Depending on your choice of aim-mode, GTA Online is either a game either influenced more by skill or chance. While player ability still matters when playing in an auto-aim lobby, competition is much less skill based than in free-aim sessions. Regardless of which you pick, your character's stats will have significant influence.
Many GTA Online players make the mistake of discounting these character stats, assuming their actual impact is minimal. However, sometimes it is a high stat which gives you that tiny advantage, that minimal edge over your opponents which propels you to victory. These stats don't really affect the immediate factors of the game such as health, or the amount of damage you can deal - which is why many overlook them - rather they alter the secondary, underlying abilities of your character. Some of these abilities won't even become apparent to players not paying attention.
An extra second of sprinting could save you from a fatal shot. Jumping down a ledge so high that your opponent would die from the fall while you survive serves as the perfect ambush. Escaping into the water with superior lung capacity can win you an Adversary Mode. Players always assume that shooting and driving are the only factors influencing the game - and what weapon or car you have.
Each of the sever player stats have different benefits and can be increased in different ways.
Strength - In typical RPGs, strength is often in direct relation to damage dealt. The higher your strength, the more hurt you can dish out. Since GTA V is primarily a shooter in terms of combat, this stat has a smaller impact. However, it is true that melee attacks are made more effective by increasing this stat. Other benefits include increasing climbing speed on ladders and the amount of damage your character can take. When you're hunting down a bounty or enemy teammate, being quicker on ladders can put a drawn out chase to an end. We don't need to explain why increased damage tolerance is crucial - if you're in a full frontal conflict with an opponent and both of you are taking shots, strength may be the deciding factor.
You can increase your strength stat with sports and fighting. The stat increases by a percent for every 20 punches you land, or for every cow you kill. The two sports which increase this skill are golf and tennis. Another tactic is to get a friend to sit in a car, and punch the car.
Stamina - This is the resource that your character consumes when sprinting, cycling and swimming. When you continue performing these actions after your stamina is depleted, your character is going to start using up health instead, simulating the pain caused by fatigue in real life. Sprinting is the most useful of these actions, often used in any kind of on-foot combat. In a firefight, staying on the move is crucial for survival and even an extra second spent sprinting may save your life. Grinding this stat is useful, as maxing it out will grant you infinite stamina, meaning you can sprint indefinitely without any penalty.
Like in real life, you can increase your stamina with a bit of cardio - performing the very actions which consume stamina assist in increasing it. Specifically, every 16 meters ran, and every minute of swimming will give 1 stamina point. Riding a bicycle is also a quick and easy way to farm stamina.
Flying - Not literally, unfortunately. This skill doesn't denote your character's affinity to throw themselves at the ground and missing, rather their proficiency with aerial vehicles. Controlling planes and helicopters in GTA V is notoriously hard - as it should be. Real life pilots need extensive training before they can fly independently. The riskier maneuvers such as landing and take-off, as well as turbulence management easier. They way the game handles this is by making control of the vehicle more sensitive, allowing players to make better course corrections. In the case of turbulence, the higher your skill, the lower the turbulence you will encounter. Several situations may require precise flight, or can simply prove to be an advantage.
The only way to practice flying is by flying. Performing flight school missions, flying around the world of GTA V and especially flying under bridges will help boosting this skill. 10 minutes of flight, as well as passing under bridges both give about 1% increase, while gold medals in flight school missions should yield around 3%-5%.
If you buy a Cuban 800 plane (GTA$ 240,000) you can farm flight skill by taking off, landing, waiting 3 seconds, and repeating the process.
Lung Capacity - Strangely enough this is a separate stat from Stamina, though in reality their effects are connected. While Stamina dictates how long you can swim without taking damage, Lung Capacity is what determines how long you can stay underwater with a single breath. This stat is essential for any escape-artist.
You can increase this skill by staying underwater (surprise surprise) and by practicing yoga. Every minute spent underwater increases this skill by 1%, and every 20% increase boosts your breath time by 5 seconds starting from 15 at zero skill.
Apparently it is also possible to simply get a dinghy or submarine, and jump overboard in scuba gear and stay submerged. Lung Capacity should then level up on its own until full.
Shooting - Shooting is pretty straight forward, right? You point the thing at whatever you want to not live anymore, you pull the trigger and done. Anyone who has actually shot a firearm in their life will know it's a tad more complicated - not by much, but still more complicated. The Shooting skill in GTA V has some of the most effects on gameplay. This skill determines recoil, accuracy and ammo capacity. We need not tell you how crucial these factors are in a fierce gunfight.
You can increase your character's shooting skill by, well, shooting. Headshots and skill challenges will increase the stat at a faster rate. Time spent at the shooting range is also a great way to boost your skill, with Gold Medals giving you 3%, Silver giving 2% and Bronze giving 1%.
Driving - Because, you know, Grand Theft Auto. This skill is somewhat restricted, as so much about driving is determined by the stats of the vehicle you're in. However, your driving stat does affect the amount of control you have over your vehicle, including while mid-air. Jumping while in a car, especially in races and while off-roading can make or break the job.
Your driving skill can be increased by performing various stunts, getting air (granting 1% for every second) and driving in oncoming traffic without hitting anything. Stunt Jumps grant 2%-3%. It should go without saying that you should never try anything of the like outside virtual environments.
Stealth - Being sneaky is a great way of staying alive in GTA Online. The good enemy is the enemy that does not know you're there. If they can't aim at you, they can't shoot you. Ambushing your prey, striking from the shadows will make you the perfect killer. While in stealth, your blip will disappear from the mini-map, allowing you to stalk your prey. Stealth takedowns are also an instant way of taking out enemy players.
The Stealth skill can be increased by sneaking around, thus gaining 1% for every 37 meters walked crouching and taking out players without being detected, granting 1,5% every 2 takedowns.
Increasing these stats is slow, grueling work, but if maxed out, they can make you a true juggernaut in pretty much every game-mode in GTA Online. On first glance, these factors may be less important than having the bigger gun and the faster car, however these stats may give you an edge against a seemingly superior rival. Much more depends on these than you may think.
The best GTA Online players and crews out there have learned the benefits of player stats and that's what propelled them to the top of the leader boards. A single percent of difference in stats can decide an evenly matched fight. That one more second of sprinting, that minimal amount of damage you can still take, that one degree of direction while mid-air will decide whether or not you're experiencing or merely observing an epic GTA Online moment. You might want to spend that time grinding cash for that new weapon keeping an eye out for your stats - remember, you can do both at the same time with most stats!
Which are your preferred methods of increasing GTA Online character stats?