Seven Ways Rockstar Can Improve Grand Theft Auto Online
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 Times
This 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 Together
One 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 together
Place Players Near Objectives
I'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 Stakes
Since 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 Missions
In 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 Mode
Passive 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 Homes
My 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?