After eighteen months, Grand Theft Auto Online's long-awaited heists are almost here. Originally scheduled to hit when Grand Theft Auto V came out during fall 2013, these mini multiplayer campaigns have been repeatedly delayed, to the point where many gamers started to wonder if they were ever going to come out.
Now, not only do heists have a concrete release date - March 10, for those who are curious - but Rockstar has released a short trailer as well, showcasing the heists' four-player cooperative gameplay. The video takes place during the climax of one of the upcoming five heist missions, tasking one pair players with infiltrating a top-secret laboratory while the other duo fends off incoming security helicopters.
Unfortunately, the trailer is less than twenty seconds long, offering little more than a glimpse of the heist missions' frantic gameplay. Thankfully, some players have already gotten their hands on heists, and from all reports the new content will be worth the wait. Structurally, online heists play out similarly to their single player brethren: players plan the heists back in a safe house, undertake four or five set-up missions, and then dive in to a multi-team, action-packed climax, hoping to score a big pay-off.
According to hands-on reports, however, online heists throw in a number of interesting wrinkles. For one, the new heists will introduce a host of new weapons and vehicles. Additionally, one player must bankroll the entire operation. The heist leader will receive less money during successful set-up missions, but gets to manage the crew, assigning outfits and roles and determining end-of-mission payouts.
Further, people who have played the heists say that the mission structure is more varied than similar stages in Grand Theft Auto V's single player campaign. Some missions - a clandestine transfer of key codes that's crashed by the FIB, for example - are straight-up firefights, while others require Splinter Cell-style stealth.
Co-operation is more important this time, too. During single player missions, players can switch between characters. That's not possible in Grand Theft Auto Online. As such, players will be forced to rely on each other during heists, and the number of different roles that participants can take ups the heists' replay value. Players are also encouraged to replay heists to achieve faster times, bigger rewards, and to accomplish optional goals (not dying, for example).
From start to finish, heists sound like they should take two and a half to four hours to complete. They're hard, too; thankfully, Rockstar has included plenty of checkpoints to help players along the way. Don't worry about finding people to play with either; despite the heists' long road to release, Grand Theft Auto V is still one of the top-selling games around, and with these new additions it looks like the game will stay near the top of the charts for a while yet. Now, if only that PC version would come out…