Though Red Dead Redemption 2 hits consoles in a few months, it seems it won't spell the end of updates for Grand Theft Auto Online. Given the escalation of recent updates, culminating in the high drama of the Doomsday Heist, I'd half expected Rockstar might now wrap it up to focus on the cowboy 'em up's multiplayer. But in an investor conference call yesterday, Take-Two said Rockstar's free content updates have helped the game continue to exceed financial expectations and that Rockstar have "much more planned going forward."
More immediately, Rockstar this week added the small new Trap Door mode. Stay away from that Trap Door.
To be clear: Trap Door is not remotely about feeding your monstrous boss or chasing ghoulies escaped from down below, so there is no reason for me to post this video.
No, Trap Door is an Adversary team mode for up to 16 players across up to 4 teams. We shoot each other in the face, respawning all the way, with the only way anyone's killed for good being falling through that dastardly trap door. At regular intervals, a large chunk of the map (it all goes down in abstract murderzones floating above the ocean) is marked red to warn people to leave. When the timer ticks down, it vanishes, everyone on it falls and dies for good, and a new red zone is picked. The trick is, players respawn inside the red zone, so after you die you might need to frantically dash to safety.
It's a little battle royale-y, with the red zones cutting down the arena, and does have weapons and armour to collect around the arena. But I think the explosive growth of battle royale games might have reached the point where I draw connections in everything.
And it's... fine? Trap Door is okay. Hardcore grinders grumble that it's an inefficient use of time, but for me the issue is that it's been an inefficient way to have fun. Several Trap Door maps are a bit bland, some have balance issues, one-sided rounds can drag out as the final opponents respawn over and over, and GTA's on-foot violence simply isn't that good. Plus too many game hosts turn off team auto-balancing, and too many players are clueless then leave while losing.
It can be a lark if all goes well, mind. My favourite match was actually a 2v2, far from the intended scale and mayhem. Good 2v2, that, with enough breathing room to tactically time kills so enemies respawned in the red right before it vanished.
Trap Door mode is paying out double RP and cash until Monday so loads of people are playing if you fancy a peek.
As for the wider picture, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick revealed in yesterday's quarterly earnings conference call that GTA V has now sold-in 95 million units aross all platforms. 'Sold-in' is the number sent to stores rather than the number bought by players, but that's still a huge load of people. Big numbers. He said the game continues to exceed their expectations every year, and that GTA Online had its "biggest year yet" for sales of grind-skipping virtual currency 'Shark Cards'. So yes, Rockstar will continue to make new GTA Online stuff. With big price tickets, I'd imagine.
What exactly are Rockstar working on for GTA Online? Ah, it's all a big secret for now. Mostly I'm hoping for more cooperative stuff, more big heists and such. A huge rebalancing patch sweeping across all the moneymaking businesses (some of which are far worse than others) would be nice too. Polish. It needs polish. So much has been added over the years but in an arcane web rather than an ordered way, so it's all a bit overwhelming and janky. And I'd like more cool motorbikes and tattoos, obvs.
Disclosure: I have a few pals at Rockstar, as does half the population of Edinburgh.