No other game offers an experience quite like GTA Online. Nothing else will let you quite so loose in an open city with a group of friends and a submarine car. It's a game that delights and frustrates me, offering some of the most amazing co-op experiences I've ever had, and some of the most frustrating. The next GTA has a huge opportunity to learn from both GTA Online's successes and, more importantly, its mistakes. Here's what I'd like to see from a sequel.
More wacky vehicles
Back when Andy wrote about what he wanted to see in GTA 6, he said he wanted a more grounded game. That's all well and good for singleplayer, but for the next iteration of GTA Online I want the exact opposite. Back when GTA Online launched players had access to cars, bikes and—maybe if you were really rich—an attack helicopter. Now log in to any server and you're likely to see someone suddenly taking off in a flying DeLorean, plowing through traffic in a giant war rig, or immediately killing you with a flying motorbike. GTA Online has, in many ways, become Saints Row 3, and I couldn't be happier with the transformation.
The truth is GTA Online is at its best when it just gives you a very silly vehicle and lets you have fun with it. Some of my favourite missions involve soaring across Los Santos in a weird jet-boosted glider bike, or attacking Fort Zancudo in the Ruiner 3000: a bunny hopping, paragliding, missile toting version of Kit from Knight Rider. Keep the singleplayer grounded if you will, but the online component of GTA 6 needs to start where GTA 5 ended, with the most ridiculous, over the top sci-fi vehicles possible.
Better cheat detection
It's fairly rare in games I encounter an obvious hacker these days. Perhaps there's a guy in Destiny who seems to be a suspiciously good shot, but maybe that's just me being paranoid. GTA Online is the only place where I encounter people who are really, obviously cheating. "Flying around in an indestructible stretch limo" cheating. "Traps everyone in the server in a series of metal cages" cheating. Often I will encounter several of these people in an evening.
Now I don't claim to understand how anti-cheat software works. It's probably very hard to do! But GTA Online is the only game I play where the problem is this bad. GTA Online players have even evolved strategies to put themselves in empty servers purely to avoid the sheer number of griefers. I'm not going to pretend this is an easy problem to address, but it needs to be fixed.
It seems wild that heists weren't in GTA Online at launch, because they've consistently been the most enjoyable activity the game has to offer throughout. Heists are long chains of missions for up to four players leading to a dramatic set piece finale. The original set of heists were for a team of four people, with different members often having different roles. In the original Prison Break heist, for example, two players infiltrate a prison, while a third flies a getaway plane and a fourth provides air cover from a helicopter. Later iterations of the heist can be completed with fewer players, and lean less on the bespoke roles (a shame, as they were one of my favourite parts). The most recent, Cayo Perico, can be completed entirely solo, but is largely the worse for it.
I understand why GTA moved away from the four player heists, the new ones are easier to get a group together for, but they're also less fun. Heists should remain a centrepiece team activity, the raids of GTA.
A better Interaction menu
It might seem weirdly picky to talk about a specific menu here, but the interaction menu is a major pain point in GTA Online. As new features have been added to the game over the years, it's become the de facto hub for any and all abilities players have. What was once a menu largely reserved for putting on a mask or eating a snack now manages your Motorcycle Club, calls in your helicopter or nuclear submarine, summons various giant trucks and so much more. It's not that putting these things in an easy to access menu is a bad idea, it's certainly better than having to call my mechanic to deliver a car, but the current menu wasn't designed to support as much as it's being made to, and it's creaking under the weight. The next GTA Online needs a new interface, designed from the start to support the range of abilities players will likely have.
One of GTA Online's stranger quirks is that players can start Organisations and Motorcycle Clubs that are temporary, transient things which only last for one playing session (if that). If both you and your friend have Organisations (and you will) and want to launch the activities involved in them, you'll eventually have to disband and restart it to switch owner. If you have several friends you can end up doing this repeatedly over the course of an evening.
Instead organisations should be a permanent thing, like a guild or clan (GTA does actually have a version of this with Crews, but they do almost nothing). You should never have to disband or restart your organisation, and when one of your friends buys, say a Nightclub, everyone in the organisation should have ownership of it. Rockstar have actually experimented with something similar to this in Read Dead Online's roles, where players pick a persistent career, like selling moonshine or hunting bounties. Something like that would work wonders in GTA Online.
Fewer phone calls
Way back in the dark days of GTA4, there was a running joke about how annoying it was that your cousin Roman constantly called you to ask you to go bowling, even when you were in the middle of the firefight. Fast forward to GTA Online and Rockstar have inexplicably doubled down on this behaviour, having the game's colourful cast of criminal assholes constantly bombard you with calls, texts and emails, usually berating you to buy some sort of building or vehicle you can't currently afford. They don't even just do this once, they do it again and again every time you log on. Later on with the Nightclub update Rockstar added another, even more annoying character called English Dave, who can't even be properly hung up on until he's finished his long, rambling request.
Now I know better than to ask for GTA to have a cast of characters that aren't hateful pricks—that's a big part of the game's whole vibe. I just want to ask them "could this call have been an email?"