So there have been more posts lately about this game and I wanted to share the little bit I've learned and a few thoughts. The game isn't totally finished, so to speak. They said this would be process, more pieces coming in due time. There still isn't an editor for your own jobs yet. Anyways on to the point: how to have fun.
There has been much in the way of progress in the game after the first week. It's much easier to connect and people are getting more used to how the game works. If you just jump into a game you will find yourself in a world where economy is based on how much death you create. Last night I looked out my apartment window to see a player flying around in a helicopter shooting people. Suffice to say when you hear a massive explosion you either run away from the blast or to it.
If you run away from it you probably still need to get more experience in the world. For this I suggest using quick-jobs. You access quick-jobs on your phone, immediately going into a lobby with others who want to race or deathmatch or whatever. This is some good organized fun, and for many the highlight of the content. Also, you generally make more money this way and level up skills quicker. You might get a few kills in freemode, but in a deathmatch you obviously get many more.
If you are trying to make money there are only so many things to do right now(though once you hit level 20 you start getting crates dropped that have money). While the game is releasing a stimulus package in the coming weeks which should give people enough cash to get a decent apartment or a sick ride you might want to start working on that stuff yourself. Selling cars, one per day, gives you a decent line of cash. The high-end SUV is your primary target, learning to spot a Baller based on looks alone will help.
Thats $9K a day for you. Starting up a solo session can speed things along if you are just looking for a car to sell. Not having to worry about other people can save you some energy, nervous energy. But at some point you need to play with other people. Not because of friendship, not because of community, but because they can get bounties put on them. Every so often someone steals a car and that driver puts a bounty on the player. Also players can place bounties on other players. If you jump into your apartment or garage you can easily wait out your bounty, and get some easy money. But in all reality you should be thinking about going offensive over defensive.
Yes, the only thing people respect in GTA Online is power. If someone pulls up on you with a friend in the side of their helicopter lazing into you with a rifle you shouldn't hide, just shoot them back. And if someone randomly kills you for no reason, sometimes the best revenge isn't quick, but waiting on them to try to start flying a helicopter and snipe at them. Heck the game won't even count it as your kill if they crash the chopper, but it's the principle of the thing.
All these things cost money, the weapons, the deaths you will face when getting attacked. If you focus early on and make sure you buy a good apartment you will be happier in the long run. The game takes a bit of money from you when you die, it can't take your cars away(unless you didn't insure them and totaled them), it can't take your home away, it definitely can't take your tank. Though you don't want to have a tank, since people will just crash their vehicles into you making you a "bad sport."
Like any online community there are things set up to attempt to curtail problem behavior. The bad sport system is GTA Online's fledgling attempt. It doesn't seem completely thought out, as you are expected to not quit missions mid-way through, but sometimes everyone dies except one person and they decide to just run around as if there aren't people waiting, spectating. The game has to create a more subtle and yet more defined system than this. It doesn't seem to really have much effect.
Really a number of things don't seem to work totally right. You can sometimes get a good group together for a race, other times get stuck running alone. Sometimes you'll find be in a world where people share jobs and join jobs, other times it's just people on short-term vendetta streaks. If the game would give people a few seconds after leaving jobs where they couldn't be killed and have their winnings stolen people might be more apt to join these group endeavors, but as it is I think many don't see the point.
But there is a point, this is some of the games best content. Most structured any ways. While I would like to see them add more to the freemode, to get people thinking differently about their environment that won't be easy. A lot of people are finally getting a chance to play the game and get used to the mechanics.
So as I said, if you really don't want to die do a solo game, if you want to make money steal cars and do jobs, and if you do want to fight other players don't blow up their personal vehicles. When you jump into a new game world if you have an apartment you can start out there, you should have a TV. I suggest watching the other players on it for a second, see what people are getting into. And on the other end of the spectrum sometimes it's a smart move to leave a session before things get too out of hand.
The game is this mess of fun and mayhem. Its almost broken, some players are basically just trying to kill everyone they see, others want to help people and have fun. While the terrible people can make the game a bit of a pain the game is more than just them. The game also has you, ready to dispense justice however you see fit and make your own story.