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GTA Online Guide For Beginners: How To Get Started

9 Mins read


Featured image credit: Rockstar Games

Ever since it launched in 2013, GTA Online has kept evolving through time. Playing the game in 2020 feels a lot different than in 2013, but that is mainly due to various new updates, expansions and quality of life improvements which Rockstar Games introduced to the game. For newcomers, playing GTA Online might feel a bit too overwhelming and intimidating, however, with a bit of practice, it can become a very enjoyable experience.

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In this GTA Online guide, we’ll show you to get started and follow your path to become a criminal businessman. We will offer you tips how to level up fast, make money as easy as possible, and provide a list of most important missions and activities which will grant you access to building your own criminal empire. In no time you will eventually start doing heists, robbing banks, smuggling drugs, reselling cars and weapons, and wreaking havoc upon other players.

Character Creation

The first part of your GTA Online experience starts with the character creator. Here, you choose a variety of lifestyle options which will determine your character’s overall appearance, as well as starting stats. Choosing these lifestyle options, however, will have a negligible effect on the actual gameplay, as your success in GTA Online is more determined by your skills, rather than your attributes. Here, you should put all focus on creating the most visually appealing character you would want to play with. Keep in mind that you’ll spend a lot of time in character creator, so don’t rush too quickly. Making visual changes to your character in game can be quite expensive, so don’t miss this opportunity while you can. Once you are satisfied with your character’s looks, you may move on to play the game.

Finishing The Tutorial

After creating your character, you will begin the tutorial section. You might be tempted to skip the the tutorial entirely, but it is highly recommended not do that, especially if this is your first time, as GTA Online differs a lot from the singleplayer experience. The tutorial will introduce you to the online world’s mechanics and activities. You will learn how to participate in online races, missions, perform robberies and communicate with your contacts. Once you finish the tutorial (which isn’t all that long), you will be more comfortable with the game’s mechanics and controls.

Making Money And Leveling Up

Once you complete the tutorial, the whole world of GTA Online will become available for you to Free Roam, and do things whichever you want. In first hours, you should just go around and explore stuff around, in order to get the glimpse of what GTA Online really is. At this point, your first job should be stealing vehicles and delivering them to Simeon, or selling them to a Lost Santos Customs. The money will come, however, initially it will take a while.

By this time you fill figure out which are the two key resources for making progress in GTA Online. These are money and reputation points (RP). Money enables you to buy weapons, ammunition, clothes, cars and properties. Reputation points, on the other hand, allow you to level up and unlock new activities and items. The higher you level up, the more things you’ll be able to do.

By doing jobs, you will earn both money and RP. To start a job, you can either use your phone, select a job and drive to the location marked on your map, or select a job from the pause menu. Unlike real life, finding jobs in GTA Online is super easy. At any given time you’ll be able to choose from a dozen of jobs available at the moment, ranging from online races to contact missions or sophisticated bank heists. Some jobs pay better, while others don’t. With time you’ll figure out which jobs are the most interesting for you, and the most profitable. For low-level players, these are the most profitable jobs you can do at the moment:

  • Contact Missions – you can initiate these mission by selecting them in the job menu, or by calling up NPCs such as Lamar, Simeon or Gerald. Some of these missions frequently offer double rewards, and are in essence modified story missions.
  • Stealing Cars – by stealing and selling stolen vehicles to Los Santos Customs you can make a considerable amount of money. Once you level up a bit, you should start stealing high-end cars, which should bring you more profit.
  • Maude’s Bounties – from time to time you will receive text messages from Maude asking you to help him completing various bounties. If you succeed bringing the targets alive, you will receive a nice bonus.

Ever since the introduction of Casino update for GTA Online, players also have the ability to receive some extra cash by spinning the wheel at the Diamond Casino. Gambling at the Casino also enables you to earn some large amounts of money quickly, however, this method is very risky, and you should practice at your own caution.

How To Save And Keep Money

Saving money in GTA Online is a very important thing to do. Many online players, as well as NPCs can attack you on street and steal your hard earned money. The best way to protect the cash you carry with yourself is to deposit it to your bank account. To do that, you should perform routine trips to various ATM machines scattered around Los Santos. You can quickly locate the nearest ATM by pulling up your GPS locator in the interaction menu. You can also deposit money by visiting Maze Bank website via you smartphone. This way you don’t have to drive around the city like madmen trying to avoid other players. Also, you shouldn’t deposit your money in the bank which you are robbing. This is pretty self-explanatory.

How To Get Health, Weapons, And Ammo

Just like in the singleplayer mode, in GTA Online your character’s condition is determined by your health and armor stats. The health is represented by the green bars, and the armor by the blue bars. To replenish your health, you can eat snacks, which you can purchase from vending machines. You can also buy snacks at general purpose stores. To eat snacks, you have to open up the Interaction menu and select the snack which you want to eat from your inventory.

Body armor, on the other hand, can be only purchased at the AmmuNation stores. Just like snacks, your body armor is stored in your inventory, and you can restore it by selecting it from the Interaction menu. You can choose whether you want for your body armor to be display or not. There are couple of types of armor you can buy at the AmmuNation store. The Heavy Armor provides best protection, but it also costs the most.

Finally, ammo and weapons can also only be bought at the AmmuNation store, however, ammo can be also bought from the Interaction menu. As you level up, you will unlock more weapons and ammo types, which will become available for purchase.

How To Buy Apparel

If you want to buy yourself some better clothes, or just keep up with the fashion trends, just sit in your car and drive to the downtown of Los Santos. There you will find plenty of apparel shops, which should satisfy your clothing preferences. GTA Online features more than 4,000 pieces of clothing in game, and if you don’t like trying out each individual piece, you can simply buy full outfits in order to change your image. Once you have purchased an apartment, all of your bought clothing will be store there, thus enabling you to avoid frequent visits to the clothing stores.

How To Buy A Car

The vehicles you steal can be easily personalized at the Los Santos Custom. You can also claim ownership over them. Try avoiding using this scheme with high-end vehicles, since they are considered to be “too hot” for claiming ownership over them. Once you obtain a modest car, take to the mod shop and buy tracker and insurance for it. Once you do that, the car will spawn near you every time you enter a new GTA Online session. If your car gets destroyed, you can Mor’s Mutual Insurance company via your phone to get a replacement car. When you accumulate enough money, you can start buying new cars online via your phone internet browser.

How To Buy A Property

Properties in GTA Online cost a lot. For starters, your first priority should be buying a Unit 124 on Popular Street (East Los Santos) for $25,000. Buying this property will grant you an access to a two-car garage, Mechanic, and a safe spawn location not far from Los Santos downtown. To find and acquire this property, you have to open up your mobile phone, and using the Internet browser app navigate to the “Money and Services” tab, where you’ll see Dynasty’s 8 Real Estate website. Visit that website and search for “low-end properties”. There you will find Unit 124.

As you start accumulating more money, you will want to increase the number of properties you own. This will enable you to store more cars, expand your businesses and start performing heists. To unlock heists, you will have to buy a better apartment. The cheapest property that will grant you access to heists is Del Perro Heights apartment building, which can be bought for as low as $200,000.

GTA Online features different types of properties, with different features. Here is the list of them:

  • Standard Apartment – allows you to change clothes, can be used as a base of operations
  • High-End Apartment – similar to Standard Apartment, but includes a dedicated garage, and a planning room for Heists
  • Offices – enables you to become a CEO and run cargo and vehicle missions
  • Bunkers – used for organizing Heists and running weapons businesses
  • Nightclubs and Arcades – used for generating additional income
  • Garages – used for storing vehicles
  • Hangars – used for storing aircraft

In GTA Online you can also buy some special properties such as yachts or Diamond Casino, which also enable you some special features. All properties can be bought online via Dynasty 8’s or Maze Bank Foreclosure’s websites. Since many of these properties require a lot of money to be purchased, you will have to play quite a lot until you acquire them.

How To Avoid Griefers

In GTA Online you can encounter quite a lot of friendly players which might make friends with you, however, most of the players in GTA Online tend to be quite hostile towards you. At best, they might ignore you and mind their own business, however, there is a high probability that players you encounter in free roam will try to rob you, or kill you. This can become very frustrating during the missions in which you have to get from point A to point B at a slow pace.

If you constantly keep being bullied by other players, there are a few simple things you can do. The first level of protection from other players involves enabling the Passive Mode, which makes you untouchable by other players. To activate Passive Mode, go to the Interaction menu and enable there. Once you enable it, other players won’t be able to harm you, but you also won’t be able to equip weapons or use melee attacks. The second thing you can do is to suggest kicking the players from your current session. To do that, go to the pause menu, select “Online”, then “Players”, mark the player that harasses you, and then select “Kick”. If enough players agree with you and do the same, the marked players will be kicked from the session. Lastly, you can always leave the current online session, and search for another from the pause menu.

How To Start Heists

Until you have leveled up significantly, and have reached the endgame portion of the GTA Online, you won’t be able to take on the Heists. In an essence, Heists are just special mission which feature a specific setting, and require a lot of teamwork. Completing Heists will reward you with a lot of money, but since they are quite difficult, good planning and coordination are the hallmarks of this game mode. It is strongly recommended to play Heists with your friends, or group of players you can talk with over a voice chat. Nonetheless, Heists can also be successfully completed by playing with a bunch of strangers.

Each Heist consist of a number of separate missions which prepare you for a grand finale where all things mix up. To unlock Heists, you first have to reach level 12 and purchase a high-end apartment where you can start planning on. Before initiating the Heist, your teammates have to elect the Heist leader, which is the person who is responsible for all the costs and recruiting of other players.

You can also join Heists from other players, however, this will reward you with smaller amount of money upon completion. At the beginning it is very hard to find experienced players to help you, so it is recommended to find helpful teammates through online communities such as Reddit or Discord.

What To Do Next?

Making your way from road to riches will be very hard in GTA Online, but it will be a worthwhile experience. GTA Online offers plenty of activities to do once you get the hang of it. There are plenty of game modes you can participate in, such as Team Deathmatch, Last Man Standing, Adversary Modes, Survival, Parachuting, Online Races, Time Trials and so on. If you don’t like PvP, you can always continue building and expanding your criminal empire by selling cars, smuggling weapons and drugs, or just doing Heists.

Lots of interesting Contact Missions aren’t available until you reach a certain rank, so be patient. If you have a hard time earning or saving money, you can always buy a GTA Online Shark Card for an instant cash injection, however, this method shouldn’t be a top priority on your list as it requires a real life money. The best thing you can do in GTA Online is have fun. Find friends on Reddit and Discord, team up and perform Heists, do VIP work, or just wreak havoc upon Los Santos. Playing this game is always easier when you have allies on your side.

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Emma is an avid lover of cats, Japanese anime, deep existential works, and video games. She graduated with a master's degree in anthropology and occasionally writes articles for ViCadia.
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