When ranking the multitudes of missions in GTA V in terms of pure enjoyment, it’s no surprise that Heist missions, with their intense gunfights and high stakes, make their way to the top.
After all, these missions are not one-off events but involve completing several preparation-related missions that coalesce to bring about a spectacularly executed heist.
Whether we’re talking in the context of GTA Online or single-player, heists have always represented climactic points in the GTA storyline. That being said, there are a total of six heists in single-player, with The Big Score being the last of them.
Of course, knowing how Rockstar amps up the stakes with each proceeding heist, it’s fair to assume that The Big Score is the grandest heist you’ll ever get to do in single-player. After all, Lester himself describes it as something that will “go down in history” should the main protagonists pull it off successfully. Welcome to a GTA V The Big Score Guide.
The Big Score Overview
The Big Score heist involves robbing none other than the Union Depository, one of the most important financial institutions in Los Santos, on par with the Federal Reserve in Washington DC.
While one could attribute the motivation for doing such a high-risk, high-reward mission to the hefty payout, those who’ve stuck around with the protagonists long enough will know that this has always been a dream of theirs.
When the protagonists made strides in crime during their younger days, they dreamt of something they called the “Victory Tour.”
The “Victory Tour” was what they called their ambition of pulling off a series of heists or “scores” such that their names would go down in history, for good reasons or bad. But of course, that dream was cast aside by Micheal after the crew fell apart following the mess up in North Yankton depicted in the game’s prologue.
Moreover, even after reuniting with his old criminal partners, Trevor was the only one ambitious enough to complete the Victory Tour. In contrast, Micheal wanted to stay away from his old ways.
As hard as Micheal tried to stay earnest, he was inevitably dragged back into the underworld. It all began when he dismantled Martin Madrazo’s mansion in a blind rage towards his wife’s affair, consequently incurring the massive debt of repairing Martin’s property – it all spiraled out of control from there.
He went on a series of heists across the GTA V storyline, some to repay a debt, some to get the FIB off his back, and some to clean up somebody else’s mess.
Seeing Micheal’s regression to his criminal self, the idea that he would eventually agree to Trevor’s ambition of completing the Victory Tour became not so far-fetched.
Planning The Big Score
Although The Big Score heist takes place towards the end of the game, a key reason why it’s a late-game mission is because of the multiple side stories that the protagonists play a part in across the game.
Particularly, since Micheal is the leader of the group, a significant reason why the heist was delayed for so long was that he is mainly preoccupied with Meltdown, a movie (or a passion project) that he’s producing with Solomon Richards.
That, as we know, turned into quite a façade with Devin Weston’s sabotage and the following gruesome events.
Regardless, after taking care of just about everything and tying up loose ends, the main quartet assembles at Vanilla Unicorn to plan out the heist. Knowing Lester’s reputation for being highly efficient, he proposes two distinct ways of approaching the heist.
The subtle approach, in a nutshell, involves going in disguise as Gruppe Sechs officers (hired for the safe transportation of gold).
In essence, this approach boils down to hijacking a Gruppe Sechs armored car en route to the Union Depository, infiltrating the Depository in disguise, and lastly, infiltrating the transportation grid to make for a swift, yet clean escape in a few getaway cars.
Although this approach is more methodical in nature, it is a lot easier due to the lack of gunfight-based confrontations.
Since the subtle approach is, well, subtle in nature, it requires pin-point execution ensured by two gunmen, two drivers, and a hacker. While there is the freedom of choice as far as who exactly to enlist, these are my recommendations:
According to Lester, two gunmen are required for the subtle approach. The first gunmen will join you in the back and replicate the same disguise while helping you move the gold into the reinforced hot rods. For this, I would recommend Gustavo Mota, a reliable Russian and the best gunman available, who’ll make his 14% cut worthwhile.
The second gunmen will take down the armored cars you’ll be hijacking before bringing the hostages taken from those cars into a safehouse pre-determined by Lester.
For this, there is quite a versatile choice, but I recall going for Packie McReary, who took a 12% cut – he wasn’t the best, but I recall Lester relating him to a well-known Liberty City stickup crew. What a throwback!
Here are the other Gunmen options:
- Norm Richards
- Daryl Johns
- Hugh Welsh
- Karl Abolaji
Lester strongly suggests hiring two drivers for the subtle approach to The Big Score heist. The first driver will primarily help you load the gold bars at the bank and help in transportation by being behind the wheel of the fourth getaway car.
Since this is a key part of the process (you wouldn’t want to lose any of the gold, would you?), I’d advise in favor of Eddie Toh, the best driver on the roster, who, just like Gustavo, takes a 14% cut. He’ll be worth it, I promise!
The second driver will play a part in hijacking the armored cars along with McReary and replacing the ripped-out types. Yes, you’ll be hijacking those cars by popping their tires with stingers – a little costly since those tires would need to be replaced, but there’s no other way of stopping huge armored cars discretely.
Regardless, since this driver is secondary, you can go with anyone you like – I went with Karim Denz since he takes the lowest cut of 8%.
Here are the other Gunmen options:
- Taliana Martinez
The hacker, of course, is central to the subtle approach. There’s nothing more subtle than tapping into the electronic infrastructure of the city and manipulating it ever so slightly that no one would notice. And, of course, there is only one person for this job, in my opinion – Paige Harris!
You’ve likely had her on your team in past heists and can agree with me when I say she’s the best of the best! Although, let’s not forget that expertise comes at a cost, which is why her cut of 15% is completely justified.
Here are the other Hacker options:
- Christian Feltz
- Rickie Lukens
Upon reading the aforementioned approach description, you can easily tell the two things needed to bring all the pieces together. These are spike strips or stingers to stop the armored cars and four modded Bravado Gauntlets that will serve as getaway cars containing the gold.
Collecting the Stingers
In case you don’t know, only police personnel are authorized to have spike strips since they are crucial tools to bring any getaway vehicle to a stop.
Simply lay them out over a chokepoint the suspect is headed towards, and they’ll immediately be presented with the ultimatum of either stopping or getting stopped. With that said, getting the stingers required for the subtle approach would involve the police force somehow.
Lester confirms that there’s an LSPD van containing some spike strips in the rear car park of the South Los Santos police station and relays this information over to Micheal for retrieval by SMS. You probably know your way to the police station, but how do you discretely steal an LSPD van from right under the police’s noses?
The idea is to vault over the perimeter by first getting on top of your car (though you’ll have to park it parallel to the wall). The LSPD van should be right there in the rear car park, but with a police officer talking on the phone next to it.
Surprisingly, when I was playing through this mission, he was talking about planning to go watch Meltdown – as much as that would please Micheal, he has to, unfortunately, knock him out before leaving the premises with the van.
The Bravado Gauntlets
After Micheal successfully retrieves the stingers, the heist preparation moves to Franklin, who is tasked with collecting and modifying three Bravado Gauntlets. Why this car in particular? Well, since these cars will serve as getaway cars that will carry tonnes of gold, they must be able to withstand the weight.
So, as Lester details in his email to Franklin, he has tested and confirmed that a muscle car like the Bravado Gauntlet, with the right modifications, is good enough in terms of speed and weight durability. This means that Lester is in possession of a modified Bravado Gauntlet and thus needs Franklin to get the other three.
Since none of the protagonists own such a car, Lester had Paige Harris tap into the city’s CCTV cameras to narrow down three Bravado Gauntlets for Franklin to steal discretely.
With that said, your job is to drive over to them, steal them, modify them from Los Santos Customs and finally drop them off at Lester’s lockup.
The cars themselves are located at three different parts of Los Santos, so while this is a rather tedious mission, you can find some solace in knowing that this is the last of the preliminary missions before The Big Score heist.
- Pillbox Hill: On top of a multistory parking lot
- Rockford Hills: Right in front of the Jewelry Store that was robbed in a previous heist
- Mission Row: Close to Templar Hotel, southeast of Legion Square.
Remember that you’ll need to modify and drop off a Gauntlet before collecting the next one. Regarding the modifications themselves, you need not worry about the specifics as a modification category will be available when you visit the Los Santos Customs during this mission.
This will be called “Gold Preparation,” and under it will be a “Heist Prep” that will automatically do everything Lester has required at the cost of 11,000 dollars.
Of course, no one stops you from further modifications, so feel free to upgrade the armor if you have the cash to spare since it will be of high utility during the actual getaway.
With both preparation missions complete, The Big Score heist begins with the protagonists meeting up at Vanilla Unicorn and partitioning themselves into different teams. While Micheal and Trevor go off to steal the armored cars, Franklin stays behind Paige for a later phase of the plan.
Hijacking the Armored Cars
In order to hijack the armored cars, Trevor and Micheal must first intercept them at the Integrity Way tunnel entrance in Textile City by laying out spike strips on the chokepoint. After the armored cars are brought to a halt, the protagonists bust out and promptly take the Gruppe personnel hostage and send them away to Lester’s safehouse.
However, since part of the infiltration involves proper identification, Trevor and Micheal, despite having fake IDs take one of the Gruppe personnel with them, a man by the name of Casey.
Meanwhile, the punctured tires of the armored cars are quickly repaired by McReary and his partner before the protagonists set off towards Union Depository!
Infiltrating the Union Depository
Upon reaching the Depository, the five-man squad (Casey included) is able to bypass the security checks, with Casey taking the lead with his real ID.
I should say that I was quite on edge when the manager paused to confirm Trevor’s ID because of how grumpy he looked – I’m glad the manager didn’t suspect a thing!
Regardless, the group is escorted to the main vault through an elevator; for some reason, the elevator sequence is not brushed off by a skippable cutscene. This made someone like me even more nervous as the manager tried to make small talk with Trevor, who was also on edge.
However, I should admit that seeing a grumpy man like him (who I’m used to seeing run his mouth in the most vulgar way possible) trying to be polite was refreshing.
Collecting the Gold
After Casey opens the vault and the protagonists head inside, Micheal and Trevor are greeted with large stacks of gold bars that they try to move out towards the trucks without breaking character.
I genuinely thought a plot twist was waiting to happen at this point, but instead, I had to listen to the manager and Trevor calculating the net worth of the gold based on the total weight.
What did, however, catch me off guard was how Casey tried giving little hints to the manager that something was wrong. However, Micheal and Trevor were quick to interject; fortunately, the manager’s suspicion was not aroused.
With Trevor and Micheal on the road with not a single gold ingot left behind, I genuinely suspected that the final heist in the game could not have gone that smoothly.
Fortunately, my apprehension was on point as Franklin phones to warn the protagonists that Merryweather has caught a whiff of their assault on the Gruppe Sechs’ armored cars. They must now avoid confronting them all while getting to their destination as fast as possible.
The mission now switches over to Franklin, who has the entire traffic system of Los Santos in the palm of his hands (credits to Paige). The mission now centers around Franklin guiding Trevor and Micheal through the roads of Los Santos, greenlighting traffic light signals for them, and red lighting for Merryweather operatives.
After making it to their destination in one piece, the team begins transferring the gold ingots to the Gauntlet getaway vehicles. However, they are interrupted by remnants of Merryweather mercenaries who were able to keep on Micheal and Trevor’s trail.
Micheal, Trevor, Franklin, and their two gunmen are forced to engage while protecting the people unloading the gold. Subtle approach or not, a heist has to have a thrilling gunfight showdown!
After killing off the mercenaries, the heist moves into its final stage, which is choreographed with an intense car-chase sequence in the getaway cars. Eventually, the protagonists can shake off Merryweather by slotting into two tanker trucks, making it look like they vanished into thin air!
The obvious approach, in contrast, is a lot more action-packed but does require its own kind of preparation. In a nutshell, the plan is to create a diversion outside of the Union Depository while a tunnel bore machine drills a hole into the far side of the bank.
The machine, of course, would need to be stolen, and the bank will be infiltrated from an excavation site behind the bank. After the gold is collected, it will be transported via helicopter to a train (which would also need to be stolen) that will locate it towards the warehouse.
Since the obvious approach is more brute-force in nature than methodical, no hacking is required for this approach, so one could argue that the payout is relatively higher.
According to Lester, all you need are two drivers and two gunmen, so the choice of gunmen will be particularly crucial with this approach for obvious reasons.
Similar to the subtle approach, two gunmen are required for the obvious approach – these two will play an important role in the heist overall. The first gunman will pair up with Franklin, who will be drilling through the bank and burrowing the gold.
It’s very conceivable that the police will come after them at the excavation site, so a very reliable gunman is required for this position. As such, I would once again recommend going with Gustavo Mota, the Russian operative who’ll be taking 14% of the cut for good reasons.
On the other hand, the second gunman is equally important since they’ll be causing chaos at the Depository’s front door with Micheal. The distraction must be strong and believable so that security’s attention remains divided.
With that said, I recall going for Packie McReary – no particular reason, but he proved to be quite reliable during the subtle run, so I’d recommend him again.
Here are the other Gunmen options:
- Norm Richards
- Daryl Johns
- Hugh Welsh
- Karl Abolaji
According to Lester, two drivers are required for the obvious approach. The first driver will pilot one of the helicopters that will not only serve as a getaway vehicle but also carry half the gold ingots.
With that said, you are better off hiring the best as your first driver, which is why I recommend Eddie Toh, who, proportional to his utility, will be taking 14% of the cut.
If you have not guessed, the second driver will be the one conducting the train transporting the gold to the warehouse. Since this is the very last phase of the mission, at a point where the cops will most likely not be chasing you, you can go for the cheaper option like Karim Denz, who’ll only take 8% of the pay cut.
Here are the other Gunmen options:
- Taliana Martinez
As mentioned before, there are two phases of preparation for The Big Score’s obvious approach: hijacking a driller or, more specifically, a tunnel bore machine and stealing a freight train.
Although not counted as an entire preliminary mission, you are also tasked with getting a getaway vehicle, which is as simple as hijacking it off the streets and preferably giving it some armor upgrades.
Lester’s intel suggests that there’s a tunnel bore machine stationed at a depot in East Los Santos. The depot itself, though, is hustling and bustling, with construction workers and security guards coming in shifts, leaving no visible opening to just waltz in and steal the driller.
With that said, regardless of whether you choose to approach this mission during the day or night, you’ll have to be discreet.
I would suggest carrying a suppressed weapon and taking out everyone on site one by one. You don’t necessarily need to kill anyone, which is why I mostly only knocked out the people on the premises. Don’t forget that you must at least incapacitate everyone in the yard before taking the driller for a spin.
Afterward, you may wonder where you will be storing such a humongous machine. Well, you’ll shortly get a call from Lester telling you to station it in a parking lot near the Union Depository since he’s bribed one of the guards there.
While keeping the driller close to the excavation site is of utmost importance, don’t you think that guard could sell us out, Lester?
Spoiler Alert: he doesn’t, fortunately.
The final preparation for the obvious approach involves stealing a train from Davis Quartz; a mission tasked to both Micheal and Trevor. The mission itself is divided up into two sub-tasks – you can play either sub-task with either character, but a character can only complete one sub-task.
The first part of the mission is to incapacitate the railway guards on site and divert the next incoming train so that it can be stolen.
How exactly will Micheal and Trevor steal something as big as a train? This is where Lester’s Skylift comes into play: this is a large helicopter with a powerful electromagnet attached under its rotor that allows it to transport heavy objects through the air.
So after stopping the following train, you’ll need to use the Skylift to locate the freight engine from the area to Sandy Shore Airfield (where the helicopter sub-task will begin) and then the remaining flatbed carriages.
Once retrieved, these components can be assembled into a train that will transport the Union Depository’s gold ingots to Lester’s warehouse.
With the preparations complete, The Big Score heist begins at Vanilla Unicorn, where Trevor, Micheal, and Franklin suit up, ready to make history. They split up with Trevor and Lester on a helicopter, Micheal and McReary in pairs, and Franklin and Gustavo in pairs.
Stealing the Gold
Franklin and Gustavo immediately head to the parking lot near the Depository to get the driller and quickly bring it over to the excavation site for some drilling.
The wall keeping them from that sweet gold quickly crumbles, and Franklin rushes over to blow up the vault door with explosives. Despite his agility, law enforcement is quick to respond as NOOSE operatives begin to swarm the excavation from the tunnels.
Now there’s only one thing left to do: fight off the NOOSE squad all by yourself as Franklin while Gustavo unloads the gold ingots on the two helicopters, one piloted by Eddie and one by Trevor. If you compare this against the subtle approach, where the action started towards the end of the heist, this is quite exhilarating.
After taking out the enemies, the mission promptly switches over to Trevor, who’s in the middle of flying the gold ingots out of the city towards their train located at Blaine County. This is a very short sequence, as no obstructions come your way.
If you thought Franklin’s shootout was fun, wait until you get to play as Micheal, who’s wreaking absolute havoc with McReary. The sequence literally opens up with Micheal in the middle of a gunfight as the duo makes their way toward Alta Steet.
With officers, cars, and choppers trying to gun down the rampant duo, the two are shortly joined by Franklin and Gustavo when it’s time to make their getaway.
The getaway begins once the quartet reaches the underground parking lot and gets in the getaway vehicle. Since the objective is to clear the five-star wanted level you should have at this point; I would recommend hiding out underground. However, surviving until then is a completely different issue as a five-star wanted rating is no trivial thing – this is where those precious armor upgrades will pay off.
After Micheal and the others shake off the police, the mission finally switches back to Trevor and Lester, who are in a getaway situation of their own against Merryweather choppers.
Be sure to destroy them as quickly as possible since they could destroy Eddie’s helicopter, resulting in half the gold being lost and the heist completing with just half the intended reward. So keep your guard up, for it’s not over until you make it to the McKenzie Field Hangar where Karim and the train await.
Question: What’s the Payout of The Big Score?
Answer: The Big Score’s payout is 201,600,000 dollars for the obvious approach and 201,300,000 for the subtle approach. The difference is there due to the fact that the obvious approach is more difficult to pull off.
Question: Which Approach is better for The Big Score?
Answer: The way I see it, if you’re into the action-packed side of GTA V and love shooting up swarms of enemies out for your blood, then go for the obvious approach. Not only will it be a little more profitable, but you’ll also have a lot of fun. Otherwise, the subtle approach will suit you better if you’re not one for risky missions.
Question: Why does Lester Partake in The Big Score Obvious Approach?
Answer: While Lester, on account of his physical disabilities, usually stays out of any confrontation and remains the brain of operations, there is a good reason why he boards Trevor’s helicopter.
Since there is no hacker involved with the obvious approach, Lester is the only person capable of running coms and managing the link up with the train – for that, he needs to be in the air.
With that, The Big Score heist comes to an end with a hefty payout of 201,600,000 dollars in the case of the obvious approach and 201,300,00 dollars for the subtle approach. While this does encourage players to go for the obvious approach, remember that it is packed with intense gunfights.
So if you’re comfortable with those kinds of action-packed predicaments, feel free to go for the obvious approach – otherwise, the subtle approach has a better success-to-profit ratio.
You learned a lot from my in-depth analysis of what the best heist GTA V’s story mode has to offer. Good luck, and happy grinding!