On Tuesday, 20th of July 2021, we got the latest GTAO DLC: Los Santos Tuners. At first this looks simple enough: a place for car meets and your own car shop, but looks can be deceiving. There's a lot more to this DLC than you may think, so... lets take a look! (almost) everyhing you wanted to know about the Tuners DLC but were too afraid to ask.
A New Place on the Map
As soon as you hop into GTAO (after you've installed the new update of course) then you'll get a text message from Mimi: a girl who's organizing a car meet in a rather large parking garage in Cypress Flats, it's at the long road heading south towards the docks.. Mimi heard from others that you were a good driver and so she invites you to come on over and check things out. If you're interested of course...
See, that's the first thing which this DLC does better than its predecessors: no nagging phonecalls. No more annoying characters who will try to persuade you into buying stuff you may not even be able to buy. Who cares if you can't afford it, just buy it you lowlife! Errr......
Instead the whole thing is optional. So if you want to ignore this stuff and just continue doing what you always do... you can. At best you may get a few more texts from Mimi but that'll be the end of it. Honestly, I think this is a huge step forwards because... I still want to punch Tony in the face sometimes for his constant whining about trying to get me to finance "his" club. Though... in all fairness I did end up enjoying owning a nightclub ;)
As soon as you enter the new location you'll get a few cutscenes in which you check the place out and you'll also get to see some (un)familiar names pop up. Because this car meet is all about custom cars it shouldn't come as a surprise that the one and only Benny from Benny's Original Motorworks is also present. For those who are unaware: in the middle of the city you'll notice a brown'ish icon indicating Benny's. You can take a few specific vehicles there (cars and bikes alike), upgrade them as "Benny's custom" after which you can customize a lot more than you could at LS Customs (mostly the interior of the car (or bike)).
And then.... each to their own but in my opinion we're then introduced to the most unbelievable NPC's that have ever set foot in Los Santos. They don't call you with nagging requests and yet I'd still like to punch the both of them in the face. Ugh.... But more about these clowns later.
They tell Mimi that they're new in town and are looking for someone to help them out with some jobs they happen to know off. A comment which you overhear and Mimi later on tells you that if you're interested you can purchase a car shop to acomodate them, and in return they will provide you with some new jobs you can do.
But first... the car meet.
Car Meet Membership
Mimi also tells you that this isn't just some random car meet you're visiting, the underground scene provides several services which may be of interest to you. And all you need to gain access is become a member. You can do that by paying Mimi 50k which should be peanuts. Worst case you do one or two CEO freeroam missions and you should already be well on your way.
Notice how the player name (plus the crewname) show up under the car name?
When you enter the car meet building with a car then it gets placed at a random location. If you're a member you can then ask Mimi (who is now shown with a 'i' icon on your map) to assign you with a different parking spot. If you're together with other players then look out for gray numbers, these indicate taken parking spots. So... get the spot above or below a gray number and you'll park right next to them:
Here my friend Filip is standing next to his car, notice the gray number above mine in the list?
So you can set up your own car meet amongst the NPC's (which really help to enhance the atmosphere I think) and then just go have fun by checking out what the others have to show for. Sure, you need to be in the mood for it, definitely, but I had a good time here. It started out with my friend Filip and me (I was in an empty session) and before we knew others joined and it became a great experience.
Fun fact: your mechanic can deliver in the parking garage, so there's no need to walk outside if you want to bring another car over. Just sent your current car away and ask your mechanic to deliver another.
Here I'm in first person mode, in case you're wondering....
If you're alone then the car customization feature may look simple enough. Nothing special: you select the stuff you want changed and that's it. Yah, so about that.... when you're with others then you can get into the scenario I showcased here. While my friend Filip and me were messing around we were joined by Irukami (who is now also a GTAO friend of mine). And then yet another random player joined us and decided to tweak his car, and we all decided to take a look.
You can literally see all the stuff they're changing, right in front of you.
Now, this isn't the first thing R* has done this. If you're with another player in the Terrorbyte and they're using the console then you can see what they're doing on the actual physical in-game console as well (they get to see the whole thing full screen). But ye gods.. talk about atmosphere.. this is seriously awesome! "How does this look?" someone asks and yah, then the above can happen.
Up to 3 - 5 players can change their cars at the same time, for everyone else to see.... (when we tested this things glitched out a bit though so... we're not 100% sure).
So there's also a test track here, a huge underground parking garage level, which you can either enter alone or allow other players to join you. Here you can freeroam by following the parkours (or just go wherever you want to) or you can do some races; you can select these from the interaction menu. If you're alone you can always do a timetrial to see how fast you can go, and if there are others with you there are also some races available. Like your regular point-to-point race or just a random one: random points will spawn and whoever gets there first collects that 'point'; in the end the one with the most points wins.
Now, this may seem very straight forward and easy enough, but I was surprised to see how much attention to detail R* put into this. What do you think would happen if you were racing with someone else and then a 3rd person enters the test track as well?
While Agent Torque is an in-game friend of mine (as you can see by the icon) he was not part of this race; I started this with my friend Caped Crusader. Notice his transparent looks though? I even asked him about this and he was not in passive mode or something. I dunno about you but.. R* sure paid close attention to these small details I think.
It's called "test track" for a reason.....
The car meet also has two "promotional cars" (one for each car website) which show on the map as a personal car icon but with a steering wheel on top, you'll find them next to the car custom section. You can hop in one of these two and take them out for a spin on the test track, which can be fun to do, especially if you're considering to buy the vehicle. Which you can also do from here.
And speaking of purchases...
This stuff literally fell out of a truck it seems ;)
You can also purchase clothing items here, however... they're locked away and it depends on your reputation level which ones will become available to you. The same applies to the tattoo shop as well as some of the liveries that are available.
Your Own Car Shop
So now that you got a good taste of custom cars you might want to do more with that, and you can. The DLC adds a new car shop for you to purchase and you can choose from 5 different locations. From La Mesa right to downtown Los Santos. Heck, you could even become Benny's neighbor!
Once you settled on a location you can then determine the style, the color tint, add a logo (or use your crew logo of course), hire (extra) staff, decide on personal quarters (this allows you to spawn here and it also gives you a gun locker to customize your weapon layout) and finally you can add a second car lift, this allows you to keep 2 cars ready for servicing instead of only one.
Now, as mentioned there are five different locations, which obviously begs the question if there are any good and / or bad locations.... well... there aren't really any bad locations though I probably wouldn't pick the one near the edges of town (like La Mesa or the Northern area). See, you shouldn't only focus on accessibility for any missions, you may also want to make sure that you can easily reach this place using some of your own cars.
So.. if your best cars are in, say, your CEO garage at Maze Bank West (in Del Perro) then it could become quite a trip if you have to go all the way over to La Mesa. Why you'd want to do that you wonder? I'll explain later on.
Mandatory Setup Mission
As soon as you set foot in your new auto shop you'll notice that the place is still quite a mess. While you look around a bit the two clowns from before hop in and immediately start acting as if they own the place. Being the rabbits that they apparently are they actually try to make out. In your car shop (or maybe MDJ is just trying to overcompensate; maybe something is missing downstairs? Dunno and "dunt" care). You interrupt them and then they tell you that they have "big jobs" for you but first... they need their car back. Apparently it got confiscated by the cops.
Said the "hot shots" who left their own car with the cops and now whine like cry babies....
Yeah, I'm not in the least impressed with these two "characters". The voice acting sounds artificial, cheap (always talking about sex...) and just so utterly static. At least Paige, Ms. Baker, heck even Simeon put character and some emotions into their work. But this garbage? I guess the sex talk is required to stop people from noticing how poor the quality actually is. At least that's my opinion on these two lame sex-rabbits. Yah, I couldn't have asked for a more fitting outfit here, my shirt says it all.
So... your first mission on the board is to get their car back. When you take the job you'll be directed to a police station (mine was in La Mesa) where the car is being held. On the positive side I enjoyed the fact that R* did something different this time: the car was actually stored in a small building and that made it look more realistic.
Hack & Dash
The bad part though is that this choice was a rather poor one when it comes to game design. Seriously, sometimes I wonder if R* ever plays or test-plays their own levels because... I wasn't very impressed. See... I recognized the situation from one of my favorite contact missions: "Hack and Dash"; you need to steal 2 new cop cars from a police lock up. First you hack the lock to open the door (this gives you a wanted level), then you can grab the cars.
If you're alone then a good strategy is to grab one car, drive it over to Lester's warehouse - while keeping your wanted level at all times -, park it, steal a cop car (cops should still be coming after you) and drive back. Then when you're back you can drive through the alley to get behind the lockup. At that point you should also be out of the cops sight. So... then you hop into the car, wait for it and... because you're somewhat 'inside' the cops usually won't be able to find you (this doesn't work all the time). You lost 'm, drive back to Lester and the mission is done.
And for sure....
Well.. that was easy....
Because I had used my Sparrow chopper to blow up the cops (and I made a little round to get rid of their direct sight of me) I then landed, got in the car and just waited. Done.
So now that the car is back you get access to the mission board to pick a contract. A contract consists of 2 prep missions and then the finale. You can pick any one you'd like but it's mandatory to finish at least one contract in order to fully unlock all your car shop features.
As for the yellow car... it will always be parked in your car shop. See, this car is mandatory for backup. While you're fully free in doing the two preparation missions as you like (and with any equipment you'd like) the same cannot be said for the actual contract missions.
Nope: you'll be restricted to only using any of the new 10 cars and if you didn't buy any yet then you're just left with the yellow "kitten wagon". Ha! You actually spent time & effort on bunker research to get the best load outs for your armored vehicles? Yah, you won't be using any of that stuff...
Can it get worse? Of course it can! See, you're not even allowed to use your own weapons either. Pick a pre-defined load out for the contract finale and that'll be it.
Yah, needless to say that I'm not very impressed here. Even though I actually like the DLC for the most part. Don't worry though, I will share some tricks to bypass some of these lame restrictions.
So Why Would You Want a Car Shop?
Because honestly.... apart from the lame contracts it can actually be a lot of fun to have around, for multiple reasons. Bear in mind though that my car shop is fully "unlocked" (I finished one of those dumb contracts). Keep this in mind: you need to finish at least one contract before you get the full deal (like the random cars spawning around the map).
You're a Mechanic Now!
Obviously I dressed for the part ;-)
See, your car shop is actually real, not a shady front like the Arcade was (even though that one is awesome too IMO). Which means... people bring in their cars and ask you to service them! As you can see in the screenshot above I have 2 car lifts and this is why you may want to have two as well: there can be up to 2 cars for you to service. So if a car is brought in and you're busy doing something else then you don't have to worry about disappointing customers (this is just roleplay on my end mind you); if another customer comes in they can still leave their car and your mechanics will put it on the bridge for you (once again roleplay, it simply ends up on the lift).
When you service a car you need to pay attention to the text at the bottom of the screen: this will tell you exactly what your customer wants. Once you applied those changes then the list in the lower right corner will show a green icon to indicate that you finished with that section.
However, you can do more. You could apply additional changes and see if the customer likes those. If you want to go safe then don't do anything extra but sometimes... Example: say you're servicing a supercar and they wanted engine improvements, transmission improvements but never asked for anything else. So what about turbo? That might be useful.
If you make the right choices you get paid more, if the customer doesn't like it you'll get paid less.
Then it's time to decide who's going to deliver the car. If you hired staff then you can tell them to deliver. The good part is that you can spent your time on other things, the bad part... well, NPC's aren't very good drivers so don't expect full payment.
Customers are happier when you deliver yourself....
I can't help wonder though what might happen if one of those customers recognized me as the one who trashed their car in the first place :P
Anyway... you can make up to 60 - 70k per delivery which isn't bad at all.
Servicing Your Own Cars...
Ever wanted a specific paint job on one of your cars but you couldn't apply it because you had to "win x more races" or "do x more slipstreams", etc?
Your car shop, your rules....
With your own car shop you no longer have to worry about that. See, this is why I mentioned earlier that you may want to keep your new shop easily accessible for your own cars. Of course you do have some other limitations to deal with. Like liveries which you can only apply once you gained a certain reputation within the car meet. Oh... maybe also good to know: your car changes will also cost you a lot less in your own garage than when visiting LS Customs (just check out my screenshots and compare prices).
Yeah, sometimes it's just a shame that you always need to park a car into your car shop before you can customize it vs. just hopping in and out like an LS Customs. For fun and giggles try customizing your car without actually changing something, it'll be funny to see ;)
Snacks & Arcade!
In the waiting area for customers there are some chairs around a table that has snacks on them. Here you can fill out your inventory really quick (comparable to the Kosatka vs. asking your assistant or the people in the Facility). In case you didn't realize: you can use snacks to replenish your health during missions and in freeroam. For best results you should crouch somewhere so that you'll skip the animations of eating / drinking.
Your garage will now have a list of cars that a client of yours would like to collect. In other words... when you drive around Los Santos you may sometimes see a blue dot appear on the map which indicates an exotic car. Unlike Simeon's car requests these can actually include supercars which you normally wouldn't find on the street.
It's the same blue dot which also indicates deals to rip, so... always be careful!
Once you took the car all you have to do is drive it to the docks without damaging it. So... no need to respray or repair, just drive over to the icon:
Once you reached the yellow corona a small cutscene plays and then you're ready for your next assignment.
Another delivery with 0 damage....
There are 10 cars to collect in total every day and each car earns you up to 20k. If you manage to deliver all cars then you'll also get an extra bonus. Now, the one thing I don't think is fair here is... notice the red wifi icon at the top right corner of my minimap? This usually indicates that other players have been made aware of your mission and are even invited to stop you. Normally you're warned about it as well, but not here.
Inviting Your Friends Over...
Always remember that a car shop is a bit of a public place (though you can limit access using the context menu), so other players could easily sneak in. Here I decided to drop in on my friend while he was busy with customizing his car. Just like with the car meet you'll be able to see everything that gets changed and/or customized.
New Cars and New Missions...
Right now we got 10 new cars which are provided through both car websites. Legendary motorsports as shown above, and the remaining 6 cars are provided through San Andreas superautos:
What sets these cars apart from the ones currently available are their enhanced customization options. For example the engine block can now actually have moving parts which you'll see as soon as you open the hood. Speaking of said hood... are you annoyed with the hood popping open (or off) after many crashes? Well, you can strap these down if you'd like. Of course then you won't be able to showcase your hot engine anymore ;)
At the time of writing I can't really comment on these cars but.... I can say that they're definitely not my favorites. Take the Dinka RT3000. It's a convertible, which is the main reason I bought it in the first place (I collected all convertibles in the game, and I'm a bit proud of that feat). To make things even more appealing (to me at least) it even provides a Princess Robot Bubblegum livery which I always enjoy on my cars and vehicles (I even have a PRB jet (the Volatol)).
My problem though is that even after I apply all the upgrades and enhancements this car still drives "so so", it doesn't feel nor behave like a sports car at all. I wouldn't trade my Carbonizarre in for this tin can, that's for sure. Even though I do enjoy having it around.
This never happened to me before with any normal cars...
These cars definitely do not seem balanced. Basically... if you want to compete in races then you'll get the Calico and that'll be the end of it. And the overall handling across all cars also really seems off to me, just take that screenshot above.
Oh, and before you comment that this shouldn't be a problem if you have the Up-n-Atomizer... think again: when doing "car shop contracts" you're given a specific weapons loadout and none include the atomizer. So I was essentially stuck here, so much fun!
Which brings me to....
Something to Know About the New Contracts
Now, before I continue, don't expect a full in-depth review on the new missions. I can't go there simply because these missions annoy me to no end. The pay is decent and some of them can be fun, but ye gods.. you're not allowed to use your own cars (only those crappy new ones) and to add insult to injury they don't even give you your usual weapons.
Thing is... the mechanic made sense in the Perico heist, heck, you even stole the weapons yourself. But this idiocy?
When going for in-game lore I can only assume that the two new contacts (KDJ & Cassandra) are even worse than we thought so far and thus they actually don't want you to perform too well. Otherwise their contact will notice that these two clowns are just that: useless oversexed idiots who don't even know how to get their own room. Therefor they need you to either fail or just get the job done, but barely...
When looking at actual game mechanics then I can only conclude that R* finally reallized that all those enhanced weapons and (armored / weaponized) vehicles they kept adding to the game had consequences when it comes to the players capabilities. And given that most GTAO missions aren't that much different other than: "go to point X, kill baddies, pick up item, return item while killing random spawned baddied" I guess they had a problem. So... they limited the players.
Fortunately we can work around this... somewhat.
Using Your Own Cars with Contracts....
Do note: this doesn't work for all the new missions...
So how to make this work? Remember those contact missions by any chance? As soon as you got into a contact mission then your apartments stopped showing on the map, this has been a thing since the beginning. However... if you drive to your apartments then you'll still see the blue corona which will allow you to get in, most of the times. See... if you have a primary mission objective active (= a yellow corona with GPS target) then you can't access your properties, as soon as you try you'll get an error stating as much. But if you have a secondary objective (so: no specific GPS target to go to) then you can do whatever you want.
And that same mechanic applies here as well:
Notice the blue corona's?
Here I took on the contract to invade the Merryweather bunker, and as you can see I have full access to both my apartment (corona on the left) and my garage (the corona in front of me):
Inside the garage of my Murrieta Heights apartment
Do note that sometimes you can get to see a blue corona even though it won't work:
Blue corona's at my Del Perro home and the Maze bank west garage....
Here I drove over to my home (also notice that no icons show on the minimap?) but although a corona is displayed near the CEO office garage I won't be able to go in, it simply refuses. However, I can go into my own garage without issues:
Nice clipping hand, lol!
Now, for reasons mentioned above I'm not planning to bother too much with these missions, and so far I've only played 3 or 4. Anyway, this trick worked for the following missions:
... while it did not work for the IAAA building invasion. If I end up playing more missions then I'll add them to this list after confirming the mechanic, but don't keep your hopes up. I'm really not a fan and would rather play contact missions.
Fun Facts (+ Additions & Changes)
Customizing the Radio Channels
If you check the context menu (inventory section) you'll find an option to set your favorite radio channels. This allows you to filter the list of radio channels to only those you actually enjoy listening to. They also added a new station called "Media player", this ties into a new collectible: memory sticks.
There are 4 new memory sticks (spoiler alert: where one can be found on the bar in an Arcade, and another one can be found at the LS car meet in the trunk of Moodymans car) and if you got one of them you can listen to its tracks using the media player.
They removed the Vespucci Canal gang attack :(
I really dislike this change because this gang attack was in the game from pretty much the beginning. When I was doing gang attacks I'd always kill the Balla's near the tram track (downtown LS) in the morning, then hop over to the western construction site (provided that it wasn't 12pm just yet). After that (and around 1pm) I'd hop over to the other construction site (in the middle of town) only to end my "spree" at the Vespucci Canals. Yah, no more :(
Simeon Delivery Price Changes
If you deliver a high end car to Simeon you can count on approx. 20k + the costs of repairs. But still be careful for the regulars, if you bring him a regular car then you could only be paid approx. 9k just like "old times".
Visual Glitch with the Grate Removed from Cayo Perico
If you cut the steel grating then the animation would kick in without resetting the cutting animation on the last bar, resulting in you pushing the grate while you'd still see bubbles from the cuting.
And speaking of Cayo Perico....
There's a New Camera Facing the Road Towards the Radio Tower
A quick way to get to the radio tower is to use a bike. You literally drive it through the checkpoint, then make a sharp left before the camera (through the bushes) and after that you can stomp on the gas and storm over the road which leads straight to the radio tower. But no more, if you look at my minimap in the screenshot above you'll notice a new camera which blocks the road.
Ironically enough R* has actually made things a lot easier for us...
If you go left past the camera you'll cross a sideways road and can drive to the radio tower using the cover of the bushes. While you may need to keep clear of some NPC's this has a major advantage: you can no longer get ambushed by spawning jeeps. See, sometimes jeeps can spawn on the road (always heading directly towards you) and if that happens your best option is to avoid them by driving straight onto this area as fast as you can. Well.. now we're already there ;)
Try Cars That are Not in the Game Yet...
Please note: this example is valid at the time of writing.
So at the time of writing (please see disclaimer above) we've had our first update after the release of the Tuners DLC and for sure... a new car got announced: the Dominator ASP. While it's not available for purchase just yet you can already give it a test drive using the LS Car Meet location.
Honestly? I'm not very impressed. Not with the Dominator and the same goes for the Comet (which is already available). I suppose Ferarri fans wil enjoy the Comet but... I'm still not much of a fan of all these new "hype cars".
Spectating the Test Track (and Go to the Roof)
If you check the actual exits of the LS car meet (in specific the steel doors at the sides) you'll notice that you can actually spectate the test track. This could be fun to do if there are other players driving around and you don't feel like disturbing them (or maybe you'd like to spectate an ongoing race?).
Observing the test track, just too bad that we can't shoot anything ;-)
And speaking of races... if you're on the loosing end of the race(s) then don't worry, there's even an option to get rid of some anxiety and anger:
The best part: just hop back into the garage and the cops will be gone again...
You Can't Practice Street Races :(
All street races require a minimum of 2 players which I think is highly unfair. Why? Simple: if you're new then all the other players who have played before will have an immediate advantage over you: they'll know the track. And the only thing you can do about it is to participate, and probably lose because of your inexperience.
Yah, thanks but no thanks. See, most of the other races can be done solo as well, even if they were meant for 16+ players, so you could always train yourself to learn the terrain.
LSCM Takeovers are Boring!
I don't know how it happened but while I was testing the DLC for the first time the game allowed me to take over the car meet (as seen in the screenshot). Normally you'd have to gain a high reputation within the car meet after which you also have to pay a large sum of money to empty out the whole place.
My suggestion? Don't bother, it's utterly boring, even when you have a large group of players:
You can no longer 'do' anyting fun...
When you take over the car meet then the host can adjust the colors of the light and invite other players. All NPC's will be gone which will provide more room for your party. Yah, but without any NPC's all the available services (like purchasing clothes or tattoo's) are also gone. The only real advantage is that you'll have more available parking spaces but.... meh, the atmosphere will take a huge dive for the worst as well.
For the record: I also got to experience this with more players (one of my friends had already unlocked the option) and yah... it's not bad but... meh, you won't find me in private meets anymore, it's just boring without all the extra stuff going on.
Quickly Exiting the Test Track
Yes, that's my Toreador, who said weaponized vehicles can't access the car meet?
Last but not least: are you done on the test track but can't quickly find the exit (or maybe you don't fancy having to drive to the other end)? Don't worry: instead of driving there just keep the "exit car" key pressed for 5 or so seconds. A small bar will appear in the lower right corner and poof! You'll be transported to the exit right away!
More rails to lean on!
As you can see the Tuners DLC adds (and changes) quite a bit, some for the better while other changes leave me plain out disappointed (like the removed gang attack, and as far as I can tell without getting a new one in return either!).
So... is this good or bad? Well... in my opinion Tuners is a fine DLC. Definitely not one of the best, it sure as heck can't beat Cayo Perico for example, but at the same time it is a fun experience overall.
Of course, if these things apply to you is only something you can decide for yourself.
So here's my take on all this:
...and the Ugly
And there you have it...
And that sums up my take on the new Tuner DLC. Definitely not a bad DLC but at the same time also not that special either.
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