Grand Theft Auto Online is always being updated. Every week new events and discounts go live, and many recent updates have also added new modes. Here's a roundup of some of the modes added in the last few months. Many of these newer modes show GTA Online continuing to head into an interesting direction, including a mode that seems to be built specifically for fans of Cops 'n' Crooks from GTA 4.
Deluxo, Stromberg & Thruster Races
Added 1 May 2018
The Deluxo, a flying car that looks like a Delorean; The Stromberg, a submersible super car; and the Thruster, the long-awaited jetpack, were all added to GTA Online in the Doomsday Heist update back in December 2017. Five months later, Rockstar added 10 new stunt races featuring these over-the-top vehicles.
The submersible car races are my favourite. The Stromberg handles well both under the waves and on the track. The Stromberg races also balanced the underwater sections and the above water sections nicely.
As cool as a submersible car is, after a few minutes the lack of speed and danger slows the race down, so Rockstar smartly limited how often you dive under the waves.
The best use of the submersible car is during a giant vertical drop into the ocean. Timing when to switch the car into sub mode as you are falling 160+km/h and then crashing into the ocean is exciting.
Visually, The Deluxo flying car might have the coolest-looking race tracks. Drenched in neon and trippy tunnels, I felt like I was driving through an '80s nightclub. Flying around in The Deluxo isn't easy at first, but once I got the hang of it I was even able to win a few races.
Of these 10 new special races the most disappointing were the jetpack races. The Thruster is a fun vehicle to mess around with, but it isn't great as a racing vehicle.
The community seems to agree, as I was able to find active lobbies of Deluxo races and Stromberg races but had to wait 10 minutes to find one other player who wanted to race jetpacks.
Added 15 May 2018
Trap Door is basically a team deathmatch mode played in large arenas filled with cover. What makes Trap Door different is that throughout the match areas of the map, coloured red, will disappear. Players who fall through these "trap doors" will be unable to respawn.
Kills aren't the main focus of Trap Door; instead the mode is about positioning and pinning down players, forcing them into areas where their options for escape are limited while also avoiding the red danger areas yourself.
Unfortunately, matches sometimes become too focused on camping and hiding. The arenas also aren't super memorable or interesting to fight in.
The biggest flaw I ran into while trying to play Trap Door is the lobby before the shooting even begins. In Trap Door, matches can start with only two or three players, which means if the host of the match isn't paying attention, a match can start with 2 vs 1. This can happen even if the host has "balanced teams" on.
Considering how not many fans continue playing older modes, this problem may only become worse as fewer players come back to Trap Door.
On foot combat focused modes in GTA Online can be very hit and miss. A lot of them feel less like new modes and more like slightly reskinned deathmatches. Trap Door feels different and at times tense, but a few problems keep it from being great.
The Vespucci Job
Added 17 April 2018
One of the most popular and beloved modes from GTA 4's multiplayer was Cops 'n' Crooks.
For years fans have wanted this mode brought back into GTA Online. Some information came out last year that seemed to imply that at one point Rockstar was actually planning to make a version of GTA Online that would have been heavily inspired by Cops 'n' Crooks, but that version was scrapped.
Now, all these years later, GTA Online has finally received a mode that is similar to Cops 'n' Crooks. As someone who loved the original mode in GTA 4, The Vespucci Job isn't a perfect alternative, but it's still a blast to play.
The basic idea is the same: A team of cops and a team of criminals face off against each other. The cops are trying to catch the crooks.
But now instead of trying to escape, the criminals are trying to reach 15 checkpoints dotted around the map, which the police can't see, in a limited amount of time. Unlike Cops 'n' Crooks, The Vespucci Job is played entirely in cars and players can't use any weapons.
The lack of weapons is a plus, as it forces all players to focus on the vehicle pursuit instead of trying to nail a lucky headshot. Cops have to use their squad cars and the environment to slow down and stop the criminals.
If a criminal or cop gets stuck, they can respawn, but criminals lose 20 seconds for doing so.
While I understand that letting criminals respawn keeps matches from feeling too frustrating, as a cop it was disappointing to use teamwork and skilful driving to catch a criminal in a tight alley, only for them to respawn away to safety. Maybe limiting criminals to one respawn or making the penalty for respawning greater would help.
Nearly every match I played had the criminals winning. The only time I won was when criminals would forget to respawn and would instead try to push their way through a blockade of police cruisers. Some rebalancing could help this mode become even better.
Weeny Issi Classic Races
Added 19 June 2018
The latest addition to GTA Online is a series of races featuring the Weeny Issi Classic, which is a car based on the real life Mini Cooper.
The car is famously featured in the film The Italian Job, a movie which Rockstar has a connection to. Not only is the recently-added The Vespucci Job mode clearly inspired by the film, but Rockstar also published a game in the US in 2001 based on the original film.
The Weeny Issi is a hard-to-control small car that will almost always want to spin out around fast turns. Controlling the little beast can be tricky, but once I was able to get a handle on it, I had a great time racing around the new tracks.
One of my favourite tracks involves a giant soccer field that even has a soccer ball on it. The track weaves through the field a few times and forces players to dodge oncoming racers. It almost feels like a match of Rocket League, but with less rocket cars and more Mini Coopers.
The new tracks aren't as wild or hard as some previous tracks, but that's probably for the better. A lot of the fun in these Weeny Issi races is driving in a full match filled with out of control Mini Coopers flying around tight turns and big jumps.
As I was heading through a colourful and floating neon tunnel in a flying car and then later fighting on top of a shrinking platform high above a lake, I did think about how different these newer races and modes feel from past GTA content. A lot of the new content added into GTA Online over the last year or so has felt like it could have fallen out of an unreleased Saints Row game.
That isn't a bad thing. I enjoy Rockstar experimenting more with their multiplayer modes. Not all of these new more experimental modes are winners, but I'm still happy that Rockstar is doing more with GTA Online beyond more street races and deathmatch variants.
I really hope to see this type of experimentation continue, not just in future GTA Online updates, but in the upcoming Red Dead 2.