Collectibles are a staple of the GTA franchise, with the best ones often rewarding players who bother to explore the world.
The best collectibles can be differentiated from the bad ones for several reasons. First, the rewards have to be at least good. Whether the reward is non-existent or just a paltry sum of cash cannot be classified as one of the best collectibles in the GTA franchise. Likewise, the collectible itself has to be attractive and easily identifiable.
Naturally, if a collectible shows up in multiple games, then the version with the best rewards will be considered over the rest of the pack. Most GTA games have numerous collectibles, so this list won't discriminate against a game if several of the game's collectibles are worthwhile.
Collectibles are usually worth collecting, as they are the primary way to reward players who explore GTA's world. Without it, then there's often no reason to bother looking around in one's free time.
Five of the best collectibles in GTA history
#5 - Hidden Packages (GTA III)
Hidden Packages are one of the first collectibles in the GTA franchise and are the primary ones associated with GTA III. Technically, Hidden Packages also show up in other titles, like Liberty City Stories, GTA Vice City, and GTA Advance. Still, the GTA III version's rewards, alongside the fact that it originated in GTA III, make this version the definitive one representing the pack.
Unlike later games, collecting a hidden package would give the player $1000 (compared to a paltry $100). Gathering all 100 hidden packages would also bestow the player $1,000,000 (Liberty City Stories only gives $50,000) as a free Rocket Launcher bonus.
Some might argue that $1,000,000 is overkill in GTA III, as money is typically not an issue in that game, but it's still impressive based on sheer numbers.
#4 - Signal Jammers (GTA Online)
On paper, unlocking a random heist member and acquiring a measly $50,000 might seem unimpressive for destroying 50 Signal Jammers. However, it's a fantastic reward for players who love to grind the Diamond Casino Heist, as Avi Schwartzman is the best hacker in GTA Online.
It's an extra percent for five seconds, but those five seconds can come in handy for many players.
Another often overlooked aspect of Signal Jammers is the rewards a player gets for destroying them individually. $2000 and 1000 RP is an excellent supplemental reward, especially since players are bound to discover some of them on their own in free mode within GTA Online.
Players who don't care about the Diamond Casino Heist or don't need that extra five seconds won't value this collectible as much as lesser-skilled players. However, it's still a collectible worth mentioning.
#3 - Rampages (GTA III)
Rampages are collectibles where the player has to kill a certain number of people or destroy a certain amount of vehicles within a given time frame. It's another daily staple to most games within the series, as it's often what most overprotective mothers fear and associate with the GTA franchise.
The most noteworthy thing about rampages, in general, is that players are given unlimited ammo to do their tasks.
Rampages in GTA III require the player to use a specific weapon. For instance, the rampage near Old School Hall needed the player to destroy 13 vehicles with a Rocket Launcher.
Rampages are required for 100% completion in GTA III, and there are two different places where each Rampage might spawn. Fortunately, these rampages are the best financially, as the player can earn up to $100,000 on a single rampage, as there are bonuses in increments of $5,000 with every successful one.
#2 - Oysters (GTA San Andreas)
Oysters are another collectible required for 100%ing GTA San Andreas, but other reasons make collecting it worthwhile. The first is that Oysters are underwater, improving the player's Lung Capacity (5% Lung Capacity is required for Amphibious Assault).
Contrary to popular belief, collecting the Oysters by itself does not increase a player's Lung Capacity. Instead, it's the action of going underwater that does it.
Another reason is that collecting all Oysters bestows the player maximum Lung Capacity and can allow CJ to date any GTA San Andreas girlfriend.
This means that it can help players unlock more bonuses if they haven't bothered dating yet. Plus, $100,000 is a nice bonus. As an aside, a collectible underwater is pretty neat, which fortunately returns in future games.
#1 - 99 Red Balloons (GTA Vice City Stories)
A collectible where the player has to shoot it is delightful, and a similar concept is later seen with the GTA IV flying rats. The fact that it's literal balloons the player is shooting at is hilarious, especially when taken out of context.
Fortunately, Victor Vance doesn't have to go to random parties to destroy red balloons. Instead, it's scattered around the Vice City map similar to Hidden Packages.
99 Red Balloons is based on the hit 1983 song, 99 Luftballoons, which only helps hammer in how much of a tribute Vice City is to the 80s. The rewards aren't incredibly overpowered, but free weapon spawns are always nice. Plus, it's easy money.
Note: This list is subjective and reflects only the writer's opinions.