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GTA Online is almost a decade old, and a lot has changed since it was released in 2013 and revolutionized the Grand Theft Auto franchise as we know it.
Even many years later, hundreds of thousands of players jump into Los Santos every day to build a criminal empire and become King or Queen of the city. GTA Online is still generating over $1 billion yearly for Rockstar Games and playing a part in GTA 5 selling more than 175 million copies worldwide.
Whether this is your first time arriving in Los Santos or you’re already an experienced player that enjoys GTA RP, this GTA Online getting started guide has everything you need to know about building your criminal empire.
Before You Begin
So, you have decided to join the millions of players that inhabit Los Santos. Although it is tempting to jump into the game all guns blazing, that wouldn’t be a smart move as you will quickly learn that the game has a skill gap and there are people who have spent thousands of hours playing the game since its release.
Here are some good ways to prepare for your venture into Los Santos as you look to make a mark in the city.
Creating a Rockstar Social Club Account
Before you start building your criminal empire in GTA Online, you must create a Rockstar Social Club account if you don’t already have one. By creating an account, you will access various features offered by Rockstar Games, including in-game rewards, leaderboards, and special events.
To create a Rockstar Social Club account, follow these steps:
- Visit the Rockstar Social Club website at socialclub.rockstargames.com.
- Click the “Sign Up” button in the top right corner of the page.
- Fill out the registration form by providing your email address, creating a password, and selecting a username. You will also be asked to provide basic personal information, including your first and last name and date of birth.
- Click the “Create Account” button to complete the registration process.
Once your account is created, you can log in to the Rockstar Social Club and access various features. These include joining or creating crews, viewing online leaderboards, and accessing special events and promotions.
Now that you’ve created your Rockstar Social Club account, it is time to play GTA Online.
Play GTA 5
In order to play GTA Online, you need to purchase GTA 5, so why not play the game since you already own it? And, you really owe it to yourself to experience the story mode. GTA 5 has gone on to become the second best-selling game of all time.
It holds a 97/100 score on Metacritic, making it the 9th highest-rated video game of all time on the site. By playing GTA 5, you will also become familiar with the map and mechanics in the game, which will help when you start playing GTA Online.
How to Unlock GTA Online
Although most people are playing GTA Online these days, it is still a secondary mode, with the single-player story for GTA 5 being the primary game. For this reason, Rockstar Games doesn’t want players to bypass the story altogether and jump straight into GTA Online.
You won’t have to complete much of the game, but you will have to complete the prologue in North Yankton before unlocking GTA Online. The mode will unlock following the cutscene that sees you arrive in Los Santos and take control of Franklin in his first mission in GTA 5.
While you can jump into GTA Online as soon as you reach Los Santos in GTA 5, it will be worth staying in GTA 5 and learning the game and exploring the vast map before joining other players online.
Creating Your Character
Unlike the story mode in GTA 5, which sees you play as Michael, Franklin, and Trevor, in GTA Online, you get to create your own character, which includes the possibility of creating a female protagonist for the first time in the franchise’s history.
GTA Online features a very expansive character creation menu, allowing you to customize your character’s appearance to your liking. This includes options such as hairstyle, skin blemishes, aging, eye color, and the shape of each facial feature.
Once you have created your character, you can choose their outfit from dozens of options, set their stats, and finally name your character.
But don’t worry; you can change any of these features anytime. You can visit clothes stores, hair stylists, and tattoo artists to change your appearance. If you regret your choice of facial features, you can also visit a plastic surgeon to modify your character’s appearance.
Can You Have More han One GTA Online Character?
In GTA Online, you can create two different characters without buying more copies of the game. However, if you want to use more than two characters, you must make a second Rockstar Social Club account and purchase a new copy of the game on that account.
When you create a second character, you will be given the option to start them at level one, or you can choose to have your new character start at the same level as your main character, which can speed up some of the grind.
Your new character will also share a bank account with your main character. Still, you will have to buy everything else again, including businesses, vehicles, homes, etc.
Keyboard and Mouse or Controller?
If you are playing on a PC, you can play GTA Online using a keyboard, mouse, or controller. The GTA series is widely played on controllers, likely due to familiarity, as it saw its best sales on consoles.
But, if you are used to using a keyboard and mouse in other games, it could be worth trying it out as it can offer superior aiming, and driving a car with a keyboard isn’t very difficult in the game.
One major downside of using a keyboard and mouse in GTA Online is when using flying vehicles such as helicopters and planes. It can be incredibly difficult to steer, so it does make sense to use a controller in this instance.
So, our suggestion is that if you are considering using a keyboard and mouse, keep a controller handy for situations where it is ideal.
Learn the Controls
Regardless of which input device you choose, we recommend you take some time to learn the controls for when you’re on foot, in vehicles, and flying, as it can be confusing to get used to if this is your first time playing the game.
As you spend more time with the game, you will gain confidence in controlling your character and learn the mechanics when aiming and driving.
First Person or Third Person?
GTA 5 and Online allows you to play the game in the first or third-person perspective. The series has always been played from a third-person perspective, so it can be strange to switch to first-person.
But, if you’re a fan of FPS games, then it could be worth trying it out for a more immersive experience. There are also mods for the GTA 5 story mode that allows you to use a VR headset. It is worth noting that all mods must be removed from the game before you play GTA Online.
Your First Day in Los Santos
Exploring Los Santos
Whether you’ve played the main GTA 5 story, jumping into GTA Online for the first time can be incredibly overwhelming and difficult to navigate. Los Santos is a lot more expansive in GTA Online, with new locations to explore that have appeared throughout the various updates over the last decade.
All of the iconic locations are still in the game. You can head to luxurious Vinewood Hills and mingle with the movers and shakers of Los Santos or head into the seedy underworld and explore the nightlife.
But there are plenty of new locations to explore, including the Diamond Casino & Resort, allowing you to gamble all of your riches on slots and card games and spend time in your luxury penthouse.
There is also a new island to explore, bringing with it the Cayo Perico Heist, and the hip-hop icon Dr. Dre to Grand Theft Auto Online.
Joining or Creating a Crew
To join a crew, you must have a Rockstar Games Social Club account, which you will already have from following this guide. To search for crews to join, you can go to the Social Club website or the Online tab in the options menu in GTA Online and search for a crew to join.
You can also create your own crew if you’d prefer to be in charge of your team. To make your own crew, you can do it via the Social Club website or the crew menu in GTA Online. You will need to choose a name for your crew and a logo and color scheme.
Once you’ve done this, select the privacy settings, you can choose to make it open for anyone to join or invite-only, which can be good if you want to play with your friends.
As well as making it easier to team up with your friends and earn crew bonuses, you will also be able to go into crew-only lobbies. This is a more private lobby you have greater control over, which can come in handy if you don’t like being griefed by players but don’t want to play solo.
How to Make Money in GTA Online
When you jump into GTA Online for the first time and complete the tutorial, you are thrust into Los Santos with no money or street cred. Once you get your bearings and get the lay of the land, it is time to start making money.
There are many ways that you can make money in GTA Online, from completing story missions, heists, running businesses, and many other activities, it isn’t difficult to start getting money into the bank. Still, it can be an incredibly long grind if you don’t know what you are doing to maximize your efforts.
Completing Missions and Activities
Although they won’t make you rich quickly, completing missions and activities is a great way to get started in GTA Online. Still, they are needed to progress through the stories so you can participate in the more lucrative heists.
There are many different activities you can take part in, including races, deathmatches, and more mission-based activities, which you receive from many characters in the game, including Lester, Trevor, and Franklin.
There are many races to choose from, including land, air, and sea races. There are also many classes of vehicles to choose from, so you can find a race that fits your style and skill level.
If you like to fight other players in a PVP environment, deathmatches could be for you. There are many different types of deathmatches to choose from, including team deathmatches and capture the flag.
If you enjoyed playing the story mode in GTA 5, then sticking to missions and heists in GTA Online could be a great option. These missions require you to play with other players but are similar to what you would find in GTA 5, such as robbing a bank and preparing for a heist.
How to Start a Mission in GTA Online
To start a mission in GTA Online, you can either accept an invitation from a friend or join a public session and select a mission from the in-game menu. Some missions have specific requirements, such as a minimum number of players or a certain level to participate.
Once you have chosen the mission, you are given a brief overview of the objective and any additional information you need. Then you will be transported to the lobby and connect with other players working with you.
You are given a set number of deaths for the team, with the mission failing if you exceed the number of deaths allowed. Upon completing the missions, you will earn in-game currency, Reputation Points and help to progress the story.
Purchasing Your First Property
Buying property and building your businesses is a key part of GTA Online. Here is what you need to know about the different properties and businesses available in the game.
Homes and Garages
Apartments act as a safe house and can act as spawn points in GTA Online and as a means to store vehicles. Each has an attached garage, allowing 2-10 vehicles to be stored. The apartments are also used to plan or start Heists in the game.
If you need more vehicle storage, you can purchase standalone garages that aren’t attached to an apartment, with each capable of storing 2-10 vehicles.
Purchasing an Office allows you to become your organization’s CEO and participate in Cargo missions, which can be very lucrative.
Warehouses are used as part of the Special Cargo missions to store the cargo you can secure before you sell it on to buyers.
If being the CEO of an Organization isn’t your style, you can purchase a Clubhouse and become President of a Motorcycle Club, which opens up multiple new businesses that are exclusive to the Club.
By being an MC President, you can operate the following businesses, which all work similarly to each other.
- Cocaine Lockup
- Counterfeit Cash Factory
- Document Forgery Office
- Meth Lab
- Weed Farm
Each business in GTA Online operates by having you purchase or steal supplies and then waiting for your employees to turn the supplies into sellable products. You then have to deliver those products to customers to earn money.
But, if you do this in a public lobby, you will become a target for other players, who will earn rewards for destroying your cargo.
A Bunker may be expensive, but it can be very rewarding. By purchasing a Bunker, you will be able to take part in Gunrunning as well as use it to store your Mobile Operations Center.
Hangars allow you to store aircraft and take part in smuggling missions.
Facilities add a new series of Heists, which are easily the best way to quickly make large amounts of money in GTA Online.
Nightclubs generate long-term passive income for you and also serve as a warehouse to store goods from your other businesses.
Workshops allow you to participate in Arena War matches. In this PVP mode, you must destroy your opponent’s vehicles or complete other objectives to win the match.
Arcades allow you to set up The Diamond Casino Heist and feature various playable arcade games.
The Auto Shop allows you to participate in Robbery Contracts, run Los Santos Customs, and generate revenue.
Finally, Agencies allow you to complete jobs for celebrities and other clients as you go into business with Franklin, who has given up his past life as a bank robber with Michael and Trevor.
Things We Wish We Knew
How to Stop Players from Griefing
Online gaming can be a very toxic environment, with some gamers enjoying making other players’ experiences worse. Unfortunately, GTA Online is among the most toxic video games, perhaps only rivaled by League of Legends and Call of Duty.
Rockstar Games also actively encourages griefing by granting players rewards for eliminating other gamers in the lobby. If you play public lobbies in GTA Online, it won’t be long until you see someone flying around on a flying motorcycle that can shoot missiles at other players.
This can be incredibly frustrating for those who want a more peaceful experience. Thankfully, you have a few options if players are griefing your game.
- Grief back and fight the players and try and defeat them.
- Join lobbies with friends, giving you a numbers advantage over any griefers in the lobby.
- Play in friends-only lobbies, allowing you to play with people you want to in a more controlled environment.
- Play a solo lobby, with you being on the map, like the GTA 5-story.
It is worth noting that you miss out on some bonuses by not completing missions and deliveries in a public lobby, which means you will earn money slower.
But, if that isn’t an issue for you, then you can play solo lobbies for a peaceful time. Solo lobbies will also only apply when out of missions. You will be playing with others when you do any missions, such as Heists.
Buy Businesses Close to the Clubhouse and Office
In GTA Online, you can become both the CEO of your organization and President of the motorcycle club. Each has its own set of businesses that can be purchased and used to generate money for your organization.
Once you have your Office and Clubhouse, it is wise to make sure your other businesses are located in close proximity to them. Otherwise, you could spend multiple minutes driving between locations, which will take a lot longer to complete tasks you need to do, such as resupplies.
If you purchase the Criminal Enterprises Pack, you will receive many locations to get you started as a CEO and President. When it comes to the MC businesses, you will receive a Clubhouse, Bunker, and Counterfeit Cash Factory.
The Clubhouse and Factory are close together, but the Bunker is approximately a 3-minute drive from the Clubhouse. While it doesn’t sound like much, it soon adds up if you visit it frequently. Instead, you could sell it and purchase the Bunker directly behind the Clubhouse to keep things close together.
It doesn’t sound like a particularly important thing to concern yourself with, but trust me, it really does help and makes you much more efficient when running your business.
The Bogdan Heist
If you have spent time in the GTA Online community, you have likely heard the word Bogdan. This refers to The Bogdan Problem Act 2, a heist you can take part in.
The heist has the potential to net your team multiple millions of dollars for completing it, so this is something players are always eager to do as it is the most efficient way to make money in the game.
But, heists have a tedious setup procedure, much like in the GTA 5 story, where multiple missions are dedicated to the preparation. Thankfully, GTA Online players have discovered methods to skip the setup and are able to complete the heist over and over to score large amounts of money.
Check out the video below, which details how to skip the setup and pull off the glitch. Alternatively, you could ask people in the GTA Online community on social media to help you complete the heist.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Be too Trusting of other Players
The GTA Online community can be very toxic, so make sure you’re not too trusting of strangers in the game. Of course, not everyone playing the game is a bad apple, but try to build some rapport with players you’re teaming up with before trusting them.
There are some great and helpful players in the community, but on the flip side, plenty is looking to hack or scam you.
Playing Random Heists
When it comes to correctly pulling off a heist, joining a random one isn’t an ideal way to do it. Quite often, the skill level of players you encounter in random missions can be very low, and it is common to fail, which doesn’t grant you much RP or money.
If you are playing heists, make sure it is with a team of experienced players who have the skill to complete the mission and earn the big rewards.
You Can’t Pause in GTA Online
It should go without saying, but you can’t pause GTA Online because it is a multiplayer game. This can take some getting used to due to GTA 5 being pausable.
You will get used to it eventually and learn to be more strategic when it comes to pausing and completing what you need to quickly before another player sees you as an easy target.
Buying Expensive Items that Have no Return on Investment
Building up your bank balance in GTA Online is a tough grind. For this reason, you shouldn’t spend money on items that don’t provide a return on investment, such as businesses.
While that million-dollar car is nice, you don’t really need it yet. Focus on building your businesses and bank balance before splashing the cash on luxury purchases.
Long-Term Goals in GTA Online
Make Enough Money to Buy Anything You Want in GTA Online
After repeatedly playing heists and doing sale missions for your businesses, you will wonder, “how much money is enough?” Realistically, once you have approximately $50 million, then there is nothing you can’t buy and have to worry about it.
This is when you can buy luxury cars and a yacht because you can always make the money back later.
The important thing before this is to make sure you have all of your businesses upgraded, and your revenue is maximized, then you can relax and have fun.
Play with Friends
When it comes to GTA Online, it really is experienced best with friends, as completing missions and heists with people you know and trust usually make your chance at success much greater.
Playing with friends also allows you to play in a crew-only lobby or have strength in numbers against griefers. While playing alone can be enjoyable, and there’s nothing wrong with it, if you can make friends in the game or find friends that play the game, take advantage of it, and you will have a lot more fun.
Try GTA RP
GTA Role-Playing allows for endless content as you play on private servers where you take on the role of an everyday citizen and live their life in a realistic setting. Rather than spending your days driving fast, committing crimes, and evading the law, you could become a tow truck driver, a police officer, or a cashier.
When playing GTA RP, you are expected to live life as your chosen character, obeying the laws of Los Santos and being a productive member of society. This has become an incredibly popular way to play GTA on PC and has played a part in keeping the game extremely popular in recent years.
Question: Should I Play GTA 5 Before GTA Online?
Answer: Although it isn’t a requirement to play GTA 5 first, except for the opening mission, it is a fantastic game and one of the greatest games of all time.
You really owe it to yourself to play it. By playing the game first, you will also become very familiar with its mechanics and the Los Santos map, making your time in GTA Online much easier.
Question: What is the Flying Bike other Players are Griefing me with?
Answer: The MK II Oppressor is an incredibly popular vehicle with griefers as it allows players to quickly traverse the map while being able to fire rockets from the sky. You can purchase the MK II Oppressor from the Warehouse Cache and Carry for $3,890,250.
Question: What Platforms can I Play GTA Online on?
Answer: GTA Online shut down in September 2021 on Xbox 360 and PS3, the first platforms the game was released on back in 2013. Players can now jump into GTA Online on PC via Steam, Epic Games Store, or Rockstar Games Store, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
GTA Online has remained an incredibly popular game since its first release in 2013, with hundreds of thousands of players jumping into Los Santos together daily. By playing GTA Online, you have access to unlimited content that can see you putting hundreds or even thousands of hours into the game.
It will be interesting to see where the game heads as GTA 6 draws closer and is eventually released. Still, I would be surprised if the game shuts down, and I expect it to migrate over to the new map.