Grand Theft Auto Online’s latest update, The Cayo Perico Heist, successfully arrived on December 15, with a whole new island to explore. But if a player starts the game expecting to get into a big nightclub party, since the update was advertised, they will be disappointed. Instead, Cayo Perico is a structured mission space that looks more like it Metal Gear Solid 5 or a Ghost Recon game that a cocaine island owned by a wealthy reveler.
There are pros and cons to Rockstar’s approach to new content. A big improvement is that the Cayo Perico Heist has learned from its predecessor, the Diamond Casino Heist. If a player were to explore the city sewers, they could find a special entrance that made diamond heist a lot easier. It was a fun little addition that made the GTA Online protagonists feel like real criminals. Cayo Perico has it all. Players must sneak around, looking for extra riches to steal and ways to get in and out of the base. And since the island is owned by a drug lord, there are guards everywhere.
Stealth isn’t always surprising, especially when the player is swimming around a dock: for some reason, the guards on this island are able to see me from tens of meters away as I swim in the shallows. Other times, there are legitimately tense missions, such as squatting with a friend and having to coordinate with them to take down four guards in three seconds before they can raise the alarm.
Unlike most missions in Grand Theft Auto Online, when the player is captured on this island, they are not immediately wasted and sent back to the checkpoint. Instead, the guards go ahead and kick you off the island, and you have to go back to Los Santos in shame. You do not do it to have to explore; you can jump ahead for a nice simple hit. But you will miss out on extra opportunities and walk out with far less money on a more dangerous path.
As this isn’t an open-world space, players don’t have as many opportunities to joke around as they do on the main map. It’s not a free space, and that’s disappointing for players hoping for new real estate after years of navigating the same pathways in Los Santos. Cayo Perico may return in future updates, but for now, it’s not a true expansion to the open world of GTA Online.
But that means you can complete the entire heist from start to finish in the lobbies by invitation only. This is a huge improvement, because it means you’re not catapulted into a world with tons of other players. No one can haunt you with a flying Oppressor Mk II and instantly blow you up in the middle of your setup, and you won’t come across a new account that has hacked the server so they can lock your character in a cage for fun .
There is still some opportunity to celebrate and the new club allows you to dance with your friends to some lively tunes. Players can collect a cool million or two from each heist, which is handy when the new submarine costs around GTA $ 10 million to fully unlock and upgrade, and it’s nice to have the option to play solo. But despite the trailers, Cayo Perico is less of a nonstop hedonistic thrill ride and more of a lonely journey through hostile territory.