As you are all aware, GTA Online Heists went live a few weeks back promising the same level of bank robbery that you found in the main game, but only this time you can do it with your friends. The concept is simple, the potential was staggering but the final result is a little disappointing. At least from a fun point of view.

Let me explain. I love GTA Online, it’s simply the best game I’ve played. If you have read my previous GTA Online post you’ll know that the sheer fun, randomness and craziness the game brings is something I’ve never gained from a game before and find it hard to believe I will from another.

The beauty of GTA Online’s missions is that you can tackle them however you please. Literally if you can think of a way to do a mission, that involves a cargo plane, a parachute a helicopter carrying a tank and a mountain bike, then you can do it. I’ve never been a fan of slogging through online games to level up and all that. It just bores me, but not in GTA Online, I can’t get enough of it and the prospect of heists bringing even more mad cap stunts and money was a mouth watering prospect.

Unfortunately, the Heists don’t quite live up to their potential and with it brings some issues I never expected and a darker side to gamers which I don’t like.

First up let me explain what I wanted from the Heists update. My vision was, to get online with my crew, we could then choose a  heist, and then WE could discuss how we would go about making that big bust. First we would scout the bank and look for possible entrances, alarms and escape routes, just like the first heist in the main game. Then we would decide if we should gas the place, intimidate the customers,  take hostages or just blow the bloody doors off. Then we would figure out what to do once the alarm sounds and the rozzers start piling into the bank. I had visions of planting sticky bombs everywhere, to snag the cops as they come flying in, flying a plane down the main high street to pick up my crew, jetting off to the top of Mount Chiliad where we had some bikes waiting to take us off road to our hideout. Or something similarly ridiculous.

The point is, just like the main missions in GTA Online, the dream was to be able to play the heists our way. All the way from planning to execution.

However, in reality the heists are a very tight, planned out for you, dare I say it – a bit dull. Basically a heist consists of lots of mini missions or ‘setup’ missions as they are called in the game. This basically gets you all the things you need for the big heist. Stealing certain vehicles, getting access codes etc etc. These are all very similar to the normal missions you’ll get when playing GTA Online, only not as much fun and without any freedom. For example, there I was fighting off hoards of helicopters which is a near impossible task, if you’ve ever flown a helicopter in GTA V you’ll know what I’m talking about. So I decided to land, take out the choppers with my rocket launcher. But no. As soon as I stepped out the bird, it was mission over “Mission Failed: Ninja Toes left the helicopter” Seriously where’s the freedom gone.

The first mistake Rockstar has made is to make Heists 4 player only.  Which straight away sucks any fun out of the game. When I say sucks, I mean if you’re in a crew of four, then I’m sure it’s awesome, but more often than not you’re teamed up with some random players who you just don’t give a shit and therefore makes planning and carrying out the missions a lot less fun than if you knew your team. My crew currently consists of three people who also happen to be my best mates. From what I’ve played so far, I reckon we could do the heists with just the three of us, it might be tricky, but with our sense of adventure and epic skills we could probably do it. Not that we have an option. Instead we have to put out an invite for a random. We don’t want a random, we want to do this our way and not have to worry about someone who doesn’t get our style of play. This random will probably get bored of our antics and leave, meaning we can’t do the heist. It’s stupid.

The whole idea of GTA is to be able to do what you want, when you want in this sandbox world. Now that heists have come along everything has just become super serious and regimented. I mean you have to buy a super apartment before you can begin? Why? that’s a lot of money I could have spent on Sticky Bombs. You need a crew of 4. Why? It’s not like people are really talking,  or helping you out. most of the heists I’ve done outside of my crew have been done in silence, so the  need to speak to your crew to plan and execute doesn’t need to happen. The heists are played out the way Rockstar want you to play them, not how you want to play them and that to me negates the whole sandbox idea and the Grand Theft Auto ethos.

But my shattered dreams are not the only bad thing about heists, there is a much darker side to the heists which doesn’t paint gamers in a very good light at all.

When your crew isn’t around you can get invited to join a heist with another crew or just four random people. In case you didn’t know starting a heist is quite expensive, but the gains you get back more than make up for it. When planning a heist you can dish out a percentage of the take to your temporary crew with the host taking the biggest cut and the rest taking whatever percentage he decides. I was playing one day and the host decided to take 55% and give 15% to the rest of us, that worked out to be about $87,000 which to me was a nice tidy sum. However the two other chumps in the game didn’t like that and wanted more money. Then began the requests for an increase, these were ignored, then the requests turned to insults, again ignored and then there were threats “I’m going to find where you live and kill you” being the most popular. Sure these were just idle threats (I hope) but given the press some gamers are getting of late, this is a worry and something I didn’t feel comfortable with and immediately left the heist.

One other thing I don’t like about heists is that no one is a team player, I’m not sure why but nobody seems to want to help out the rest of the crew. It’s an all for one mentality which takes any fun out of the game. Why jump in your car, and drive off without giving a lift to the rest of the crew when the heist can’t start until all the crew get to the destination anyway. I’m not a massive online player, so perhaps this is common behaviour but I didn’t like it. Destiny on the other hand is full of team spirit, everyone helping everyone for the greater good.

There is one good thing in the new heists update that I do really enjoy and that’s the awards. While carrying out your heist the computer is calculating who is doing the best with the results displayed once the heist is complete. It’s your standard platinum, gold, silver, bronze affair and you don’t get anything for achieving the platinum award, other than bragging rights over the rest of the team. It’s a great idea that does push you to try your best when on a heist.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the heists they are good fun to do when done correctly.If you play alone, they are an easy way to make some serious cash, which I guess is the whole point of the game. I only wish that there was more freedom to do what you want. I mean there is nothing better than invading an aircraft carrier, stealing a jump jet while the rest of your crew are taking of in fighter jets about to engage in a dog fight above the aircraft carrier. It’s a super gaming spectacle, that makes you sit back and go WOW.

I just wish I could have planed out how I wanted to steal that jump jet myself rather than being told what I must do.