01/10/2013 05:56 BST | Updated 30/11/2013 05:12 GMT

GTA Online Released: Rockstar Unveils Multiplayer Open-World Grand Theft Auto

GTA 5 has only been out a week, but Rockstar has already released the next great Grand Theft Auto game - and this one might be even better than the rapturously received single-player game.

GTA Online is an all-new, online only multiplayer experience, available as a free update for the original game.

Access to the online game will be made available on Tuesday via a small downloadable update from PSN and Xbox live. Once it's installed, you'll be able to jump into the online mode from the same character select screen from which you can currently switch characters.

The online game - set "a few months prior" to the events of GTA 5 - lets you take on a new identity and build a reputation, backstory and inventory all of your own. You can take part in races, deathmatch fights, take on jobs and heists and interact with other players.

That's all server-depending, of course. Rockstar North has admitted that unprecedented sales of the game mean it is having to put contingency measures in place to ensure the game doesn't collapse from demand:

"One thing we are already aware of, and are trying to alleviate as fast as we can, is the unanticipated additional pressure on the servers due to a significantly higher number of players than we were anticipating at this point – we are working around the clock to buy and add more servers, but this increased scale is only going to make the first few days even more temperamental than such things usually are. This is part of the problem some of you have been experiencing with the iFruit App and some Social Club services – we apologize in advance for this and thank you for your patience in this area."

Before the launch, Rockstar has also offered the following information:

  • You can't shoot up other peoples' homes: "in order to prevent some really annoying “griefing”, we’ve designed house party invitations specifically to be a friendly social affair where players can visit each other’s pads without fear of having them ruined or losing their hard-earned vehicles in the process. If someone invites you into their property, then it is considered a friendly visit and you will not be able to shoot up their place or steal their cars from their garage."
  • You can't buy your way to success: "To allay some concerns we’ve heard on this subject, we can assure you that the game is designed such that the option of purchasable GTA should not disrupt the playing field – and there are a few mechanics in place to help ensure that. All players still have to rank up with Reputation Points (RP) in order to get access 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."
  • You're going to help build it: "There will be a massive amount of Jobs available to play over time as we will be regularly adding new ones for you to enjoy. Additionally, you will soon be helping to add content to the game world yourselves, by creating custom Race and Deathmatch Jobs through the Content Creator tool which we plan to release this fall. Grand Theft Auto Online is a collaborative project between Rockstar and all GTA players worldwide, so expect that we’ll effectively be working on it together from day one."
  • You can design every important aspect of your character - including how insane they are: "Choose your gender then decide on your mother and father. 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. Decide how much sleep he/she gets, how much partying they indulge in, how much honest work versus illegal activity, and more. 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!"
  • 'Social Club' members get benefits you might not: "Social Club members get access to weaponry and vehicular unlocks, a whole new suite of Crew features to represent and coordinate with your squad, and special tools to get the most out of Rockstar Jobs and user-created Jobs when the Content Creator tool launches this fall."