GTA Online’s Cayo Perico Heist Is Slapstick Comedy Gold

I’m trying to meet up with some Rockstar representatives to walk me through the new Cayo Perico heist in GTA Online, but there’s a snag – we all keep getting murdered. It’s the first day of the Christmas holidays and it’s open season on noobs. All we want to do is go to an Ammunation store and stock up on body armour and guns.

Within about 20 minutes I’ve been bombed by a jet, sniped, run over, and I’ve face-planted and killed myself while trying to escape. The Rockstar staff aren’t having much more luck. After a failed rescue attempt in a chopper, we admit defeat and decide to switch lobbies. It’s a bad omen.

The Cayo Perico heist is GTA Online’s biggest update yet. Until now, every heist took place in existing portions of the map – excluding the Diamond Casino, a new interior location built for virtual gambling and a heist of its own – but Cayo Perico takes players to a private island off the coast of Colombia to steal from a drug lord called El Rubio. It’s a sizable location with weed farms, sun-dappled beaches, palm trees, Spanish-style villas, and a militarised compound filled with guards and security cameras. Soldiers in jeeps patrol the dirt roads, and snipers look out across the sunny expanse from watchtowers. You’re there to steal a dossier and as much cash, gold, and weed as you can carry.

Rockstar’s reps have done the bulk of the prep work – a series of miniature missions where you can mess with the readiness of the militia by disrupting their weapons supply, among other things. The leader of our group also has his own private submarine off the coast, which players need to purchase to kick the heist off. It’s here that we can choose our approach to the island. I want to see the new location from above, so we opt for the stealth bomber approach where we can parachute in. But first, we have to actually steal a stealth bomber from the military base.

We get onto the base without incident – we have authorisation to be here as civilian contractors. We don’t, however, have authorisation to steal a stealth bomber. That’s a big no-no, apparently. It’s alright, though, we prepped for this. That visit to the Ammunation earlier got us everything we needed. We all have body armour and we all have guns. What more could we want?

Before we head into the hangar, we cut the lights so the guards inside can’t see. There’s just one problem: we also can’t see. None of us thought to buy night vision goggles along with our body armour, and so we’re shooting into the dark and bumbling into each other like idiots. One of the squad fires flares into the black. It doesn’t help. Suddenly, the lights come back on and we can see. So can the guards. Luckily, we haven’t forgotten how to shoot.

I hop into the bomber when the dust settles and gun it down the runway. “Which button retracts my landing gear again?” I ask. “It’s OK, I’ve got it. Erm, do I also have to land this?” Reader, I did not, in fact, land this.

Somehow, on my approach to the airstrip, I manage to cut the plane’s engines. All we can do is watch as I lose altitude and nosedive into the drink in the most pathetic way possible, just a few meters short of our objective. “Should we try the submarine approach, then?”

OK, we need to steal something from a miniature sub this time. We head to the objective and jump on some jetskis, heading out to where the sub sits in the water. One of the Rockstar reps is soaring above in a flying car, which is extremely normal. I dive into the sea to swim inside the sub, but I can’t remember how to ascend underwater and I drown. I’m pretty sure everyone in this team hates me at this point, but luckily the Rockstar reps remember how to swim and secure the objective for me. Now it’s heist o’clock.

We decide to approach by day so we can see.

The island is gorgeous. GTA Online is clearly a last-generation game, but the amount of detail Rockstar has put into this new location is still impressive, even on old tech. It’s a shame I screwed our chance of seeing it from above.

We approach from the water in scuba gear and shuffle up the beach with silenced weapons drawn. The first ten minutes go smoothly as we pop heads and destroy security cameras. Then we come to a fenced-off room filled with loot, but we’re missing bolt cutters. That’s when it happens – one of the Rockstar reps has been spotted and the entire island is on alert. We’re forced to fight our way to the compound, away from the gate with the goodies. When we’re about as far away as we could possibly be, the guy who just alerted the entire island says the words, “I found the bolt cutters.” It’s a bit late for that, but I appreciate his tenacity.

Despite our previous form, this portion of the mission passes without incident. We’re a well-oiled machine, popping heads and pocketing cash. By the time the dust settles, our take is two million dollars. There’s just one more thing to do: escape.

Much like with the approach, there are multiple options here. And since there’s precedent for me being an ace pilot, we decide to steal a plane from the runway. What could go wrong? Well, first off, I die before I even get there, slamming my dirt bike into a tree. Secondly, the Rockstar reps who are inside the plane aren’t sure who’s flying… so they also slam into a tree.

The pilot dies, and the other two scramble from the wreckage and hop into another plane – the only other plane left on the runway. As they’re about to take off, they realise that our former pilot had the main objective – the Rubio files. One of them gets out of the aircraft and guns towards his corpse to get the files. I’m spectating their view as they fight back to our escape vehicle. The other rep is firing his weapon up at an enemy helicopter that’s strafing the beach above.

“Right, where’s the plane?” one of the reps asks as it comes into view – the plane that’s now on fire because the other rep accidentally reversed it into the sea. You’d almost think the game scripted these moments, such is the precision of its comic timing.

GTA Online’s new heist is still some of the best fun you can have in an online game. The way Rockstar’s physics engine, vehicle destruction, vehicle handling and world interact is why it’s still the king of emergent sandbox games. Whether you’re getting murdered by kids in downtown Los Santos or your plans are falling apart in a compound off the coast of Colombia, GTA Online is like virtual laughing gas. I think that’s the key to its enduring popularity – it’s the best slapstick comedy game out there.

Next: GTA Online – How To Get The Combat Shotgun And Perico’s Pistol

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Kirk is the Editor-in-Chief at The Gamer. He likes Arkane games a little too much.

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