How Do You Play Grand Theft Auto Online?

By Jack SteinLast Updated June 24, 2020
Photo Courtesy: @RockstarGames/Twitter

Whether you've never played any of the Grand Theft Auto games or are a returning veteran from past titles in the series, Grand Theft Auto Online is one game that's worth playing. From crime sprees to street racing or even both at the same time, GTA Online offers the classic mayhem of other games in the franchise with the added fun of now being able to wreak havoc with (and against) others. Originally released in 2013, the game continues to have a lively community.

If you're looking forward to spectacular car explosions and fleeing from police helicopters but are overwhelmed by all the possibilities GTA Online offers, don't worry. Whether you only want to learn how to sign in or are searching for a guide to help familiarize yourself with the game, getting into the game is quick and easy.

Getting

To play GTA Online, you'll need a copy of Grand Theft Auto V. If you're using a computer, you're ready to go. If you're on Xbox One or PlayStation 4, however, you'll also need a subscription to either Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus. Either way, to get started, just start GTA V and select "Online" when you get to the main menu.

Photo Courtesy: Leon Neal/Getty Images

You'll be prompted to create a character. Numerous options are available for customization, including physical traits and even who your character's parents are. Take your time to design whatever criminal, street racer or all-around hooligan you like — just make sure you're happy with your choices before you finalize them.

After that, you'll be prompted to go through a few tutorial missions. The first part covers car customization, changing your clothes and racing and cannot be skipped. After that, however, you can skip the tutorials on missions and player versus player (PvP) combat. Don't do that if you plan on playing with friends at any point down the road — skipping those tutorials will prevent you from doing so, and you'll miss out on unique quests to boot.

Start Making Money

With the tutorial out of the way, you can officially start playing the game, and that means making money. In Los Santos — the Los Angeles-inspired city the game is set in — the easiest way to do that is to steal a car. Taking SUVs or coupes to Los Santos Customs to be sold for cash is probably the easiest way to do it, but you can also steal cars for Simeon, an non-player character (NPC) who will send you in-game text messages with what sort of vehicles he's looking for. Alternatively, you can try robbing stores, with bigger stores generally providing more money. Either way, be sure to keep an eye out for the police — more on them later.

Photo Courtesy: @RockstarGames/Twitter

You'll also get invitations to compete against other players or join them on the game's heists. If you and your teammates successfully complete each mission, you earn money and reputation points that help you advance in the game. Just remember to visit an ATM frequently to bank your cash, as other players can steal it if you keep it on your person.

Stay Away from the Police

The police have a heavy presence in Los Santos, and you can expect them to hit the streets whenever they find out about your latest misdeeds. You'll be able to see them on the navigation map as a blue or red spot. You'll generally want to avoid them, as encountering them puts you at risk for capture or death, but you also may find the possibility of kicking a police officer out of their own car too tempting to ignore. It's your call — who hasn't led a police chase down a major highway, after all?

Photo Courtesy: @RockstarGames/Twitter

If you do find yourself pursued by the police and can't seem to ditch them on your the street, a helicopter can make for a decidedly dramatic getaway vehicle. You can steal one from the airport, hospital or police department. Wait until the police stop looking for you before you go after your next target, and then head out to terrorize the streets once more.

Purchase and Property and Businesses

As you play GTA 5, you earn money as well as reputation points. You'll also gain experience and eventually level up, unlocking more features in the game. At level 5, you can start buying property that you can use as a hideout or a front for a business.

Photo Courtesy: @RockstarGames/Twitter

When you reach level 12, you can finally buy a high-end apartment to call your own, which can be a game changer (no pun intended). These apartments have heist rooms where you can prepare special missions, like the Pacific Standard Job. As the host, you also have a chance to make more money than the other players on the team. And if apartment life isn't enough for you, there are always nightclubs and CEO offices to purchase later on.

What to Do in Los Santos

Once you understand the basics of the game, Los Santos is yours for the taking. Complete missions on your eternal quest for cars and cash, but don't be afraid to just explore as well. As an open-world game, GTA Online has plenty of secrets to discover for those who go looking for them.

Photo Courtesy: @RockstarGames/Twitter

Keep in mind that other players can also be a source of infinite entertainment. Not only can you race, fight and complete missions with other players, but you'll also likely make friends and rivals with other players, and together, you'll find ways to push the game beyond what single player could ever offer. From impersonating a police officer to fool other players to unexpected team-ups to ditch the cops, there's no shortage of ways to push the limits in GTA Online.

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