10 things you need to know before playing Grand Theft Auto Online

Ready or not

GTA Online was mostly a big question mark prior to its release on October 1--Rockstar assured folks that it would be spectacular, but that was it. And we had every reason to believe them. GTA 5 was an amazing game, filled with fantastic characters and blah blah blah. But once it was over, there was a distinct lack of stuff to do. Thats where GTA Online was supposed to pick up the slack.

October finally saw us get some quality time with the online mode, and things didnt exactly turn out as expected. Wed prepared for what we thought the games online multiplayer had to throw at us, but even that didnt completely prevent a few bumps and bruises. Turns out theres a few things you need to know before playing GTA Online. Such as...

Preventing random people from attacking you costs money

Surprise! If you want to stop people from shooting you in the head whenever they feel like it, you have to pay. You have to drop $100, to be exact. Thats assuming you have $100 on your person, and it may be worth it just to beat a few folks senseless to get that money.

If you dont have Passive Mode active, youre free game for all those that might want to kill you while you mill about doing whatever your heart desires. An easy way to bypass this would be to play in a session filled only with friends, but we can't guarentee they wont attempt to mow you down. Theres no telling exactly how friendly your friends are, so your mileage for this workaround may vary.

Avoid ATMs at all costs

Of all of the artifacts from reality that litter Los Santos, banking in general is arguably the one that plays the biggest role in multiplayer. See, GTA Online has a banking system where folks cant steal your banked cash. If youre walking around with cash and someone decides to make a splatter on the sidewalk out of you, youre going to lose that cheddar.

This makes ATMs a hotspot for newer players, since they allow you to keep what's yours. It also means that griefers like to camp out around them. The game even suggests heading to an ATM to deposit your cash, despite the fact that you have phone banking available to you right there. In short, deposit cash via your phone at all times, and never visit the ATM.

Dont be a troll or youll only play with other trolls

As with any online game, GTA Online has its fair share of trolls. There will be people willing to sit outside your apartment with tanks, various convenience stores, and generally attempt to make your day worse at every turn. Its to be expected--this is the internet, after all.

The way in which GTA Online deals with this is both potentially frustrating for trolls and awesome for everyone else. Rather than ban them outright, Rockstar sorts players into Good Sports and Bad Sports. Bad Sports play in their own special lobby, so the trolls only get to troll trolls. If youre looking to actually participate in co-op missions without a high likelihood of getting shot by fellow players at the end, dont be a Bad Sport. It's that simple, people.

Theres a distinct lack of heists

If you go looking around the internet, chances are good that youll find a multitude of questions about whether GTA Online has Heists--the intricate robbery missions from Grand Theft Auto V--and how to unlock them. It was, after all, one of the few promises of GTA Online, and the ability to rob banks with friends sounds like a dream come true. Problem is, they haven't been released yet.

Rockstar is on record as saying that theyre coming in a later update, but that doesnt make holding up a convenience store for the fifth time any less boring. Your best bet is to hone your personal skills and work on your Crews teamwork. If you cant efficiently steal a bunch of meth from some bikers, what chances do you have at taking down a truly big score?

Rockstar will ask you to spend real money on fake money, but you should wait...

Low on funds? Never fear! Rockstar is totally willing to suggest you spend a little cash to get a little cash, as it were. If youre attempting to upgrade your car but dont have the money, the game will ask if youd like to buy money to make your purchase. Easy, right? Technically.

Look, we understand that this kind of thing can be tempting--its not like we havent bought our fair share of digital goods in the past. But GTA Online is essentially promising nothing but more chances to make money, and the majority of content is locked behind various roadblocks. So, our recommendation is just to wait it out for now. Do you really need that apartment this very instant? Were willing to guess the answer is no--plus, your big payday is right around the corner, anyway.

...because youre getting $500,000 in Digital Cash just for playing

In order to apologize to their players for launch issues and attempt to entice even more people to the service, Rockstar will be giving $500,000 in digital currency to GTA Online players during the month of October. That's a bailout we can get behind.

Remember when we said not to dip into microtransactions just yet? This is another perfect example of why. According to Rockstar, this will appear in two chunks, and anyone that plays during the month of October will allegedly be eligible. Since no payments have been made just yet, its hard to say where the exact cutoff will be. Either way, thats a lot of spending money with which to play around. Combined with earnings made from actually playing the game, it should last a little while at least.

You don't need to be a good driver to win races

As it turns out, people are ridiculously bad at driving in GTA Online. Most car upgrades require players to win a bunch of races or higher ranks, and the actual driving skill only goes so far. Just like in real life, people can and will be terrible drivers. Like, the worst. Why are you even on the road?

Even if youre bad, there are definitely people worse than you. Case in point: Only three players completed our initial race thanks to one sharp turn that ended up in a ditch. All you need to do is drive a little more conservatively than the rest of the players youve been matched against, and youll do better and better. Going fast is great, but control is the most important part of driving.

Your body is always ready for body armor

The entire game is built around shooting others and getting shot at. Its no surprise that anything that stops bullets, such as body armor, is an amazing thing to have whenever hectic situations arise. Even if you can only grab the cheapest set of armor, its worth it.

Theres one very good reason you should always have body armor. A startling number of players rely entirely on the assisted aiming feature that sends bullets in the general direction of an opposing players torso. Body armor stops some of this pain from happening. It depletes quickly, and getting hit by a car somehow takes away body armor, but every penny spent is a headache saved. Trust us: Get body armor as soon as you possibly can.

Theres a surprisingly large number of friendly people

Successfully booting up GTA Online for the first time, we figured there would be players waiting to grief us from Los Santos to Blaine County Itd be easy for the first mission where you intentionally or accidentally invite complete strangers to your party to descend into chaos. This is Grand Theft Auto, after all, and were talking about people with some semblance of anonymity on the Internet.

Oddly enough, the number of positive interactions we have had far outweigh the negative. Theres yet to be a single mission where someone tried to take off with our share of the loot. This might be due to the servers sorting folks into Good Sports and Bad, but its definitely both an unexpected and happy result.

Theres a less surprisingly large number of horrible people

Similar to our point about being a good driver, the players youll be grouped with arent necessarily going to be the best in the world. In fact, theres a very good chance theyre going to be kind of incompetent. This means that theyre just going to generally be worse than you at, well, everything so long as youre paying attention.

Playing a deathmatch game? Just tilt your reticle up a little bit to try for a headshot. The number of people relying on assisted aiming alone is ridiculous. Expect lots of whining over how they totally had armor and that youre cheating because youve won so handily if you take this advice. If you like to bathe in the tears of your frustrated enemies, GTA Online is definitely for you.

Here comes the boom

These are a few of the tips weve come up with thanks to our time with GTA Online. Were willing to bet there will be more going forward as Rockstar continues to update their service, and its likely we missed some. What kind of unexpected results have you seen? Be it players waiting in tanks outside your apartment, or maybe just some odd AI behavior, let us know!

And while you're here, why not check out some of our related (and tenuously related stuff)? Try out The Top 7... Mini-bosses who were better than the final boss, and then maybe take a look at How to be a video game guard: A professional guide.