Like most folks, I have been enjoying GTA Online for almost a decade. It has been a ton of fun, but I’m not really an online player by nature. Like a lot of people, I’m more into deep single player type games. Moving from something highly scripted like what we experience in GTA V (which I have gone completely through three times) over to the more chaotic GTA Online environment has not always been a smooth transition for me. More specifically, most of the time I would rather just play whatever new single player game is available than go online in GTA and hope to find a good group of players to share an instance with. The one saving grace for me with GTA Online is being able to host a closed friend session, so I can experience the world without getting spawn killed every five seconds by angry, rude kids flying around with hovercars and jetpacks equipped with rocket launchers.
My hope with GTA V was always that it would go the way of other GTA games in the past and come out with single player DLC or expansions akin to Liberty City and Vice City Stories which expanded GTA III and Vice City, or The Ballad of Gay Tony which was an amazing addition to the GTA IV game. Sadly, Rockstar did not seem to have any interest in doing something like that with GTA V, probably because they are making so much money with GTA Online.
That stance changed a little bit with some of the most recent GTA Online Expansions. The Cayo Perico heist update could be completed as a solo player, and so could some missions in Los Santos Tuners. And while the LS Car Meet in Tuners was a public space, it’s a safe one where nobody can attack anyone, so at least you won’t get cheat killed out of the blue while fixing up your ride.
I mostly consider Cayo Perico and Tuners to be sort of hybrid offerings where there is single player content, although that is not really the focus. But the newly-released expansion, The Contract rises above that level. It’s every bit as good as a single-player DLC. I find myself playing both its story missions and the randomly generated agency ones all the time now, almost like I am experiencing one of those aforementioned DLCs from previous GTA games. I mostly play in closed friend sessions too, so there is no chance of other random players ruining the fun. And if any of my very few friends do stop by, then so much the better.
The Contract even brings back one of the three beloved characters from the original GTA V game, Franklin Clinton, who becomes your business partner in an agency that specializes in helping high-end clients and celebrities with difficult (and often illegal) problems and activities. The Contract is a free expansion in terms of real money, but you will need to purchase an office building in the game, which will set you back several million dollars in online money.
The building itself is really nice and features a lot of cool extras like a luxury living space, an armory officer (who gives you a discount on all weapon and ammo purchases), free snacks, arcade machines, a huge garage for your cars and the ability to take either a company car or helicopter (both for free) out when you leave the building. And you can use that chopper or company SUV even if you are just going out on free roam missions.
So, the building itself is a pretty good purchase. You will get a lot more out of it than you did with the submarine in the Cayo Perico mission, and it costs about the same. I ended up buying one of the cheapest buildings (though I did spring for all the extras, like the living quarters and the garage) and am quite happy with this new space. I even spawn there now instead of my apartment. You even get to hang out a little bit with Chop, Franklin’s extremely cool dog, as he sometimes appears on various couches and furniture in the building. And yes, you can pet him, which also earns you experience.
There is also a fair amount of money earning potential in that building. You get a small stipend deposited into your safe every so often, but the big money-making opportunity comes in the form of agency missions that you can take on via the computer in your office. These missions are ranked by how difficult they are, and while they can all be soloed, some of them are harder to do alone than others. Missions include things like rescuing VIPs, protecting assets, stealing a car, recovering stolen property and many others. Eventually you will even be invited to partake in off-the-books assassination missions, which are extremely fun and challenging.
All of the missions are well-done and fun to play. As an example, I had to recover a stolen watch held in a safe at the Vanilla Unicorn on one mission, and the club had been taken over by gangsters. This involved a shootout, finding the safe combination, dodging the poor strippers caught in the middle of everything, and finally (for me) a great escape via the company helicopter that I had squeezed into the little side parking lot outside – a move the gangsters obviously didn’t expect. You can earn anywhere from $30k to over $100,000 for missions, and they are all at least lightly scripted, with Frankin briefing you on what to do.
But the chief draw of The Contract is a series of missions featuring the legendary Dr. Dre, who actually appears in several missions either in person or over the radio as you play. The plot of those missions is that a phone belonging to Dr. Dre has been stolen, and it just happens to contain brand new, unreleased music (that Dr. Dre is releasing through the GTA Game – another amazing thing about The Contract). It turns out that his phone was cloned, so you end up having to retrieve three phones for him, and each of those missions requires four or five pre-missions to set up the main heist. Plus there are some missions that take place even before you get to that point, so The Contract is not hurting for content.
While playing The Contract missions, I felt like I was doing the GTA V single player game for the first time again. The missions are that good. They range from silly things like golf cart chases through Los Santos, to more stealthy infiltrations, to all out combat missions against incredible odds. And should you get through it all, the reward is a million in cash, which will go a long way to paying off your new office building.
The DLCs for GTA Online have been getting better and better, but The Contract is the first one where it really feels like a true expansion pack from the core game. It’s got everything including a beloved character from the series (wouldn’t it be cool if Trevor and Michael also get expansions?), a standout star like Dr. Dre, random type missions that don’t feel random at all, and a highly detailed and fun main plot with a great payday at the end. We even get to see what Lamar and Chop are up to, which is just icing on the cake, especially when Lamar continues to get the best of Franklin in their many argumentative interactions.
The Contract is easily the best GTA Online expansion. Suitable for those who enjoy single player content or those who are online all the time, it really has something for everyone. This is one contract that you should not hesitate to sign onto. It’s probably one of the best free content pieces I’ve ever experienced, and Rockstar deserves a lot of credit for putting this together for their amazingly loyal players and fans.