And nobody shows up.
There are two reasons why this would happen
1) Everybody who was invited was simultaneously grounded by their parents shortly before the party started, or...
2) They knew that the party was going to suck, so they never came.
I prayed that it was the former, because there's nothing sadder in the world of video games than wasted (geddit?) potential. Sadly, after waiting for hours on end to have somebody actually start and then join a heist, I can see why the mode was so unpopulated: It's insanely stressful, poorly thought out, and more importantly, it's boring.
I bet you guys didn't see that coming. Neither did I. Honestly, after playing previous co-op modes in other Rockstar games I figured I knew what to expect: nothing particularly special, yet still a good time. Let's be honest, heists weren't the actual focal point of development when it came to GTA Online, so to rival something like, say, Payday 2 in terms of how open they are would probably be out of the question, even with their budget. To its credit, the linearity and scripted nature of the heists works in its favour. Watching your customized character work together with your team through cutscenes is a total blast, and makes you feel like an absolute badass when your team struts through the doors of a bank, passing the gear around before you take control of your character and start firing empty threats (or actual ones, assuming you plan on actually killing civilians) up into the ceiling. Unfortunately, any hope of the game mode being fun is ruined by poor design flaws that don't even sound good on paper.
Let's have a look at some of them.
- At any point in time, if any of your teammates gets killed, it's automatic game over.
- To rub salt in the wound, you have exceedingly low amounts of health and your teammate cannot be saved before they bleed out.
- The longest and most open portion of any heists is the getaway driving, not the heist itself. They can last half an hour long.
- Sometimes you're forced to use a totally impractical getaway vehicle for long stretches of time (such as a motorcycle when there are heavy swat cars and helicopters headed your way). Pairing up in such cases where one of the players is a bad driver is not an option, as it makes any slip-up kill the person in the back.
- The checkpoint system only occurs during the heist. During the getaway, if you crash, you have to start all over from the beginning of the getaway, even if you reach the next "checkpoint."
By and large, however, the biggest problem is the lives system. Heists is essentially a gamemode that isn't just reserved for professional, experienced players, but absolute perfectionists. Players who can play absolutely flawlessly and ensure they never go down under any circumstance. There's no room for error, and while that rings true to real life heists in general, not only does it not translate well in a video game, but the "one player goes down, everybody goes down" system cranks that idea up to eleven to the point where it's not hard or challenging anymore, it's just unfair. Barring the fact that screw-ups are the most intriguing part of any heist movie, it also puts a sort of pressure on the players that makes them not want to see the heist through, but rather want to put down the controller (or throw it) and leave.
It certainly doesn't help that the heist, itself, just isn't very fun. One heist would have you breaching doors with a thermal charge in succession over and over again while one person stands in place and does nothing until they get to hack the vault while the other two act as crowd control for the people in the bank. That whole bit probably lasts for about five minutes, not counting the two minutes it takes to repeatedly tap X to collect the money (oddly enough, the most satisfying moment I've had in GTA Online, bar none). In the heist I played, there was one brief shootout between the points where we escaped the bank with cash in hand and the point where we got to our bikes (seriously, why is the getaway vehicle so far, and why can't we just use the cars we arrived with in the first place?). Most of the time we spent just walking, never really ducking for cover and returning fire.
The only actual excitement that came from the whole experience was when we got on our hogs and drove off. And then I realized just how long the drive was. So. Freaking. Long.
Each and every time one of our teammates would have gotten killed by some kind of BS nonsense, like a cop car pulling out of nowhere and knocking them off the bike (apparently an instant kill, as far as I can tell) prompting us to return to the checkpoint where we got back on our bikes and drove off. The next attempt, we were driving for a solid fifteen minutes and were less than half-way to the goal. Naturally, since we got so far, someone had to slip up (in this case, it was me, killed by a stray branch), which prompted us to again start all over from the beginning of the race. We had been going at it for about two hours before the host left and decided he had enough. I don't blame him
My experience with GTA Online's heists were nothing but a major disappointment and a waste of time. All of the problems in the game could have been fixed with some ridiculously simple tweaks, such as continuing a heist after a player gets killed instead of getting a game over, and shortening the drive time during the getaway. The bottom line, in my opinion, heists were definitely not worth the wait. I hope at least somebody else has more fun than I do.