The Grand Theft Auto series is consistently at the forefront of video game innovation. At the time of their respective releases, the games always push the envelope, in both game play and content. More than just being great for their time, however, the games also hold up in a lot of ways. Despite their aged mechanics, one will still have a great time popping GTA III, Vice City, or San Andreas into their PS2.
One of the main draws of the series are the massive open worlds. Inside each of these, players are given freedom to do what they like and tackle missions at their leisure. Aside from the main story, there are also a bevy of side quests to take on. These range from full blown missions to small activities and random encounters.
Of course, just because the content is there, this does not mean it needs to be done. While a good chunk of the bonus quests are a pleasure to find and pursue, there are a handful of activities best left at the wayside. Rockstar gives a lot of freedom to players, and this includes the freedom to not do certain missions if the player does not feel like it.
So pull into that Pay N’ Spray, because here are the 12 Side Quests Every Player Needs To Complete In Grand Theft Auto (And 13 That Aren’t Worth The Effort).
25 Not Worth It: Collecting Nuclear Waste In GTA V
Some people were perplexed when GTA IV removed the ability to swim underwater when its last gen predecessor had it. When GTA V was released, Rockstar once again let players dive into the deep and gave them the opportunity to explore every inch of it.
One side quest tasks players with collecting nuclear waste in a submarine. Getting all of these means traversing the entire ocean floor for what feels like an eternity. In the PS3 version, there was not even a radio available to pass the time while trudging beneath the waves.
24 Need To Complete: Hidden Packages In GTA III
Of all of the 3D GTA titles, the third numbered entry stands as the most arcade-like, with mayhem and destruction still rewarding cash to the player. The hidden packages scattered throughout the city contribute to this feeling, as their rewards slowly build up an arsenal at each hideout.
For every ten of these mysterious pickups Claude finds, an additional weapon is spawned at the save spots. The 2001 Liberty City is small enough that most of the packages can be reasonably found without utilizing a guide, encouraging people to explore the city.
23 Not Worth It: Attacking Pigeons In GTA IV
This may be a fantasy for some New Yorkers who are fed up with the flying rodents, but annihilating the pigeons in GTA IV simply feels like a chore. There are two hundred of these birds hidden throughout Liberty City.
One would think destroying all of them would grant some special reward, but that is not the case. All that is earned from accomplishing this is getting a nudge closer to one hundred percent completion. These pesky animals are also nearly impossible to track down without using a strategy guide.
22 Need To Complete: Ambulance Missions In The PS2 Games
The older titles in the series tend to embrace the fact that they are video games more than their contemporaries. As a result, some of the bonus activities grant enhancements that defy logic, but are welcome.
The PS2 trilogy allows the player to activate missions while driving the ambulance. These involve the player picking up injured people and delivering them to the hospital. Do enough and the game will usually raise the player’s maximum health. It is recommended to do this early in the game before more of the map is unlocked.
21 Not Worth It: Shooting Range
When thinking about the possibilities of an criminal themed open world game, the last thing people think of doing is hitting the shooting range. Why would anyone want to be penned up in a box shooting at paper targets when they could be out running from the cops and getting into gunfights with organized crime syndicates.
Several GTA games have shooting ranges available at Ammu-nations if the player feels so inclined. They can be quick ways to upgrade a shooting stat in GTA V, but play long enough and that stat will increase naturally.
20 Need To Complete: Trevor’s Mother In GTA V
When it comes to open world games, most players know better than to switch off the console once the credits roll. Most titles in the genre offer a little something extra to do after beating the main campaign. There is admittedly not a lot of post game content in GTA V, but there is poignant mission available for Trevor Phillips. O
nce the main story is complete, players can finally meet the unhinged character’s mother. The mission is swift, but there exchange shines a whole new light on one of gaming’s favorite psychopaths.
19 Not Worth It: Collecting Space Ship Parts In GTA V
It would not be a proper open world game without collectibles. Even the more recent entries still have nearly useless junk lying around the city, waiting to be found. GTA V has several side quests that have players going on scavenger hunts.
Because this one aimed to be more realistic, or as realistic as a crime simulator can get, these tasks don’t gift game play modifications. Collecting the space ship parts does reward a vehicle, but it hardly seems enough for the time it takes to find fifty hidden items.
18 Need To Complete: Trucking Missions In San Andreas
San Andreas was a staggering step up from Vice City in its size. Some side quests that showcases this in full force are the trucking missions, where CJ becomes a long haul truck driver.
Some of these objectives are calm, simply requiring the delivery of the truck, while others require the delivery to be made with a wanted level. There are eight of them, but they can be repeated if one needs more cash. Be sure to deliver the product in pristine condition, though, as damage and lateness will reduce the payout.
17 Not Worth It: Toyz Van Missions In GTA III
The Toyz vans scattered throughout Liberty City were meant to add a flare of variety. Upon being entered, a mission activates where Claude steers remote control cars equipped with explosives in order to eliminate targets.
This may sound interesting in practice, but in execution they are boring and hard to control. At best, the player will fail several times before finally nailing it. At worst, they will start to pull their hair out. We applaud the attempt at diversifying the missions, we just wish they were actually fun to do.
16 Need To Complete: Kaufman Cabs In Vice City
At around the halfway point in Tommy Varcetti’s quest for criminal superiority, Vice City really opens up, allowing for the purchase of several properties. Each of these comes with their own set of missions, and only a couple of them are mandatory for unlocking the last set of missions.
Of these optional ventures, it is highly recommended that players do not skip out on the Kaufman Cab company. The missions are surprisingly fun and completing them will award a steady income of five thousand dollars to be periodically picked up.
15 Not Worth It: Monkey Mosaics In GTA V
There is no doubt that most players have seen these while traversing through the brilliantly crafted Los Santos in GTA V. Few who stumbled upon them probably realized that they served a purpose.
Once all fifty of them are photographed, a random encounter will trigger where one of the three protagonists will find the artist. The mysterious figure quickly runs away and not much more happens. A new car is unlocked in the garage, but one would expect a bigger payoff for the herculean effort of finding graffiti tags in a giant city.
14 Need To Complete: Payphone Missions In GTA III
Company names in the series usually have a comedic spin. Some of them cannot even be written down in this article. For example, GTA III has a dog food company whose moniker is derived from a term referring to a female dog. Juvenile name aside, the company is the source of the game’s more interesting side missions.
In front of the factory, there is a ringing payphone. Answer the call to be given several assassination missions from Marty Chonks. There are four missions in all, and the arc has a satisfying conclusion.
13 Not Worth It: Narcotic Delivery Missions For Jacob
Jacob Hughes is one of Niko Bellic’s closest friends in GTA IV aside from Roman and Patrick McCreary. The protagonist meets the leader of the Yardies early on in the campaign and sticks with him until the end, assisting Bellic during the final mission. He also has his own set of side missions.
The player can pick up a product of illicit substances and deliver it to a drop off point. There are ten of these, but they are all basically the same. Finding the motivation to do all of them is a challenge all its own.
12 Need To Complete: Cab Missions In The PS2 Trilogy
Sometimes it is the missions that don’t involve disregard for human life that turn out to be the most fun. Since the games take place in urban environments, this means that cabs are abundant.
In the PS2 trilogy, players can simply hop into one of these and start taking fares as if they were a real life cab driver. Doing enough of these will grant a game play bonus. Like the other public service missions, doing it earlier in the game makes them easier, and it can be a fun way to familiarize yourself with the city.
11 Not Worth It: Flight School In GTA V
At one point in the story, Trevor advises Michael utilize the flight school to prepare for an upcoming heist. This school is located near the airport, and offers several challenges to upgrade the flight stat. Already being an expert pilot, Trevor does not need to do this.
Michael and Franklin can benefit from the school, but it is more fun and natural to just fly around, doing missions and taking planes under bridges. Players themselves mostly know how to use these vehicles, so going to the school feels like a waste of time.
10 Need To Complete: Being Packie’s Getaway Driver
GTA IV and V exist in the same continuity, but there are few connections between the two. One fan-favorite who has the honor of appearing in both titles is Patrick McCreary. He plays a pivotal role in the 2008 game and his appearance in V can be skipped altogether.
Players will stumble upon a botched robbery and opt to be their getaway driver. Among the goons is Packie, who then becomes available during heists. The gangster is an invaluable asset during robberies and contributes interesting tidbits to the dialogue.
9 Not Worth It: Car Thefts For Stevie In GTA IV
With a name like Grand Theft Auto, it is only fitting that some of missions involve automobile theft. In GTA IV, there are several optional quests that task Niko with breaking into cars and bringing them to a garage.
Brucie’s friend, Stevie, has a list of thirty cars littered about Liberty City for the player to snatch up. They are not marked on the map, forcing some thinking on the player’s part. There is no special reward for delivering all thirty other than an achievement or trophy on the respective consoles.
8 Need To Complete: Police Database Wanted Missions In GTA IV
There is a certain irony to the vigilante missions in the series, since going through any of the games’ respective stories means committing all nature of evil crimes.
With these bonus missions, it becomes possible to be on the other side of the law and bring fellow criminals to justice, though mostly to their graves. They are particularly engaging in GTA IV, as they are not randomized and the player can see each criminal’s rap sheet before hunting them down. Maybe it is hypocritical, but playing cop sure is fun.
7 Not Worth It: Collecting Horse Shoes In San Andreas
By the time San Andreas rolled around, some of GTA‘s more unrealistic elements were being phased out. That’s not to say the game was even close to being grounded, but certain aspects of the series were less emphasized.
Hidden packages gave less enticing rewards. The horseshoes spread throughout the fictional state will increase CJ’s luck. However, this does not increase the odds when gambling. The meager reward for collecting all of them is a few weapons stashed at the Four Dragons casino. For a real way to win at the horse races, just reload a save several times and bet everything until CJ hits it big.
6 Need To Complete: Lester’s Assassination Missions
Lester may not be the kindest person to hang out with, but he always helps the three protagonists when they need it. Despite his off putting personality, he is an invaluable member of the team. His handful of optional missions also give the player a chance to make tons of money quickly.
All of the targets he asks Franklin to eliminate are in the service of manipulating the stock market, and the player can get in on this too. If they wait until beating the game, one can gain many millions of dollars with these missions.
5 Not Worth It: Triathlon In GTA V
Exercise is pretty boring for most people in real life, so why would Rockstar think it would be fun to do it in GTA? The Yoga mission is at least a part of the story has a comedic conclusion, but the triathlons feel like filler.
There are three in all, each one getting progressively longer and more challenging. The first two are not too inconvenient, but the third one is a true test of patience. With a fully upgraded character, it will still take half an hour of running, swimming, and biking to complete.
4 Need To Complete: Racing Tournaments In San Andreas
Sometimes the complications of a criminal lifestyle need to be left at the door to enjoy some good old racing. Every game in the series involves racing in some aspect, either as a part of the story or as bonus content. Several missions in San Andreas see CJ behind the wheel, aiming for first place.
There are also a series of tournaments in which he can participate. There are four in all, each with several races. Completing all of them takes time, but nets the protagonist a cool million dollars.
3 Not Worth It: Races For Brucie In GTA IV
The races in the high definition era of the series are thankfully more forgiving than their predecessors. Where the AI in the PS2 games can be brutally efficient, the competitors in GTA IV are more than likely to sabotage themselves at the start of any given race.
It is just unfortunate, then, that there is no real prize for doing every race for Brucie. There are nine, and each win gives Niko five hundred dollars. After the nine, they just repeat forever, only giving a trophy to anyone who wins twenty.
2 Need To Complete: Grassroots Stranger Missions In GTA V
Grand Theft Auto V really upped the ante with Stranger Missions. In IV, there was usually a small cinematic followed by a simple task. In Los Santos, the missions were unique and offered something different to the main story.
The “Grassroots” missions in particular showcased the game’s zany sentiments. The player is offered to test out an illegal substance and it causes them to hallucinate. What follows is a psychedelic rampage. At a time when people knock the series for trying to be too realistic, these missions serve as a reminder that GTA can still get weird.
1 Not Worth It: Top Fun Van Missions In Vice City
A couple of missions in Vice City have Tommy Varcetti utilize RC cars and helicopters. These come off as easily the least entertaining and most tedious missions in the game. On the off chance anybody out there actually enjoyed those, there are side quests that solely involve the use of remote controlled vehicles.
Hop into a Top Fun Van parked in the city in order to activate them. They come in two varieties: racing or delivering explosives to a target. The vehicles are unwieldy and the missions usually end in frustration.
What are your favorite side quests in Grand Theft Auto? Let us know in the comments!