GTA Online is nothing less than an industry juggernaut in 2021 and one that shows no signs of stopping any time soon. However, the discourse around the game seems to have been growing increasingly hostile over the past few months.
Due to its nature as an online multiplayer game, GTA Online has the opportunity to evolve and adapt to the current times and fix several of its issues through updates. Rockstar Games has been able to fix several problems that have popped up in the last eight years, but there are many that have continued to persist.
With GTA Online set for release as a standalone title in 2021, here are some issues that the American publisher needs to address.
Five glaring concerns with GTA Online in 2021
#1 - Rampant modding/hacking
Ever since its launch in 2013, GTA Online has been steadily growing in popularity.
However, as of late, there has been an increasing sense of frustration within the fanbase. The game seems to have a massive issue concerning modders and hackers, and it is slowly killing this insanely popular title from within. Modders are those who use special mods to change their gameplay such that they gain an unfair advantage.
Modders essentially gain an unfair advantage over the rest of the playing field in GTA Online, which results in significant frustration for other players in the session. Cheating/modding has been the cause of decline for many popular online multiplayer games in the modern era.
If GTA Online is to survive, Rockstar must make some big changes to how it protects the integrity of the game.
#2 - Imbalance of power
Any online multiplayer game that has been around for as long as GTA Online has an imbalance of power between older and newer players. Such a problem is bound to exist in such titles.
However, the way GTA Online seems to randomly slot players into a session without much semblance of a well designed algorithm at play makes it that much more apparent.
Level 5 players are placed with level 300 players in the same session, which means that the lower level 'players' have next to no chance of surviving. Free mode has essentially become a wasteland for newer players who can barely cope with veterans of GTA Online.
While Rockstar cannot solve this imbalance, perhaps a better algorithm for matchmaking needs to be implemented in GTA Online so as to make the experience better for the beginners.
#3 - Steep learning curve
The core mechanics of GTA Online are relatively easy to grasp, seeing as how it mostly takes after GTA 5's story mode. The shooting, driving, and flying come naturally to most players.
But what doesn't come naturally is the large number of businesses, activities, and a dozen more systems that seem to interact with each other. The game doesn't do a great job at tutorializing these to gamers, leaving them to their own devices from the start.
Unless players look for guides online, they are liable to miss out on some of the best aspects of GTA Online. While the non-linear progression system is appreciated by players, it can be pretty overwhelming for newer ones.
The dozen phone calls and dialog boxes on the screen certainly don't help new players get comfortable with the game.
#4 - No roadmap of content
GTA Online gets a stream of new content each year, and Rockstar has been pulling out all the stops as of late. December 2020's Cayo Perico Heist was indeed the biggest update ever for GTA Online, and fans couldn't be happier with it.
Yet, the developer's approach to communication regarding the update usually just means a cryptic announcement during the year. Other online multiplayer games of similar ilk have adopted a roadmap of content drops that detail new content and seasons throughout the year.
A similar roadmap for GTA Online will help attract new players to the game as well as satisfy existing ones. It will detail exactly what Rockstar has in store for players throughout the year.
#5 - Load times
No talk of GTA Online and its issues is complete without mention of its absolutely staggering load times. Given just how big the game is, it makes sense that it takes a significant amount of time to load.
Earlier this year, a modder, t0st, took it upon themselves to improve load times and was quite successful. Rockstar implemented the change for PCs and gave a quick shoutout to t0st in the patch notes.
Yet, the expectation from the next-gen version of the game is that it will be able to eliminate the frustrating load times. Jumping straight into a match is what makes online multiplayer games fun. However, when it takes ages to load, that becomes increasingly difficult.
Note: This article reflects the author's opinions.