Having crossed into the second half of December, the time for reflection has come around. GTA Online has received its final major update for the year, Import/Export, and other than a presumably small-scale Christmas event, not much will happen in the game before 2017 comes around.
2016 was a year of change for GTA Online, with many new updates changing things up and adding to the game in countless ways. The multiplayer mode of Rockstar’s epic and insanely popular open world title looks a lot different now than it did a year ago, and overall it must be said that things changed for the better.
With so many things having happened, and not all of them simply being DLC releases, it’s easy to forget about all of the positive changes that came to GTA Online. We’ve put together a list of the best things that happened to the game this past year to put things in perspective – and keep in mind that not all positive things even made the list!
Rockstar Settled For A DLC Model
After Further Adventures in Finance and Felony, Cunning Stunts and Bikers all followed the same setup of post-launch expansions, it’s safe to say that Rockstar has settled with what will be the permanent DLC release model for GTA Online going forward. In each case, a major update is released bringing a large number of new vehicles and weapons as well as a new game mechanic. In the following weeks, smaller updates each adding one or two vehicles, and maybe an Adversary Mode, would expand on the same concept, staying in the same theme. We saw this in the post-release vehicles of Finance and Felony, such as the X80, with the various new cars added to Cunning Stunts culminating in the Stunt Race Creator, and finally in the case of Bikers with things like the Sanctus.
Why is this good: For Rockstar, this makes planning easier, that much is clear. However, this benefits the players by giving us a good idea of what to expect in terms of future DLC.
GTA 5 Sells 70 Million Copies
Grand Theft Auto 5 became a hit the moment it was released, returning investment within hours of launch and turning a $1 billion profit within a day – but that was hardly the extent of its success. Over the years, the game defied all standard models of distribution and sales known to the AAA industry, as it only picked up speed instead of slowing down. Sure, the launch-peak was never recreated, however following the sharp decline in sales immediately after release, the rate of sales has only ever increased, and still is. We’ve fleshed out the reasons for GTA 5’s success time and again, and it always comes down to mainstream recognition, a hearty marketing budget and the staggered release schedule on multiple platforms. This year saw the crossing of the 70 million shipped physical copies mark – and that does not include any digital sales.
Why is this good: Players benefit from the continued success of GTA Online because this ensures continued support. Rockstar will keep bringing DLC to Online so long as it is popular and turns a profit – and so far, it’s doing just that.
Character Appearance Can Finally Be Changed
While this feature is a part of the Import/Export DLC, it’s significant enough to warrant its own mention. Players have been clamoring for this feature to be added to GTA Online pretty much since launch, and various assets discovered in the game files of the PC version suggest it was initially intended to be in the game from the very beginning. In lieu of it, for a long time players could change the appearance of their characters by contacting Rockstar Support, however this ceased some time ago. Now, finally, players can opt to pay the fee of $100,000 in order to undergo plastic surgery in the game, allowing them to alter their appearance as many times as they want, so long as they have the cash for it.
Why this is good: It’s pretty self-explanatory, really. If you want to change your character’s face and have the cash to do it, you can!
Import/Export Was Released
While a segment of the player base is salty about the high prices of the update, it cannot be denied that Import/Export added a massive amount of content to the game, freshening it up in the process. A number of features are massive boons to the experience, such as the aforementioned plastic surgery, as well as the – granted, expensive – executive garage, which buffs out the maximum potential number of personal vehicle slots to 138 including the biker clubhouse and special vehicles stored in warehouses. The new car stealing and selling mechanic also returns to the roots of the franchise in a new and interesting way, while also offering a great way of getting money in game to those who know how to make the most of it.
Why this is good: After all kinds of wacky updates and DLCs focusing on extravagant white-collar crime, it feels good to be stealing cars again.
Cunning Stunts Was Released
Who knew GTA Online would benefit so much from an update that decided to take realism and toss it right out the window? Cunning Stunts was a jarring change of form for Rockstar Games, and one they stepped back from (for better or worse). Nonetheless, Cunning Stunts was one of the most interesting and exciting updates GTA Online has seen in years. It left the status quo of the franchise in upheaval, deciding to forego being grounded in realism and instead introduce deadly stunt races with spinning traps and flaming props suspended above skyscrapers by the will of imagination alone. The update also added 13 vehicles to the game, a number that was later buffed out with further additions.
Why this is good: GTA alway was about being over-the-top, and Cunning Stunts embraced that fully. This resulted in it being the best received DLC yet.
PC Cleared Of Hackers
After a lengthy and brutal war, Rockstar finally came out on top. The PC has been plagued by hackers and cheaters since launch due to the peer-to-peer nature of the game’s server architecture. Causing all kinds of trouble, hackers made playing GTA Online on PC a gamble – will the lobby you load into be safe, or will it be messed up by hackers? Will you explode instantly, or will infinite jets spawn on you, crashing your game? It took several failed attempts on Rockstar’s part before they distilled a formula that effectively got rid of the hackers. While recent reports suggest they’re trickling back in limited numbers, the likelihood of not encountering hackers is greater than the likelihood of encountering them.
Why this is good: Hackers are no longer ruining the game experience for an entire platform.
Bikers Was Released
Bikers was a turning point in the history of GTA Online simply for existing. This proved that making petitions actually works sometimes, as the announcement of Bikers was preceded by years of fans begging Rockstar to add something along these lines to the game, as well as a fairly popular petition. When the DLC was finally released, it followed the outline of the petition almost verbatim and satisfied a pretty large group of players with the massive number of new bikes added to the game. The businesses mechanic, though initially hard to master, becomes a great source of passive income once you’ve gotten hang of how the system works. Bikers really made it easy for clever players to make cash easily in GTA Online.
Why this is good: Rockstar proved once and for all that they actually listen to the wishes of the community, and we got a great way to make cash too.
Deadline Was Released
Yeah, sure, it was just a minor expansion following the main Bikers update, but Light cycle battles from Tron. Light cycle battles from Tron. The Deadline update was one of the coolest things to happen in GTA Online, not only in 2016 but in the entire run of the game. The Deadline Adversary Mode is pretty much universally liked, and it also has a pretty decent payout. Add to that the Shotaro, which is pretty much the coolest bike in the game, and you have yourself a minor DLC worthy of a spot on this list.
Why this is good: Freaking light cycle battles from Tron.
Further Adventures in Finance and Felony Was Released
One of the biggest updates GTA Online saw was released earlier this year. Further Adventures in Finance and Felony was what kicked off the whole DLC model we’re currently seeing, while also bringing major additions to the table with the crate missions and other CEO activities including challenges and jobs. The SecuroServe system was introduced, which was then expanded with the recent Import/Export update. Finance and Felony also added a new and efficient way of gathering cash with the crates, which, when done well, allowed players to amass fortunes quickly.
Why this is good: Finance and Felony deserves a spot here by virtue of content alone, however, it was also the forerunner of GTA Online’s new wave of DLC.
That just about wraps up our list of the most important occurrences of GTA Online this year. We’ve closed an eventful twelve months which saw countless additions to the game. Granted, it wasn’t just sunshine and bunnies all year long, so we’ll be putting together a list of the biggest disappointments as well.
Which were your top events in GTA Online this year?
What do you think? Sound off below!