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Things keep getting worse for GTA 5

Last week, the Epic Games Store made a huge move when it announced its biggest free game yet. For one week, Grand Theft Auto 5 was made free for all Epic customers. It's an incredible bargain when one considers how much content is available for the game and its online component. However, PC gamers are already seeing a few massive downsides to this deal.

The first problems came when the Epic Games store went kaput from the massive influx of customers. Even the launcher for Epic Games was down because of this, which meant that players hoping to get in a Fortnite session through the launcher were out of luck. That problem was eventually fixed, however, and gamers quickly got to the business of downloading GTA 5. That's when the worst of the problems began.

Essentially, Grand Theft Auto Online is now the realm of the hackers. Now more than ever, unsportsmanlike players are descending on the game en masse to manipulate Los Santos however they see fit. Players are modding in insane vehicles and weapons, generally making themselves into gods of the GTA 5 landscape.

Grand Theft Auto gamers have been sharing videos and screenshots from their misadventures involving run-ins with hackers. One Reddit user posted, "Well i guess no one cares about getting banned anymore." This was accompanied with a picture of a vehicle that someone had clearly modded into the game: a giant Transformers-style robot made of tanks with jets for hands and a helicopter for a head. It's a hilariously surreal visual that fully encapsulates the insane fever dream that GTA Online has become.

Another player shared a screenshot of their gameplay that hints at an even more upsetting trend. This player is surrounded by UFOs in the middle of the street. The craziest part? They're not playing GTA Online. That means that hackers have figured out how to grief some players when they're not even logged into a GTA Online session. According to a second commenter, this is possible when players switch from an online session to story mode, since it leaves you technically on Rockstar's servers. The only way to truly escape the hackers in this instance is to close and restart the game strictly in story mode. This commenter also explained that hackers had literally turned his friend into a mountain. If that doesn't give you an idea of how bonkers this is getting, then nothing will.

So how is this happening? Well, it's very likely that there are too many new players breaking the rules for Rockstar Games to keep track of. In addition, there's a theory among fans that players aren't afraid of being banned because they can simply create a new Epic Games account and re-download the game. Since Rockstar apparently doesn't utilize IP-based bans, it's possible for a player to essentially cheat and get banned and cheat again an infinite number of times. And since these new hackers haven't paid for the game, they seemingly feel no responsibility toward playing fair or making sure they have a good standing among the community. 

In other words, Grand Theft Auto Online is currently a free-for all. Hopefully once the free download from Epic Games expires on May 21, there will be a finite number of hackers for Rockstar to track down and ban. There's a chance that things could return to some relative type of normal in the near future. In the meantime, it's a real headache for players.

Though the sheer number of cheaters may decrease in the future, it's worth remembering that cheating in Grand Theft Auto is sadly nothing new. In fact, Rockstar has had its hands full with unscrupulous players pretty much since the time the game was released. Another of Rockstar's games, Red Dead Online, has been infested with hackers as well. These included one group that modded an invincible two-headed skeleton into the game that attacked and killed innocent players.

Needless to say, GTA diehards are not at all happy with this development. Some have hoped that Rockstar is going to have to do something big to make this up to players. One gamer suggested that the game should have some kind of double rewards week to appease players who had to endure "an unplayable week" of Grand Theft Auto Online. All in all, it seems like players are more annoyed with this than they were when the big alien war kicked off. At least those extraterrestrial gangs couldn't alter the very fabric of existence.

Hopefully Rockstar can get this sorted out quickly once the free download period is over. Until then, GTA Online is going to be an even weirder place than usual.