GTA Online’s Heists have been delayed from “spring”. Why? Pat reckons Rockstar may have elected to benchpress something considerably heavier than its pecs will allow.
Can GTA Online’s Heists actually work? Having been delayed last week (the new missions were supposed to launch this spring), it was rumoured on Wednesday that Online Heists would be, as promised, very much like the heists in the main game.
Is this even feasible? While the dream of doing these large scale jobs with your friends may be instantly appealing, the reality may be somewhat different. You may be waiting a while yet. Here’s why.
1 – Heists contain multiple elements
The heists in the main GTA 5 storyline are drawn-out affairs with multiple elements. Some are longer than others, but they all have a planning phase, a set-up phase, a part where you travel to the job, the job itself and the getaway.
Anyone who’s played GTA Online for more than five minutes will tell you there’s precisely no way the multiplayer versions could ever work in the same way. Players are constantly hopping between servers and the prospect of doing anything remotely like this with randoms is instantly dismissible.
Even if you were able to hold together a group of strangers for long enough, there’s too much communication involved; not enough people speak and there’s no text chat. It’s hard enough to get through one of the existing driving missions in which the passenger tells the blind driver which way to turn (if you’re not wearing a headset you have to press left and right on the d-pad to bring direction arrows up for the driver).
Unless you’re part of an organised team, the sort of multi-part missions detailed in the most recent rumour wouldn’t work for anyone but the most dedicated crews.
2 – GTA Online is just too flaky
Even if you have a committed group, getting even two people together on the same server can sometimes be a grind. It took Matt and I half an hour to get into the same city last night over Xbox Live. Once you find a stable session GTA Online is a truly amazing thing, but getting kicked, not being able to find appropriate sessions and mid-scene hanging are all commonplace. “Three abseilers, one driver, 16 cops”? Forget it. It’s hard enough to assemble eight people for a simple race half the time.
3 – Playing the cops will be rubbish
No one will want to be the cops, and even if you “have to” because you’re automatically shepherded into teams, will the cops have to wait until a certain trigger from the criminal team? Who’s going to want to sit around until someone else trips an alarm? Why should those players be a supporting cast in someone else’s drama?
Or will it be like some of the existing GTA Online missions, where one player drives to an objective Downtown and another starts at the airbase in a jet, the distance between the two regulating the mission’s structure? And if that’s the case, why it is going to be different to the current content? Why be a cop when the heists are all about being the robbers?
4 – And if the cops aren’t players it’ll be too easy
A fix to the cop problem is, of course, to have only a criminal team and use AI as law enforcement. But we all know GTA 5’s enemy AI is a tad “predictable,” so isn’t that going to make success a foregone conclusion? If you can just walk into the heist, pull it off and easily escape, what’s the incentive to replay it? In the campaign you can return to get a better grade, but that only works because of the general complexity of the event itself. And if the GTA Online version is too complicated it’s going to make it really difficult to ever execute. Which is probably why Heists is being repeatedly delayed.
5 – There are far too many questions
The devs may have backed themselves into a corner here. Heists sounds great on paper, but the reality is obviously causing some tight headaches. Excited bunny Rockstar promising to give players the equivalent of the campaign’s most rewarding single-player set-pieces in an online environment may have been a little previous. The FIB event detailed in the rumours this week may or may not be correct, obviously, but if this is the direction Rockstar’s moving with Heists even a single job is going to be ambitious. Just how is this going to work?