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Grand Theft Auto 5 is a good game, one of the best from the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era, and it still holds up today. However, its online component – Grand Theft Auto Online – is a slightly messy but all around brilliant experience, and for me at least has completely eclipsed anything from the single player mode. There are always things happening, things to see and things to do in GTA Online, and here are a few things that I have run across in my time with the game.

A few of my favorite things (in GTA Online)

Grand Theft Auto Online

Two choppers – one with guns and rockets – chasing me driving a clunky truck? No sweat.

#1: The crazy stuff that can only happen when other players are involved

There are parts of GTA that are fun, like stealing fast cars and going for a joyride through town. Stealing a slow, ponderous military truck that can’t turn and driving it across a rain soaked dirt road isn’t nearly as fun. Doing that while another player chases you with a gun-toting military helicopter, while they in turn are being harassed by a police chopper? That is pretty damn exciting.

#2: Watching a player on the run from the law on television

Running from the police is fun but sometimes it’s even more fun to watch someone else do so from the comfort of your own apartment. It’s like Twitch where you can watch other real players and see how they play, only without the dull narrative parts or the typical overbearing graphical overlays.

Grand Theft Auto Online

Hey wait a minute… that’s not a police chase!

#3: Watching a player on the run from the law in person

Is watching from your couch not exciting enough? Then go out and find a madman on the loose and tail them on foot. You can help them by shooting their pursuers, or you can aid the law by taking them out. An even better option is grabbing a helicopter and following them from the air like a news chopper would. Extra credit if you do a play-by-play narration out loud in your best newscaster voice.

#4: Not all activities are violent

When you grow tired of all the shooting, stealing, fast cars and pointless mayhem, you can take up a more passive pastime. You can play darts, shoot a round of golf, play tennis and arm wrestle folks for fun and profit. I like the golf mini game, and in fact chose my apartment because it overlooked the golf course. The 10-car garage was a nice extra, though.

Grand Theft Auto Online

Miracles do happen

A few things that I could do without

#1: The crazies and the griefers

Make an online game and inevitably people find the best way to cheese the system and irritate the hell out of other players. In GTA Online one of the easier and most ways to drive another player to madness is spawn killing, where you stake out a spot out of sight (usually a rooftop) and snipe players as they come by. They usually respawn not far away, giving you another quick kill or three. This, combined with people who shoot every player they see for no reason are irritating as hell. I understand that Grand Theft Auto is a violent game, and shooting people is part of the online experience, but there’s a line between shooting other players and harassing other players. Don’t cross that line and everyone will have more fun.

Grand Theft Auto Online

Sometimes shooting other players with rockets is just too tempting to resist

#2: Quick and easy access to heavy firearms

I like having access to a homing rocket launcher and machine guns from the get-go. I like being able to cause chaos with big explosions and a hail of bullets. I do not, however, like the fact that nearly every player has a fully-loaded arsenal of rockets that they will use to shoot me with no provocation. Strangers shooting me out of the sky or blowing up my car is enough to drive me to Passive Mode

Passive mode, by the way, is the single best thing in GTA Online. Griefing me? Shooting me over and over? Blockading my car? Blowing out my tires? I enable Passive Mode, and you’re instantly powerless to bother me, and now I am going to go about my business while you can’t do a thing about it. That may be the most powerful griefing tool in the game, actually. As I wrote before, I have driven inside other peoples’ cars with mine in the ghost-like passive mode to make them go away. I may have to do some research into this in a future article.

For now though shows are some of my favorite and not-so-favorite parts of GTA Online. If you have anything to add, toss it in the comments below.

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