Summer is here and that means fun in the sun, backyard barbeques, well-deserved vacations and of course, a new content drop for Grand Theft Auto Online. As usual, Rockstar games has taken the opportunity to add more free content to GTA Online for players to enjoy. This time the new content comes in the form of Los Santos Tuners, a vehicle-themed update that will make everyone from gearheads to racers to getaway drivers very happy. Yet again, Rockstar has found a way to make their seven year old game just as fun as most new releases.
Creating a vehicle-themed update for GTA Online makes perfect sense. Even in the single player game, the focus has always been on vehicles. While we all love Franklin, Michael and Trevor, the cars (and trucks and bikes) are arguably the fourth big star of Grand Theft Auto V. When playing GTA Online, they are pretty much the main focus, so doubling down and letting players dive in and customize their rides makes a lot of sense. Of course there were already a lot of customization options, but Tuners really kicks this up into high gear.
Your adventure begins at a nondescript warehouse in Cypress Flats, right in the heart of Los Santos. You can enter the building for free, and the first time that you do you will meet Mimi, the nice girl who runs the place. Inside the building is the LS Car Meet, which features a bunch of really hot, modified cars and the people who adore them. There is a real party-like atmosphere in there and plenty of cars to drool over. It’s also a very chill environment. Guns are disabled and you can’t even throw a punch inside the meet. Rockstar had to do that or the meet would have turned into yet another deathmatch, so it’s nice that you can wander around in the safe space whether you are in a public or private instance of the game.
Walking around the meet is free, but you are going to want to join up and get a membership to take advantage of the real benefits. It’s $50,000 to join up, so pretty cheap by GTA standards. Use some of that million dollars a month money you have been getting and put it to good use.
Once you are a member, you will immediately begin to accrue reputation points by just walking around the meet and being a part of the scene. You will also have access to the test track, where you can drive some hot cars Tokyo Drift style on the indoor track. Doing that will also earn you some reputation. And just like at the Diamond Casino, there is an amazing car on display in the middle of the meet which you can win. But instead of spinning for it, you will have to perform some task in order to make it yours. When Tuners first released, the task was to earn a first place finish in a street race set up by the race master of the LS Car Meet. If you are in a friends-only instance, then you will be matched up with other global players for the race, and some of them will likely be quite skillful. So it might take you a few tries depending on your own driving skill, but at least you will earn reputation each time you try.
So all that reputation you are earning unlocks several goodies around the meet. The first is a clothing vendor, although at first almost everything will be beyond your reach because of your low reputation. There is also a tattoo parlor with some nice designs for those who like to ink up. And there is an upgrade station for your vehicle as well. If your reputation is high enough, you can also get a discount on some hot vehicles that are for sale on the game’s car websites, and also on display at the meet. These include the Obey Tailgater S, the Karin Calico GTF, the Vapid Dominator GTT and others. The ten cars currently for sale have very high sticker prices which can be reduced to more reasonable (but still pretty high) prices with a good enough reputation.
Player Owned Auto Shops
There is a lot of fun to be had at the LS Car Meet. And if you can reach reputation level 20 before August 17, Rockstar will give you a bonus $250,000 which will more than cover the cost of admission. But GTA Online is not just about racing. It’s also about shooting and of course heists. For that, you can now invest in your very own auto shop, which acts as a criminal headquarters (and also a legitimate business) that unlocks a series of new missions.
Buying an auto body shop will set you back upwards of a million dollars depending on whatever extras you put into it. Unlike some of the other businesses you can buy that are scattered all over the map, there are currently only a handful of auto shops available in Los Santos, and they are all mostly clustered downtown, which is probably good because they are close to the LS Car Meet building. In addition to the core business where you can fix up cars for yourself or other players, you can also build a small personal living space to function as your home and a 10-car garage. Given the extras, investing in an auto-shop is not a bad deal overall. And once you have the shop, you also have access to Exotic Exports missions, which tasks you with stealing specific cars around Los Santos. The required cars are listed on a chalkboard right there in your office.
But the best advantage to the auto shop is access to several big jobs being run by GTA characters KDJ and Sessanta. These are interesting heists where you take on the IAA, Merryweather and lots of others. Most of the heists are set up like robberies with a heavy emphasis on driving and getaway skills. You will need to do some prep work for them to increase your odds of success, and make sure you have the right vehicle for the job, fully tuned up and ready to go. And those heists can all be done as a solo player, or with help from up to three other people.
This makes the auto shop a really good investment for players who want to run a legitimate business, have access to small scale car theft tasks and the ability to perform large-scale robbery heists. Really, this makes the auto shop one of the best, most economical and fun businesses that you can invest in right now.
Music with the Mayhem
The Los Santos Tuners upgrade also includes some new music in the form of adding media players to cars. There are four media sticks that you can find with tracks from Moodymann and other artists. One is located on a red worktable near the car modding guy at the LS Car Meet, so be sure to pick that one up when you visit. According to reports, the others are hidden inside player-owned businesses, so you may have to own a nightclub or an arcade to get access to those.
The new music features tracks from Rockstar’s new CircoLoco Record label. For me personally, it’s not really the kind of music I normally listen to, but I did enjoy some of the more mellow tracks. And more options for cool tunes while playing GTA is always welcome.
Taking the Checkered Flag
The Los Santos Tuners update is another fine addition to the core GTA Online game. It’s more than enough to tempt players who have fallen out of the game back to sample the new vehicles and missions. And it’s a free upgrade in terms of real-world money, which is always nice. Rockstar has done a great job of not charging us for new content, and it is appreciated.
I do wish we could get new single player content for the core game, like a GTA V Stories DLC or something like that, though that request is probably a lost cause at this point. Still, I am impressed with the level of content being generated for GTA Online. Los Santos Tuners really does heat things up nicely for a summer update. I’m not the best driver, but found that I thoroughly enjoyed the new content while also improving my skills.
I hope to see you all real soon at the LS Car Meet. I’ll be the one taking selfies with my pimped out Faggio rocket sled that is always ready to race.