AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is kinda cheating, because you don’t actually get a platinum trophy for completing this DLC. When I say ‘platinum’ from here on out, it means to get all of the trophies associated with GTA Online’s Heist missions. I actually have platinumed GTA V already, but I want to specifically discuss the Heist missions here. Everybody, sit down.
CAN I PLATINUM THIS: I am going to say right off the bat: You probably shouldn’t. These missions are four player only, which means that you basically have to coordinate and organize a group of people to play together at any given time. This is especially the case if you are intending on getting some of the ‘heist bonuses,’ which we will discuss later on. Don’t get me wrong, these missions are super, super fun, as long as you aren’t taking it all too seriously. For just casual GTA players however, it can put a genuine strain on the relationships you have with your friends. No foolies, these missions actually destroyed a long-term BFFship I had. Be careful. This is Mario Kart level of friendship destruction potential.
INITIAL SELECTION: Rockstar games always leave me rock hard for days, so I was always going to pick up this business. I bought GTA V on Xbox360 and, like a chump, I rebought it on PS4 when it was available, too. That was admittedly more for the promise of the GTA Online Heists, but I genuinely was disappointed in myself for not 100%ing it on the 360. I endeavoured to do it since I hadn’t really completed a GTA game 100% since GTA III (that dodo was not worth it, don’t let them fool you), and I tapped out of 100%ing GTA IV because the ‘Liberty City Minute’ achievement can go suck a fat one.
Tl;DR = you bet your candy ass I was selecting this badboy.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In the Heist missions you play as [FACELESS CRIMINAL], which you may or may not have maxed out/gotten tired of from playing GTA Online proper. My character’s name was Sunny and she had purple hair and wore an ill-fitting suit, because video games are a nice way of expressing yourself. We meet Lester in a cutscene where he blames us specifically for Rockstar’s delay of the Heist missions for some reason even though I am a nice guy who never has done anything to Rockstar personally, and then we are away. Over the course of five online multiplayer campaigns, we see our happy characters rob banks, steal jets, and fail missions through tirades of cursing. Is there a story? It doesn’t really matter. We are finally doing online missions which actually feel directioned and purposeful (Even if they aren’t really. Don’t think about it too much).
GAMEPLAY REVIEW: The Heist Gameplay is basically the same as the GTA Online gameplay, which was a hollowed-out version of the single-player gameplay. Rockstar did sneak in a few interesting new features like Daily Objectives (very addictive), a new ‘on call’ function for accepting jobs (which I never really got used to), and the single-player ability to duck in a car to be less visible to cops (which I never really was certain made a difference, but I hammered that function every chance I got). All of that doesn’t matter though, because ButtPirate420 just sticky-bombed your car, and now you have to claim it back from the insurance company, and you have spawned a few blocks away on foot. Oh, look. xXMeatSweats1997Xx just gunned you down. You respawn a block over and someone casually buzzes you in a jet. You quietly log off GTA Online and subconsciously make the decision to be extra rude to the next minimum-wage barista you see, because you are a jerk, too.
BEST PARTS: The Armoured Kuruma wins by a landslide. Seriously, even if you are the standard Reddit-user who has no friends, you should bumble your way through the introductory two-player heist just to get the car unlocked. The car isn’t exactly indestructible, but it is bulletproof enough to let your God Mode dreams come true. The IDDQD of GTA Online.
And aside from the friendship-destroying aspects, having actual well-realised four player missions where each player is individually completing objectives was extremely satisfying. Some of the pre- Heist update missions really did feel like a waste of potential, where everybody dies except for one person, who then completes the mission objectives slowly for half an hour, dies before the end, and forces everyone to rage-quit out to free mode. The shared-life zero-tolerance policy for the Heist missions was rough like an old shark’s ass, which leads me to the…
WORST PARTS: Man, I hope you don’t mind getting yelled at by your friends or loved ones. Even if you do everything perfectly this runthrough and you were extremely lucky, you maybe even logged a couple of recordings for your YouTube highlight montage for good measure, your flipstupid cousin decides to get shot and forces every. Single. Person. To restart. This addition differentiated the Heist missions from the previous Online missions significantly, and it is fair to state that this one feature alone was straight-up cold blooded. It traumatises you to the point where when you inevitably returned to a pre-Heist mission, your cardiac arrest punchcard filled up whenever someone bought it, only to have the weird ‘oh wait, are we still going?’ moment afterwards. I say this was a bad thing, but I definitely found that I wasn’t such a die-all-the-time-Terry after I finished a few Heist missions. They broke me down, and then rebuilt me anew.
That said, GTA Online Heists broke my Rockstar rose-colored glasses. Even Bethesda’s ‘bugs and/or features’ franchises didn’t hurt me as much as the game-breaking issues we collectively had with these goddamn Heists. I was the Heist leader until the end of the third Heist, when Lester became every girl I ever loved because he too refused to speak to me again. This was important because missions were not triggered without his call, thus halting our collective progress indefinitely. I emailed Rockstar about it and after a lengthly back-and-forth about it (I think I stooped as low in one email to say, “Please fix this. My friends hate me.”), I received the equivalent of a mumbled ‘Iuhno’ and a shrug.
We started the Heists again with a new leader from the beginning as we were aiming for the ‘all in order’ payoff. Then, at the end of the second Heist (creatively called ‘The Prison Break,’ where we band together to abduct Buttflap Rachmaninoff from jail because who flippin’ cares anymore), we were all trapped in the getaway plane with infinitely-spawning police and an unshakeable five-star wanted level no matter how many times we restarted the mission, and xXMeatSweats1997Xx was nowhere in sight to put us out of our misery. That was when our friendship really descended into Lord of the Flies levels of childish murder and ego-crushing. Luckily we tried a different combination of roles and players enough so that we were able to discard our conch shell and move on. The emotional scars remain, however. I will hear Barfface Romanov’s pathetic, whiny voice say ‘help meee’ in my many cold, friendless years to come.
BIGGEST SURPRIZE: If Rockstar does anything right, and they do, it is attention to detail. There were plenty of little moments that made the experience worthwhile. The biggest one was the albeit- pointless theft of the fun Hydra jets, which escalated into an excellent four-way dogfight, and ended with Kenny Loggin’s ‘Dangerzone’ on the flight back to Sandy Shores. That mission alone was worth the price of admission.
And as much emphasis as I have put on the friendship-ending content, the game really does push to create camaraderie beyond the ‘cruising with players’ XP bonuses. It was immensely satisfying after completing a taxing mission to see our characters high-fiving or getting drunk together in a bar, as corny as that sounds. It is a similar feeling to those old books which your Mum paid extra to have published with your name in them, like, “Stephen and the Magic Lamp!” or “Jessica’s Dino-tastrophy!” It was kinda like Rockstar saying, “Hey, look at you guys! You are doing stuff together in a cut-scene! Remember when this flippin’ game series was top-down? Now you can drink beer and get a lapdance! Throw some money at that stripper because you’ve earned it, [FACELESS CRIMINAL].”
COLLECTABLES?: Well, there are the platinum medals that you need to collect, I suppose. Which are pretty impossible if you are terrible at playing the game and always place last. Have a look at the ‘Most Grind-Heavy’ trophy section for more info.
WOULD I BUY THE DLC OF THIS GAME?: Wait, what? This is DLC, you monkeyscrote.
FIRST TROPHY: Be Prepared (Bronze) 2015/03/11 12:39PM
The description of this trophy is ‘Complete a Heist Setup mission.’ I really like these little trophies that games do right at the beginning. Even if you haven’t done anything, it is nice to have a wee trophy pop-up when you’re first starting out.
This trophy is important however for people that haven’t managed to collect a crew of regulars, as completing the heists with a random smattering of people really does deserve some kind of reward. A taxing endeavour indeed.
PLATINUM: Dead Presidents (Bronze) 2015/05/23 10:56PM
The description of this trophy is ‘GTA Online: Complete The Fleeca Job and The Pacific Standard Job as Heist Leader or Crew,’ but it is basically the trophy for completing the final heist. Boy, that one was a doozy. It was highly entertaining for the most part, but the final escape on the speed-boosting Lectros was unforgiving and the constant mission restarts were highly taxing. An exercise in social tolerance and forgiveness if I ever saw one.
MOST DIFFICULT TROPHY: Live a Little (Silver) 2015/05/23 10:58PM
The description of this trophy is ‘You spent a total of $8,000,000 purchasing vehicles included as part of The Heists Update.’ I put this under the ‘Most Difficult’ trophy rather than the ‘Most Grind-Heavy’ trophy, but this trophy is some serious grinding. If you have a look at the date on the ‘First Trophy,’ then for this one, there is a difference of around two months. That was two months of me grinding for money in Online missions every motherflippin’ day. I had basically started a part-time job which was paying me in fake money.
I was pretty inefficient at the beginning, as I would get bored and spend the cash on trivial things like gun paintjobs (although I would argue that having a pink bazooka is never a waste of money), and it did have the side-effect of making me very, very good at GTA Online. Two whole months of my late- youth I will never get back is a hard something to something something. I ran out of steam there trying to think of a good expression because I am depressed at how long it took me to get this trophy.
When we get down to brass tacks, this is how I did it: the first $5,000,000 was done from actually completing the heists and doing GTA Online non-Heist missions. Although you do get bonuses for the first time you complete heists, the pay-off from those in the end is probably around 1-1.5 mil all-up. This means that you will have to grind a good 4 mil from completing missions. We will come back to that. The remaining 2 mil comes from having three other friends to complete the Heists with you, in order. The ‘All in Order’ and ‘Loyalty’ bonuses pay out a cool million each. You also get a 10 million bonus if you complete all the heists in order, no deaths, on hard, with the same crew. Ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha, ha. HA, HA, HA, HA, HAAAaaaaa.
Anyway, you will be grinding a lot, is what I am saying. A fun and quick way to grind is to actually do stuff with your heist crew if you have one, as completing races with a decent collection of people actually pays out pretty well, is relatively quick, and is fun. Completing the first 2-player heist also is relatively quick and the payout is alright, as long as you’ve completed your ‘All in Order’ bonus or don’t mind casually losing it.
Your crew isn’t always going to be there for you though, so grinding by yourself means doing missions. I found that I could solo missions easily which had a 1-2 player mission cap, especially the ‘Blow Up’ missions. These three missions require you to blow up a collection of cars in a lot and then escape a 2-star wanted level, a 3-star wanted level, or some aggressive gangsters, respectively. My personal choice was ‘Blow Up II,’ which had a 3-star wanted level, but since the mission takes place downtown, there were several easy escape routes or carpark camping spots. To save money on explosives, I was parking all the cars close to one another and using the cheap jerry can to detonate them ($100 refill on 5-6 uses if you are frugal. Much better than grenades which are $100 each or stickys which are $600 each).
Completing these missions gives you around $19,000 a piece maximum, if you execute it right. At first I figured you got paid extra for having more wanted levels in a mission, but eventually I realized that the pay is scaled based on how long it took you to complete the mission. In the end I was completing the mission within the first five minutes, losing the wanted level, and parking up next to the mission-complete marker and waiting out my time. I got it down to a science, but I never really timed it, and so I assume it was around the 20 minute mark for the full mission payoff. I used to just near-complete the mission, leave my controller alone, and catch up with social media while I waited. Online also has a kick-idle player function which activates after 15 mins (warnings start popping after 2 mins of idle time, saying you have 13 mins of idle time remaining), but a casual controller nudge usually solved that problem.
Your biggest enemy here is boredom. It is slow going and I found myself often spending cash on non- Heist items like a chump, buying that stupid van with the lumberjack on the side, and a secondary and unnecessary high-end apartment. You should’ve already bought the Armoured Kuruma if you are a rational individual, and I also ended up picking up the Hydra, the Insurgent Pick-up, the Valkyrie, and the mission-glitched Valum 5-seater because I am a masochist. I believe that modding the Kuruma (and thus, any Heist vehicle you can actually park in your garage) also counts towards the final tally. There were other excellent and worthwhile purchases from Heists too, like the late-in-the-game Savage and the Lectro.
If you use your time and money wisely without getting distracted, and have a semi-reliable crew, this trophy is doable. Stress-related cysts aside.
‘SO EASY THAT IT IS KINDOF POINTLESS’ TROPHY: Four Way (Bronze) 2015/03/28 10:24PM
The description of this trophy is ‘As Heist Leader you set the Finale cut as 25% across all players.’ This sounds like a cool trophy, but in the end it was a little pointless and unfair on the host who actually had to front up the cash for the job in the first place. This is best to get early-on, as the missions are cheaper. My ‘crew’ eventually settled on a regular split of 40%/20% for leader/minions because that seemed to be the most fair. Lester, on the other hand, probably laughed his way to the bank every time.
MOST ENTERTAINING TROPHY: Shot Caller (Bronze) 2015/03/28 7:16PM
The description of this trophy is ‘You invested your hard earned cash and set up a Heist.’ None of the trophies here are particularly ‘entertaining,’ but it sure does feel nice to be the boss. Even if it really did change nothing during the actual mission, it does create a strange feeling of superiority. Satisfying.
MOST GRIND-HEAVY TROPHY: Mastermind (Silver) 2015/05/09 10:06PM
The description of this trophy is ‘You earned 25 platinum medals across Heist Setups and Finales.’ This one deceived me a little because Online has these things called ‘awards’ where if you do certain things (Kill a number of people with pistols, blow up a number of vehicles, etc) they give you a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum award for it and some XP. I grinded away on these for a while until I realised that the trophy wasn’t actually referring to that, but actually to the player-ranking system at the end of each Heist mission. An annoying discovery, after I had poured a decent amount of time into this already.
Player rankings worked seemingly at random, but they did seem to put more emphasis on kills and an incredible emphasis on completing objectives. It is important to be the person who actually drives the car over the mission marker, or the person who picks up the documents, etc. Yet again, if you are grinding, the first two-player Heist is the easiest one to do this on. There are only the two setups and the finale though, so this might take some time if you haven’t been scoring highly on other Heist missions. Since the system seems to be weighted more on those completing objectives, being the driver in all three of these missions is a given. Each playthrough of this heist takes less than an hour if you’re performing well, so maybe you can grind this out in about 10 hours of playing if you get good at it. This might be easier with a friend, but personally, grinding this with another person seemed very tiresome. Using randoms for this does seem like the best idea for me, but this can lead to wildcards who have no idea what they’re doing who might mess everything up for you. Just like life.
HAPPY ACCIDENT TROPHY: Can’t Touch This (Bronze) 2015/03/14 11:56PM
The description of this trophy is ‘You completed a Heist Finale without taking any damage.’ The best way to do this is definitely to be in the ‘driver’ role in the ‘The Fleeca Job’, because you get in and out of the bank in an instant, right into a bulletproof car, and then about a minute later the mission ends. You can still get hit by a stray bullet through the teeny-weeny windows, but that is better than the ‘driller’ who gets lit up as they saunter from the bank about 30 seconds after you. I got this one on my second runthrough of the first Heist. You could get it in other heist finales… but why would you want to?
ONLINE TROPHY HIGHLIGHT(S): This really goes without saying, but difficult trophies sure are rewarding when they are finally accomplished. The personal catharsis I experienced when I picked up the ‘Live a Little’ trophy was indescribable, to the point where I am pretty sure that my friends thought I was going to cry when the trophy actually did pop. This was because it was at the end of the final Heist, where we got the million dollar heist payoffs, and that had literally saved me from weeks and weeks of tiresome grinding to get the remaining money for the trophy. More satisfying than sweaty physical acts with people you care about romantically, if you know what I mean (tennis, or whatever).
TROPHY COLLECTION PRO-TIP: Check the ‘Most Difficult’ trophy information for money-grind tips, as that is probably the biggest and most frustrating trophy to get. My other pro-tip is to convince three of your friends to pick up the game and play with you too, because doing this stuff alone hurts your soul worse than those late-night-can’t-sleep-social-faux-pas memories do.
FINAL THOUGHT: We often, as people who play games, reflect on those important moments in our personal and collective histories. Whether it was choosing your first starter pokémon, investing hard earned pocket money at the local arcades, or having your first LAN gaming experience with your friends, these have solidified and hardened into our ‘personality’ shells. Sometimes time is required to recognize these iconic moments, explaining Hollywood’s strange video-game nostalgia-delay for games 30+ years old only, but at other times we know in our bones that we are experiencing something important.
For me, I count Portal 2’s mind-bending multi-portal multiplayer, Skyrim’s simultaneously real and surreal ‘open world,’ and Papers, Please’s commentary on bureaucratic ethics and banal evils, as recent but significant gaming moments which have wrapped around and formed my gaming identity. I can also easily count GTA Online: Heists as the same, in terms of capturing the silliness and seriousness of the franchise while delivering a cooperative, interactive online playground. You should be playing this. Platinuming, maybe not, but playing this is a definite yes.
Just try not to lose friends over it.