How to play GTA Online solo

GTA Online is built around playing with others. You don’t have to, but it’s the default assumption for how you’ll play. But it’s not always the most convenient way to play. Sometimes, you just want to play GTA Online solo and not worry about everyone else.

A lot of what we’ll talk about below focuses on things to do to make money playing solo. That’s because GTA Online is all about making money. Money is how you’ll buy new cars, new weapons, and new properties — properties that often open up new ways to make even more money.

Our GTA Online guide will explain your options for playing solo, including starting a closed session and the types of activities you’ll be able to do, all in the interest of conveying how to play GTA Online solo.


Matchmaking works for solo players

GTA Online has a matchmaking system for any event that requires more than one player. And that means you don’t have to be playing with a set group of eight players to take on most events, heists, or races.

You’ll be dropped into a group of players, but you can just turn off chat and audio and treat it like they’re AI-controlled. The, let’s say, effectiveness of your party will be mixed, but your squad of randos will get the job done (for the most part).

But you’ll also often have to wait in lobbies for others to join and you’ll, frankly, have to rely on some random player to complete your tasks.


How to start a closed session in GTA Online

There are a lot of reasons to want a solo session of GTA Online. Griefing is a big one, though. Getting popped by a stranger while you’re looking at the map is an incredibly frustrating experience, and having other players actively working against you while you’re just trying to run a quick mission to earn some cash is painful.

Image: Rockstar Games via Polygon

More pragmatically, there’s a set number of organizations — companies and biker gangs — that any instance of GTA Online can have. If you try to start your own when that limit’s been reached, you won’t be able to. The quick way around this is to go to Online > Find a new session. You’ll have a couple options here. Public Session will find another instance of the game — probably one with at least a couple open slots for new organizations.

For the purposes of purely solo play, though, there’s a better option. Start a Closed Friend Session. Whether or not you actually invite friends is up to you. Now, you’ll have the freedom to start organization, run missions, and even just stand on the sidewalk without getting murdered. There just won’t be any other players in your instance of Los Santos.


How to play heists solo in GTA Online

You won’t be able to play most heists solo in GTA Online. Trying to start one will drop you into matchmaking, and most of them won’t even start without at least two players. There are two exceptions, though: the Cayo Perico Heist and the Cluckin’ Bell Farms Raid.

GTA Online promo art for the Cayo Perico Heist Image: Rockstar Games

The Cayo Perico Heist starts when you meet Miguel Madrazo at The Music Locker nightclub. This will start an international heist that involves you buying a submarine. You’ll have to drop about GTA$ 2,000,000 on the sub, but the heist has the best payout in the game.

GTA Online promo art for the Cluckin’ Bell Farm Raid Image: Rockstar Games

Raiding Cluckin’ Bell Farms has you tackle a conspiracy of crooked cops (redundant) and a drug ring. There’s no buy in for the raid(s), so it’s a much better investment of your time for a decent payout.


What can you do solo in GTA Online?

So if you’re not doing heists — the main, story-based events for GTA Online — what will you be doing? There’s actually a lot to choose from. Let’s break it down.

  • Contact Missions. Choosing one of your contacts from your phone will let you start Contact Missions. Some of them (but not all of them) are playable by one person. Gerald, Lamar, and Martin Madrazo’s Contact Missions are good for this. Watch for Contact Missions to pop up as 2x GTA$ and RP in the weekly updates.
  • Simeon’s Export Requests. Every week, Simeon (of Simeon’s Premium Deluxe Motorsports) will have a list of vehicles he’d like you to steal. If you happen to spot one and steal it, you can deliver it to him for about GTA$ 20,000.
  • Salvage Yard. There’s a lot of Criminal Enterprise-related stuff to do — more on this in a second — but the most straightforward of them is a Salvage Yard operation. You’ll have to buy a shop first — the cheapest one starts at GTA$ 1,620,000 — but it opens up a lot of solo options. You can make some quick cash just towing cars, or you can take on three-part mini-heists called Salvage Yard Robberies for a lot more cash.
  • Gunrunning Business. Similarly, if you can afford to buy a bunker, you can set up a Gunrunning Business. The management is a little more involved, but you’ll have a side hustle that will keep you occupied resupplying the bunker and delivering weapon shipments.
  • Criminal Enterprises. As the Boss of a criminal organization — a SecuroServ CEO or a Motorcycle Club President — you’ll have options for things to do on your own. Most of them, though, require you to buy businesses, but if you can afford it, they’ll keep you busy. But there’s a caveat.

Should you play as a CEO or Biker in solo play?

Your criminal enterprise — either a SecuroServe CEO or a Motorcycle Club President — has plenty to keep you buy while you play solo. As an MC President, you can do things like supply your clubhouse’s bar, growhouse, and counterfeit factories without any help.

GTA Online warning about needing more members in your MC to complete a mission Image: Rockstar Games via Polygon

The delivery missions, though, are a problem for a solo player. Dropping off drugs and counterfeits almost always involves multiple vehicles. Very rarely, you can get the deliveries done by yourself within the time limit (especially for the aircraft-based runs). But, more often than not, you’re going to run out of time unless you have multiple people in your MC helping you out.

GTA Online player standing in an office Image: Rockstar Games via Polygon

The other Criminal Enterprise track, SecuroServ CEO, is a much better option for solo players. Once you buy an office and a warehouse, you’ll be able to start doing Special and Vehicle Cargo missions. With a little patience, these can be extremely lucrative for a solo player without the time-commitment and hassle of MC missions. And the deliveries are almost always doable for a team of one.


And if you’re playing the main game, don’t miss our list of GTA 5 cheats.

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