GTA Online: 100 Tiny Cuts

Posted by PerfidiousSinn (770 posts) -

Since the initial trailer, Grand Theft Auto Online seemed like a dream coming true for me. I've been a fan of Grand Theft Auto for a while, and have lots of memories playing the game with friends locally. I remember the extremely limited and strange feature in San Andreas that allowed you to play brief 2 player Rampages.

The online function of Grand Theft Auto IV was a little better, but the awkward menus and my growing apathy toward most of the game kept it from being the GTA Online experience I really wanted. I liked Grand Theft Auto V a lot more, and the online function looked like exactly what I wanted.

Creating and leveling your own character, participating in structured Jobs and Missions with friends, or just roaming the enormous game map. It was everything I wanted and I couldn't wait to jump into it with friends.

I've played Grand Theft Auto V for about 300 hours now, and about 100 of them were spent in GTA Online. While I'm still having fun when teaming up with friends, and while the game has significantly improved since release, I have a handful of issues with it that I'd like to see improved with future patches. I want Grand Theft Auto Online to be the best it can possibly be, and maybe fixing some of these issues will help with that.

Character Creator Is Bad

I have very few positive things to say about GTA Online's character creator. It's confusing, convoluted, and probably worse than every modern character creation system out there. Instead of choosing your character's physical appearance with sliders, you choose what your parents and grandparents looked like and they give you an appearance linked to that. You also choose your character's lifestyle with a weird time assignment system that doesn't seem to affect anything but starting stats...which doesn't matter because you'll level all those stats up to full naturally.

The biggest problem here is that your character looks different in the Creator than they do in the game. So I had to start over after creating them and sitting through copious load screens, because they had a weird face in game. My proposed solution is to incorporate a plastic surgeon in GTA Online so you can fix your appearance as needed. It might link back to the same broken character creation screen, but it's better than having to remake them from scratch.

Failed To Find A Compatible GTA Online Session

Revisiting the image I posted at the top of the article.

I get this message 90% of the time that I try to join GTA Online from the main menu. The process is as such:

1. Hit A at startup to join GTA Online

2. Sit through several minutes of loading time

3. Failed To Find A Compatible Session

4. Sit through brief load time to get kicked into GTA V single player

5. Try to join GTA Online again

6. Sit through several minutes loading time

And if I don't get step 7 (get kicked out again), I'm in the game. It's silly. My proposed solution is to put me in a solo session if I can't connect to a group one. Kicking the player back to GTA V for them to start the loading process again is maddening, especially when the game takes so long to load up in the first place.

GTA Online separates lobbies by your Targeting Mode: Free Aim, Traditional GTA, or Assisted Aiming. I only play Free Aim and I assume the other lobbies are more populated, which could lead to my repeated “failed to join” experiences. But don't punish me by making me wait longer. Just put me into a Solo Session if necessary. There are plenty of things to do solo! I really don't mind!

Passive Mode and the Broken Spawn System

Most players in GTA Online lobbies want to kill you. A lot. In theory, you can go into Passive Mode and be left alone while you go about your business. Passive Mode protects you from getting shot by other players.

In practice, Passive Mode isn't passive enough. I've found in this state, you can still be killed if a player runs you over or kills you with explosives. If you get into your car, they can shoot you and your car can be blown up.

If you're getting hounded by a player who is killing you over and over, Passive Mode is near worthless because of another oversight: the respawn system. After death, you respawn close to where you were killed and in many cases, close to the player who killed you. I have had more than a few instances of getting killed by a player, respawning, trying to get a car to drive away, and getting shot down because Passive Mode disables when you're in a car.

My solution to this problem is allow you to respawn at a chosen location after death/suicide. The handy Interaction Menu allows you to set a waypoint for major landmarks at any time. How about adding an option to choose your respawn point on death? If you want to stay near the place you died, leave it off. If you need to get out of there and avoid spawn kills, pick a location from the menu. Seems like an easy fix.

"On Call" Doesn't Actually Work

I've complained multiple times about no one joining lobbies in GTA Online. Maybe it's a complaint about the playerbase as a whole, but I haven't had a race or mission start quickly in months. People just don't want to join. This could also be linked to Free Aim lobbies having lower population, I admit.

So, was my routine. I'd make a lobby for a race/deathmatch/whatever, and wait.

I've waited up to 20 minutes for games to start before, even using the “Auto-Invite And Play” button which allegedly “Finds players to quickly start a session” for you. No dice. I've probably spent more time waiting in empty lobbies in GTA Online than doing anything else.

So, in a recent patch Rockstar added “On Call” mode. You can queue up an event and continue to roam the open world as players join. But I've never seen anyone join. Tried every match type, waited for over 10 minutes, and nothing. Does the feature even function? Can I still change match options when I join?

No one really knows!

I guess my solution is to yell at everyone playing the game to make them join lobbies, but that's unrealistic.

No Tracker For Online Goals

One cool things about GTA Online is that you can level up and are given a HUGE amount of tasks and challenges to complete to help you level faster.

It's anything from spending cash on clothes to killing people in Deathmatches enough times with a shotgun. A lot of these challenges can be completed alone, so I still enjoy jumping into GTA Online alone just to grind through some of them. It's a cool feature that gives GTA Online some added value outside of “roaming about” and “doing missions”

My nitpick is that you can't tell how much of a challenge you've done until you finish it. Well, you can't tell QUICKLY at least. To look at your progress you have to pause the game, go to Stats, go to Awards, and find the progress of what you've done by scrolling through multiple pages. The pause menu isn't really slow, but it doesn't load quickly enough!

You know what would be nice? A progress tracker that pops up as you get closer to completing an Award. Think Gears of War.

See how the bars in the bottom left aren't fully filled, just a reminder of how close you are? GTA Online should definitely have that.

In the end, a few of my problems can be solved just by “get more people playing matches”. The general mindset of GTA Online players seems unfocused on the missions and more on killing random players; just go into any lobby and see how many people with bright red Mental States you see. Even though I prefer playing races and co-operative missions, I can't change how those people want to play the game (yet?)

GTA Online is fun, and I wouldn't have put 100 hours into it if I weren't enjoying it on some level. But there's a lot of improvements to be made before it can reach its full potential, and I hope they are made so it can really become the multiplayer Grand Theft Auto experience I've always wanted.

Heists.

#1 Posted by ThePhantomnaut (6201 posts) -

Yeah there are a lot of things that could be improved in GTAO's UI and design.

Passive mode is terribly designed for sure. I am sure people told Rockstar about getting run over and such in the mode but they still haven't addressed it since release. Whenever I get on, I now have to be attentive to who might be close. If they are converging aggressively, I already need to prepare to either kill myself or kill them. I just want to walk around or practice cornering but I can still get run over? Unnecessary.

#2 Posted by DharmaBum (1049 posts) -

GTA Online did not sustain my interest like I expected it to. It baffles me that for all Rockstar's singleplayer prowess, they've never been able to nail multiplayer. Even basic things like grouping up with friends (which was super easy in Red Dead multi) are a hassle. And as far as activities go, there's only so much fun I could get out of stealing a jet from the military base or climbing Mt. Chiliad for some shenanigans. The actual missions and races aren't very compelling either, and I really don't understand who in their right mind would play competitive deathmatch-style modes in that game.

#3 Posted by ThePhantomnaut (6201 posts) -

Personally Last Team Standing is much better than any of the other deathmatch modes because everyone had to be careful. Also you can just call in a Merryweather helicopter. Ha.

#4 Posted by Nodima (1292 posts) -

GTA Online did not sustain my interest like I expected it to. It baffles me that for all Rockstar's singleplayer prowess, they've never been able to nail multiplayer. Even basic things like grouping up with friends (which was super easy in Red Dead multi) are a hassle. And as far as activities go, there's only so much fun I could get out of stealing a jet from the military base or climbing Mt. Chiliad for some shenanigans. The actual missions and races aren't very compelling either, and I really don't understand who in their right mind would play competitive deathmatch-style modes in that game.

Unlike you I still have mostly high praise for the game (I loved the tension of the death matches early on when having a submachine gun was considered a luxury) but I was also surprised how quickly I became disinterested. I was hooked up through the mid-20s in level, but at some point I took a few days off and all hell broke loose with the hacked banks and whatnot, and before I knew it so many people had figured out how to game it for quick XP and get into the mid-100s in level that I was just put off. I couldn't compete with those people and I couldn't figure out how to follow their lead while still enjoying the game, especially since my favorite things to do were the 4-6 player co-op missions and those can take upwards of an hour to complete unless your team is communicating (and I didn't have a mic, so I never was) and don't give any more XP than the basic multiplayer formats.

#5 Posted by Jazz_Bcaz (271 posts) -

Almost every design choice made with GTA Online was the wrong one. It should be about randomly spawning dynamic goals in the free roam, similar to the Simeon vehicles. They should encourage competition or teamwork, and make things like impromptu races rewarding. Emergent gameplay in a sandbox should be encouraged. The job system is horrible and I stopped playing soon after discovering the only thing worth doing was spamming Rooftop Rumble (The name makes no sense either, because it doesn't involve a rooftop at all).

#6 Edited by DharmaBum (1049 posts) -

@nodima: Ah, so all those people level 100+ most likely used an exploit. That's good to know.

To be clear I did not mean to insult anyone who enjoys the competitive modes in GTA Online. There are just other alternatives for third-person-cover-shooter multiplayer that play much better in my mind.

#7 Posted by PerfidiousSinn (770 posts) -

@jazz_bcaz said:

Almost every design choice made with GTA Online was the wrong one. It should be about randomly spawning dynamic goals in the free roam, similar to the Simeon vehicles. They should encourage competition or teamwork, and make things like impromptu races rewarding.

This is a great idea I wish they implemented. Impromptu races are fun, too bad people would rather kill you than do them.

#8 Posted by mosespippy (4439 posts) -

I think Burnout Paradise was a better open world online game than GTA V. It had great co-op objectives that were seamlessly integrated. You'd be driving down the street and you'd get the message, hey, everyone do 1000 ft of drifting and get 5 seconds of air time. It'd show everyone's progress and then when it's over, congratulations, so and so had the best score. Now everybody meet up on the beach and do barrel rolls over everybody else. I don't even remember if there were rewards for doing that stuff but everybody did it anyway because it was fucking rad. Something like that would add a lot of sorely needed direction to the mostly directionless open world part of the game.

You should really just use the auto aim mode though. I know it fucking sucks. It removes an aspect of skill from the competitive field. What it does is change the game from a dexterity based skill set to a mind based skill set. The best players in auto aim lobbies know how to read the environment to determine where their kills are going to happen. They show up to the spot, ambush the target as they run across the plaza or pop around the corner or whatever, and then they need to disappear and rotate to the next spot. They are masters at guerrilla warfare. Plus, if you like doing the racing the most, then you'll have an easier time finding lobbies and your aim mode doesn't matter.

Of course, the problem withracing is that catch up is turned on by default. It is the biggest game breaking thing. I've started in first, driven a perfectly clean race and had five cars pass me in the final stretch because I can feel the computer limiting my speed so the losers in the back can feel like they've had such a great comeback. My record in races with it off is like 22-3 and with it on it's like 25-55, which is still not bad, but it's cost me a lot of wins.

Another thing I hate is power plays, and I hate it in all competitive games, not just GTAV. The computer has determined someone is too good so it marks them on everyone's map and says hey, here's double money. Why should I ever bother to play good if it's gonna unfairly cut my run short? If it's late in a match that has a lopsided outcome that's fine, but if we're 12 seconds into a match and I'm already the power player then I must be super amazing. I just want to die when I'm the power player so I can go back to ambushing people in combat hotspots. But of course, one kill later you're the power player again. Basically what power plays and catch up does is make the best players face an uphill battle against the weakest competition, because Rockstar know that 95% of their sales are to people who don't play a lot of video games. I stopped playing after maybe two weeks and only picked it up again when they paid out the $500K for the fucked up launch.

#9 Edited by spraynardtatum (3670 posts) -

Rockstar screwed up the launch and then continued to make the game worse and worse by continuously cutting the amount of money you made from missions and activities down. It just pissed me off so I stopped playing. They blatantly wanted their microtransactions to be worth something.

GTA IV online was way better.

#10 Posted by Jazz_Bcaz (271 posts) -

You should really just use the auto aim mode though. I know it fucking sucks. It removes an aspect of skill from the competitive field. What it does is change the game from a dexterity based skill set to a mind based skill set. The best players in auto aim lobbies know how to read the environment to determine where their kills are going to happen. They show up to the spot, ambush the target as they run across the plaza or pop around the corner or whatever, and then they need to disappear and rotate to the next spot. They are masters at guerrilla warfare.

See this is why I don't mind the auto aim either. The free roam was most fun for me when I had someone think they could hunt me, and I'd just out position them every time. My favourite thing in free roam was just seeing where I could climb, whilst waiting for someone to start something. Bizarrely I ended up really liking the euphoria engine because I liked how organic the platforming felt in the level design, but it's still a freaking pain to steer.

Goddamn it really does upset me how bad Online is because there are so many things about that games systems I love, like finding really satisfying spots for a deathmatch, or a trials style dirtbike race... The game has some rad geometry yo.

#11 Posted by slowbird (1756 posts) -

You know what? I recognize the problems with it, but it still has better car handling and better racing than a lot of actual "racing" games, so I'll continue to play it. I don't really care to play the deathmatches, but some of the co-op missions are fun. And I get to play as a virtual person who, although a bit weird-looking from the bad character creator, is still way cooler and better than I am in real life. *sigh*

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