Ever since the launch of GTA Online, as part of Grand Theft Auto V, the game has been an enjoyable experience, but it always felt a little lacking. One of the main features that was used to putch the mode, Heists, was absent. Fans waited anxiously, frantically checking the notes of each new update and patch for any mention of the now fabled gamemode. After months of waiting hope turned to apathy, until the announcement of PS4, Xbox One, and PC versions of the game resparked the discussion. Now we have full confirmation that Heists will make their way to GTA Online in early 2015, as well as some details about how the mode will function for players.
In an interview with IGN, GTA Online producer and lead mission designer Imran Sarwar finally opened up about the long-delayed mode. When asked what caused such a long wait he responded, “To be honest, they just turned out to be a lot more difficult than we originally thought. Our initial idea was to build on the concept of Story Mode heists to make a new gameplay experience for GTA Online that was more focused on cooperation, where everyone could play to their individual strengths and feel like they had a stake in the outcome…As it turns out, creating missions of that complexity for multiple players at the same time was much more difficult than we anticipated and every time we thought we were close, something would send us back to square one.”
To be honest, they just turned out to be a lot more difficult than we originally thought.
The main challenge seemed to be keeping all four players active and interested, even when some players might have tasks that require them to simply wait. One of the challenges is that unlike a heist in Story Mode, every player needs to feel central to the action at all times, and that’s much more challenging than it appears. A good example is the classic idea of your getaway driver, waiting outside of a bank for the big score. A movie might not spend too much time focusing on that person because while they are waiting, we are watching the action going down in the vault. In a similar situation in Story Mode, we could use a character switch to make sure the player was always in the center of the action and switch back to the driver later. But to make this work for multiple players, we needed to create situations where the driver has something interesting to do at exactly the same time the rest of their team are locking down the bank and making their way to the money.”
But finally, the issues have been ironed out and the mode is almost ready to go. “After many months of designing, testing, rewriting and re-testing, we settled on the four-player structure that you will experience in the game. It took a ton of work from our programmers and mission designers to make it work at the level we were happy with.” Still, the team doesn’t want to disappoint again, so they aren’t willing to give a firm date as of yet. Imran simply says that Heists will be added to GTA Online in early 2015.
As far as how Heists will actually play, Imran says “Each heist requires 4 players all at rank 12 or above, with one player as the designated heist leader. Leading a heist requires owning a high-end apartment so that you have a room available to set up the planning board. From there you’ll be able to launch missions as the leader, starting with the prep work and building up to the score itself. Being a heist leader has advantages and disadvantages. On the upside, Lester contacts the leader directly when there’s news of a job and it’s up to the leader to invite players into the crew, assign positions, pick outfits and allocate each player’s cut. On the other hand, the heist leader will need to personally front the set-up costs in order to successfully pull off the heist.” Leaders only get paid out at the end of the heist, while individual crew members get paid for prep missions as well.
“Some missions have all players working as one unit, some require players to take on specific tasks like hacking or crowd control, while others require players to split into smaller teams to complete separate high value objectives” says Imran. “For example, one team may be stealing a getaway car from some gangsters while another team is attempting to sneak into a police station, all within the same prep mission. We really want to push the co-op aspect and make players feel like they need to communicate effectively and work together to pull off each element.”
At launch there will be 20 total missions available, totaling around 20 hours of gameplay for players. This doesn’t count the replay factor though, so Heists should add quite a bit of value to GTA Online. More details and info can be found at the original IGN interview, so check it out if you are excited for the final release of GTA Online Heists.