Tips For Playing GTA V

Tips For Playing GTA V

Grand Theft Auto V is a very good game. It’s also really large and complex. Tons of things to do. Many sights to see. Lots of options. Think of it as a vacation. Can we give you some advice? Here are some tips for getting the most of out of GTA V. No spoilers, just some tips to make your play time as pleasant as possible.

This article has been updated and retimed with GTA V coming to Xbox Game Pass last week. 

Don’t Panic If You Missed Some On-Screen Tips

GTA V continues one of the series’ more annoying traditions of constantly popping up little tutorial and help messages in the margins of your TV while you are playing. Blink or stay focused on the in-game action and you’ll miss them. Don’t worry about it. You can read all of the game’s recent notifications in the pause menu. Just pause the game, select “Brief” and flip down to both “Help” and “Notifications.” Note that the option to read recent dialogue truncates the script, so if you find yourself missing what people are saying, turn on subtitles.

Play The Missions However You’d Like

There are no wrong steps in GTA V. You can play the game’s quests in any order, as soon as they become available. In short order, you’ll have multiple missions to choose from. Pursuing one will never lock off the others. Even the heist missions, which require you to choose how you want to approach them, can be easily replayed so that you can try a different approach. Nothing will ever be locked off from you. And once you finish the game’s main campaign, you can go back into the world and do any quests you haven’t done yet, play any mini-games you want more of. It will all still be there.

Switch Characters a Lot

Most of the major missions in the game can only be triggered by one of the game’s lead characters, so you’ll frequently feel the need to change from one to the next. Thankfully, the character-switches are swift. …some have specific missions, but, more importantly, this keeps things fresh and also shows you cool transitional sequences that add some colour to your characters.

If You’re Colour-Blind, Pay Attention To The Size of Your Map’s Icons

Each character’s missions are colour-coded on the map. That’s great if you can see the difference between orange, teal and navy blue. But what if you can’t? Then take note of the size of the mission icons on the map. If they’re big, the character you’re controlling can trigger them. If they’re small, they can’t.


Keep An Eye Out For Blue Dots On Your Mini-Map

Opportunities to start the game’s major quests pop up on your map and mini-map as capital letters. The well-made “strangers and freaks” sidequests pop up as question marks. These are all missions you can easily replay from the game’s mission replay menu. But you’ll just have to find the blue-dot missions in the world. These are smaller missions, but they too have some scripted lines of speech and even some entertaining little storylines.

They can even have long-term consequences, like adding a henchman to your available partners for your next heist or providing you a good tip for playing the game’s stock market. Some of these blue-dot missions will appear in set locations of the map. Others (the less important and interesting ones) can appear anywhere. To help catch your eye, the mini-map will flash when a blue dot appears. Stop what you’re doing and check it out. Also: the one involving the construction site appears to be one of the few things in the game that you can’t re-try if you fail it. You’ve been warned!

Listen For Stock Tips

You can make a lot of money in GTA V. Each character pulls in a haul from various crime missions and maintains a separate bank account that they can tap into to buy vehicles, guns and property. Each character can also buy and sell stock. It may sound boring, but you should try it. Go into any of the characters’ cell phones, navigate to the finance part of the web and start scanning the available lists of stocks. There are two stock markets”the Liberty City National Exchange and the BAWSAQ. You can buy and sell stock in either. The former is controlled internally by the game. The latter is affected by how other players are playing GTA V. It pulls data from the playerbase through the Rockstar Social Club, Rockstar’s online service that connects all their games. If, say, a certain make of car is being wrecked a lot in the game, then its manufacturer’s stock value will decline.

What you want to listen for are the game’s numerous hints and prompts regarding the value of stock in both markets. The game’s fake radio newscasters will mention the highs and lows of various companies. Use that intel. Some random missions that you come across may introduce you to people who will give out stock tips. Most clearly of all, a series of “assassination” missions provided by the character Lester always explicitly tell you how some company stock will be affected if you carry out the mission to, say, assassinate a rival CEO. Listen to Lester closely! And then invest before you assassinate… always a wise strategy.

But You’ll Have Plenty of Money, Regardless

Don’t care about the stock market? Don’t worry! You will rarely be short on money in GTA V. If you just play with whatever money you get from missions, you’ll have plenty to take taxis, buy guns and armour and modify your car. You won’t have enough money to buy the game’s most expensive properties and vehicles, but that’s not the end of the world.


Don’t Worry About Grinding Your Stats… Except For Driving

Each character has several stats that will upgrade based on how you use your character. Drive a lot and your driving stat improves. Get into fights or go running and your strength or stamina should increase. Most of this will come naturally. You’re not going to run into a mission that you can’t clear because your shooting skills aren’t good enough (even though Michael does keep asking Franklin to go to the practice range!).

The only skill that seems important to upgrade is the driving one, as it will make cars easier to handle. Get better at driving by… driving! That’s handy, because it means that if you keep screwing up at driving, you’ll get better. Also: learn to use Franklin’s driving skill, which you trigger by pressing in on both thumbsticks. It will slow down time and let you make hairpin turns. Hit the sticks again to turn it off so that you don’t spend all of it in one go.

Reply To Your Emails

You’ll get a lot of emails on your in-game mobile phones. Texts, too. You can’t reply to texts, but you can reply to a lot of the emails. You’ll know you can do this if your phone illuminates a reply button (a green one on the Xbox 360) while you’re reading a specific email. Press the reply button and you’ll be given a prompt to reply.

There’s actually no choice, just one reply option. Select it. This will push you through a few email chains with some of the game’s supporting characters. All of them flesh things out. They’re a small but useful touch for immersing yourself in the lives of Franklin, Michael and Trevor.

Stick Around To Listen To Conversations

Lots of characters in GTA V like to talk. Lots of these characters have a lot of lines”more lines than you’d expect. If you hear someone talking, whether you’re in a mission or just wandering through the game world, hang back and listen. You’ll be surprised how far some conversations go.

Do the Dom Sidequests

There are a lot of good sidequests in the game. Most of the strangers and freaks missions are well worth doing. One particularly good batch is tied to a character named Dom. Do his mission and you’ll wind up doing some of the most extreme things in the game. No spoilers. See for yourself!

And Try To Meet Characters As Different People

You may get in a groove of visiting certain characters as Trevor, Michael or Franklin. What you may not realise right away, though, is that you can meet some mission-givers as different characters. Some of the sidequest folks will actually dole out one mission per lead character. These are some of the most interesting missions in the game, because they show you how differently our three leads react to the same people. Seek them out.

Grab a Tank Or Fighter Jet Early, If You’d Like

Forget everything else and just have fun causing mayhem.


  • My tip is don’t play late at night if you live in high density housing. I was laughing my arse off last night playing at my brother’s place and we had to try and keep it down.

  • most important tip was missed, if you hated the way the cars handled in GTA4 dont buy this game, they made them worse.

    And the physics are screwed, hit a truck at full tilt = bounce off and no damage,
    hit a witches hat while cruising in the slowest car in the game (slower than the AI traffic) = you flip 50 metres in the air and land on your roof. (this can be repeatedly done)

    • I think the car handling is fantastic – if you don’t drive full tilt when you don’t need to and use the analogue inputs correctly you can cruise incident free rather easily.
      Franklin’s special ability makes it especially easy to hit stunt jumps and navigate intersections effectively.

      • Agreed. They refined the driving mechanics and for me, best of all, the camera is now centered on the car, not the player like in the previous installment.

        • One thing I’ve always disliked though is that the camera is a bit too low and while you can tilt it, it snaps back to being quite low.. I can live with that though and the camera position is definitely better.

          • There is an option for low and high camera in the pause menu – I did switch mine to high and found it much better.

          • It’s awesome!

            Only complaint some might have is that the hood cam is not centered. Which is odd given that they now centered the car camera.

          • MunKy bet me to it. The first thing I did was to explore the options and there’s now an option to put it higher.

            They’ve really thought of everything!

          • Oh that’s great – I’ve wanted a higher driving camera in GTA games for about 4 games now!

          • Have you tried changing the vehicle camera in the options? I hated the default low camera but found the option to set it to high in the pause menu. Got no issues now!

          • I find I always have my thumb tilting the camera up and looking around while I drive, habit from GTA4 trying to make it look cinematic for my mates.

          • For a laugh i like using the cinematic camera, circle button for PS and b button for Xbox correct me if I’m wrong, love the p.o.v of the cops chasing you!!!

      • Yup.. I’ve found the handling to be quite good also.. and if driving skills are something that can be improved, then I should eventually be able to make the hand-brake turns better than I have been. That’s the only thing I am really finding difficult with driving at the moment.. but I’ll get used to it, I’m sure.

        I like that there is some “skill” to driving and it’s not just easy-peasy from the outset.. In Sleeping Dogs, I think the driving was awesome but it became too easy, too quickly without much actual skill required. Only time will tell if things get better as the character skill gets better though 🙂

        • 1. Tap handbrake
          2. Tap regular brake
          3. Hold accelerator

          I found that works for me, it creates a nice controlled slide around the corner.

          I really struggled with the helicopter when I first flew one…very tiny inputs required.

      • agreed. It feels more San Andreas like over GTA IV which is a good thing. Easier to have long police chases if you’re not being bogged down by realistic handling that gives you a turning circle of an aircraft carrier when going at high speed

    • I found that the handling got better a few hours in, I think as the driving stat got boosted.

      The worst thing about the driving for me (on 360) was the choppiness with loading / frame rate issues. Doesn’t feel very smooth at all to me.

      • Did you happen to do a disc install on the play disc? If so, I’d recommend removing the install and just playing without. Having the play disc install actually makes the game run worse, and I’ve had absolutely no problems with loading or frame rate playing without the play disc install.

        • Actually.. I think I saw some official announcement that you should NOT install the play disc. Just use the install disc to install the initial 8GB and then play from the play disc without installing.

    • I’d like to point out I hit a truck head on last night – went flying through the windshield, bounced off the side of the truck, and died instantly. Apparently, ymmv…? And I love the way the cars no longer handle like soaped bricks. Some, like the infernus(? – the Lamborghini clone) feel appropriately weighty, but still speedy once you get them opened up on a straight. Granted, the witches hats are a bother, and can cause you to roll quite easily… but either you’re experiencing some weird glitches, expressing yourself via hyperbole, or have little idea how far 50 metres actually is.

      • or… as i said since i can reproduce the errors the game has screwy physics, i did the same thing 5 times in a row to prove it could be done, and if anything i under stated how high i flew… did you ever get the glitch in Red Dead where the wagon would for no reason fly hundreds of metres in the sky? its pretty much that.

        and not sure if you have ever driven a real car or not, but both GTA5 and 4 handle like bricks on ice.

        • I don’t think I ever saw that glitch in RDR… but it sounds something like being hit by a giant in Skyrim. Witches hats have made me flip and roll, but never get flung that far – the furthest I’ve experienced is landing (maybe) five metres away, reaching about two metres. I apologise for the antagonistic tone in my last comment, it was uncalled for, but people do tend to exaggerate bugs like this. A less generalising phrase than “the game has screwy physics” might be preferable, as it sounds like you’re giving examples from a large set of issues, rather than simply a couple of situations where the physics bug out?

          And, while my experience of driving has been largely limited to a 4×4, a sedan, and a hatchback (fwiw – I’ve not needed my license since I started Uni), and I have no idea how a real supercar would “feel” (despite how many episodes of Top Gear I watch :D), I did get a distinct NFS vibe from driving some of the cars around the mountain roads. The cornering could be a little sharper, but apart from that I saw no real reason for complaint. I won’t argue that GTA IV’s cars felt like “bricks on ice”, as you put it, but they’ve vastly improved it for GTA V, to the point of being pretty fun to drive, which is good enough for me.

          • That’s a fair point, but its something i went out of my way to actually prove it wasn’t a once off i replicated it 5 times at different witches hats. (To myself that is)
            And yes the RDR glitch was very similar to the skyrim giant thing, and now my “GTA5 witches hat” issue.

            I apologise for the snyde remarks about you’re driving, i get snarky when people take a dig at me unfoundedly.

            See in the supercar thing, i’ve actually driven a few, the last being a 2012 lambo galardo LP560, they actually stick to the road beautifully at high speeds….

            And i plan to give it another go like i said, but if it has improved since IV i didn’t notice, other than the characters “power”

          • I tried to find the right word to avoid having to clarify what I mean when I say “situations”… “Instances”? “Cases”? Lack of sleep on my part, I suppose. I’m not saying they’re once-off glitches – I know you repeated them to check that they weren’t. I mean you’re demonstrating two problems in the system. Demonstrating one of those problems repeatedly doesn’t make it more than one problem – it just makes it reproducible. So saying that GTAV has screwy physics because of two bugs isn’t accurate, that’s all.
            And, if you’ve had experience with supercars, then you have more experience than the average person playing this game, and therefore likely have different expectations. I’m basing my expectations purely off video observation and the fact that it’s a tonne and a half of metal and rubber flying down a rough, inadequately cambered road at 150-200kmph, so it turns about as well as I’d expect under those circumstances.

    • Really? I disagree entirely. They finally perfected the driving in the game. The cars handle great for me.

      • The cars are fine, but the bikes are very different to IV. I thought they were spot on then, now, the bikes are too much like Saint Row 2– awkward and somewhat clumsy.

        • I completely disagree, I feel that the bikes were the strongest improvement for the game, and feel nothing like SR. Overall I feel the driving in this game is probably the best its been in the whole series, that said I had no problem with IV.

          • The driving is fantastic, though I didn’t really have a problem with it as such last time around. But there is definitely a different feel with the bikes, I can’t quite put my finger on it. At speed, it’s not so bad, the lean is nice and responsive but at low speed, there’s something very different compared to the way they handle in IV.

            Speaking of which, wtf is up with the rocking on the helicopters?? I know they’ve added turbulence into the flight models and helicopters do react slightly differently when hovering over different types of terrain, as they would in real life, but there seems to be a constant rocking/jinking that is terrifically hard to stop. Just the helicopters, not the other aircraft. I thought it was overcorrection at first, but it does it on it’s own without any input from the controls.

            Then again, my 360’s not connected to the web generally, so if there have been any post release updates, I’ve yet to take advantage of them.

          • No updates thus far. I completely agree, the helicopters are so finicky this time around, so much so that outside of missions that require them, I avoid them like the plague. Planes fly just like they should imo, but helicopters are weird, the rocking is disconcerting and the game constantly puts you in missions where precision flight/landing or picking up cargo is required.

    • You’re completely incorrect. The cars handle exponentially better than the boaty hunks of crap in GTA4. I guess an opinion is an opinion, even if only one person on the planet has it.

  • Firstly, thanks for keeping this almost entirely spoiler free.. very good tips without giving too much away.

    Yes.. the Language factor in this game, despite it being a GTA game and R rated in Australia, is a little over the top.. I think the F word was used at least 50 times in the first 10 minutes of the game.. I found it a bit of a shock to the system how much the F word (and other words of this kind) were thrown around. I ended up wearing headphones despite the only other person in the household being my wife.

    • You should try it with kids and no headphones available for the PS3. Even waiting until the little darlings were in bed did me no good, as my 12 year old kept sneaking out to have a look….. “F**K N****R F**K N****R F**K N****R F**K N****R F**K N****R F**K N****R”.

      You could say my first play didn’t net me any significant progress once the dirty looks from the Mrs started to occur. 🙁

      • Hehe.. I have played about 45mins in total I think.. my wife decided that she had to watch the final two Burn Notice episodes and an episode of Breaking Bad last night.. so yeh.. I got through the prologue and the very first mission and that was it.. then this morning before work, I managed to get 30 minutes in.. lol

    • I compared the first 2 hours of gameplay to watching a couple episodes of “the boondocks” there’s even a point where lamar says “nyaukka” just like uncle ruckus….. man i was in fits at that.

      But i found the language to be unnecessarily over the top (and im for people swearing whenever the hell they want), my missus even asked me”do they really talk like that? wouldn’t it get tiring?”

      So after 4 hours, between the constant language and the horrible controls i actually lost interest in the game and walked off to go read.

      might give it another shot tonight see if it gets any better but if not then i will be taking it back to EB to be swapped for ARMA3 i think.

    • lol last night I finally used Trevor. Holy cow.

      Every second word is F and every other word than that is a swearword lol. Definitely be wary of volume!!!

  • Potentially more disconcerting for the sensitive and young is the amount of raunch in the game. Interactive violence is, for better or worse, old hat. But sexy, interactive lapdances presented in a first-person view are unusual for games and just might make things awkward if you’re playing the game in front of the wrong people

    This point has really been ticking over in my mind for a while now. The thing that gets to me most, it is 100%, absolutely true.

    I can run down swathes of pedestrians, leaving their skull imprinted on the hood of my car in blood, set people on fire, blow people into pieces, murder as many people as I can [this isn’t just GTA, any game], and my wife will sit there and not blink an eye.
    Yet, if I walk into a strip club and get a lap dance in GTA, holy hell will the shit hit the fan……
    Even though I know she probably wouldn’t really care, the fact that nudity and sex will elicit a response, yet massacring as many people as possible is considered ok…..
    And it’s not just my wife. I actually feel like I’m doing something wrong myself so much more when I go to the strip club, like it’s something I have to hide from her because it’s so naughty.
    That’s what really start’s to creep me out, there’s clearly some issues in society which need sorting out…

    • Yeah, beating the christ out of someone has never really been a problem, but the second someone sees a nipple, it’s on like Donkey Kong. It’s pretty shit. I mean, look what happened with BMX XXX way back when. No one had a problem with beating people to death…

      • Ahhh BMX XXX…… wow, that brings back memories….. I think my 16 year old soul was crushed when I saw those damn black bars! haha….. What a waste of $5 from Video Ezy…..

  • You should note that you can’t download the iFruit app if you have an Android phone. Only iPhone atm. Makes sense with Android having a higher market share. That’s the only bad thing I can say about the game right now

    • I haven’t been able to login consistently and it resets any progress I’ve made every time I do login so far anyway – at this stage you aren’t missing much.
      Here’s hoping an Android version is actually on the way and they’ve limited it initially just to rectify server or backend issues. There is a much larger market for this on Android like you’ve stated.

  • So disappointed that they dumbed the driving down and seemingly removed vehicle damage. GTA IV was by no means perfect in that regard, but with a bit of tweaking to make faster cars more responsive and just generally more like sports cars, it’d be amazing.

    Personally I don’t understand why everyone complains about GTA IV driving, I absolutely loved it. Sure it had a much higher skill ceiling, but it was better for it. Pulling off manoeuvres was far more rewarding and getting into a massive crash during a police chase and totalling your car was part of the fun.

    Now we’re stuck with a sort of hybrid between GTA IV and Saints Row driving… Which I’ve always though was absolutely awful. Cars have no character and are so responsive that it actually hinders my driving style when a slight adjustment becomes incredible oversteer. GTA IV’s driving had my favourite mechanics outside actual racing games (better than some, even).

  • How can I change the miles to KMS?

    I cant seem to find the option

    I thought the Scots used kms, even if the game is set in the US

  • I remember in one of the paparazzi missions, when you have to film someone bent over a table.. I was thinking back to the idiot parents buying this game for kids who didn’t look a day over 10.

  • If, say, a certain make of car is being wrecked a lot in the game, then its manufacturer’s stock value will decline.
    Can I just say, this is unexpectedly awesome? I’m just imagining a world-wide concerted effort to crash specific cars just to game the system… Unlikely, I know, but one can dream…

    But it’s things like this that amaze me about GTA V’s world – it actually feels like a living world. You can hear the occasional siren, and occasionally police are visible chasing other criminals – the police aren’t just there, prowling, watching, waiting for you to do something (although they still seem to appear out of nowhere if you start getting chased). You run someone over during a chase on your way past a hospital, and you see the ambulance leave to respond.

    I’m not sure how long the illusion will last, but it’s working so far.

      • I wonder if this will also happen with items bought in stores, like with clothing.. buy enough of a certain brand of watch and see the stocks rise for that company..

      • That might happen eventually anyway… swerving to miss them is more trouble than it’s worth, as long as you’re not on a bike yourself.

  • Are any of you having issues with the Share markets? I know it’s said in several places to listen carefully to he dialogue before certain undertaking certain jobs because you can capitalise on specific stocks after your mission. But I’m finding my Bawsdaq is constantly down for maintenance (is that the online one?) and some stock, like iFruit in particular, aren’t even listed on the LCN. I’ve seen that some players have had glitches that show their stocks don’t change, even after a 7 day in-game period, even after completing jobs, but I’m finding some don’t even show up at all…

  • Just something to note. The driving skill doesn’t increase if you screw up. It’s goes up based on driving well. So if you are screwing up and the skill is increasing, than that is based on the good driving before you screwed up.
    So lvling driving is far easier when driving well and will take much longer if you are crashing every 10 seconds.

    Source: The in game tutorial states that good driving without crashing increases your stat.
    Also I have full driving on all of my chars without any ‘grinding’ and I’m still early/mid game.

  • Play The Missions However You’d Like

    Not true at all. The Assassination missions lock off after you finish the main story line. And the therapist sessions lock off at certain points in the game. There could be more, I don’t know, but this advice is wrong.

    • The first lesson of Journalism 101 brought to you by @kotakuinternational; CTRL + C closely followed by CTRL + V is your best friend

    • Hi from the future, this comment sure was prophetic… shoulda seen it coming.

  • probably because a lot of people would get getting new games for christmas and stuff…. doubly so with gta somewhat recently being re released for this gen console

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