Friday, October 14, 2016

DLC Overview- GTA Online: Bikers

By Patrick Hawes-DeFrias

Grand Theft Auto V’s newest free update, Bikers, came out last Tuesday. After spending some time with it, I’d like to detail for you just what kind of items, features, and other new things you can expect from this DLC.
First of all, it should be noted that there are NO single-player additions with this update. That’s not very surprising, but I felt it important to mention as some previous updates DID add weapons, vehicles and so on for the single-player to use.
Moving on, the Biker update obviously adds some new bikes. One in particular, the Nightblade, is stated in-game to come with “new exclusive clothing options.” I bought the bike myself because 1) I wanted to see what that meant, 2) I figured that it made sense to get a bike from the new update to commemorate it, and 3) I honestly just thought the bike looked really cool. And after buying it, I can confirm… that it just gives you a logo t-shirt. It says the “exclusive” shirt will only be available for a limited time, but if you can only afford one of the new bikes and you’d prefer to get one of the others, you’re really not missing out.
Speaking of clothes, the DLC also adds a ton of new biker-related clothing options. Denim cuts to leather jackets, new jeans, World War 2 helmets and bandannas, if it’s been in a movie with motorcyclists in it, you can probably wear it.
So far everything new in the game needs to be paid for, however there’s one neat little feature that was added for any players that are riding motorcycles or ARV’s, regardless of whether you’re using the other options in the DLC or not. If you ride a motorcycle in the game long enough it will become your “favorite.” After doing so, whenever you ride that motorcycle OR one of the same type, you gain a few bonuses: 1) your health regenerates as if you were standing near a VIP or Executive, and 2) you gain a damage bonus to all your weapons. This is an interesting feature, and I think I know why it was implemented. On a motorcycle, your character is much more vulnerable than while in a car or truck- there’s no walls or roof to take damage for you, if you crash you’ll fall off and lose at least half your health, and if either tire is blown out you lose MUCH more maneuverability than in a car (though the ATV’s and new trike-style motorcycle will be a bit different in this regard). By doing this, it makes the motorcycle a much more viable option in the zany GTA Online world. Because otherwise, let’s face it, anyone who became part of a biker gang in the game would inevitably just end up hopping into their stupid-fast supercar, impenetrable battle-truck, or just pay to get an APC or tank. Yeah, people are probably still going to do that, but now there’s at least a logical alternative that makes you WANT to drive motorcycles in a MOTORCYCLE GANG. Crazy, I know.
Anyway, there’s another new feature that anyone can use- Melee attacks can now be used while on a motorcycle or ATV! Though, the game never actually TELLS you how to do it. On PS4, it’s done by holding X and pressing L1 or R1 (for a left or right-sided attack, respectively). This can be done with any weapon you can use on a motorcycle. I know that the machete from the Low-Rider DLC works, as well as the new weapons added by Bikers (a pool-cue, pipe wrench, and battle-axe). Also, the hatchet that players can get from transferring a character from the last-gen version of GTA V into the PC and current-gen versions also is applicable (and is my current weapon of choice). I can’t confirm other melee weapons that can be used on bikes, but I can rule out a few. The baseball bat doesn’t work, and neither do the knuckle dusters. The bottle from the Beach Bum update also doesn’t work, and based on that I’m fairly certain knife-type weapons also won’t work, since the bottle uses the same animations.
As I was writing this, I found out that after the release of the DLC, two MORE new vehicles were added- yet another motorcycle, and a new… well, I’d describe it as a 3-wheeled street-racing buggy. I’ll include an image so you see what I mean:
No idea what this is, but I dig it.
Also, the total properties a character can have has been bumped up to 6. And, for a limited time, certain items are getting huge in-game discounts, and shark-card purchases will gain you bonus cash, so if you feel the need to give in to the temptation of micro-transactions, at least you’ll be getting a little somethin’ extra. Those bonuses will be gone near the end of the month though, so if you want to use them you better hurry.
Anyway, back to new features. The biggest addition is the inclusion of Clubhouses, which allow you to start your own in-game biker gang. You buy the property itself from an in-game website, as expected from previous updates. The initial cost isn’t that bad, with the lower-end clubhouses being in the GTA$200k range, but if you want to have any of the additional features it will easily end up over a million. However, this is nowhere near how much most of the executive offices are. Why does that matter? Well I’ll get into it later, but the clubhouses basically serve as lower-end versions of the offices introduced in an earlier DLC. They don’t pay out as much, but also aren’t as expensive. When fully upgraded, the clubhouse comes with:
  • A bar, with in-house barkeeper
  • A large mural, with different options that vary between each property
  • A garage just for motorcycles, which can hold 10 of the President’s rides as well as a few club members’
  • A computer used to buy illicit businesses and start missions to sell your stock, just like in offices
  • A “bounty board” where random missions will pop up
  • A jukebox that will play a few different genres of Rock music, including Punk and Metal
  • A weapon locker, where you can store weapons in your inventory that you don’t use anymore, so they don’t come up when trying to swap something out
  • A closet for changing outfits
  • A bed, couches, and so forth where your club members can be idle while you pick the next course of action
  • A leaderboard that catalogues how often you’ve done Biker-related activities
  • And lastly, a mod shop that can be accessed from the garage, that way you can customize bikes without leaving.
That last one in particular had me really excited, because I thought it would be just like Benny’s garage from the Lowriders update, where you could take certain cars to be heavily modified with higher performance, custom interiors, and so on. However, this is not the case. It’s just a slightly more convenient way of tweaking your bikes. The big additions are the computer and bounty board. From the board, you can choose missions which are randomly generated. They can range from going to a warehouse and blowing up some stock, saving an NPC, killing a target, and so on. When you get about halfway through a mission, however, all players in the session are alerted to your activities and will be told where your mission goal is- the package you’re carrying, the target you’re going after, and so forth. If the other players complete their version of the mission, you fail and THEY get the payout. But even if you do fail, you’ll get about $4,000 in-game, so it’s not like it’ll be a complete waste. Success generally resulted in about $20k-$30k for me, but again the missions are randomized so I can’t say for certain if that’s a consistent.
Then we have the computer which I unfortunately didn’t get to try out myself. By the time I bought the clubhouse with all the furnishings, I was basically broke, and I didn’t know that the businesses you can get from the computer were an additional cost (generally around another GTA$500k, from what I saw). I was under the impression that all business was done FROM the clubhouse. My mistake, oh well, but based on what the game says and on my own research, I believe this is how it works:
You buy a production facility for some kind of illicit good- either a kind of drug, counterfeit money, or forged documents. You can buy one of each kind, leading to a total of 5. The only real difference here is the amount each can sell for- documents and fake money sell for less than drugs. After that, it’s basically the same as in the offices from Further Adventures in Finance and Felony- go to one of your businesses, access the computer and start a “buy” mission. Succeed on the mission to get some stock, if other players disrupt your gang’s activity you fail and the enemy players get some cash. Keep doing this until you’re ready to sell, then do a “sell” mission and get a big payout.
So, what else is left? Basically additions made in the interact menu. I saw these as President, so I don’t know what options are there just by joining a club. Once you become President of a motorcycle club, there’s a few things you can do. First, you can choose and motorcycle you own to spawn near you without having to call the mechanic. Handy! Then there’s an option to invite people to your biker gang. Once people are in, you can choose to promote them. Here’s the interesting part- when you become a biker gang member, you start gaining a kind of experience points. These don’t give you new features or abilities, but they are a numerical value indicating your worth to the president. In theory, someone who has a high value is a better choice to promote. Someone who’s promoted has a few abilities that only they can do, and they can start certain side-missions, presumably through the interaction menu. Basically, in a biker gang, the abilities granted to the CEO of an executive office are instead spread out to the top members of the gang. Pretty cool, and it promotes cooperation and playing smart. You can also choose to “ride in formation”- an ability that is sort of a modification to the passive abilities given off by a CEO- since you already gain health regeneration on motorcycles, you also gain ARMOR regeneration, your bikes will repair themselves, and there’s even a “formation assist” option that helps everyone stay in formation by making everyone go the same speed as the leader. Awesome. Lastly, you can start certain side missions, and there’s a “biker outfit” option. Basically, if you don’t have the money or desire to buy your own outfit for motorcycling, there’s a few premade ones you can select for free. One of which includes a leather jacket with a patch, on which your rank in the club is written.
In short, I’m a big fan of this new DLC. The modification of the CEO mechanics is really interesting, and while very similar it feels different enough to warrant its own content. The lower cost of the new properties helps to ensure that players who’ve been out of the game for a while or who play it on and off like me will have a way of catching up, while veterans of GTA Online will have something new to experiment with. And, well, I have to admit that I really like motorcycles in games. GTA is no exception- I like the increased maneuverability, the ability to weave in and out of traffic easier than in a car, and the option of taking paths that a car or truck just can’t fit into. But for such a long time, bikes in GTA Online just weren’t a great option to use. Everyone running around with heavily armored supercars and battle-chariots basically meant that riding a bike just made you a more vulnerable target. If nothing else, the quality-of-life additions to motorcycles make bikes a viable option again, and make me a happy camper.
So if you ever find yourself in the Los Santos area, look for the Screaming Shade Motorcycle Club, we’d be glad to ride with you on the open road.

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