GTA Online received an update this week that added a brand new co-op racing mode, Target Assault. Usually I'm not a big fan of co-op modes in GTA Online - my friends aren't always playing, and teaming up with randoms can be frustrating. Target Assault, however, is perfect for lone wolves.
Target Assault is an entirely new mode that feels unlike any previous racing or co-op offering in GTA Online. The basic setup: Two players work together using weaponised vehicles. Each vehicle has mounted turrets. One player drives and races against other drivers, while their partner uses the turret to shoot colourful targets placed all around the track. Different colours and sizes represent different point values, with smaller targets doling out the biggest scores.
Shooting targets is satisfying, especially when you're on areas of the track with dozens of targets all spread out. Rockstar has even hidden some targets in tricky, hard-to-see areas, such as billboards or in trees. Finding these targets was fun and sometimes it would take a few laps before I got everything.
While using the turrets, participants can't blow up the other cars or hurt other players. This is great decision as it allows the shooters to focus on targets and the drivers to focus on racing and positioning.
Drivers have an entirely different job: Staying ahead of other racers and keeping their car controlled so the shooter has an easier time hitting marks. Drivers can also score points by hitting checkpoints along the race route. Drivers in first get more points than drivers in last place. So if your shooter is doing terribly, you can offset their lack of target shooting by winning laps.
After each lap, drivers and shooters automatically swap mid-race. This is where Target Assault becomes really fun. I had races where I was shooting the first lap and my driver started aggressively bumping another driver. When we switched that other driver must have told their shooter to start bumping me, because I suddenly had to fight to stay on the road.
While a driver can score points, the real key to winning is having a competent shooter who hits targets frequently. So if your gunner is not shooting targets or focusing on other cars, you will probably have a tough time winning. But for the most part my races included people who could effectively shoot and drive, which led to a lot of great matches.
Target Assault is technically a co-op mode, but you can easily play this mode without a mic or any communication - which means that you can play it with strangers without much hassle. I did occasionally use my horn to signal shooters to turn around and shoot upcoming targets instead of trying to hit missed targets behind them, but the mode really seems perfect for those who jump into GTA Online alone.
Target Assault feels different and experimental. With fears from the community that GTA Online's updates will end soon once Red Dead Redemption 2 rolls around, it seems Rockstar is trying to convince players GTA Online still has plenty of life left in it.