How to play and enjoy GTA Online as a solo player
I know what you’re thinking. Enjoying GTA Online as a solo player sure sounds like a bit of an oxymoron doesn’t it? After all, how in the heck is a single player on their own supposed to get any long-term enjoyment out of a game that’s specifically designed for large groups of players to cause mayhem and, in most cases, actively grief each other?
The simple truth is that, like many other multiplayer games, GTA Online is (usually) better with friends, especially now since so many people are looking for alternative means of socializing and rediscovering the sense of normalcy they’ve lost. However, if you’re still set on exploring GTA Online’s city of Los Santos by yourself, there are certainly ways to make it a pleasant and, yes, even fun experience.
Basic Solo-Friendly Job Types
If you’re a fresh rank 1 player, you’ll want to focus on running certain job types so you can rank up a bit and earn some cash as well. In GTA Online parlance, “jobs” are structured activities you can begin at any time from the overworld either by traveling to their associated overworld marker (a large glowing blue ring) or by navigating to the Jobs section of the Online tab in the pause menu.
Players who participated in GTA Online’s opening tutorial already know how standard competitive races work, but what you might not know is that you can do races solo, giving them a more time trial sort of feel. There’s a ton of races spread across a variety of different vehicle types including cars, motorcycles, BMX bikes, and even planes and helicopters. You’ll also earn some RP (Rank Points used for ranking up) and cash for finishing a race, even if you’re by yourself.
Once you’ve mastered the standard races, you can try your hand at the newer stunt races. These races (which can also be done solo) feature crazy custom tracks filled with spirals, loops, jumps, tunnels, and more. Some stunt races even feature specialized vehicles such as jet booster cars or motorcycles equipped with wings that allow for limited gliding across large gaps.
If you want to really test your GTA Online vehicle mastery, you can also take the ‘Transform’ stunt races for a spin. As their name infers, Transform races have specific checkpoints where the vehicle you’re controlling suddenly changes in real-time. One moment you might be speeding through hairpin turns in a sleek sports car, and then you’ll go off a ramp and transform into a fighter jet, it’s pretty wild.
Aside from races, other solo-friendly starter activities include parachuting jobs where the goal is to navigate through a series of rings and then land as close to the center of a ground target as possible after jumping out of a helicopter and parachuting down. If you want to warm up your trigger finger, you can also try your hand at the structured missions given out by NPC’s such as Gerald and Simeon (you can queue up these missions from the Jobs menu without having to visit their respective NPC). The missions are ideally suited for a small group of players, but many of them can also be done solo.
At rank 20 you’ll also unlock the Survival job type which is basically a horde mode where you fight waves of AI enemies. Again, Survival is ideally meant for groups of players, but there’s nothing stopping you from attempting it solo if you’re in the mood for a good old fashioned shootout.
If getting into gunfights and/or racing around at breakneck speeds in fast cars sounds a smidge too intense for your liking (or if you just need a break from the aforementioned gunfights and racing), there are more laid back options to consider.
GTA Online also plays host to a surprisingly robust pair of mini-games which recreate the sports of golf and tennis respectively. For the tennis mini-game you’ll need to recruit a friend or see if any online strangers want to play since the activity sadly doesn’t support AI opponents. The same goes for the golf mini-game, though you can at least play that latter activity by yourself. Mastering GTA Online’s 9-hole golf course can be a great way to spend an afternoon, not only because it’s genuinely fun but also because it awards a decent chunk of RP and is a great way to improve your character’s Strength stat (more on that later).
One of the most recent additions to GTA Online is the Diamond Casino, a swanky new fixture which, like any good casino, houses a number of different table games and slot machines for players to try their luck at. Along with slot machines and table games like blackjack and three-card poker, players can bet on virtual horse races and spin a daily prize wheel to nab freebies like cash, RP, unique clothing items, and the chance at a free sports car. Players can also pick up a free daily parcel of 1,000 chips every day to ensure their gambling habits are never permanently derailed by a run of bad luck.
Once you’ve built up a decent reserve of money and you’re looking for something to spend it on, we’d suggest investing in a nightclub or an arcade. Both property types are technically meant to support other structured GTA Online activities (CEO businesses in the case of the nightclub and the Diamond Casino Heist in the case of the arcade), but they’re also both worth having on their own.
Nightclubs and arcades both take in passive income which you can periodically collect, and if you’re willing to invest a little time and money into them they can also both become great hangout spots for when you want to just chill and unwind. Such is especially true in the case of arcades since you can actually play all of the various cabinet games you purchase to help boost the arcade’s popularity. If you’re a Twitch Prime member, you can actually get an arcade property for free along with other in-game bonuses.
Upping The Ante
If you’re looking for solo-friendly GTA Online activities that provide a bit more of a challenge, the game will happily oblige as long as you know where to look. Much of GTA Online’s proverbial “endgame” is tied into the various organizational roles you can register for, roles such as a VIP, CEO, or Motorcycle Club President.
To register as a member of these high-profile roles, you need to meet certain criteria and follow certain steps which we’ve outlined below:
- Have at least $50,000 in your in-game bank account (you can deposit held cash to your bank account at any time by accessing the Maze Bank website from your phone’s web browser)
- Access the Interactions Menu and scroll down until you find a SecuroServ option
- Select the ‘Register as VIP’ option
- Purchase one of the four available office space properties from the Dynasty 8 Executive website (the offices range in price from $1 million to $4 million)
- Set up your business by visiting your purchased office space
- Once your business is set up, you can register as a CEO through the SecuroServ option in the Interactions Menu
Motorcycle Club President (MC for short)
- Purchase a motorcycle club property from the Maze Foreclosures website
- Visit your club in person to set it up and name it
- Once your club is established, you can register as an MC President through the Interactions Menu
All three of the above roles have their own perks and benefits which you can access through the Interactions Menu, and it’s also through the Interactions Menu that you can take on contract work missions for the three roles. Most contract mission types require that you be in a public online session and/or have a few buddies with you, but there are a few you can do solo and from the comfort of a private session.
The contract missions have pretty straightforward objectives which usually involve stealing items from and/or killing enemy NPC’s. In most cases, you’ll have to escape the cops while dealing with a wanted level of 2-3 stars as part of a mission, so be sure to prepare accordingly.
The missions are timed, and it can be frustrating watching the timer tick down as you’re desperately trying to avoid a relentless pack of cops, but the payouts for these missions are usually pretty good even if you don’t fully complete them ($20-$30k on average). The only downside is that you need to wait out a 10-minute cooldown in between mission attempts.
Along with contracted work you can also bolster your flying skills by participating in the San Andreas Flight School that’s located over at the LSIA Airport. The Flight School includes 10 solo challenges which all task the player with performing advanced aerial maneuvers.
One task, for example, has you making an emergency landing on a beach during a severe storm, while another involves landing a helicopter on the back of a moving truck. The Flight School challenges can undoubtedly be frustrating at first blush, but they also come with some decent RP/cash payouts, and they’ll make you a better airplane/helicopter pilot for sure.
Businesses and Heists
Engaging with GTA Online’s structured businesses and heists as a solo player is technically possible, but how much enjoyment you get out of such ventures is entirely dependent on the caliber of random online players you inevitably interact with.
Every business, whether it’s a CEO venture like special cargo or a Motorcycle Club pursuit like document forgery, requires a significant monetary investment just to get up and running. Also, once you’ve accumulated goods to sell through your business, you can only attempt to sell them in public sessions. This naturally makes you a prime target for griefers, especially since your sell attempt is automatically broadcasted to every other player in the session while it’s underway.
Heists also have a bit of an upfront cost both because you have to purchase a luxury apartment equipped with a heist planning room and because you have to pay a setup fee whenever you attempt a new heist. These upfront costs aren’t quite as exorbitant as those associated with setting up a business, but they’re worth mentioning since, as a solo player, you’ll be heavily reliant on random online players to complete the heists.
The intro heist which also functions as a sort of ‘heist tutorial’ requires a minimum of two players while the standard heists require a minimum of four. All of the heists are also easier if you’re coordinating directly with your fellow players, so they might not be worth the investment if you don’t like talking with random strangers through voice chat. Buying a heist planning room-equipped apartment also lets you queue up for heists run by other players, which might be a better option if you want to take a more laid back approach while still working towards a potential payday.
There’s a lot of cool (and expensive) stuff to buy in GTA Online, so there’s never really a point where making money isn’t a worthwhile goal. However, if you focus only on grinding through missions and activities for cash, chances are you’ll get burnt out pretty quickly. It’s important, especially as a solo player, to break up your usual cash-generating efforts with other pursuits that are both fun and fulfilling.
As an example, there’s a series of three daily objectives you can perform each day, and completing all three awards a stacking reward of several thousand dollars (you can view these objectives from the Interactions Menu). The objectives can involve any number of potential tasks or activities, and they’re guaranteed to get you to try modes, missions, and structured jobs you might otherwise ignore. There are also collectibles to find hidden around Los Santos and even a full-on treasure hunt just waiting to be discovered.
If you like the idea of improving your character’s personal performance, you can also focus on upgrading their personal stats such as Strength, Shooting, Flying, and Driving. Much as in earlier GTA games, you can build up a particular stat by performing associated tasks and activities. For example, driving around in any ground-based vehicle will slowly improve your Driving stat while shooting an enemy with any firearm will bump up your Shooting stat.
Improving your stats also unlocks requisite performance boosts for those same associated activities, so if you want to give yourself a bit of an edge, building up your character’s stats is never wasted effort.
Lastly, if you want to just go out and have some fun by yourself, you’ll find no shortage of opportunities. Dress up in a garish outfit and rob some convenience stores, see how long you can outpace the cops with a four-star wanted level, try to drive a truck to the top of Mt. Chiliad, in GTA Online the fun is definitely what you make of it.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to take breaks every now and then. It can admittedly be quite hard to stay motivated as a solo player, so don’t stress it, Los Santos will still be there whenever you decide to return. GTA Online may not have been built with solo players fully in mind, but if there’s one thing GTA fans are good at, it’s flaunting the rules.