The lights are on
As I detailed in my impressions piece, Grand Theft Auto has
an amazing amount of potential. With 16 concurrent users, hundreds of missions,
and the promise of user-created content, I could envision this becoming my
go-to multiplayer game for years to come.
But given that creating an online experience of this
magnitude is uncharted territory for Rockstar, it still has a lot of kinks to
work out. Outside of the need to overcome the technical difficulties still
being experienced by several players, I think these seven changes would go a
long way to improving GTA Online.
Optimize Load TimesThis one is tricky given the amount of servers Rockstar is
juggling in the face of unprecedented demand. Right now the load times are
abysmal, whether you are jumping into Grand Theft Auto Online for the first
time, migrating sessions, matchmaking, or moving through playlists. To aid the
user experience, these need to be cut down as much as possible and the user
interface should be streamlined so there are less loading bottlenecks.
Keep Friends TogetherOne of the biggest annoyances we've faced in GTA Online thus
far is keeping an Xbox Live party together while moving from playlist sessions
to the open world. Far too often, groups are split up when entering the open
world, which then requires patience from all parties involved to get the band
back together. First, you need to settle on which friend's session you are
going to reconvene in. Then, the players need to sit through another long load
to get into world. Rockstar needs to prioritize keeping these groups together
to lessen the downtime
This goes for competitive team modes as well. When I enter a
team deathmatch, I expect my friends to be on the same team. This is rarely the
case right now. If Rockstar integrated a system like the posses in Red Dead
Redemption, it would also go a long way toward keeping crews and friends
Place Players Near ObjectivesI've lost track of how many times I've accepted a mission,
waited for the session to populate and load, and then had to drive 15 minutes
before we reach the destination. Starting a group a little ways away from the
destination makes sense if you want to give players the option to load up at
Ammu-nation, but unleashing players on the other side of the world just wastes
everyone's time. Surely, a happy medium exists.
Raise The StakesSince so many jobs offer paltry financial rewards, a lot of
players are just grinding on the few boring ones like Violent Duct that reward
them with big payouts. After all, everything in GTA Online is about the
almighty dollar. How else are you going to afford that $400,000 high-rise
condominium? To help discourage grinding and keep players trying new things,
Rockstar should rebalance the payouts.
Prioritize New MissionsIn the opening 10 hours of GTA Online, you can't escape the
grip of déjà vu. Too frequently, Simeon and Gerald implore to you steal the
same car model, break up the same drug deal, and shoot up the same gang. The
GTA Online job system should recognize which missions a player has already
performed and introduce new ones more frequently instead of offering the same
three or four missions ad nauseam until players achieve much higher ranks.
Fix Passive ModePassive mode is a great option for players who want to avoid
engaging other players in favor of shopping for clothes, tattoos, guns, and car
detailing. But there's one problem - it doesn't work. Several players have
reported still being shot to death while driving in passive mode and meeting
their demise from getting run over while on foot. These circumstances betray
the fundamental concept of passive mode, so if Rockstar wants people to use it,
the developers better fix it.
Let Us Run In Our HomesMy condo in GTA Online is pretty big, and it can take a
while to move from the couch to the front door to buzz in a friend. In the
open-world covering, you can sprint to move quickly from point A to point B,
but for some reason Rockstar doesn't allow running in your home. This small
change can't take too much programming time, can it?
Email the author Matt Bertz, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.