Grand Theft Auto V: Heist DLC / 13th of March 2015
Since the first launch of Grand Theft Auto V there has been but one word on everyone’s lips, Heists. The much vaunted addition to GTA Online that allows groups of friends – or complete strangers for that matter – to come together in order to pull off a series of hair raising operations in the search of good loot, as well as a damn good time. Well, finally, after what has felt like an eternity, with the mode trapped in development limbo, Heists has finally been launched, but has it lived up to the massive amount of hype that surrounds it? In a word, yes.
I feel as though I should point out that, personally, I have never been a particularly big fan of the GTA series, the last one in particular was something of a complete shambles to me, but there can be no denying what a step forward the latest entry has been, with a gargantuan leap forward in visual fidelity and the much needed addition of multiple characters that feature some rudimentary progression (though I would like to see this expanded upon to add more RPG-like depth), not to mention a vastly improved online mode, GTA V was by its predecessor’s standard, something of a revelation. Yet still, I don’t really get the buzz around even this vastly improved game, but with this incredible piece of DLC, Rockstar North might have just changed that.
Heists incorporates several jobs that can be pulled off by up to four players (apart from the initial Fleeca Job which is strictly a two man affair), and without question, it has raised the bar for what we can expect from DLC – especially when it’s free. Downloadable content is rarely a game changer though, Gearbox did some truly stellar work with the first Borderlands game, and Fallout 3’s Point Lookout has always been a firm favourite of mine, yet GTA is now the first game that I can think of whose DLC has managed to create an entirely new game experience, sure there are heists that can be pulled off in the single player campaign, and this mode is obviously based around that, yet it still feels wholly new, and completely engaging as a result.
Outside of the short opening, each mission is broken down into roughly six setup tasks as well as the main job itself, these are all rather varied and immensely enjoyable, from collecting trash (whilst fending off attacking mobs), raiding a yacht full of jocks in the hopes of emancipating a large stash of coke, stealing high-tech military equipment or disguising yourself as a cop to sneak undetected into a station, they all do a marvellous task of readying the group for the sterner challenges that await in the main tasks themselves. Worth mentioning are the missions that see players forced to co-operate in order to storm areas undetected, synchronising sniper attacks to eliminate guards before an alarm can be raised, such as the raid on everybody’s most reviled bikers, The Lost and Damned. Naturally, wiping them out is especially satisfying.
The final mission in each group of tasks - the heists themselves – that are currently on offer are also very different from one another, whilst the first bank job is actually little more than a light-hearted training escapade, the following assault on a high-security prison to free a convict and escape in a plane is what really sets the tone for all that follows. The jobs culminate in a daring bank robbery that sees the group tackle vast stretches of highway and mountainous terrain in a desperate bid to escape a massive police presence, before leaping off of a mountain to parachute down to a waiting boat in order to sail off into the sunset. It’s all very James Bond-like, and it certainly gets the blood pumping like very few games have even come close to doing in recent years.
In some instances, the heist leader can assign roles to the players, these may have specific tasks that have to be completed, from destroying a decoy vehicle (or being one), to piloting choppers or taking part in ground assault teams, players have to work together in order to succeed, and with only two team lives available, they also have to perform admirably if they want to have any hopes of not letting the side down. The group leader also has control over the share of the take, egalitarian players may wish to divvy up the cash in equal splits, but leading such a rag-tag group comes at a cost, with the leader not only paying to set-up the job, but also sacrificing their take from any of the initial missions that lead up to the heist itself. You have been warned.
To put it simply, Heists is a truly brilliant addition to GTA Online, and a perfect reason for anyone to return to the title after a leave of absence. The content here is a veritable banquet of new content that’s perfectly balanced, brilliantly designed and incredibly good fun, this is why DLC exists. Buy it.