Playing GTA Online in 2021 is a lot different than when the mode first launched in 2013. Over the years, Rockstar has continued to support GTA Online with new updates, expansions, and quality of life improvements.
Combine this with an exhaustive amount of player choice, and it’s easy to see why newcomers may be intimidated by the massive player-inhabited open-world of Los Santos.
In this guide, we’ll show how to get started in GTA Online as someone brand-new to the game, offer tips for making money and leveling up, and provide a checklist of the most important activities for growing your criminal enterprise.
Even if you feel overwhelmed by GTA Online‘s introduction, with some time and effort, you’ll be well on your way to robbing casinos, smuggling drugs, joining gangs, and causing mayhem with other players.
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The first part of GTA Online is creating your character. There are a variety of lifestyle options to pick from that will determine your character’s stats and overall appearance. However, since these have little to no effect on gameplay, you can just focus on making your avatar look how you want.
Although you’ll have the option to modify your character’s appearance later on, making alterations can be a costly process. Once you’ve got your character looking good, it’s time to move on to the GTA Online tutorial.
Completing The Tutorial
At first, you may be tempted to skip the tutorial entirely, especially if this isn’t your first rodeo. However, there are some key ways GTA Online differs from the single-player experience, especially when it comes to activities and game mechanics. The best way to learn about these features is through the tutorial, so consider seeing it through to the end.
Your guide for this section is Lamar, who will pick you up from the Los Santos airport and drive you around while showing you the basics when it comes to accepting missions and contracts, participating in races, performing robberies, going shopping, and more. By the time you finish, you’ll have a better idea of how GTA Online works and, at the very least, will be more comfortable with the game’s controls.
How To Make Money And Level Up
The two most essential resources for progressing in GTA Online are money and reputation points (RP). Cash will allow you to purchase new guns, ammo, clothes, cars, and properties while RP increases your overall level. The higher your level, the more you can do. At the start of the game, your options for making money and leveling up are pretty limited.
This is where jobs come into play; to start a job, you can either drive to the location marked on your map, use your phone by pressing up on the D-pad, or select jobs from the pause menu. You’ll find dozens of jobs available at any given time, ranging from multiplayer races to modified story missions to complex bank heist scenarios.
Naturally, some pay better than others, so take the time to explore and find out which ones you prefer. If you ever feel stuck, here are some recommended activities for earning cash and RP as a low-level player:
- Steal Cars – While it’s best to avoid stealing high-end cars that are too hot to sell, you can still make a considerable amount of cash flipping stolen vehicles at Los Santos Customs or by bringing wishlist vehicles to Simeon.
- Complete Missions – These modified story missions work just like they do in GTA 5 and can be accepted either through the job menu or by calling up NPCs like Lamar, Gerald, or Simeon. Additionally, there are promoted missions that are rotated weekly and offer doubled rewards.
- Complete Maude’s Bounties – You’ll occasionally receive texts from Maude asking for your help with completing various bounties. If you manage to deliver the target alive, she’ll give you a nice bonus.
Visit Diamond Casino – Once per day, the game lets you try your luck by spinning the wheel at the Diamond Casino. Any chips earned can be exchanged for cash or gambled for more money. To find the Diamond Casino, use your GPS.
How To Get Health And Weapons
Just like in GTA 5, your avatar has a limited amount of health (green meter), which can be expanded by equipping body armor (blue meter). To replenish health in GTA Online, you can consume snacks by purchasing them at vending machines and convenience stores located throughout the city. Additionally, snacks can be stored for later use via the Interaction Menu.
To buy weapons, ammo, and body armor, you can visit one of the many AmmuNation stores found in the open-world. However, for convenience sake, ammo can also be purchased directly through the Inventory menu for an additional charge. As you level up, more weapons will unlock and become available for purchase at AmmuNation.
How To Buy Clothes
To pick up some new duds for your character, simply head over to one of Los Santos’ many retailers and approach the various shelves and racks filled with clothing. There are over four thousand pieces of clothing in the game, and you can save some time by purchasing full outfits instead of individual pieces. Once you’ve purchased an apartment, any clothing you buy will be stored there, allowing you to change without having to visit a store.
How To Make A Car Yours
While you can personalize stolen vehicles and claim them as your own, it’s best to avoid trying this scheme with high-end vehicles that are simply too hot. Once you’ve gotten your hands on something a bit more modest like the Felon or an F620, take it to your local mod shop and buy a tracker and some insurance.
From that point on, the car will spawn near you anytime you join a new GTA Online session. If (and when) it gets destroyed, you can file an insurance claim to receive a new one by calling Mor’s Mutual Insurance through your phone. You can also purchase vehicles outright through your phone; however, considering you’re literally surrounded by cars that are only one broken window away from becoming yours, we recommend holding off on buying one and instead save up for your first property.
How To Buy Properties
A good cheap starter property to shoot for is Unit 124 on Popular Street. For $25,000, you get a two-car garage, access to the Mechanic, and a convenient spawn location in the busy streets of East Los Santos. To find this property, use your phone to access the internet, select the Money and Services tab, visit the Dynasty 8 Real Estate website, and search ‘low-end properties.’
As you continue to grow your empire, you’ll be able to upgrade to something better. Since different properties come with different perks, it’s important to know the differences between them.
- Garages – Used to store vehicles for personal use and can come included with some apartments and houses.
- Standard Apartment – Used as a base of operations, allow you to change clothes.
- High-End Apartment – Similar to standard apartments but may include an attached garage and/or a planning room for preparing Heists.
- Offices – Allow you to run cargo and vehicle missions.
- Hangar – Used to store aircraft.
- Clubhouse – Used to store bikes.
- Underground Facilities and Bunkers – Used for organizing Heists.
- Nightclubs and Arcades – Provide a source of income.
Along with Dynasty 8, you can purchase properties via the Maze Bank Foreclosure site. This is where you can find more exciting options like Hangars, Clubhouses, and Nightclubs for sale. Since they require a considerable amount of time and money, you won’t have to worry about them for a while.
How To Save Money
Speaking of money, you’ll want to ensure you’re saving up enough cash for that next big purchase you have in mind. This can sometimes prove difficult while navigating the gritty streets of Los Santos, where crime is always afoot and murder is aplenty.
Therefore, we recommend protecting your cash from falling into the hands of enemy players by making routine trips to the ATM. To locate your nearest ATM, pull up your GPS through the Interaction menu. Additionally, money can be deposited into your bank account by visiting the Maze Bank website on your phone.
How To Avoid Griefing
Many of the players you’ll encounter in GTA Online will be welcoming or, at the very least neutral towards you. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and at some point, you’ll come across a player whose only desire is to cause as much chaos as possible. This can prove frustrating when you’re just trying to get from point A to B at your own pace.
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re being continually harassing you, there are a couple of different measures you can take. The first one would be to enable Passive Mode, located at the bottom of the Interaction menu. This will prevent any player from being able to harm you but also stops you from being able to equip weapons or use melee attacks.
Your second option is to suggest kicking the player from your current session. To do this, pull up the pause menu, select ‘Online,’ then ‘Players,’ highlight the player giving you problems, and select ‘Kick.’ If enough players agree and do the same, they’ll eventually be kicked from the session. Lastly, you can always be the bigger person and leave the session yourself by hitting pause, selecting ‘Online,’ then ‘Find New Session.’
How To Take On Heists
You won’t be able to team up and take on Heists with other players until you’ve leveled up substantially and reached the endgame portion of GTA Online. While they offer a ton of cash if completed successfully, planning and executing a Heist properly requires a lot of coordination. It’s typically recommended you only plan a Heist with a group of players you know over voice chat, but it’s still achievable with total strangers.
Each Heist is divided up into separate missions designed to prepare you for the grand finale where all the moving parts come together. To unlock Heists, you’ll first have to reach level 12 and have purchased a high-end apartment. Before a Heist can be started, your team must decide who will be the Heist leader, aka the person responsible for upfronting all the costs and recruiting players.
It’s also possible to join Heists led by other players with the caveat of making less money. Since it can be hard to get experienced players to take you on in the beginning, we recommend organizing with more accommodating players through online communities like GTA Online LFH or r/HeistTeams.