At last, we have an official release date for GTA Online heists. It isn’t December 23, as recent rumors believed, but isn’t far off. Today, Rockstar released a new heist trailer and a plethora of screenshots, with the promise that heists will become available to all players for free “early in 2015.” Check it out.
Heists will involve four-player cooperative gameplay in which players pull off elaborate heists in the world of GTA Online, with coordinated efforts and multi-stage objectives on the way to success. GTA Online producer and lead mission designer Imran Sarwar went into more detail in an interview with IGN
According to Sarwar, the reason heists have been delayed for so long is that creating “a series of multi-tiered missions featuring diverse prep work, a range of different types of gameplay and a big finale, where team coordination and playing your own distinct role could make the difference between success or failure” was more difficult than Rockstar expected, particularly since every player has to have a significant role to play. For example, getaway drivers can’t just be ignored during the action the way they might be in a movie or in GTA V’s single-player mode:
“…to make this work for multiple players, we needed to create situations where the driver has something interesting to do at exactly the same time the rest of their team are locking down the bank and making their way to the money.”
All players involved in a heist mission must be at least level 12. The heist leader will need to have a high-end apartment in order to plan out the heist. The leader will handle both the management of the heist and the cost, and will be paid at the conclusion of the heist, while the other players will receive money from the prep missions. As with the example of the getaway driver, Rockstar wanted to make it a unique and fun experience to be both the leader and one of the regular participants.
Many special rewards are planned, as well, such as bonuses for playing all the heists with the same team, for playing all the heists in first-person mode, for completing a heist within a certain amount of time, and so on.
Not all heists follow the same structure. For some, all four players might stick together as a team, while others might require the group to split up and perform different objectives. Communication is key.
Of course, there will be new weapons, vehicles, and items included in the heist update, and Sarwar teased “surprising locations” you’ll visit as you perform these missions. Some of this may correspond with the supposed leak we learned about the other day, but while that named six missions, Sarwar said there will be “five unique strands” with more than 20 missions between them. All together, this update is expected to involve 20 hours of gameplay, not including the replay value as players try new roles and approaches. You’ll have many different options in each heist.
Development of the PS4, Xbox One, and PC versions of GTA V also contributed to the delay, as the development teams needed to devote enough time to both projects to make them high-quality. There are some positives to the long delay, however. As Rockstar worked to develop such complex, involving missions, the heist concepts were reworked into something far better than what was initially planned.
As an example, Sarwar told IGN about a prison break mission where each player must come in at the right moment. It sounds as though GTA Online’s heists are definitely intended to make players truly work together and use strategy, rather than just firepower.
Take a look at the rest of these screenshots to see the sort of variety heist missions will involve, from gunfights to helicopters and aircraft carriers.
Pretty cool, right? “Early in 2015″ may not be what fans were hoping to hear, especially since heists have been delayed for so long, but this trailer, interview, and screenshots should go a long way toward restoring confidence. What do you think? Are you looking forward to heists when they arrive next year?