Yesterday, Rockstar Games dropped the first GTA Online DLC of 2017. It added a sleek new bike that can be extensively customized at Benny's, as well as a new Adversary Mode. In spite of the bike being a real treat in terms of customization options and the track record of Adversary Modes in the past, it is the latter, not the former, that stole the spotlight.
But what goes into making an Adversary Mode a breakout success? After pretty much all of 2015's and all but the last few of 2016's new Adversary Modes being generally considered forgettable by the community with nary a player in sight even around their launch, it's surprising how drastically Rockstar turned things around recently.
Sure, there were a few exceptions in the past like Slasher and Sumo which managed to capture the audience, however for every Slasher you had a dozen "In and Out"s. Not recently, though, as great Modes have been released quite frequently, with Power Play, Deadline and now Vehicle Vendetta all being standout examples of how to do this right.
Adversary Modes have always been the creative playground of Rockstar's designers. They are ways of adding interesting gameplay mechanics to the GTA 5 experience that would feel out of place in regular, canon missions and jobs. Game-modes with supernatural entities, light-cycle battles from Tron and more have made their way into this ostensibly realistic game.
Conceptually, Adversary Modes are pretty great, however most tripped up when it came to execution. Either balance issues or a low payout led to low player counts, leaving those who actually tried playing the Modes suffering in half-full lobbies with lopsided teams.
The recent Adversary Modes, with Vehicle Vendetta prime among them, set themselves apart in two crucial ways - refinement and rewards. Power Play, Deadline and the newest Mode are all polished to a shine, and pay pretty well relative to the effort and time required.
Vehicle Vendetta excels in terms of game design. It takes a pretty basic concept as its foundation - vehicle deathmatch with powerups - and adds refinement and unique spins on the Mode to set it apart. Instead of regular power-ups that gamers have gotten used to such as "shield" or "boost", Rockstar added a suite of entirely unique power-ups which still manage to be balanced. They are fun to use when you pick them up, and fun to evade when the enemy does.
The second, and probably more crucial, of the two, is payouts. Granted, there may be a double cash promo going on right now, but considering that with this bonus Vehicle Vendetta is temporarily the clear and obvious best way to make cash, leaving vehicle exports and crates behind proves that even under normal conditions, it's a great way to rack up some green.
That's how you make a great Adversary Mode. Replayability, fun, and ample reward. Vehicle Vendetta won't make you millions in two days, but considering that one match is just ten minutes give or take, and there's the opportunity to walk away with GTA$ 150K after winning four of them.
Have you been enjoying GTA Online's newest Adversary Mode?