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First Impressions: Grand Theft Auto Online’s New Heist Mode

/ Mar 13th, 2015 No Comments

Just completing one of Grand Theft Auto Online’s new multi-stage cooperative heist missions feels like a heist in itself. So far, painfully long loading times, dropped games and uncooperative players have marred my initial experience. After hours of joining lobbies, scoping out Fleeca Bank, and stealing an armored vehicle for use in the heist itself, I still have yet to make off with a score.

The concept of the long-awaited heist mode is brilliant: team up with friends online to complete multi-stage capers for exorbitant scores. The leader of the heist is required to pony up cash to purchase weapons and equipment, and hire non-playable characters for the job. This player can also decide how much money to give each teammate when the job is complete.

The new mode is an obvious evolution of Grand Theft Auto V’s much-heralded single-player heists. In fact, Rockstar has been promising these missions for more than a year since the game’s initial release on last-gen consoles.

How Online Heists Work

You’ll be briefed on the heists by Lester, whose commentary is hilarious, annoying and disturbing, all at the same time. He even makes a quip about how content is being released months late:

“I know you’ve been complaining but you weren’t ready. Now, maybe, just maybe you are.”

Injecting the heist mechanics into an online space likely looked smoother on paper than in practice. It’s easy for developers to create cohesive heist experiences for one player, but mission design probably gets dicey when four players are thrown into the mix online.

Unlike standard jobs in which players pile into a car, drive to a destination, eliminate enemies, and transport items or vehicles to a drop point, a successful heist requires a handful of setup missions and a more measured approach during the caper itself.
 

Fleeca Bank Job

The introductory Fleeca Bank Job is the first score you’ll pursue in the new heist mode.

The first heist is simple: you and another player are tasked with holding up Fleeca Bank, which is located along the west coast of San Andreas. The target is a safety deposit box full of bonds that Lester has been eyeing.

But before bursting into the lobby with sawed-off shotguns and speeding off with the loot, you’ll need to ride with Lester and scope out the location. The player in the passenger seat is tasked with practicing a hacking mini-game that is used in the final heist mission.

In a second prep mission, you and your heist partner will steal an armored import car called the Kuruma. This is a relatively standard shoot-and-carjack mission that involves taking out a large group of gangsters, stealing the vehicle and transporting it back to Lester.

After both of these setup missions are complete, players can finally take on the heist itself.

Each teammate is given a specific role during the briefing. For the Fleeca Bank job, one player is designated as the “driver” and the other as the “driller.” The driver is responsible for, well, driving to the bank, shooting out a handful of security cameras inside and ensuring no bank employees hit the silent alarm. The driller must hack into the bank’s network and grab the score from a private security box.
 

Grand Theft Auto heists driller

The driller is responsible for breaking into a private security job during the Fleeca Bank Job.

With the contents of the security deposit box in possession, both players must hop in the car and lose their wanted level before bringing the bonds to Lester. Each player receives their respective cut after the mission is complete.

Sounds straightforward, right? I’ve found the missions rarely pan out as intended. But challenge and unpredictability are all part of the fun.

Robbing Blindly

Mission success hinges on team communication. The setup missions are relatively straightforward and require minimal coordination, but you’ll need to work as a cohesive unit to complete the heist itself.

The stakes are high, too. If one player dies during the setup missions and heist, the entire team will wipe out.

I was able to successfully scope out the bank and steal the armored vehicle with multiple groups of players, but I ran into difficulty during heist itself. On multiple occasions, my partner could not successfully hack into the network — perhaps one of the most critical steps in the mission. We didn’t even make it into the bank before the silent alarm was pulled.

I was paired almost exclusively with players who did not use their microphones. This spelled failure in all of our heist attempts.

The few times I was able to run setup missions with vocal teams, I was dropped from the lobby before we could complete the heist. Long loading times eventually weighed on my time and patience.
 

Grand Theft Auto heists

You’ll need to have good teammates in order to complete Grand Theft Auto’s new heists.

Personal frustrations aside, there is an incredibly deep online experience to be found in Grand Theft Auto Online’s new heist mode. While it might be tempting to try to pull off setup and heist missions with a group of random players, it’s obvious this mode was intended for cohesive teams of seasoned players.

You’ll need to have at least reached rank 12 to unlock the heist, and a high-end apartment is required. In fact, many of the planning cutscenes are held in the leader’s living room.

Once I tear my friends away from Destiny and convince them to hop into a heist with me, I’m sure I’ll be rolling in GTA Online heist dough. Until then, teaming up with a group of random players is a formula for disaster.

 

Anders Howmann

Anders Howmann

Associate Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Anders is a newcomer to the site and part of the news team. He's a proud graduate from CSU Fullerton.

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