October 7, 2013 by Tim

Now that GTA Online is working at least a little more reliably, I’ve been able to put some time in it here and there, start leveling up a character.

The missions are fairly solid… deathmatching, racing, parachuting, etc, it’s all good fun and a good place to sink some playtime. However it’s still the emergent stuff in free roam that truly stands out as a memorable gameplay experience. The stuff that you can’t plan for when you throw sixteen homicidal maniacs into a city together.

However, it’s also the most expensive way to play. I didn’t even realize how financially taxing it was to play until I noticed I was logging off with roughly the same amount of money I’d started the night with, despite doing a bunch of jobs. That’s when I looked at my in-game bank statements.

Holy hidden fees, Batman.

You get charged for ammo, obviously, but car damage and hospital bills can add up fast too. Plus, you get charged a fee every time you start a job, which can easily shave $300 off whatever it is you think you earned.

I agree that the fees should be attached to these things… the game has to have some sort of money sink to keep the economy in check. Things should retain some sort of value, and it keeps people playing longer. Rockstar also wants to sell some of their in-game cash via microtransactions, and that’s fine too. None of that bothers me.

The amounts could be reevaluated, though. The hospital bills, for instance, average roughly $800-1000 per visit. And if you’re messing around in free roam, those are going to get out of control and you’ll start hemhorraging money. And because you can get so wrapped up in the moment, you may not even think about it until you check your bank balance later and find yourself a few thousand light.

I just don’t think a game that encourages the sort of chaos that GTA Online does should levy quite so harsh a tax on dying so as to deter people from participating altogether.

Shooting, as I expected from playing single player, is still a bit of a problem. The auto-aim is toned down a bit against players, but still snappy against NPCs. It also prioritizes NPCS, which can be incredibly frustrating and has cost me a death or three while trying to fight players in the middle of a police chase.

But hey, for a free additional game mode, Rockstar gets a pass for a lot of things. I bought GTAV for the campaign, and Online is a bonus as far as I’m concerned, so I don’t find myself getting all that upset over the rough launch.

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