I come bearing great news about GTA Online in 2021. A crafty modder called t0st has been carved into the video game Mount Olympus this week after they helped Rockstar fix GTA Online’s loading times on PC.

Regardless of whether you’ve played the game for 15 minutes or 15 hours since 2015. You’ll be familiar with the fact that you had to wait at least five or six minutes after launching it before you could start playing. As a regular player, it became part of your routine to boot the game up *before* you went to grab a snack or run a quick errand. So that it was ready when you got back.

Well, not any more. With some investigative coding wizardry, t0st found what was causing the problem. It turns out that it was a relatively easy solution. Rockstar implemented the fix on Tuesday, March 16 and now players can expect to take control of their characters in under two minutes. T0st took home a healthy $10,000 bounty for their hard work, as they rightly deserve – the entire community owes them a great debt.

It seems ridiculous to get this stoked off of a loading time reduction. But it has always been one of the game’s biggest problems, so I hope this update is going to convince lots of jaded expats to give Los Santos a second chance. It’s not that it needs more players – GTA Online is thriving right now ahead of its next-gen release. With more players than any previous year logging in in 2020 – but I think lots of players gave up on it at some point, for one valid reason or another.

Anecdotally, most of my friends who stopped playing GTA Online pointed towards the loading times. As well as the Kafkaesque systems that surround the best parts of the game. There is simply so much going on in GTA Online nowadays – from demolition derbies to intricate nightclub management – that it becomes overwhelming very quickly, especially for new players. Hell, I would call myself a regular and it still makes me anxious.
GTA Online
GTA Online. Credit: Rockstar Games

As well as griefers on death bikes, text messages and calls attack the player constantly. And they often need to buy costly properties or jump through a series of frustrating hoops to close in on its most rewarding content. What’s weird is that it still feels like a lot of the shortcuts and crucial tips for getting by in-game only spread by word of mouth, too. There’s community knowledge out there but it takes effort to seek out. And a lot of it is only understood by playing and making mistakes. This means getting into GTA Online can feel like trying to run through a brick wall. It can be too much to bear for many, and understandably so, but the sad part is that all of that cement obscures the game’s irresistible, never-replicated wagyu beef centre.

I feel like an alien because I’ve always been able to look past this. I’ve been playing through thick and thin, even in the dark ages before Heists came in. Regardless of the storms I’ve weathered, GTA Online continues to fascinate me, nearly a decade after its console release. I might take long or short breaks, but it will spring a dynamic surprise on me every time I log in. There’s something about the world, the driving, the immaculately curated music, the physics engine. There’s a certain je ne sais quoi that keeps me coming back. I really can’t fault how it feels to play. I love the deeply intense heisting and the silly open-world explosions. It can be weirdly meditative too. Just driving around at night listening to Frank Ocean and New Order under the simulated stars.

Somebody recently tweeted that they “drove for 30 mins in GTA” to clear their head and it has nearly a million likes. So it’s clear the sentiment resonates. If you know, you know!

Over the past two weeks, I’ve pulled a group of my friends onto the game. Close pals I haven’t seen or played games with properly for quite some time. We reformed our old crew, the Gucci Balaclavas, and we’ve been digging into the nuanced heists that have been added since we hung up our masks. Just yesterday, we worked together to rob a trio of amphibious flying cars. Which we used to soar into the clouds and take down a cargo plane with homing missiles. It was a level of fun that I feel is unique to GTA Online — bonkers, full of adrenaline and we couldn’t stop laughing. We’ve not even made it to the innovative Casino heist or Cayo Perico. A private island recently added to the game that players can scope and rob. But honestly, beyond all of the tense tomfoolery, it’s the reactive open-world gameplay we can’t get enough of.

GTA Online
GTA Online. Credit: Rockstar Games

We’ve stayed up till stupid o’ clock playing hole after hole of GTA Online’s absurd. Arguably mediocre golf minigame together. In one session, we met an invincible cheater at the airport who could spawn drivable passenger planes. And annoyed the life out of each other by driving our motorbikes in front of the barber’s mirror while one player was trying to change their hairstyle. Then there’s the age-old trick of strapping sticky bombs to personal vehicles. When other players aren’t looking, only to let explosive chaos reign as they hurtle helplessly down Mount Chiliad.

GTA Online certainly has its problems that I’m by no means naive to. But whichever way you slice it, it’s still unbeatable in the online open-world department. This inimitable game really deserves a second chance in 2021, especially if you left it behind years ago. Honestly, with next-gen ports on the horizon, it’s just a matter of time before the game experiences another wave of attention. Why not get a head start?

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