GTA Online beginner’s guide: 12 tips to get you started

7.18.2023
By Jason Rodriguez, Contributor

Grand Theft Auto Online (GTA Online) originally released in October 2013. After nearly a full decade of updates and patches, the game is as chaotic as ever. As such, things can feel a bit overwhelming if you’re a newcomer. But don't worry, because we’ve got your back with our GTA Online beginner’s guide on the Epic Games Store. 

Our guide takes a look at basic mechanics from the moment you first launch the game, all the way to money making activities and further progression. We also discuss different game modes, vehicles, properties, guns, and more.
 

Complete the tutorial


You won’t be able to start GTA Online right from the get-go. That’s because you’ll need to complete the GTA single-player prologue first. Once you gain control of Franklin, you should be able to switch to GTA Online via the menu or by selecting it when launching the game.

From there, you’ll be able to create and customize your character, who’ll then arrive at Los Santos. We recommend completing the GTA Online tutorial since your first contact, Lamar Davis, will teach you the ropes. This includes street racing, committing robberies, taking down thugs, undertaking a job assignment, and getting insurance for your car.

Gta Online Beginners Guide Tips Tutorial

Learn the map and icons


Shortly thereafter, free-roam will become available. Once you open your map, you’ll notice several icons with a legend and descriptions on the right-hand side of the screen.

Most missions given by characters have letters as icons (for example: “LD” for the aforementioned Lamar Davis). Various establishments, meanwhile, have their own symbols, like a diamond symbol for the casino. Similarly there’s the Rockstar Games icon, which has a series of activities. Clicking on a marker creates a waypoint, which you can then follow as you’re exploring.

Make sure you check your phone menu, as it has the internet browser. This all-important tool provides numerous functions which we detail below. These include guns, vehicles, and properties that you can purchase.

Gta Online Beginners Guide Tips Map

Gain bonus Reputation Points (RP) to level up


GTA Online has Reputation Points (RP), which serve as experience points that allow you to gain levels. As you level up, you’ll unlock additional functions and mechanics, as well as more guns.

Generally speaking, almost every action in the game nets you RP. Here are some examples:
 

  • Stealing cars
  • Robbing stores
  • Killing other players
  • Outrunning the police
  • Completing jobs
  • Completing Heists/CEO/MC missions
  • Finishing daily, weekly, and monthly objectives


There are other ways to earn more RP in GTA Online. For instance, you gain +10% RP by playing with friends, and +20% RP if you’re with Crew teammates. Moreover, the Diamond Casino and Resort has a roulette wheel that you can spin once per day. There are many rewards on that wheel, including bonus RP.

Gta Online Beginners Guide Tips Reputation Points

Get snacks and armor


Preventing your character from getting wasted (dying) in GTA Online is crucial, as you don’t want to end up failing missions or losing bouts. That’s where snacks and armor come in handy.

Snacks are purchased from 24/7 convenience stores that dot most areas of the map. You can simply open the world map and select from a dozen stores near your location. You may then use these via the weapon wheel. Armor, meanwhile, comes from the Ammu-Nation shops, which can also be found on your map.

Gta Online Beginners Guide Tips Snacks

Solo Sessions, Passive Mode, or Crews


By default, your character will be part of a PvPvE session. That means you can freely explore Los Santos to tackle assignments, but you’ll have to contend with other players. In some cases, they might shoot you down, blow you up, or run you over. It tends to become quite a hassle, which is why there are a few methods to make the experience smoother.
 

Solo Sessions


As the term implies, solo sessions let you turn the world into your own playground, letting you complete various tasks on your own. Here’s what you need to do to start single-player sessions in GTA Online:
 

  • Open the pause menu
  • Select Online
  • Select Find a New Session
  • Choose from the following:
    • Invite Only—Limited to players that you’ve invited.
    • Closed Friend—Limited to those on your friends list.
    • Closed Crew—Limited to those who are also Crew members.
 

Passive Mode


Passive Mode, meanwhile, lets you stay within a multiplayer session, but you can’t be targeted by others. Unfortunately, this also prevents you from drawing your weapon or driving a vehicle with mounted weapons. Here’s how you can activate Passive Mode:

Open the Interaction Menu by pressing M on your keyboard or holding the View button on your gamepad.
Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the list and pick Enable Passive Mode.
 

Joining Crews


And, of course, there’s also the option to join Crews (also known as clans). There are private crews for friends, and they have a limit of 1,000 members. Likewise, there are public crews, which can have an unlimited number of members. As noted earlier, playing with Crew teammates nets you bonus RP. Here’s how you can join a Crew:
 

  • Open the pause menu
  • Select Online
  • Select Crews
  • Choose Suggested Crews, Friends’ Crews, or Invitations (if you have a pending invite from someone you know)


Gta Online Beginners Guide Tips Sessions

Complete jobs to earn more cash


As a GTA Online beginner, your initial goal is to earn cash by completing all sorts of jobs. These are either set automatically by the system or received from random players through your phone. You’ll also be able to see full lists by opening the pause menu, going to the Online tab, and selecting Jobs. Here are some examples of GTA Online jobs:
 

  • Races—Compete with other drivers to reach the finish line
  • Deathmatch—This can either be a standard deathmatch or team deathmatch. The player or team with the highest score wins
  • Last Team Standing—This is akin to team deathmatch, though you won’t respawn if you die
  • Capture—Locate and retrieve the opposing team’s package from their base
  • Survival—Take on multiple waves of hostiles
  • Parachuting—Jump out of a chopper and glide through aerial checkpoints


Gta Online Beginners Guide Tips Jobs

Obtain new guns


Most of the guns in GTA Online won’t be available at the start. Instead, you’ll need to level up by earning more RP. Once you’ve hit certain milestones, you’ll see that some armaments have become available in Ammu-Nation shops.

You do have access to the Pistol and Combat Shotgun at level 1. However, the Pistol can only hold its own against NPCs, whereas the Combat Shotgun is completely outclassed in most gunfights, especially when battling other players. Your best bet is to grind to level 24, which is when you unlock the Assault Rifle for purchase.

Alternatively, you can look for Gun Vans. These appear at random locations each day, and the vendor sells different kinds of firearms, including some high-tech pieces. These can be a little pricey, but you can bypass the level restriction as long as you have the cash to spare.

Gta Online Beginners Guide Tips Guns

Choose the right vehicles and garages


Apart from weapons, GTA Online also has hundreds of vehicles. You won’t be able to own these instantly—you can’t just grab a random car and expect it to be yours permanently. Instead, you’ll have to purchase a garage or an apartment/establishment that has one. Here’s the gist:
 

  • For properties, you’ll want to open the Internet browser using your phone, then navigate to the Dynasty 8 Real Estate website 
  • Low-end apartments with room for two vehicles are quite cheap, with the lowest priced at $25,000
  • The long-term goal is to buy a high-end property. Apartments in this bracket have room for 10 cars, whereas a large garage can have up to 50 cars
  • It’s also worth noting that regular properties won’t let you keep aircraft, as you need a hangar for these


Here are some websites that you can check out in-game if you want to purchase vehicles:
 

  • Legendary Motorsport—Has several top-tier and exotic sports cars
  • Elitas Travel—Has commercial aircraft, helicopters, and blimps
  • Warstock Cache and Carry—Has military vehicles ranging from armored humvees, anti-aircraft personnel carriers, fighter jets, and jetpacks
  • Arena War—Has custom-built large vehicles for the Arena Wars activity series
  • Docktease—Has jet skis, speedboats, and luxury yachts


Naturally, you might be wondering which vehicles to acquire in the long run. Here's some suggestions for you:
 

  • Super Car: Ocelot Virtue—Combines speed, armor, and defensive countermeasures; can be purchased from Legendary Motorsport for $2.98 million
  • Armored Off-Road: Insurgent—Has highly resistant armor plating that can withstand a ton of punishment; can be purchased from Warstock Cache and Carry for $897,750
  • Motorcycle: Oppressor MK II—This hoverbike can have defensive countermeasures and homing missiles, making it great for combat and general exploration; can be purchased from Warstock Cache and Carry for a whopping $8 million. Moreover, its modifications require the Terrorbyte truck, which can also be bought from the same shop for $3.459 million
  • Helicopter: Akula—This stealth chopper lets you sneakily perform airstrikes on unwary targets; can be purchased from Warstock Cache and Carry for $4.5 million
  • Submarine: Kosatka—The Kosatka has a unique arsenal that allows it to fire guided missiles that you can direct at specific locations; can be purchased from Warstock Cache and Carry for $9.085 million


Note that the values listed above are the default prices for each vehicle. However, these can be lowered to their trade prices if you meet certain requirements. Similarly, if you’re just looking to get a fast car just for exploration purposes, your best bet is to head to the aforementioned Diamond Casino and Resort. The parking lot usually has a few sports cars that you can steal.

Gta Online Beginners Guide Tips Vehicles

Business ventures and activities: VIP, CEO, MC President, and Heists


Earlier in our GTA Online beginner’s guide, we mentioned completing jobs to earn cash and RP. Still, there are many ways for you to earn money as you progress further.
 

Become a VIP


You can enable VIP status, which lasts for four hours. This allows you to invite random players or friends as bodyguards. They’ll then assist you as you complete missions and other tasks. To become a GTA Online VIP, you’ll need to do the following:
 

  • Make sure you have at least $50,000 in your bank account or in hand
  • Open the Interaction Menu by pressing “M” on your keyboard or by holding the View button on your gamepad
  • Select Register as a Boss
  • Select Register as SecuroServ VIP
  • Input your Organization’s name
     

Become a Motorcycle Club/MC President


You may also decide to kickstart your own business by way of the Motorcycle Club (MC). This opens up additional missions where you’ll acquire supplies that you can sell. Here’s what you need to do:
 

  • Open your phone’s internet browser and go to the Maze Bank Foreclosures website
  • Have enough money to buy a Clubhouse property
  • Open the Interaction Menu by pressing “M” on your keyboard or by holding the View button on your gamepad
  • Select Register as a Boss
  • Select Register as MC President
  • Head to your Clubhouse and choose a type of business to focus on. We suggest dealing in drugs or counterfeit items
  • Alternatively, if you don’t have the cash yet, you can flag your availability for work. This leads to notifications when MC Presidents need assistance
  • Note that the MC President and CEO options are mutually exclusive. As such, you’ll have to disband your previous selection if you want to try a different path
     

Become a CEO


The path to becoming a GTA Online CEO also requires a lot of work. However, there are also quite a few benefits. Here’s what you need to do:
 

  • Open your phone’s internet browser and go to the Dynasty 8 Executive website
  • Have enough money to buy an Office property
  • Open the Interaction Menu by pressing “M” on your keyboard or by holding the View button on your gamepad
  • Select Register as a Boss
  • Select Register as a CEO
  • Go to your newly purchased Office property and interact with the computer in your lounge
  • With the above done, you’ll be in charge of business operations, which means you can recruit other players for new missions
  • Alternatively, if you don’t have the cash yet, you can flag your availability for work. This leads to notifications when CEOs need assistance
  • Note that the CEO and MC President options are mutually exclusive. As such, you’ll have to disband your previous selection if you want to try a different path
     

Conduct Heists


Heists used to be the premier game mode in GTA Online. These can be done solo or as a group. These lead to a series of objectives, such as hacking servers, drilling through vaults, stealing supplies, or taking out enemies, which all culminate in a huge payoff—assuming you’re successful. Here’s what you need to do to start Heists:
 

  • Reach Level 12
  • Open your phone’s internet browser and go to the Dynasty 8 Properties website
  • Have enough money to buy a High-End Apartment
  • With the above done, you’ll be contacted by an NPC named Lester Crest, who’ll then inform you about the game mode
  • Go to the apartment and take a look at the Heist Planning Room. You’ll be able to start Heist missions from there


Gta Online Beginners Guide Tips Heists

San Andreas Mercenaries


One of the latest additions to the game is the GTA Online San Andreas Mercenaries Mode (or just Mercenaries for short). This presents a series of missions that can be done solo, or as a group. The end goal is to take down Merryweather Security with your band of guns-for-hire. Here’s what this mode entails:
 

  • After completing the tutorial, you’ll eventually receive a call from Charlie Reed
  • Purchase an Avenger, as well as the Operations Terminal upgrade, via the Warstock Cache and Carry website
  • Go to the marked location to talk to Charlie (the “C” icon on the world map)
  • Interact with the Avenger’s Operations Terminal


Gta Online Beginners Guide Tips Mercenaries

And that’s it: That’s everything you need to know about starting as a beginner in GTA Online. As cited earlier, it’s been almost a decade since it first came out, and things can get very overwhelming and hectic. Still, with a bit of patience and time, you might eventually become the kingpin of Los Santos—and beyond.