Will Rockstar ever improve the technical limitations of GTA Online?
“A long loading screen isn’t so bad if there’s something worth waiting for. But no one wants their gameplay interrupted every three minutes. Staring at a static screen turns players away.”
GTA online added another Adversary mode last week, with Rhino Hunt joining Slasher, Drop Zone, Extraction, Running Back, Hunting Pack and others as short and aggressive little multiplayer clashes.
Rhino Hunt is based on a variation of a community-built Last Team Standing job that’s been floating around for some time in various forms or another. It’s basically tanks versus buggies in a large arena.
It works well when you have a full house. Six players in buggies circling two tanks, working as a semi-suicidal unit to bring down the bigger, overpowered hardware. The Rhino crushes and one-hit kills the buggies, but those nippy little bastards can outrun and chip away at the tank making it a close call to the very last second.
Two of the maps are better suited for those in the Rhino. Los Santos airport and Fort Zancudo are flat and open enough that you can keep half an eye on your direction of travel and pound the trigger, firing off shell after shell of destruction. It’s only the map on the building site that requires a lot more care, as it’s riddled with potholes, lumps and hardware that gets in the way of the lumbering tank.
Like Slasher and Till Death Us Do Part, these are cool little additions to GTA Online. The problem is that the lobbies need to be full for them to work. Rhino Hunt is a three minute mode. Slasher and Till Death Us Do Part are short too (the latter especially because in teams of two, when the first player dies the other automatically puts the gun to their head and ends it). That’s fine, they’re designed to work over short periods and they work well. The problem is in the technical infrastructure that surrounds them.
With the exception of maybe the Extraction mode, Adversary modes are over quickly. But Rockstar’s servers and matchmaking for GTA Online are notoriously slow. Choose an Adversary mode from the Jobs menu and you’ll wait up to three minutes to get in a game and playing. Then between each round there’s a 40 second wait. And once all rounds are finished and you want to play again on a different map, it’s back to the three minute (and more) wait to get started… you can see the cycle.
The only time Adversary modes are busy is during double RP and cash events, and even then it’s a struggle to get a full compliment of players. Adversary modes become a wasteland any other time because they don’t offer high enough rewards and they’re poor without a full lobby. Trying to complete one as part of your Daily Objectives is a lesson in patience, frustration and luck.
This is the main reason why cool little Adversary modes are shrugged off by other players. A long loading screen isn’t so bad if there’s something worth waiting for. But no one wants their gameplay interrupted every three minutes. Staring at a static screen turns players away. What GTA Online needs is a quicker turn around for modes that are going to only last three minutes or less.
The disappointing things is Rockstar refuses to acknowledge the problem, one that hampers the whole of the GTA Online experience on a wider scale. Look at the most common complaints and you’ll find loading times and connection issues at the top of the list.
I’ve argued before that one of ways to improve GTA Online isn’t always to give players new content, but to improve what we already have. That applies to boring backend enhancements just as much as handing out double cash rewards. Because at this stage, every time a new mode is rolled out for GTA Online, it just highlights the game’s technical limitations.