GTA Online is arriving in just a couple of hours. If you want to be the best and help your crew rise through the ranks, then there are a few skills that advanced players will want to work on in order to give themselves the best possible chance against the rest of the world.

1. Join a crew. There are thousands of crews on the Rockstar Social Club website and most of them are still happy to take new recruits. At this point you’re unlikely to get in a higher position than ‘muscle’, but that could all change with some hard work and sweet skills. Prove yourself to your superiors and you could rise through the ranks, maybe one day becoming a lieutenant and being in charge of heists and events. Alternatively, make a crew with your online friends and declare yourself the leader! Crews are ranked separately based on how many members they have, so you’ll be competing against crews of roughly the same size as your own, so even if there’s only 5 of you you’ll still be able to make waves on the leaderboards.

2. Learn the timing on grenades, and practice throwing them out of cars. Grenades in GTA V take 3-4 seconds to detonate, and beep rapidly just before they explode. You don’t want to be in the situation in a death-match where you throw a grenade at an enemy as soon as you pull the pin, as this will give them time to flee. You also want to avoid blowing yourself up. This is a case of practice and paying close attention. If you run out of sticky bombs you also want to be able to use grenades on pursuing vehicles. The timing for when you need to drop a grenade to hit a chasing vehicle will vary depending on your speed and the distance the pursuing vehicle is from you, so get on the highways, upset the law and mess around with this mechanic.

3. Get used to driving without Franklin’s special ability. In online, there won’t be special abilities, and if you always slam L3 and R3 when you get into a difficult situation as Franklin it can become a crutch. Learn to make those tight turns and near-miss maneuvers in a variety of different vehicles. Start thinking now about which car you want to drive online, then get hold of one and practice on a variety of different surfaces. The racing track north of Mirror Park is a good place to practice drifting on dirt without being interrupted, and Vespucci Beach is full of obstacles (and people) to weave between if you want to practice your sand driving.

4. Learn to fly properly. This includes planes and helicopters, including the fighter jet and attack chopper. Think about trying to complete all of the ‘under the bridge’ and ‘knife flight’ challenges, and try to mix up the aircraft that you use. Being able to land quickly and safely in a helicopter as well as being able to dodge gunfire and rockets will be a much coveted skill online. Becoming great at flying can make you indispensable to your crew, so get practicing!

5. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of the weapons. IGN have a particularly handy guide here that tells you the damage, accuracy, range, fire-rate and clip capacity of every weapon of the game. Just spend a few minutes looking over the list and check any differences you’re not sure about. For example, do you know the difference between a pistol and a combat pistol, or the carbine rifle and the advanced rifle? If not, find out now.

6. Get good on the BMX. The BMX is probably the best inner-city escape vehicle, as it can weave through tight alleyways and hop cars and fairly high walls with little difficulty. If you’re being chased by other players and they’re in anything other than a helicopter, the BMX – and to a lesser extent, the mountain bike – will be able to lose them in the narrow alleys of Los Santos. You can hop through static train carriages and even onto trains with a little bit of practice. Just remember – you are very exposed, so watch out behind you for people trying to run you down! If you ride out in the open, you will get knocked off your bike and you will be killed. The motorbikes, particularly the dirtbike, are also handy for escaping from cars or larger vehicles.

7. Get a headset. This can be a simple bluetooth headset for PS3 or the standard headset that comes with the Xbox 360, but this is very important. Without a headset you won’t be able to communicate effectively with your crew or other random players you encounter, and you’ll miss out on a ton of hilarious jokes and smack talk. If you want to be able to rob a bank with expert precision or take down an armored car in seconds, you’re going to need to be able to communicate with your buddies.

Follow these tips and not only will you be much more successful when you start playing online, but you’ll also have loads more fun.

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