After announcing that the free update to Grand Theft Auto V containing Heists for Grand Theft Auto Online won’t be deployed until early 2015, GTA Online Producer and Lead Mission Designer Imran Sarwar spoke with IGN about the long wait for Heists, saying, “They just turned out to be a lot more difficult than we originally thought.”
Back in its concept stage, Rockstar wanted Heists to build upon the Story Mode heists, creating a new gameplay experience that was more focused on co-operation, with everything playing to their individual strengths. They also wanted multi-tiered missions with diverse prep work, different types of gameplay, and a big finale, where your role in the Heist could be the difference between success or failure.
Unfortunately, adding everything they wanted and making Heists fun proved to be a difficult task:
As it turns out, creating missions of that complexity for multiple players at the same time was much more difficult than we anticipated and every time we thought we were close, something would send us back to square one. Having already let players know of our intentions with Heists, every setback only increased the pressure to make sure we got them right.
One of the challenges is that unlike a heist in Story Mode, every player needs to feel central to the action at all times, and that’s much more challenging than it appears.
It took them months and months of designing, testing, and re-testing, but Rockstar finally settled on the four-player co-op structure you’ll see in the final version of Heists.
Later, Sarwar talked about how the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC versions of Grand Theft Auto V, as well as the ongoing updates to GTA Online, kept on delaying Heists:
All of these projects are linked and require the attention of our core team at all times, so despite our best efforts, we simply wound up needing more time to make sure every one of these projects was as good as it could possibly be.
We never want to have to move a date but if something is delayed, it’s because it’s not at the level we expect of ourselves. And while we’re not there yet, we’re getting close and Heists will be ready early in 2015.
When Heists does launch next year, it will include “five unique strands involving over 20 total missions, which will add up to around 20 hours of gameplay.”
To help extend your playtime, Sarwar said there’s going to be several rewards in Heists as well:
Such as for playing all five heists in order with the same set of players and another bonus for playing all of them in first-person on PS4, Xbox One, or PC, as well as Elite Bonus Challenges, which are essentially a big cash reward if you complete each part of a heist while meeting certain criteria, such as time to complete, damage taken, accuracy etc.
Sarwar wouldn’t talk about what’s coming after Heists, only saying, “Right now we just want to get Heists out there and get real world feedback before we look too far ahead.”