In Now Playing articles PC Gamer writers talk about the game currently dominating their spare time. Today Samuel goes it alone in GTA 5.
In the slightly directionless world of GTA Online, where needy NPCs ring you with requests every five minutes and the map is strewn with task icons that mostly seem like busywork, the best thing you can do is own a piece of Los Santos that feels like yours. Aside from buying apartments or cars, there are now many ways to do this—the most appealing (and cheapest) of which is running your own biker gang. I spent just over $500,000 earlier this year to get a decent hangout in the middle of Los Santos, money I had from doing heists with the PCG team. I christen this new gang ‘Biker Grove’. Ha. I’m a cool guy. I’m also the only one here.
Here’s my dilemma: I don’t want to just invite anyone into my biker gang, and the PC Gamer boys are all offline. So I’m a one-man biker gang—which isn’t really a gang at all. I have a two-storey clubhouse, and a foul-mouthed lady behind the bar who comes free with all the biker hideouts. I also have a bong, and a dart board. But these things aren’t fun by yourself. The point of a biker gang is you’re supposed to ride in formation with buddies. When it’s just yourself and a big empty clubhouse, you sort of feel like a dad having a midlife crisis.
In my head, I picture the scenario exactly like this. The kids have moved out, and your partner’s joined a silent religious sect because they’ve had enough of your near-constant bullshit (yes, I've been watching HBO's The Leftovers). So you sell the house then buy a run-down garage, park your bike there, and hire someone to work there who won’t even play darts with you. I paid half a million hard-earned GTA dollars to experience this virtually. I could just live this in real life in 20 years’ time.
The good news is I can still take on jobs that earn okay money. I go and steal a prison bus from a gas station, and drive the convicts across town away from the cops. It’s deliberately reminiscent of a brilliant singleplayer mission in GTA: The Lost and Damned, where protagonist Johnny Klebitz does the same thing. It’s a pretty exciting mission, which ends with you dropping off the cons at a couple of helicopters.
The biker update to GTA Online in general felt like a homage to that expansion—although the lack of narrative direction to owning a biker bar makes it feel a bit uneventful (which is also how I feel about the game's other recent expansions). With friends, though, the co-op missions and driving in formation are fun. It’s not meant to be played solo, really. Having other friends join, then assigning them roles that give them extra abilities in combat, like calling in AI gang members for support, is the real reason you do it. You’re not meant to be a lone ranger, simply because it’s embarrassing.
I get drunk and have a game of darts rather than run another mission. Next time PCG's Phil Savage comes online, I’ll force him to join my club. Since I'm his line manager, I can probably make him do that.