Grand Theft Auto Online
|Grand Theft Auto Online|
|Series||Grand Theft Auto|
|Engine||RAGE, with Euphoria and Bullet Physics|
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
1 October 2013
Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 & Xbox One
Grand Theft Auto Online is a persistent, open world online multiplayer video game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It was released on 1 October 2013 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and is scheduled to be released in Q3/Q4 2014 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game is the online multiplayer mode for Grand Theft Auto V. Set within the fictional state of San Andreas (based on Southern California), Grand Theft Auto Online allows up to 16 players explore the open world and engage in cooperative or competitive game matches. The open world design lets players freely roam San Andreas, which includes open countryside and the fictional city of Los Santos (based on Los Angeles).
Developed in tandem with the single-player mode, Grand Theft Auto Online was conceived as a separate experience, to be played in a continually evolving world. At release, it received generally positive reviews, with praise particularly directed at the scope and open-ended gameplay. Critics were polarised by the widespread technical issues at launch, which resulted in the inability to play missions, and loss of character data. It won divided year-end accolades, ranging from Biggest Disappointment to Best Multiplayer, from several gaming publications.
In Grand Theft Auto Online, players create a new character specific to the online world, which shows on the screen's Switch Wheel alongside single-player characters Franklin, Michael, and Trevor. The player-characters are designed by a genetics-related process. Greater control is given to the character's clothes and hairstyles. The mute player-character online avatar arrives in Los Santos by plane and is picked up by Lamar Davis, who gives the character a gun and a car. The player earns money by playing and can unlock more guns and missions. An hour-long tutorial introduces the player to the various game modes, driving, fighting, and game progression mechanics. The story is not central in the multiplayer, though characters from the single-player are woven in.
Aside from the open world, there are three main types of set activities: racing (by car, bike, air or boat), Deathmatch (team or free-for-all), and objective-based Missions (simplified single-player-like missions, usually cooperative). Online uses lock-on aim and emphasises stealth in firefights. Levelling up lets players buy more guns and cars and unlocks more activities, such as parachuting and aircraft. Once unlocked, items need to be purchased with in-game currency, which can be earned or purchased with real money. Money can also be used to buy car customizations. Players can circumvent an activity's level requirements by joining a game with others of a sufficient rank. The matchmaking is set to not mix players of high level differentials. There are options to play alone or with friends, and an option for "Passive Mode", which makes the player semi-immune to other players.
The game includes a content creation tool that lets players make automobile races and deathmatches. Players can choose the location, start and spawn points, and weapon and vehicle drops in deathmatches, and the location, route, race type, and player count in air, land, or sea races. Creations have to be tested against computer-controlled players before the mode is available online. The creations can also be published for others to use. Rockstar tags what they deem to be the best as "Rockstar Verified".
Developed in tandem with Grand Theft Auto V, Grand Theft Auto Online was conceived as a separate experience to be played in a continually evolving world where up to 16 players freely roam across a recreation of the single-player world. Within the world, players enter lobbies to complete Jobs (story-driven competitive and cooperative modes). The Content Creator toolset lets players create their own parameters for custom jobs, like racetracks and deathmatch weapon spawn points. Players may band together in organised player teams called crews to complete Jobs together. Rockstar Games Social Club extends crews formed in Max Payne 3's multiplayer mode to Grand Theft Auto Online's. Players can create their own crews and join up to five total. Crews win multiplayer matches to earn experience points and climb online leaderboards.
Grand Theft Auto Online launched on 1 October 2013, two weeks after the release of Grand Theft Auto V. Shortly thereafter, many players reported that they had difficulties connecting to the game's servers and the Social Club service, and others further reported that the game would freeze during load screens for early missions. Rockstar released a technical patch on 5 October in an effort to resolve the issues. The microtransaction system, which allows players to purchase game content using real money, was also suspended as a fail-safe. Problems persisted during the second week of launch, as some players reported progress for their characters disappearing. Another technical patch was released on 10 October combating the issues, with advice administered to players experiencing the issues to not create their multiplayer avatars again. As compensation to players for the technical issues, a stimulus of GTA $500,000, an in-game currency, was funded to the accounts of all players connected to the mode since launch.
Because of the widespread technical issues present at launch, many reviewers bemoaned their experience with Grand Theft Auto Online. Chris Carter of Destructoid criticised the "messy launch" and felt that Rockstar should have delayed it. Keza MacDonald considered her initial play sessions in Grand Theft Auto Online "disastrous". Liam Martin of Digital Spy reported glitches including loss of his character data, and, while generally praising the scope of the experience, considered Grand Theft Auto Online underwhelming as it was beholden to pre-launch anticipation let down by its technical issues. The character creation system was panned by critics, who felt that the system only produced unattractive avatars. MacDonald noted an "addictive rhythm" to character progression and was enthusiastic to some of the jobs, but felt that most eventually became monotonous to play. Petit agreed with MacDonald's sentiment, writing that "early on, your mission options are dominated by bland last team standing deathmatches". However, reviewers generally recognised the open-ended exploration and dynamic content as Grand Theft Auto Online's strength; Jon Denton of VideoGamer.com was particularly enthusiastic, writing that the "endlessness" of the gameplay made up for the technical issues.
Take-Two Interactive, Rockstar's parent company, stated that by February 2014, 70 percent of Grand Theft Auto V players with Internet access had played Grand Theft Auto Online, and that the game's microtransactions system was the largest contributor to the company's digital revenue since Grand Theft Auto Online's launch.
- GameRankings's aggregate score applies to the Xbox 360 version. A separate score of 76% for the PlayStation 3 version is based on one review.
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