A group of GTA Online players are all gathered together near an auto shop in downtown Los Santos. They’re here for a car meet meant to show off fancy vehicles within the community. Suddenly, and without any warning, a giant explosion goes off. Everyone is killed, and the hot rods are destroyed. Another orbital cannon has been fired in GTA Online.
Orbital cannons were added to GTA Online during the December Doomsday Heist, and since then, they’ve been put to wide use. The super weapons aren’t cheap at $500k (£369k) a shot, though players can upgrade to the $750k (£553k) option that auto-locks onto a player anywhere on the map. The blast can kill multiple players, even if they hide under a bridge or inside a clothing store. The only places where players are safe are places where you can’t use weapons, like your flat or bunker.
Since its inclusion, the orbital cannon has become popular on Youtube, where players are sharing clips and creating montages of the super weapon destroying trolls, low level players, car meets and more. It’s the video game equivalent of class warfare:
Youtuber King Atomic using the cannon to destroy a car meet
On Reddit, some GTA Online fans are frustrated by the cannon. Many feel the cannon is overpowered and not properly balanced. Sure, the high price-per-shot might keep some players from using it very often, but players with hacked cash aren’t worried about dropping a few million to annoy players. These hackers and cheaters have hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars and can easily afford to fire the orbital cannon multiple times a day. At least there’s a 48 minute cool down between shots, though.
Another reason the cannon has angered so many players is that there is no way to know you are about to be obliterated. I’ve used the cannon twice on some friends and both times they had no idea what was happening until after they were dead. This becomes more frustrating when you are in a lobby trying to sell millions of dollars worth of drugs or guns. Getting that much cargo to sell can take days or even weeks of grinding missions. Having all that hard work blown up with no way to counter is frustrating enough that some players are no longer selling in busy lobbies.
Some players have been able to exploit a few different glitches and fire the orbital cannon for free and in quick succession, circumventing the 48 minute cooldown. Rockstar says it is trying to patch these methods.
The cannon isn’t all bad news. While it is expensive, the cannon is an effective way to get rid of players who are using powerful jets or Mobile Operation Centres. But while it might be used against annoying players, currently it’s mostly trolls, modders, and rich players using the powerful cannon to destroy and bring fear to players in lobbies all across GTA Online. “It doesn’t matter that most of the time no one shoots me with that thing,” wrote Reddit user BitterBubblegum. “Constantly expecting it is the thing that reduces the enjoyment.”
Zach Zwiezen is a a writer and critic currently living in Kansas City, Missouri. He has written for Gamecritics, Killscreen and Entertainment Fuse.