The online portion of the game will be available from approximately noon on October 1st

Weeks after the game was released to critical acclaim and record-breaking sales, the online portion of Grand Theft Auto 5 is ready to launch. Rockstar has yet to announce an official time, but GTA Online should be open to players from noon today.

Anyone who has bought a copy of GTA 5 will have free access to the online portion of the game, though a small update will have to be downloaded from either the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live. Users can access online play through the game menu or by selecting the fourth (currently empty) slot in the game’s character selection wheel.

Due to “unanticipated additional pressure on the servers due to a significantly higher number of players [than expected]", Rockstar has warned that play might be “temperamental” for the first few days. “We are working around the clock to buy and add more servers,” said the game’s developers in a blog post.

In preparation for online play Rockstar has also outlined a slew of rules and recommendations to deal with the troubles of multiplayer, whilst also letting players known that the online portion of the game occurs “a few months prior to the events of Grand Theft Auto V’s single player story.”

The developers have also released details about the game’s controversial inclusion of microtransactions to “allay some concerns”, and reassure players that “the option of purchasable GTA$ should not disrupt the playing field”.

Mechanics put in place by Rockstar to stop players instanteously super-charging their character by buying new equipment include a system of Reputation Points – a ranking system that players must progress through before getting the option to purchase “high-end items”.

“No one can begin GTA Online and simply spend a lot of money out of the gate to get a leg up,” says Rockstar “You will have to earn your stripes and play to unlock access to the aspirational clothes, guns and other items.”

Other safeguards introduced by Rockstar includes security for players’ home and garage. Gamers can invite others to their house but each invite is considered as a “friendly visit”, with the host effectively barring guests from being able to “shoot up their place or steal their cars from their garage.”

GTA 5: Online will allow players to compete with each other through a number of different game-modes including death matches and races.

And in a logical – if bizarre – conclusion to the ever-expanding options for character customization, players will even be able to pick the hereditary characteristics that define how their avatars look:

“Choose your gender then decide on your mother and father,” says Rockstar. “From there, you can choose to give one parent genetic dominance or leave them more evenly matched. The choice is yours. Next, you adjust a set of lifestyle variables which help determine your character’s appearance and starting stats.”

“Essentially, you can adjust the genetics to wind up with a fresh faced lad or lass or a grizzled, haggard degenerate or anywhere in between!”

With all these features piling up it seems that GTA 5’s single-player was only ever the start of Rockstar’s plans. The developers are promising that Grand Theft Auto Online is “a long-term GTA experience that you can expect to be built-upon, to grow and to evolve in many ways in the coming weeks, months and beyond.”