As the sun rose over Los Santos this morning, mist clung to the city and it did not feel like Independence Day. Despite the GTA Online city being as all-American as Disneyland, spirits were low, crime was high, and none of my neighbours were launching hot dogs or grilling fireworks. Perhaps that’s just what happens when an Englishwoman living in Scotland plays a game made by a Scottish studio on servers populated chiefly by Eastern Europeans, but I knew I could do better. I’ve seen television; I know how Independence Day works. Handily, the Independence Day event has brought back the usual party supplies.
The morning may not feel like Independence Day, but my clothes certainly don’t help the mood.
I hop into my wardrobe and fish for one of the outfits Rockstar only sell during certain events and…
Much better. But when everyone’s zooming around at top speed, how do you make your celebratory intent clear? By buying the special event car too. Well, I say car…
I’m feeling more festive by the minute. My technique to find fellow revellers is simple: drive my monster truck around town honking and firing flares to broadly indicate chumliness.
After dodging several close-range rockets without returning fire, I prove my intents to one bystander who soon hops in. I treat him to a traditional (?) Independence Day drive over four lanes of traffic.
As I’m starting to believe this could be the start of a parade, his pal comes by and shoots me in the head then steals my truck. I am unsurprised yet undeterred.
I then attempt to befriend a Batman by whipping out my special event weapon, a firework launcher made from cardboard and a PVC pipe. As flashes of that ol’ red white and blue rain down over his Batmobile, Batman snipes me – and not with those rubber bullets of his either.
I do meet a fella who, upon seeing my truck and feeling my vibe, runs into a shop to buy an Uncle Sam outfit then hops aboard a stars ‘n’ stripes motorbike. At last! A fellow partygoer! We had a grand old time for all of two minutes until I accidentally ran him over then other deaths occurred and look we drifted apart okay stop asking questions.
My final approach is more passive. Have a good time somewhere visible, I reason, and people will want to join in for good times of their own. I take to the beach with my monster truck, spangly outfit, flare gun, and firework launcher, filling the sky with colours and trying to dodge the rozzers – who really frown on launching fireworks in public. NPC beachgoers are not wholly into it either.
But! Finally! People start gathering! After cautiously feeling out each other’s motives and trusting we won’t be megamurdered (I like to think my hat did a lot to defuse tensions), the party begins! We launch fireworks together! We do donuts! We chase each other in circles! All seems swell!
And then someone strafes the beach in a fighter jet. I assume they wanted to join in with their own fireworks but, ah.
Then as I race towards my respawned party truck, I am disconnected.
And yet, I am not discontented. Uneasy truces, deadly banter, and good times ending in connection problems? That’s everything I’d expect from American Independence Day in GTA Online. Have a good’un, Americhums.
Disclosure: I have some pals who work at GTA devs Rockstar. I honestly don’t know on what; we mostly talk about rivers.