.
All of that stuff is great, but GTA 5 is about to get its biggest feature yet: Online Heists. At the same time as they released the story-driven single player version of the game, Rockstar was introducing players to Grand Theft Auto Online. Grand Theft Auto Online is a new multiplayer sandbox that puts users in the same arenas as the single player, but alongside their friends. It’s a free-for-all, a powder keg of action waiting for players to ignite something. Online Heists is just the match the game mode needs.
GTA 5 Online Heists Are Free
Rockstar handed out Grand Theft Auto Online for free to every Xbox 360 and PS3 user who purchased those versions of GTA 5 in 2013. Since then, it’s kept them updated with feature upgrades, new costumes and some new missions. The developer did the same thing with GTA 5 for Xbox One and PS4. Online Heists will come as part of a free upgrade to all four versions of GTA 5 on March 10th. No DLC purchases, no trips to the store. If you’re connected to either the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live you’ll get the update with Heists.
GTA 5 Online Heists Are Huge and Complicated
In GTA Online there’s already a ton to do. Sure, you can go around randomly killing people, but completing the many races and missions in the game earn you cash. That cash then buys you weapons upgrades and new hideouts. Online Heists add a new dynamic. They’re detailed, and making it through them is all about having the right strategy.
Each GTA 5 Online Heist requires setup, just like the missions inside the single player. These setup missions are smaller than the larger mission, but still require skill to complete. A single head recruits different GTA Online players for his online heists. The entire crew meets at the crew head’s hideout. These recruits are paid for both the setup missions they complete and the final heist mission. The leader of the crew decides on the setup, calls the shots, finances the jobs and doesn’t get paid until the last mission is complete.
Pulling off a heist requires precision and teamwork. Different members of the crew are assigned to different tasks. These tasks fit into the overall mission, meaning if one person fails it becomes that much harder to finish the mission. Throughout Online Heists are checkpoints to make failure more acceptable.
GTA 5 Online Heists Aren’t Something that Ends Quickly
Talking with IGN, Rockstar confirmed that this first Online Heists update will contain 5 different Online Heists for users to complete. That might sound small, but that’s a ton of content. Again, each Online Heist has small stuff that players have to complete before they can even pull off the bigger Online Heist. In total, GTA Online players are looking at 20 extra missions added to their game with just this one feature.
It’s hard to measure the amount of added gameplay hours because Online Heists are dynamic. This goes back to the crew leader. It’s he who choses with roles users are in and how they are participating in each mission. Each member of the crew gets a fundamentally different experience from the others. As such, switching roles gives you a new perspective on each one of those 20 missions. Each of these perspectives is filled with their own challenges and explosive movements. In short, users are looking at a lot of extra replay value.
Again, Online Heists are coming as a free download to all owners of GTA 5 on March 10th. They’ll also come included with GTA 5 for Windows PCs on April 14th. Users who already have the game installed on their Xbox One or PS4 shouldn’t need to do anything, both of those consoles download title updates automatically. Xbox 360 and PS3 users will need to dive in and manually trigger the update. If your console is already tight on space, now might be the time to invest in a hard drive.
Unfortunately for some users with an Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PS4, GTA Online requires that users team up with others online. Anyone without a PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold subscription won’t be able to play Online Heists. Xbox Live Gold costs $59.99 a year or $9.99 a month. PlayStation Plus costs $49 a year or $17.99 for three months.