After the huge success of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, many big games have incorporated battle royale modes. But even older games are receiving battle royale-style updates thanks to the wonders of fan-made mods.
GTA: San Andreas has a surprisingly active community for a 13-year-old game, most of it revolving around fan-created online multiplayer servers. Shortly after PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds exploded, GTA fans created mods with PUBG-style gameplay and injected it into the ageing open world of San Andreas.
Unlike Minecraft or Gmod, which also have battle royale mods, GTA: San Andreas lends itself particularly well to PUBG-style play. The game already has parachutes, vehicles, different types of weaponry, and a large and varied map, all of which come into play during battle royale.
It’s such a good combination that two different GTA San Andreas PUBG mods have become popular in the last few months. One uses SAMP and the other uses MTA. These are two different tools used to play GTA San Andreas online. SAMP stands for “San Andreas Multiplayer” and it is the younger of the two online tools, launching in May 2006. MTA, “Multi Theft Auto”, was launched in 2003, a year before San Andreas was even released and added online gameplay to GTA III, Vice City and eventually GTA San Andreas.
The battle royale mode found in MTA is very similar to PUBG, right down to the menus, logos and UI elements:
MTA Battlegrounds main menu
PUBG main menu
MTA Battlegrounds inventory screen.
PUBG’s inventory screen.
Beyond the visual similarities, these two mods incorporate a lot of features from PUBG. You have fully functional inventories, stats, loot that comes in different qualities (level 1 helmet vs level 2 helmet, for example), 99 other players and in MTA, you can even use frying pans as weapons. All of these elements and mechanics are not a part of vanilla GTA, so it’s a pretty extensive modding effort.
Both of these mods also use different parts of GTA: San Andreas in clever ways to recreate some parts of PUBG. For example, GTA San Andreas had a ton of pedestrian and NPC models in the game, many of which are used in the mods to give players some customisation options. Clothing was also a fully realised part of San Andreas, and many of those clothing items are found in the mods as loot.
These mods also take advantage of all the vehicles available in GTA San Andreas, allowing for moments that can’t happen in other battle royale modes—like being chased by a large semi truck while driving a muscle car:
Like PUBG, these GTA mods are still being tweaked and improved, with upcoming changes promising better weapon damage and more animations. At this moment there are about 200 to 400 players on various GTA SA mod servers playing these Battlegrounds-style modes. And while these mods aren’t as popular as PUBG or Fortnite, they are finding an audience on Youtube. These PUBG inspired San Andreas mods are already becoming popular games for Youtubers to play—for example, a video of Suarez16 enjoying the MTA mod has nearly 100k views.
Honestly, it’s strange to see a game I played over a decade ago changed into a totally different experience like this. I still recognise the hills and streets of San Andreas, but I don’t remember all these helmets lying around.
Zach Zwiezen is a a writer living in Kansas City, Missouri. He has written for Gamecritics, Killscreen and Entertainment Fuse.