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GTA 5 guide: beginner tips for getting started in Los Santos

Being a criminal can be confusing, especially as you sit on your ass all day playing computer games. Ease the pain of taking your first steps into Los Santos life with these dummy notes for GTA 5.

Warning: minor spoilers.

Rude awakening

The start of GTA 5 concerns itself with a robbery nine years ago. Trevor and Michael are breaking into a vault with a third man in a sequence designed to teach you combat basics, character-switching and driving.

Combat boils down to hand-to-hand fighting and shooting. Fighting uses punches and kicks, while occasionally pressing the circle or B button to counter incoming attacks.

Shooting's simple: left trigger aims and right trigger shoots. You get into cover - which amounts to anything you're standing next to, such as a car or wall - by pressing the right shoulder button. You can look out of cover by holding the left shoulder button and shoot with the right.

You can switch between targets using the right analog stick.

Driving for noobs

Driving, obviously, is a huge concern in GTA V. You drive during the robbery and will be spending a lot of time in cars throughout general play. Left trigger brakes and right trigger accelerates. To steal a car, walk up to it and press either Y or triangle. Handling varies wildly depending on what you're driving.

Your first mission after the intro casts you as Franklin stealing a pair of sports cars with an "associate". You have to follow your partner. When in pursuit, you can press the circle or B button to keep your target locked on.

Each character has special driving abilities. Franklin, for example, is able to enter a slow motion mode by clicking both the left and right sticks.

Side missions

As well as main story missions – highlighted on the map with capital letters for each character, like "M" for Michael or "F" for Franklin – you'll have side missions you can complete for extra cash. Near the start of the game, for example, a prostitute named Tonya gets you to tow an abandoned car. Complete these missions for extra cash.

The map

You're going to be looking at your map a lot. GTA 5's world is large. The map, crucially, allows you to set waypoints to your next mission, a gun shop, or whatever else you want to do. To set a waypoint, press Start to open the map, A (360) or X (PS3) to enter interactive mode, place the cursor wherever it is you want to go and press A or X again. Get used to doing this early on. The game's not especially good at explaining waypoints and they're vital to avoiding frustration as you progress.

Switching characters

Switching characters is easy. Press down on the D-Pad, press the right analog stick in the direction of the character you want to control and release the D-Pad. You'll switch instantly. The number next to the characters' faces on the selection wheel indicated how many missions are open to them at that point.

See the rest of our GTA 5 guide for more walkthroughs and tips. Thanks, Prima.

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