We did it! We finished all of GTA Online’s heists. Now we’re at a loose end. We have money, we have military helicopters, but we have nothing to do with them. That’s when Samuel suggests that, for one night only, we put our toys to use. Tonight, friends, we will grief. Not in any serious way—we aim for mid-to-light levels of mischief. Just to fire a rocket or two then run off, or drop someone into the ocean from a helicopter. Like knock-door-run, really, but in GTA.
We were immediately out of our depth, as you'll discover below.
Phil Savage: We gather near my new bunker, which has little practical purpose, but is at least near the airfield. Tom and Samuel both own helicopters, bought with their heisting riches, but I have made some bad investments, and must steal one from the map. Specifically, I want to steal a Cargobob. It’s a transport helicopter, and comes armed not with guns but a winch. I can think of no better tool with which to troll players.
Tom Hatfield: The airfield is popular with other players due to the free helicopters and nearby biker bar. In fact, there’s a couple lurking around here right now.
Samuel Roberts: I fly over in my buzzard, see some guy in a vehicle by the runway and think, why not fire some rockets at this person? I do, and briefly feel good. Predictably, as soon as they’re alive again, they bring me down with a rocket launcher. Then we’re both on the runway, hitting each other with sniper fire.
Phil: I had hoped to be in the air before the fighting began, but things seem to be escalating pretty quickly. To make things worse, the airfield hasn’t got a Cargobob. That means I’ve got to go to the airport at the bottom of the map. I jump in a plane, and am immediately blown up by Sam’s target. Right, it’s on.
Tom: Whenever someone kills you in GTA Online, you always respawn a few hundred metres away with no weapon equipped and facing the wrong way. This makes it extremely easy for the person who just killed you to immediately kill you again. So as Sam cuts his target down, I spot his respawn position and line up a sniper shot, taking his life a second time while he’s still trying to process the first. No mercy.
Phil: The target bolts, and manages to slip away from Sam and Tom’s fire. Unfortunately for him, he’s running straight towards my crosshair. Unfortunately for me, I’m gunned down by a minigun. I think our new friend has reinforcements, and they're well armed.
Tom: I’ve never even seen a minigun in GTA Online before. I guess this is what we could’ve spent our ill-gotten gains on rather than progressively larger garages.
Phil: Luckily, the minigun isn’t very good. It’s incredibly deadly, but only if its wielder gets into range and is given enough time to spin it up. As long as I snipe him on approach, he doesn't stand a chance. Unfortunately, I’m not a very good sniper. At this point I’m not griefing anybody. I’m just having a regular deathmatch.
Tom: There doesn’t seem to be any way to actually win one of these impromptu duels. Eventually one of you just gets bored and runs away. I guess that’s kinda like griefing, right?
Samuel: We get bored, and fly away in a helicopter at a low altitude so we’re not shot down.
Phil: The problem, I think, is that we’re picking on people who can fight back. That’s not what bullies do. We need someone who has no response to our advanced weaponry and desire to annoy. We need a low-level player. I browse the server list and find a fresh-faced level 11 character. Perfect. Let’s destroy him.
Tom: As we’re picking our target, I remember that I have a bunch of cool abilities I haven’t been using. Specifically, I can ring Lamar and get him to send a mugger after another player, which I do. Then I call GTA’s not-Blackwater private military company and get it to send some mercenaries to kill him. I haven’t even met this guy and I’ve already screwed him over twice.
Phil: I opt for the personal touch, using the map to track him down. When I arrive, he’s running down a street, away from the police. Presumably he drew their attention while trying to defend himself from Tom’s AI enforcers. I nab a car and charge at him. He goes splat into the wall. He respawns and I do it again. I hate to say it guys, but I’m having a really good time.
Tom: Bullying is, as it turns out, tremendous fun. This explains a lot of high school.
Phil: Our target finally makes it to the safety of a car just as Sam alerts me of a Cargobob that’s spawned in the port. This is my chance.
Samuel: Where have I been this whole time, you ask? A bloke in a Hydra jet killed me, so I’m stuck down by the port trying to reach a chopper, and it’s taking bloody forever. I'm in the water, searching for the ladder to get back on land. This is what I deserve for suggesting the idea for this feature, although at this point Tom and Phil have behaved in far meaner ways than I have.
Phil: I return with the coveted Cargobob, salivating over the prospect of a great anecdote about dropping this guy—car and all—straight into the sea. Unfortunately when I get back he’s gone into passive mode. That’s a success of sorts, right? Passive mode renders his car in a translucent mass of intangible matter, immune to winching. I can’t let it go, though. I am convinced this will be very funny. I continue to hover directly over him, waiting for him to respond. After a few minutes, Tom arrives and starts pointing at him. We’ve gone beyond violence and straight to psychological torment.
Tom: Weirdly, he was fine with a giant military helicopter hovering over his head. But when I get out of my chopper and stand, pointing directly at his face, it’s too much. He immediately logs off. The first ragequit of the night.
Phil: Over the last hour or so we’ve pissed off quite a lot of people (at least two). We decide that it’s time to start over. We move to a new public server, and once again I immediately head for the airport. This time, though, people are waiting. They’re waiting in a magical flying bus.
Tom: We’ve been seeing hackers the entire time we’ve been playing, usually ones that summon random artillery strikes from across the map. But this gang is something else. Its limo/bus moves faster than any car I’ve ever seen. It can fly, and occasionally just teleports to a completely different spot.
Phil: I retrieve the Cargobob again, but there’s not much a slow, lumbering helicopter can do against a supersonic bus. Luckily Tom and Sam are much better armed than I am. Not that I expect them to be able to do much damage against such obvious cheaters.
Samuel: I offload some rockets at these guys, but yes, they’re almost impossible to hit.
Tom: Casually I throw a couple of shots towards the hackervan. This thing can move so fast it actually outruns my missiles. It hovers up in the air, taunting me. There’s just one problem: those are homing missiles. While they’re hotdogging, one of them slams home, instantly killing a car full of four hackers. It seems their various vehicle upgrades did not, in fact, include armour. Wisely I decide to quit while I’m ahead and book it across the map, awaiting the inevitable modded retribution.
Samuel: These guys are the worst, and when called out for hacking, they accuse us of hacking, which pretty much sums up the braindead state of online discourse these days.
Tom: Suddenly, and without warning, I’m forced to bail out of my chopper and plummet down to earth.
Samuel: They take me down too, of course, because they are hackers and I am not.
Tom: Now grounded, a series of metal cages spring up around me, freezing me in place. They mess up my camera so much I have to summon Phil over to tell me what on earth has just happened to me.
Phil: Okay, so this is interesting. On the inside, Tom is being trapped and forced to throw grenades at himself. On the outside, he’s been surrounded by a series of overlapping cages. A multidimensional, non-euclidean hellscape of flickering, constantly spawning metal. I’m actually impressed. This is how you grief someone. After Tom escapes, we spend some time trying to ambush the hackers. We even get a couple of kills. If anything, we’re heroes. Heroes who have gotten bored of a futile fight and are now logging off.
Tom: The moral of the story is: there’s always a bigger bully. While we got some kicks messing with lower level players, almost every server we visited included a hacker or fighter jet owner who could end our fun in a heartbeat.