GTA Online: New / Beginner Players Starter Guide


Whether you're entirely new to GTA Online, or a player who only just now upgraded to a current-gen edition, or maybe someone who has only ever played single player up until this point, jumping into the multiplayer portion of the game might seem intimidating. We're here to help. If you just want to know how to make money the fastest, then check out the top 5 ways to make money in GTA Online. You can also review our full list of GTA Online guides and learn more about anything that might interest you.

We put this guide together to help new players starting in GTA Online ease into this new and unfamiliar world within GTA 5. The fastest cars are different to the ones in story mode, the most popular game modes are different, the missions are different, the prices are different and most importantly, the ways of making a virtual fortune are different. So here's how to start off in GTA Online.

Content Explosion

The very first thing you'll notice is that there is a lot of content right from the get-go. The minimap will be filled with icons new to you, the interaction menu will look like a clusterf... uh I mean mess and people will be riding around on vehicles you've never seen before.

Hop down to a clothing store and see that there will be a multitude of new outfits to choose from, with some of the most apparent being various new pieces of business attire, racing gear and all-leather, all-spikes biker gear. You'll also note that the already bloated Tattoos tab will have spiraled out of control - and all of this is just the tip of the iceberg.

GTA Online has enjoyed constant content support in the form of free DLC packs adding tons of new content to the game since launch. Today, Online looks and plays a whole lot different than it did back when it first launched in 2013. As the game recently celebrated its third anniversary, all that new content has been adding up, greatly expanding Online beyond its original scope.

This really isn't an issue for long-time players, since they're learned the ropes quite a while ago, meaning that with each new DLC, they just need to get a hang of the new content. On the other hand, new or returning players have a lot to catch up on. But don't worry - nothing you can do will cause any permanent issues with your character, so feel free to familiarize yourself with the world in your own way and at your own pace.

Getting Started

When you're taking your first few steps and committing your first few crimes in Los Santos, the game does a decent job of railroading you for the first bit. Once the training wheels come off and you're set loose in the world however, much is left unexplained. That's where we come in.

Your First Cars

The first two rides you should get into your garage are the free Elegy, which is a great starting vehicle and a solid all-rounder in terms of role, as well as an Armored Kuruma as soon as you can afford it. You need to finish the Fleeca Job heist at least once to unlock it, and it costs GTA$ 525,000, meaning this will be your first major milestone to strive towards.

Before you get the Kuruma, the Elegy will do nicely, however the armored car is essential for soloing missions later on effectively and efficiently. Kurumas are quick, good off-road and the armored variant will keep you alive in pretty much all PvE encounters. This thing is a workhorse, and we suggest treating it as such. Using it in freemode will likely draw some unwanted attention, as the vehicle has a reputation for being a "douche mobile" due to the unruly behavior of many who use it outside of missions.

Beyond these two cars, it's highly recommended to get a Zentorno, especially if you go racing. This is another frequently used vehicle, and with good reason. It's pretty great all around in terms of performance, and in the hands of a good driver, can be used to win races even against statistically superior cars. That said, for the love of god, please don't paint it chrome.

Neither of these vehicles will be something you use forever due to better options being available for their roles later on, but initially they are solid choices.

Get a Job

In GTA Online, money is everything. It's also notoriously hard to make, and pretty time-consuming in relation to most other MMOs. Of course, the easy way out is to buy Shark Cards, but not everyone can afford them, or maybe some players are conceptually opposed to the practice. In this case, you'll do yourself a favor if you play smart from day one.

Many people tell horror stories about the dreaded "grind" in GTA Online, however if done right, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by getting an early start. While the more recent DLCs might seem "off limits" to new players since they're new and presumably end-game content, there is no need to fall into this trap.

In fact, we highly suggest getting in on the businesses from Bikers as soon as possible. Stealing supplies means they have low upkeep, however they are a great source of semi-passive income. So long as you keep the supplies stocked, the business will continue to generate cash on its own.

If you kick off your business early on, by the time you reach the point where it makes sense to start doing CEO activities such as running crates and exporting cars, you'll have enough cash accumulated that the initial investments won't be an issue.

Don't Neglect Smaller Missions

You might think that since Heists and businesses and CEO work is where the big money's at that nothing else is worth doing, but you'd be wrong. Contact missions especially help to collect some starting capital, as well as teach you the finer intricacies of the gameplay.

Adversary Modes shouldn't be ignored either. While they didn't use to be popular, nor particularly rewarding, recent additions to the lineup tick both of those boxes. They're fun, there are plenty of players and they pay damn well. Good examples are Deadline and Vehicle Vendetta.

You should always keep an eye out for whatever jobs are part of each week's on-going double RP and Cash promotion to maximize your gains. For more money making tips, refer to our extensive in-depth guide on the matter.

Daily Objectives are also a great way to earn larger amounts of RP and GTA$ with less effort and time, and are ideally suited to newer players. If you go through your laundry list of tasks, you'll be awarded GTA$ 30,000 and 5000 RP, but the real focus is on the consecutive bonuses. Completing your daily objectives 7 days in a row will earn you a bonus of GTA$ 150,000 and 20,000 RP, while keeping it up for a month will give you a GTA$ 750,000 and 50,000 RP payout.

On top of this, consecutive completion of individual objectives also adds up. 10 done in sequence grant you GTA$ 10,000, 20 grant GTA$ 20,000, 50 grant GTA$ 50,000 and finally, completing 100 objectives consecutively awards you with GTA$ 100,000.

Don't Forget RP

It's easy to think that money is all that matters in GTA Online, but this assumption would be wrong. Until you hit the soft-cap for rank, you'll constantly be unlocking new items or perks. You might have noted how, in spite of mentioning weapons in the opening, we didn't touch on the matter yet.

The simple reason for this is that they aren't something you should worry about for a while. It's pretty simple, if a new gun has better stats, get it. There really isn't too much difference between gun and gun in GTA Online, however there are two you will definitely need to grab the moment they become available: the heavy sniper and homing launcher.

Both of these weapons are unlocked upon reaching a certain level, with the heavy sniper having a pretty high rank requirement. You'll be gaining quite a bit of RP from regular gameplay, and if you lean on earning lots of cash, the RP will flow as well, however nonetheless, you ought to look through our RP guide as well while you're at it.

Where's My Stuff?

GTA Online is absolutely filled to the brim with content, as we've repeatedly mentioned above. Various DLCs include various types of vehicles and items that are only visible or accessible in certain locations or menus, and it's easy to get lost in a UI weighed down by 6 years of constant DLC. If you bought one of GTA Online's starter packs and you're dumped into the game without a clue and a large amount of items from the get-go, things will be even more confusing.

Not all vehicles are stored in your garage. Certain vehicles will be stored in properties specifically designed for them. You'll find most of your aircraft in your Hangar, if you have one, while the vehicles you use in Arena War will be in your Arena Workshop.

GTA Online has a large selection of specialty vehicles sold by Pegasus. Even after you buy these vehicles, they won't be 'stored' anywhere. There isn't a location where you can enter and physically view the vehicles. You'll need to call the Pegasus number on your in-game phone to have the ride of your choice delivered to you.

Certain upgrades are only accessible in certain locations. Not all properties have weapons lockers, for example. If you want MK.II weapon upgrades, you need a Bunker. All properties have upgrades and customizations specific to them, which you logically cannot manage from other properties.

DLC Content

With all the DLC that has been added to the game, you might get a second wave of content creep once you're done getting a hang of things. We've got you covered with brief run-downs of all the fancy content GTA Online has accumulated over the years.

Freemode Events

The thing you'll likely encounter first while messing around in Freemode in GTA Online will be the very update named after it: Freemode Events. The main thing this update brought to the table was a selection of various activities that randomly spawn while in Freemode that anyone can instantly join.

These include rampages of destruction, racing while trying to stay within an ever-shrinking circle and collecting packages across the map. There is a wide variety of events and many offer quite a bit of entertainment, however don't expect to get rich off them or rack up a whole lot of RP. These are designed to help you screw time away between cooldowns or waiting for other activities to unlock. We've produced a guide regarding Freemode Events for your enjoyment.

Lowriders

Next up was likely the most-leaked and most-fake-leaked update in GTA Online history, Lowriders. Seriously, by the time this thing was released, people were already tired of it. The update added a new contact, Lamar, who returns from the story mode, and a handful of new vehicles. The twist this time around was that the new rides could be taken to a new auto-shop, Benny's Original Motorworks, for extensive and flashy modification and customization work do be done that LSC will never do.

Lowriders was more about spending than earning, as the titular vehicles chewed up cash like nobody's business. That said, the Benny's thing became something of a staple, with cars being added to its roster even now, allowing for extensive customization. Over the months, this was extended to various non-lowrider cars as well, if that's not your style.

CEO Part I

The first truly game-changing update that hit GTA Online after content support for the old-gen was ditched was Executives and Other Criminals, which kicked off the whole CEO theme that has carried on with the game ever since. Beyond adding a whole lot of new content like weapons and vehicles, the update also introduced the Yachts and the whole CEO/Associate system, but back then it was called VIP/Bodyguard.

Some of the missions from Executives still make up part of the perfected money-making method in GTA Online today. Beyond this, the update set the stage for the future of the game. Fair warning though, even if you have the cash on hand, don't buy the most expensive yacht - get the mid-range one, here's why.

CEO Part II

Following Executives was a litany of largely unimportant updates, such as the rather fun if forgettable Be My Valentine DLC and the rather underwhelming Custom Classics update. However, once these were done with, Rockstar dropped the next big bomb in the CEO series of updates, with an even longer name this time around: Further Adventures in Finance and Felony.

The new update took the CEO thing to the next level, giving players lavish corporate offices to buy and warehouses to stock full of illegal goods. For months after this update was released, the crate-selling mechanic reigned supreme as the number one money making method in GTA Online, and some players swear by it even today.

The biggest draw of the update was the black market mechanic. Players had to buy offices and at least one warehouse for this. Then, they would do Buy missions where they needed to collect goods and deliver them to the warehouse. Here, they could select buyers, and then initiate a Sell mission where they made profit on their investment, provided they succeeded.

This took the rivalry between the well-mannered players and the griefers to a whole new level, as the latter now had a relatively easy means of swiftly erasing millions in in-game currency by destroying the investment of the former. The shit-flinging persists even today.

Cunning Stunts

After Finance and Felony, Rockstar decided to throw the status quo in many ways. Cunning Stunts was unlike any DLC GTA Online had seen before, and it was also among the most loved. The focus this time was on racing, but a new kind of racing. The new stunt tracks would be whacky death-traps in race course form, filled with furnaces, massive jumps, loops and entire sections floating above skyscrapers. Not exactly rooted in reality, but hey, it was fun as hell.

Bikers DLC

Following Cunning Stunts was a long awaited answer to the longest requested update by the community. Bikers put motorcycle clubs in the spotlight. The DLC added a host of new bikes and clothes to GTA Online, as well as an MC mechanic where you could found your own club.

A new gameplay mechanic in the shape of Businesses was introduced, which brought the first instance of semi-passive income to GTA Online. You can read all about how to use the system most effectively here. A number of other neat missions, like Clubhouse Contracts, were also added.

Import / Export

Later, Rockstar graced the community with an update that was somewhat derided at first, but once the players learned how to properly use the system, it arose as the single most effective and efficient way to make cash in the game: Import/Export. A new chapter in the on-going CEO saga, Import/Export once again placed the focus on the stealing of cars - like, you know, the name of the entire franchise suggests.

Basically, you'd do source missions where you steal a specific car, take it to your vehicle garage, fix it up, repaint it, and then deliver to the seller. Naturally, your objective was to sustain as little damage as possible, however the NPCs - and even the PEDs - would make that difficult. That said, there are some neat ways to do import missions in order to maximize profits.

Import/Export also introduced special vehicles, such as a ramp-buggy, a semi-truck with a massive car-plow welded to its front, amphibious quads, sports cars with jet engines strapped to their rear and literally KITT from Knight Rider. Incidentally, these vehicles will be featured in an upcoming update that will mix them with Cunning Stunt's courses.

Gunrunning

Settling into the comfort of the successful business-based DLC model, where each major update introduced a new property needed to unlock the missions, a new type of illicit product and new sell missions. Gunrunning moved the action from the office to a bunker where your character develops new weapons and sells them on the black market.

The introduction of Mk.II weapons kicked up the previous PvP balance with new, powerful guns entering the fray, and weaponized vehicles made free-roaming even more chaotic. These powerful new rides all have associated missions, allowing you to earn a discount on their purchase price.

Mobile Operations Centers are another big addition, allowing you to take your business on the road with a huge armored trailer housing your secret base. The MOC also has its own missions as well as a huge selection of upgrades and customization options.

Speaking of customization options, your dreams of turning your character into a military cosplayer could be realized with all the new "tacticool" clothing items.

Smuggler's Run

Another take on the now-standard business gameplay loop, Smuggler's Run let Rockstar popularize aerial vehicles and renew a trademark all in one fell swoop. Bunkers are Hangars, guns are miscellaneous illegal items, and the featured vehicles are all planes.

Flying was previously mostly happening in the background, unless you count the incessant Hydra griefers. This DLC... sort of succeeded in bringing it more to the forefront but that wasn't very long-lived. Hangar Sell Missions are still among the more lucrative activities in the game, though, and plenty of slick planes were added to the game thanks to this update.

Transform Races

How about Cunning Stunts, but even crazier? The basic mentality of Transform Races sums it up nicely. It's stunt races all over again, but this time with vehicles being swapped out mid-race. You'd drive a car, a plane and a bike all in one lap. Like other racing modes, it eventually received its own Creator. Also like other racing modes, it didn't really leave a mark.

The Doomsday Heist

It only took 2 years, but to close off 2017 Rockstar added new Heists to GTA Online. The Doomsday Heist sought to solve the game's endgame problem in so far as it didn't have one. By this time, the original Heists weren't too hot anymore and players were hungry for more. In this update, you'd take up residence in a secret mountain fortress and save the world.

GTA Online protagonists may not be your typical hero, but global annihilation isn't profitable. After you bought your Facility, you'd gain access to some proper narrative content in Online. Other additions included the Avenger, which is basically a flying MOC, 10 additional outfit slots and a massive hoard of vehicles.

The Doomsday Heist briefly became the most profitable activity in the game and has effectively deposed the original Heists among more advanced players. It also introduced a ridiculously expensive orbital laser which lets you shoot an insta-kill beam anywhere on the map. Fun times.

Also, Jetpacks!

Southern San Andreas Super Sport Series

Another racing-oriented update, SSASSS makes up for its extravagant title by having relatively tame content. There are no stunts or transformations here, only classic circuit racing with a bunch of new cars.

After Hours

After Hours was a huge deal when it came out, and still exerts lasting effects on how the game is played. You can buy your own Nightclub - with a cameo from fan-favorite Gay Tony - which is both a passive source of income and a new centralized base of operations for all of your businesses. Previously you could only manage your CEO, Import/Export, Gunrunning, Smuggler's Run and Bikers businesses from each respective property.

Now, you still need to own these, but can access all of your systems from the nightclub. Additionally, the nightclub warehouse boosts your profits massively thanks to technicians who create product for your warehouse of choice automatically and for free. If you kept your club popular, it would grant you some free pocket money too.

A bunch of new vehicles were added as well, including the extremely useful and extremely annoying Oppressor Mk.II, which replaced the Hydra as the go-to griefer vehicle. However, it also became an essential tool for making the most cash in the least amount of time, so we'll forgive it.

Arena War

Arena War is all about spectacle, inviting players to the Maze Bank Arena for gratuitous carnage. Across 7 game modes, players have to compete with each other to complete arena-based objectives while destroying each other and causing mayhem in general.

The career progression system lets you track how you're doing, and 12 vehicles that somehow manage to be even more over the top than anything before let you bring some of that arena violence out into Freemode.

The RC Bandito was also added to the game with this update. A small remote-controlled vehicle, the Bandito can be used to deliver explosives right to the feet of your enemies or to compete with in special races.

Diamond Casino & Casino Heist

After all these years, all the rumors and fake leaks, the Casino is finally open in GTA Online. First launched as the Diamond Casino & Resort DLC, players could buy penthouses at the Casino, gamble, spin the lucky wheel and engage in an all-new storyline where you'd work with the management to prevent a hostile company from taking over.

The Diamond Casino & Resort Roof Terrace

Alongside the story missions there are smaller casino jobs and a new collectible, but the story was the focus - specifically because you failed. This set up the next DLC, the Casino Heist. Now that the Diamond is in the hands of your enemies, robbing the place is on the menu.

Further refining the Heist gameplay formula, the Casino Heist offers an exciting challenge for experienced players as well as fantastic rewards. Players can purchase their own Arcade business with technically is a legitimate establishment, but you use the basement to plan out this heist to end all heists.

Open Wheel Races

Continuing the pattern of breaking up major releases with a smaller, racing themed update, Open Wheel Races brought Formula 1 racing to GTA Online, making everyone question how the hell this didn't happen sooner. Only 2 actual F1 cars were added to the game though, and we're still waiting on more.

Gerald's Last Play

A relatively unambitious update, Gerald's Last Play added 6 new Contact Missions to GTA Online. Players would team up with Gerald to secure his grip on the Los Santos underground and maintain the supremacy of the Families. This content is pretty accessible to newer players as well.

Mini-DLC

In between all of these updates, Rockstar released a whole lot of mini-DLCs, which usually included just a single vehicle, or sometimes a vehicle and an Adversary Mode. In the recent months, Rockstar really stepped up their Adversary Mode game and produced some really great modes like Sumo, Power Play and above all else, Deadline, which is basically the light-cycle battles from Tron. Oh, and you can buy an actual light-cycle.

With all the new players flocking to GTA Online month after month, showing no signs of slowing down, we'll be keeping this guide up to date with all the updates being released. No matter when you decide to enter the fray, you can rely on this post to help you out.

Aron Gerencser
Aron is responsible for the bulk of the news posts that you'll find on GTA BOOM each and every day. He loves getting involved with the community and is an avid fan of all things Rockstar Games. His journey with the franchise began with GTA 2 back when it was new (all the way back in 1999), and he was a gamer even before then. Find Aron on Facebook.