New gaming feature will change the face of Grand Theft Auto Online

Screengrab from a YouTube video.

The state of San Andreas will be more alive than ever.

Werewolf hunts, full-tilt property damage competitions, and fierce helicopter gunship battles are coming to Grand Theft Auto Online, and you won’t have to wait in loading screens to enjoy them.

Rockstar Games on Thursday revealed a trailer for the latest content update for Grand Theft Auto Online, that includes the addition of Freemode events to the sprawling state of San Andreas and the city of Los Santos. The new update, that arrives on Sept. 15, will also add the Rockstar Editor to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Grand Theft Auto V. That means console gamers will finally have the chance to produce the same sort of polished GTA videos that the PC audience for GTA V has been publishing online for months.

Freemode events begin at regular intervals in Free Mode of Grand Theft Auto Online, when up to 32 players are in the game simultaneously and doing whatever they want. Usually, if a GTA Online player wants to engage in a substantive, structured activity like a mission or a Heist, they have to leave Free Mode, load into a waiting room while the activity creator sets the parameters of the activity, and then everyone loads into the mission or Heist together.

This equates to a pause in the action, and over the course of a single evening these delays to load into activities can add up to appreciable amounts of time essentially doing nothing. Freemode events are a way to add these same sorts of structured activities to GTA Online, without requiring players to first abandon Free Mode and then sit around waiting.

In the Hunt the Beast activity, one player turns into a werewolf and can no longer be tracked on radar. The goal of the werewolf player is to run through checkpoints on the map. The other participating players have to track down and kill the werewolf, who pops up on the radar briefly only when the werewolf runs through one of the checkpoints.

The werewolf player is strong enough to fight hunters in small groups, and otherwise has to use cunning to evade the hunters. The amount of time the werewolf appears on the radar increases as it runs through more and more checkpoints, such that the hunters eventually have an excellent chance of tracking and killing.

The Criminal Damage activity is a race to see who can cause the largest amount of damage to the city—blowing stuff up—in a set time limit. The King of the Castle activity tasks a player with defending a specific position on the map from other players. There are racing-based activities like the Fastest Speed Challenge and Penned In, that test raw speed and controlled driving respectively.

Players have to enter a checkpoint on the map to join some Freemode activities, while others are global across the entirety of San Andreas. The Fastest Speed Challenge, for example, is active for all players simultaneously, and all a player has to do to participate is to put the pedal down.

But designing this sort of fresh content for GTA Online comes with a price: “We currently have all key members of the team that launched Grand Theft Auto V focused on supporting GTA Online in every capacity,” Director of Design at Rockstar North Imran Sarwar told IGN

That means GTA V players should not expect, at least not in the immediate future if at all, single-player content along the lines of the The Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony campaign expansions for Grand Theft Auto IV.

The addition of the Rockstar Editor to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of GTA V means that GTA Online players on these consoles will be able to capture all the fresh action of Freemode events, as well as to make the sort of staged films that the PC audience has used to make tributes and parodies, among other types of movies shot entirely within GTA V.

Freemode events will only be added to the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One versions of GTA Online, owing to memory limitations on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The Rockstar Editor will also not be added to the PS3 and Xbox 360.

Screengrab via Rockstar Games/YouTube

Dennis Scimeca

Dennis Scimeca

Dennis Scimeca was the Daily Dot's gaming reporter until 2016. He loves first-person shooters, role-playing games, and massively multiplayer online games. His work has appeared in Salon, NPR, Ars Technica, Kotaku, Polygon, Gamasutra, GamesBeat, Paste, and Mic.