Thursday, 3 October 2013

GTA Online - My thoughts


Well it's no secret that the launch for GTA online was a large chaotic fubar of epic proportions akin to many online game launches, and yes I mention this as a separate game since it's certainly large enough to be counted as such.  Now I think Rockstar much like other developers wholly underestimated the demand for the online part of GTA V and are suffering the consequences.  Should they be blamed for this?  Well in fairness yes, the industry shouldn't have it's media darlings that are above criticism.  If a game like Final Fantasy XIV got flak for screwing up it's re-launch then GTA should also.  It's not like the game is shit or anything, it's simply a case of poor judgement on Rockstars part.

But after repeated attempts at accessing the online portion of GTA I eventually logged in.  The world is somewhat quieter compared to the story mode version of Los Santos.  Traffic is severely reduced to the point that area's like Vinewood and the games equivalent of Santa Monica boulevard are almost ghost towns.  Pedestrians are also reduced and the world feels very empty.  Clearly this is to account for the supposed chaos of 16 players running around the map blowing shit up, killing cops and robbing stores, but sadly the game is very old school in it's approach to online interaction.

Remember older MMO games that used to just allow player killing anywhere at any time?  Well this is what GTA Online is like.  I spawned, completed the intro mission and then while waiting for another player to arrive to rob a local convenience store, I was smacked in the head by another player and subjected to a long winded unskippable video.  After respawning and jogging to the store once again, I was shot by a young French child (evidenced by his microphone being open) and forced to respawn again.  Third time is charm they say and this time the other player arrived and the store was robbed, but it felt very weak.  Compared to the bustling metropolis of the story mode, it's sort of like running around a post apocalyptic version of Los Santos, populated by the last few remaining gang bangers scrambling for drugs, money and fast cars.

The multiplayer combat was also broken as hell with a match I attempted to host taking 15 minutes to start even though it filled up with players very quickly, the game continually prevented me from launching because it was inviting players constantly, despite me telling it not to.  When it did start the match ended in around 10 seconds with no shots fired.  This was a last team standing match where you are meant to kill everyone since you only have 1 life each. 

Attempting to start a story mission for 2-8 players, it locked up and I had to restart the PS3 to get out of the game.  The problems though are fundamental in it's poor design.  The world is completely open yet it spawns you all within spitting distance of each other.  Players immediately begin griefing one another and the game boils down to a pissing contest for kids. You can't hide because anyone can open the map and find your marker to drive over and kill you.  Really the world should be open but not open season unless you choose to play a PVP match.  The open world should be a PVE experience with cop chases, robberies and other assorted chaos for teams of players to enjoy. 

Personally I wasn't blown away by my two hours of play and as such I will be leaving it for a month or so to allow the server issues to calm down and the kids to get bored and leave.  At least that's the theory anyway, but the game will always suffer from the console kiddies wanting to ruin anyone elses enjoyment of the game.  It isn't game breaking and I am sure if you have a gang of friends you could arrange for a private instance instead, but hold off until the server issues are fixed.

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