We just discovered GTA Online

Wow, GTA Online has been live since 2013? I had to look that up. It took us a whole four years to pay attention. It's reassuring that despite coming in late, the game feels as relevant today as any other game we've played in 2017.

Yep, I'm using the pronoun "we" for this article, as getting into GTAV's multiplayer mode has been a group effort. We have been live-streaming as we play, so check out our YouTube channel for the action!

Thuggin' Ain't Easy

Of the four of us playing the game, we have all tried playing since the release on PS3/360. We all bounced off, due to a pretty dreadful onboarding experience. In honesty, the first few hours of life in San Andreas are no easier today than they were before.

Matchmaking for "Quick Jobs" is a painful mess - you have to coordinate through voice chat a lot to get in a game together. This involves a lot of faffing and waiting in lobbies while session in progress conclude.

Cooldown timers also affect how often you can repeat certain activities. For some of the GPT crew, this wait before getting into the action was too much to bear.

Knowing that there are cool activities such as Heists helped us agree to persevere. We wanted to taste the more interesting content before completely dismissing the game. It was worth it.

I've Been Living In Your Heart Shaped Box

There is a simple joy to be had in the free-roam mode alone. Turns out dumping players into the map of San Andreas and letting them go at it, is fun. A big crime sandbox where players can own property, steal vehicles and unleash hell on each other.

It can be very frustrating when a powerful player with an attack chopper tears through your crew. Yet, some of the best evenings involved us exacting sweet revenge on that player. Some of the best missions involve the crew having to transport goods. This simple task gets spiced up by the fact other crews have the mission to take you down.

San Andreas is a rough place to live. It's overcrowded with neighbours who have an itchy trigger finger. Even popping to the shops to buy some snacks and drinks can mean getting shot to bits. That's a real thing.

It should be some relief that you can enter the game in either a "solo" or "crew only" state. Despite this, we often found ourselves choosing to face adversity instead. It's more fun!

Happy Together

Open world mischief aside, we started the game for a reason. We wanted to play the Heists. GTA Online's Heists are four player cooperative missions. They are similar in quality and larger in scale to those you would find in the single player campaign. That is to say, they are very good.

That said, we did have to grapple with the usual GTA quirks. The controls are a little cumbersome, the combat is clunky. Also, the missions are difficult. I mean rock hard.

Some Heists will split the foursome into two groups or more. If only one of the players fails, it can mean a reset to a checkpoint a big chunk of time in the past. Despite this, when the group achieves their goals as individuals, then come together for the finale, there are few better moments in gaming. Check out one of our finer moments below.

I'm Still Standing

It's clear that Rockstar has a recipe for success with GTA Online. Although much of the enjoyment feels random, or player generated, that's the joy of it. San Andreas is a big, fun, murder playground. Scattered with well designed missions for groups to enjoy.

It's also clear that the game is still very popular. No matter what time of day, there were plenty of people to play with, or against. It's for this reason that a new Heist - The Doomsday Heist - was recently added. It's rumoured that this mission was once planned to be single player content. The success of GTA Online changed those plans.

Odds are you already own GTA V. If that is the case and you haven't tried the online - grab some friends and persevere. It's a hard hill to climb to start with, but we recommend giving it a look if you enjoy online co-op experiences. Get in before everyone flocks to Red Dead Redemption 2.