GTA Online is rough country. You're likely going to encounter nasty folk during your virtual adventures in Blaine County and Los Santos who would much rather riddle you with holes than stop for friendly conversation. Quite literally saying "hi" is likely to send bullets flying your way.
In this kind of an environment knowing your way around the game's weapons and shooting mechanics can mean the difference between life and waiting for a respawn. Or, you know, death. Winning a firefight in GTA Online comes down to more than just having the bigger gun and pulling the trigger whenever the reticle turns red though.
Whether you're new to gaming as a whole or are just new to GTA 5, these tips will go a long way to helping you not decorate the pavement with your innards each time someone decides to pre-emptive strike your virtual ass. Not every gun is made equal and techniques matter.
Weapon Selection Interface/GUI
First of all, let's tackle the initial and possibly most bothersome opponent you'll encounter: the weapon selection interface. GTA Online's weapon wheel can very quickly become an unmanageable mess if you're the kind of person who likes to stock up on weapons. Your character will always carry every weapon you own around, and you can't change the order in which they're located on the weapon wheel.
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Unless you want to get bogged down in the middle of a battle scrolling through a dozen guns to get the one you actually want, we suggest dropping all the guns you don't like or won't need. Granted, you'll need to manually do this each time the game re-initializes, which will quickly become a pain. Once you have the money for it, we definitely suggest buying an executive office with the gun locker add-on, as this will allow you to customize your loadout. Granted, this works for free roam only.
Realistically, you'll never actually make much use of any of the SMGs, so you might as well leave that tab alone. When it comes to rifles, only keep the Compact Rifle for use on a bike, and the Special Carbine (some swear by the Advanced Rifle, so take your pick between the two). In the shotgun tab, drop everything beyond the Assault shotty, in pistols only keep the AP and Heavy Revolver (Marksman too for advanced players) and the only throwables you'll need are the sticky bomb and the proximity mine.
When it comes to melee weapons, keep in mind that all have identical damage, but the knife has a higher rate of attack, making it the best of the lot, so you can drop the others. Once you've unencumbered yourself, you're ready for some action.
1st Versus 3rd Person View
For players who have the enhanced edition, keep in mind that perspective matters. In some situations, first person mode is better, while in others it's third. Try and keep a close watch of your surroundings, as situational awareness determines who gets off the first shot.
When you're in tight, enclosed spaces, first person mode will give you tighter, more precise control, as in third person the props close to you will just get in the way. On the flipside, the better field of view of third person mode will help you in wide open spaces which feature little by way of obstruction.
Which Weapon For Each Situation?
Choice of weapon matters too, as you should always be in third person for melee combat (most common in enclosed spaces) and in first person for sniping (most common in wide open spaces). Pick your weapon for the situation at hand - a shotgun might not be best at long range, while there are better choices than a sniper rifle when the opponent gets into melee range.
A great all-rounder, and thus default weapon, would be the Special Carbine. Usually, this will get you out of any sticky situation you'll find yourself in. To up your chances, mod it with a scope first and foremost, but other upgrades won't go amiss either. If the situation demands it, you can always switch weapons.
Learn To Snipe
You'd do well to put in a lot of practice with the sniper category, as these are some of the most useful weapons in the game in the hands of a skilled user. Cocking up a sniper shot might just mean that you've given the other guy a chance to send one through your skull, so get a feel for the guns as early on as possible.
Aim For The Head
A general rule-of-thumb regardless of weapon, range and perspective is always aim for the head. Always. The torso might be a bigger target, but with enough practice you'll hit the head enough times too and the damage multiplier makes it worth the effort. Taking out an opponent in fewer shots means fewer chances for them to take you out first.
While melee is a good way to go in close quarters combat, the assault shotgun we mentioned earlier is even better. Upgrade that thing with an extended magazine and you'll rip enemies to shreds at close range like there's no tomorrow. Here, accuracy isn't that big of a deal.
Don't Stand Still!
One major aspect of firefights that many players easily forget is movement. When you're in a scenario where both you and your opponent see one another and are at a reasonable distance, standing in one place if guaranteed to get you killed. That said, not any kind of movement will do, since if you keep a pattern to it the enemy will quickly pick up on it and start tracing their target. Be unpredictable.
Another useful tool in your arsenal is the combat or barrel roll. It can get you out of harm's way and behind cover quickly when used well, however another great utilization is to immediately roll just when your enemy stops their own roll. They can still trace their target when rolling, and this is a great way to throw them off balance. To do a barrel roll in GTA Online press aim (usually LT on consoles or right mouse button on PC) + X on Xbox, SQUARE on Playstation or Spacebar on PC.
A useful tactic to know is that if you perform a combat roll while aiming, it will break any target-locks that enemy players have on you. Also, while we're speaking of movement - don't forget that you can sneak. While slightly crouching is hardly the equivalent of going invisible, you are harder to spot, and present a smaller target.
This seems counter-intuitive considering a couple of tips back we just said to aim for the head, but spraying and praying is more of a defensive move than an offensive one. This is basically giving yourself covering fire. It's less accurate, but has higher spread meaning there are more chances for hits, it breaks target locks and makes you harder to hit. When in doubt, empty your mag!
Soon you'll get a hang of these various techniques, and will automatically use them without having to think about it, and that's when you'll be in the best position to survive a firefight. Wasting time is the biggest killer in this game as it takes seconds for an enemy to kill you with explosives or a well-placed headshot.
Hopefully these tips, which were adapted from this thread, will help you stay alive for longer on the mean streets of Los Santos. Now, there's no need to go out and use these tips on unprovoked fellow players minding their own business - there are plenty of griefers in this game as it is.