GTA Online, Log #1: We're Connected But A Little Lost

The road to Rockstar's nihilistic online paradise has been full of potholes. But, with enough prayers to Kraff, it is in fact possible to connect to the online version of Los Santos. When you get there, you'll want to find your friends and do stuff together. Figuring out how to do that is damn trickier than it should be but worth all the trouble.

I've been playing GTA Online on Xbox 360 since Tuesday night but, really, it's been an oddly lonely mixed bag up until last night. The insane amount of tutorial/tip text flitting by on the screen in the early going does not help things at all. Thursday evening is when I actually started having fun.

On Tuesday night, my first interactions with real-life humans were knocking out one male character in a fistfight — hey, he started it! — and then getting shot by another unseen dude. As funny as the weird Epsilon resurrection was, I wasn't too keen on just being a practice dummy for other players. Ok, so Passive Mode, then.

Passive Mode is a great option for people who just want to be voyeurs but it's actually a little too inactive. I wanted Passive Mode to let me do all of the game's stealing and shooting without having to worry about other players but it doesn't. It essentially turns you into another pedestrian but one driven by a human not AI programming. For better or worse, if I wanted to see the best of GTA Online had to offer, I was going to have to submit myself to the occasional random assault.

Drive-by shootings and sporadic muggings didn't happen that much. But the problem is, hardly anything else did either. The Quick Job option did reliably connect me to mission instances initiated by other players but then I either got kicked or lost connections. When I did play through the missions, things felt clumsy. In one instance of the Welcoming Party team escort job, it wasn't clear who was going to drive so there was a brief series of a clown car/Keystone Cops seat-shuffling before we hit the road. Then, after a few minutes of conflict-free driving to the location, the Loser text suddenly popped up on my screen. I had no idea why my team lost when the businessman we were driving home was safe and sound in our limo. You know how it is playing with strangers. There's that internal battle of how greedy/altruistic you should be, even when you're on the same squad. You get sick of giving people you've never met the benefit of the doubt. I was clear: I needed my friends.

GTA Online, Log #1: We're Connected But a Little Lost

My first GTA Online epiphany happened last night when I finally started playing without people I knew. But getting to the point where I could reliably jump into their game worlds took some doing. It took almost 30 minutes of screwing around with options and invites in both the Xbox menus and GTA phone contacts before Stephen Totilo and I figured out that that friends don't spawn into your world, even after they've accepted Xbox invites. The best way I've found so far to connect with a friend has been pulling them into your session with a job invite. What's hard to tell, though, is if this is the result of launch-week network wonkiness or a quirk of the system as it's meant to work.

So far, I've never seen more than 16 people at one time in my GTA Online world. The same was truehen I joined Stephen in his session, only the names of the players were completely different. That's a standard number for multiplayer match types but wound up feeling a bit underpopulated for a GTA game. That dissonance makes me think that the big promise of GTA Online — getting to wreak havoc in an online Rockstar universe filled to the brim with other humans — isn't being delivered on yet.

Nevertheless, getting into trouble with friends has been worth all the trouble so far. One repo mission that I did with another player was really fun. After reclaiming a pricey sportscar from the tonier sections of town, we went our separate ways to lose the cops. He returned his ride back to the dealership quicker, while I fell into a chain of cat-and-mouse chases. The cops were on my tail for what seemed like an eternity, and my erstwhile partner came back after he'd made his drop-off to try and get them off my tail. The cop AI seems a lot more aggressive in Online than in single-player but I finally shook them right by the dealership.

GTA Online, Log #1: We're Connected But a Little Lost

At this point, I'm a level 6 (I think) Thug and I've seen a fair amount of repetition in the available Job types. Lots and lots of races, deathmatch and team deathmatch events. Yes, the sports and activities can be good, time-wasting diversions but the most interesting missions seem to be the ones given by characters from the main game. Still, you wind up trying to generate some kind of amusement while waiting for those to pop up.

In its first few days, GTA Online feels like a tangled mess of systems that don't seem to be talking to each other right now. You and your buddies need to be in same session but it's not apparent at first why you can't see friends on map or when you can invite players to jobs. It's a big open world but one that feels under-populated when compared to its offline counterpart.


    I seriously can't play because of assholes. That's just it. If people were cool, it'd be fine, not terribly robust but fine. I don't mean "assholes" in the way of doing things you're supposed to; like mugging but more in the way of kicking people from games or incessent invites to things. It does seemingly represent a sort of public power fantasy for some people, they just want to control the world rather than participate in it. So far, i haven't had any fun whatsoever. I'm sure a lot of people with online friends are having a great time but all of mine own 360 versions and I have it on PS3.

      Ugh, I know how you feel. I only play in private sessions because as you said, they just want to control the world rather than participate in it. People just feel like they want to run around killing everyone which I can't fathom how that is fun for more than a few minutes. I feel for you bro. Try to make some new friends and get in a crew and play properly. Also, you can put a bounty on someone's head if they're bothering you, suddenly they'll have a huge target painted on their back.

        I got hunted and killed 5 times in a row by some ass who kept mocking everyone over the mic, I flew to the fort, stole a Jet and made his life a living hell by constantly putting a 1k bounty on him to stop him going passive. Once I lost the Jet the heavy lifter heli kept spawning at Trevors airfield, so I kept dropping cars on him or picking up his and flinging it in the ocean or putting it on top of buildings. (Then using my heli to ram his when he came to get it) I am not a griefer, but when you grief me I get creative xD

      A few tips for yourself and those that are having similar troubles. Try turning on and using a microphone. People are less likely to grief someone that speaks back. And if the lobby doesn't suit, you can press a few buttons and find a new one. But most helpful of all, is a crew that plays together. Myself and a few friends have formed a "biker gang" of sorts, we all hit one lobby, get on our bikes and ride around in a pack. Not many people want to mess with five guys on bikes, so we usually go by pretty well undisturbed. There are of course a few lobbies where some people are just being idiots and spending the whole time shooting each other, you just move on :) Also, if anyone's interested, our crew is called "The Sons of Disparity", we're open to anyone, but most of us are Australian based.

        I've also got a biker gang running were the "Los Venturas Vikings"

        I'd love to roll with some fellow bikers

      I've actually not had too much trouble with assholes on it, which is weird since I'm a girl and play as a girl on the Xbox servers. I expected to be hunted down until I rage quit. The fact I actually made FRIENDS in-game is shocking.

      It depends on what server you're on and what the player load is like, but I've heard that the PS3 servers are worse than the Xbox servers :( Can you maybe find a good clan on the social club and see if you can find some cool people to play with?

    So far, I’ve never seen more than 16 people at one time in my GTA Online world.

    That's the max player count.

    I figured out that that friends don’t spawn into your world, even after they’ve accepted Xbox invites.

    They should do, it works for me every time. The game obviously has issues at the moment.

    Still, you wind up trying to generate some kind of amusement while waiting for those to pop up.

    My party hasn't been wanting for a job once. Just call up the contacts in your phone and request a job.

      yeah this guy clearly doesn't know how to play

        Well that's kinda the point he was making though.. that it is a little complicated/difficult to work it all out when it should be simple and intuitive.

    Best way for any invites, mission or world is in the game not the xbox menus (Having a crew really helps this). Also it can be a bit slow at lower levels but hit 20+ and everything really starts to open up and missions get really epic! Also noticing helicopters and plans are getting better but not positive if that is higher level for just the game.
    Now they have fixed every death in a mission costing 2k its amazing... finally getting money!

      Now they have fixed every death in a mission costing 2k its amazing... finally getting money!

      This is awesome. I stopped playing missions or other online modes because I kept losing 2K each time. It made the whole thing pointless, especially when in some instances all you got was 2K for a mission. Hardly fun.

      Now it's a little better. Close to buying an apartment, but not sure which cool pad to get.

        There was a "bug" before the latest update that allowed you to repeat a coop mission as many times as you like. One particular favourite was "Violent Duct". It took 2 mins to complete with 4 people and gave everyone $9000 each time. It's no longer possible to repeat missions.
        I am on level 31 now and have the $400,000 apartment as well as a Vacca and Comet. All bought legit.

        Last edited 06/10/13 6:15 am

          I knew about that job but ironically it only came up literally right after the patch came out to release it for me. Which made no sense as I was level 22 but then already.

          Also is it true that the 391K has a better view? Which way does the 400K face?

            The $400k apartment faces north west. Not sure about the $391k.

            Last edited 06/10/13 4:39 pm

        Got an apartment past night. To confirm our suspicions, you can only own a single property at a time, garages included.

        Also, buy the property from the website, not the sign, if you want the achievement.

          Awesome! Thanks for the tip. Sorry I bailed out of the party last night. It gets too confusing when you have 2 separate survival games running. :)

          I also got the achievement for survival thanks to you guys. The barn did the trick!

            No probs, I don't like dual parties either. We got to wave 9 a few times but never 10

            Last edited 06/10/13 12:00 pm

              Darn. We managed on our first go. I can ask the other two guys to set one up and we can try together tonight if you'd like.

                Yeah, sure, I'll be on tonight. We could have finished it but we kept foolin around and trolling each other. It was hilarious.

                  Are you guys Xbox or PSN? I am looking for a casual crew to join but I'm on PSN and everyone I've wanted to team up with is on XBox :(

    Evan you noob. Start a "closed friend session" then send your friends invites either in-game or using the Xbox menus. They don't even have to recieve invites. They should be able to join you at any time. I have not had a problem starting sessions with friends AT ALL.

    I refuse to play with randoms. Only time I play with randoms is in jobs.

    Only gripe I have with this is that after doing a mission or job with friends it will put us all back into seperate online rooms with randoms instead of back into a closed friends session. I leave public games as soon as possible.

    Last edited 06/10/13 6:08 am

    Online is Rockstar's casino, they should not dare deny it. You have no real hope of saving 200k-400k to buy a good apartment because they've rigged it so you lose money easily. $2000 every time you die, including in team dm, meaning you should avoid those at all... cost. Online is purely built around cashing in with micro transactions. Note again that the online stock market is still mysteriously deactivated, wouldn't want people making money now.
    Rockstar has temporarily disabled micro transactions using some bug as an excuse, but what they are currently doing is starving people of money so that people will have a judgement-clouded appetitie when they bring them back on.

    The stock market is the key, if it comes back and isn't crippled in some way, then Rockstar will have redeemed themselves. But cue 3-day-later crash and have to take it down again...

    The security van and simeon's twin car delivery missions don't occur often enough, of course...
    There's the green car icon one, and the text with the 5 cars, and one seems to cancel the other out when it has been delivered, the green car is not one of the 5 cars in the text.

    My first online session, with people in it, involved me avoiding everyone I could and then being bombed by an F16 fighter jet.. luckily they were a bad shot and they eventually gave up.. but I was already on the defensive.. I decided to get out of the city and just rob convenient stores etc.. That works for a little while but to really earn the big bucks, you really have to get involved in the jobs with other people.

    So far the only jobs I've had access to are short, random missions for repo's or drug stealing etc.. whilst the vast majority of them seem to be centred around Team Deathmatch or Deathmatch.. which is not what I like to play, especially on a console.. if I had wanted that, I would buy a game of that type.. like CoD for instance.. not GTA. I like that there is the option but it seems, at this point at least, lop-sided towards TDM/DM matches in the content.

    I have progressed a little more in terms of socialising with the random people now and I have done a few missions with other people and for the most part it's been quite good. There have been a few people who will randomly come up and strafe me (in freemode) or whatever.. but it's not that common.. it's frequent enough to be on guard but infrequent enough that you're not driving around being constantly paranoid. Decent enough balance... at least for now.

    I am having difficulty the most because I don't have many PSN "connected" friends who play GTAV.. if I could get a handful.. like 3 or 4.. to play with, I think my experience would be much, much better.

      If you find people are killing you far too often in free roam, you can put yourself in a 'no kill' mode by pressing the Select button and scrolling down to what I think they call passive mode. It does cost $100 to activate, and you actually have to have the cash on you, rather than in the bank, but people won't be able to shoot you when you're on foot. It's not perfect, as they can still kill you when you're in a car (although I think they might be penalised for doing so), you can't activate it if you have a bounty on your head (I can see this being used to troll a lot in future), you can still be run over, and you need to turn it off to hold up any stores. It does have its uses though.

      Also, if you're looking for like-minded people to play with, it might be worth joining the Kotaku Australia crew ( There's a bunch of people playing on both 360 and PS3, and the majority have been quite friendly and welcoming from my experience.

      Last edited 08/10/13 12:17 am

        Awesome.. thanks for the crew link, I'll be sure to join.. I have joined another crew already but they are mainly XBox players. I did manage to get a good, solid 2 hours of gameplay with 2 other crew members last night and we racked up $250,000 and got me from level 7 to 12.. :)

    I've managed to get to level 23 and buy the 200k luxury apartment without too much trouble, you can actually start an invite only session so its impossible to get ganked by other players and no need to use passive mode.
    I've also noticed that sometimes NPC's will put bounties on you when you steal their cars, i had a 7k bounty on my head in an invite only session that i was the only person in...

    also you can still replay missions you just need to pull right trigger for quick replay after the mission ends but before it moves to the vote screen.

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