GTA Online’s New Career Menu Is Its Best Addition In Years

GTA Online’s New Career Menu Is Its Best Addition In Years

Grand Theft Auto Online’s latest update, San Andreas Mercenaries, adds new missions and quality-of-life changes to the aging online game. However, while that content is cool and all, the best thing added in this update is probably (and surprisingly) a new menu. I know, doesn’t sound very exciting. But what it lacks in sizzle it makes up for in usefulness.

Released on June 13, San Andreas Mercenaries is the new GTA Online update for Rockstar’s long-running online crime sim. The update is all about teaming up with some criminals and ex-military folk to take down a large private military corp and its various operations. The new missions are…fine, but not too dissimilar from past GTA Online missions and activities. And while many fans are rightfully upset about the removal of 180+ cars from the game or excited about the long-awaited quality-of-life changes, I’d like to take a moment to focus on what’s probably the best part of this update: the battle pass-like “Career Progress” menu.

When I first booted up GTA Online after updating the game, I wasn’t expecting much from the new career progress tracker. I expected a menu of things I could do and not much context or structure. Instead, the career progress menu is the exact opposite of that!

The new career tracker in GTA Online
Screenshot: Rockstar Games / Kotaku

GTA Online’s career menu, explained

The new menu, sadly only available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, collects much of GTA Online’s content and categorizes it into various sections. Each section, like one dedicated to all the contact missions in the game, contains various tiers and rewards. To progress through tiers you’ll have to complete challenges, many of which are tied to completing missions, trying out new features, customizing items, unlocking upgrades, or playing through missions on hard difficulty.

For new players, this new career progress menu provides some guidance in a way that feels rewarding, easy to understand, and not annoying. GTA Online loves to bombard players with text messages from dozens of characters, all asking you to do shit and buy stuff to unlock things. It can be overwhelming. This new career menu is a much better way to help newcomers progress through GTA Online’s near-decade of accrued content. And offering rewards—like new clothes, money, or XP—for completing tiers is a nice way to immediately reward players for messing around with things they might have never touched before.

But this new menu isn’t just a nice addition for new players, it’s also handy for returning players and veterans as it helps you see at a glance what you’ve done and not done in a game you might have been playing for close to 10 years. That said, I was disappointed to see that a lot of the new challenges aren’t retroactive, meaning longtime players, like myself, might log on and find many tiers aren’t unlocked and must be completed again to make progress. That’s a bit annoying, but it also gives me something to do in GTA Online beyond grinding out more money.

While I’m very excited about this new menu and how it will help make the game easier to understand and more welcoming for newcomers, I’m more excited about what this might suggest for the future of GTA.

ToiletGrenade / Rockstar Games

GTA Online’s career tracker is good news for GTA 6

We know Rockstar is working on Grand Theft Auto 6 and it’s very likely that game will, after GTA Online’s success, include a sizable multiplayer component. A few years ago, I wasn’t that excited about GTA Online 2 or whatever GTA 6’s online mode will be. For a long time, GTA Online was a bit of a clunky and hard-to-play mess. But Rockstar has improved the game in a number of big and small ways in recent years, making it easier to jump in, complete missions, play with others, and track your progress. That all seems like good news for GTA 6’s online mode.

I mean, it’s possible Rockstar Games won’t learn from GTA Online and its past mistakes and successes. But I like to think that the improvements we’ve been getting lately are a positive sign that Rockstar is learning how to make its online worlds better for newcomers and more enjoyable to play. An expanded and more in-depth career progress tracker in a future GTA Online sequel could really help that game start off on a better note than GTA V’s online mode did. And it might help keep players around longer and provide more ways for Rockstar to expand the game without making things horribly messy and confusing.

Of course, the company also just shoved a few cars that were once free-to-earn behind a monthly paywall, so maybe I shouldn’t be too excited about what lessons Rockstar is learning from GTA Online. But hey, I’m trying to stay optimistic.

Regardless, I’d suggest that whether you’ve been wanting to jump into GTA Online for the first time or return to your existing crime empire, now is a good time to do so, as the game looks and plays better than ever on the current consoles. And maybe, one day, Rockstar will remember GTA Online is also on Windows, and bring some of these features to that platform, too.

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