Despite some server issues here and there, Grand Theft Auto Online has slowly opened up to its audience, allowing players everywhere to explore Los Santos and take part in a number of events. There's a whole new world to explore here, but it isn't the first time that Rockstar Games has taken the Grand Theft Auto world online.

When Grand Theft Auto IV came out back in 2008, it came with its own fair share of online activities, featuring 15 multiplayer modes for up to 16 players at once. As a result, it remained quite popular on the Xbox Live front, right up to Grand Theft Auto 5's release.

Looking back on that multiplayer experience, some folks have been wondering if Grand Theft Auto Online has improved upon it. The answer is, yes, in many ways, it has. Here are some of the most noteworthy that you'll want to take advantage of.

Home is Where the Party is 

Where Grand Theft Auto IV simply commanded you to jump into action and explore the city, Grand Theft Auto Online gives you the chance to create your own personal habitat, collecting cars and eventually making yourself a home base, where fellow players can visit and plan their next jobs.

Some people prefer to jump right into the action, and there's nothing wrong with that, but there's something about owning your own personal hot spot in Los Santos that makes the game a little more comfortable, especially if you need to take it easy or improve your character skills.

It's All About the Race

In Grand Theft Auto IV's multiplayer, only two general race modes are available. One follows the traditional racing rules, while another allows you to attack your opponents while you run through your checkpoints. These races are good fun, but, obviously, Rockstar Games wanted to push a little further with its latest effort.

When it comes to racing events in Online, the sky's the limit. Not only can you take part in some fun road rage events with cars, but also bikes, ATV's, jet skis, boats, planes, what have you. The variety of racing events available here are more than we could possibly list in a page – and that's not including the custom ones that savvy fans can put together.

With the ability to expand a race set with your own rules and perimeters – and then challenge others to take them on – Grand Theft Auto Online expands immensely over the last game. Don't get us wrong, the thrill of the race is still very much present in GTA IV. We just prefer something a little more innovative, that's all.

There's a Lot More to Do

Your online actions aren't just limited to shootouts, races and mayhem. In Grand Theft Auto Online, you can actually shape your character, not only working on their traits with certain activities, but also buying stuff you feel would be right for them, including weapons, cars, etc. Granted, that doesn't mean you'll be safe the next time you go to the store, as a rival Social Club may be on the lookout. That said, it's still great to diversify and actually have a purpose to your online character, compared to just running through run-and-gun like the last game.

Again, some people like to get into the action, and more power to them. Still, for those looking for a small breather – or a way to a better life – you have it. Just make sure you have the cash for it – we've got some ideas on how to build some up if you run short.

Expansion, Expansion, Expansion

Rockstar Games has just warmed up with Grand Theft Auto Online. Once the company gets over the hump with server issues, it'll move to expanding the online game with even more events, goodie drops and more. The previous game didn't really have too many of these, we recall, so it's nice to see something built upon that will keep players coming back for more.

It just makes you wonder how much of this content will be community-based. Social Club plays a bigger part in Grand Theft Auto Online, after all, as you can build upon your hierarchy along with your personal lifestyle. If Rockstar can find a way to highlight events that certain players put together, and invite a bigger audience to take part, it'll be a huge change over what Grand Theft Auto IV's multiplayer originally provided. Fingers crossed!

Friend Interaction

Finally, Grand Theft Auto Online just feels like it involves you more in the way of working with your friends. You can chat with them more, track them on a GPS in case they get into trouble, and accumulate points that you can use to boost your reputation. Plus, if someone gets on your nerves, you can actually kick a friend out of a car, although that's not completely recommended – they can always come back and get revenge later.

The Online World Awaits

True, the server problems right now aren't Online's greatest asset, but, again, once Rockstar finally gets things up and running for everyone, you'll see just how big this world has gotten over five years' time. This company isn't fooling around when it comes to the online experience. 

Grand Theft Auto Online is available now for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, as a downloadable bonus to Grand Theft Auto 5. Be sure to check out our Free Guide for extensive coverage on the game!