Wanted Level in GTA V
A Wanted Level in Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online is a measure of how much the player is wanted by Los Santos and Blaine County law enforcement, and therefore how much force is used against the player. Unlike prior games, Wanted Levels are measured on a five-star scale, with one star being the least aggressive and five stars being the most aggressive and potentially lethal. Law enforcement officers in GTA V are smarter, more aggressive, and more lethal than their predecessors, making escaping and surviving higher Wanted Levels very difficult.
Relatively minor crimes committed within sight of the police may attract one star; committing serious crimes, such as attacking or killing a police officer, is likely to earn multiple stars outright. Wanted Level stars are cumulative — repeatedly committing "one-star" crimes within sight of police may lead to a two-star rating, and so on.
Police officers can arrest the player by holding them at gunpoint — if the player is in a vehicle, the protagonist surrenders immediately; if on foot, the player can resist arrest by running away and/or fighting back; however, this immediately escalates a one-star wanted level to two-stars. If the player gets arrested, then the player is sent to the nearest police station for processing. Before the player is released, the player must post bail, and the police confiscates all of the player's ammunition and body armor. If the player is at low health and escape is not likely, it is the better option for the player to get wasted, as the player retains his ammunition at a hospital.
As the player's Wanted Level increases, law enforcement spends less energy trying to arrest the player and more trying to kill the player at all costs. As such, it is almost impossible to get arrested at a Wanted Level of three stars or higher, although police will attempt vehicular arrests if the opportunity arises.
Outrunning the law
Like Grand Theft Auto IV, the player can outrun law enforcement to escape regardless of the number of Wanted Levels attained; however, unlike GTA IV, the search area is not confined to a specific radius. When the player is being chased by law enforcement, the Radar flashes red and blue and the stars are solid; however, if the police loses sight of the player, then the Radar stops flashing and the stars flash. During this probationary period, any police on the radar will have a field of vision (FOV) indicator; typically, officers on foot have the narrowest FOV, ground vehicles have a moderate FOV, and helicopters have the widest FOV. If the player enters any officer's FOV, then the pursuit is reengaged. If the player manages to enter a secluded area out of police sight, then the player's location arrow on the radar changes from white to gray. If the player can stay out of sight for a predetermined period of time, then law enforcement calls off their search, and the player's Wanted status is removed. The amount of time needed to evade the police depends on number of stars attained.
Los Santos Customs and repair shops
The player can use Los Santos Customs and other repair shops to alter their vehicle's appearance to remove his/her Wanted status; however, as with GTA IV, the player cannot use the repair shop while police are in pursuit.
In GTA Online, the police will recognize a stolen vehicle unless the player modifies its outward appearance.
If the police lose sight of the player, then the player can switch vehicles. This makes the cops less likely to find the player as the dispatcher relies on the last known location of the player as well as the color, make, and model of the vehicle the player was last seen driving. When swapping a vehicle out of police sight, the player's location arrow on the radar changes from white to gray, indicating that the police does not recognize the player's vehicle; however, if the player remains in an officer's field of vision for too long or does any action to provoke the officer, then the pursuit is reengaged. At higher wanted levels, swapping vehicles is essential in order to keep police confused and to ensure that the player has a fresh getaway vehicle.
As with previous games, if the player can reach a safehouse and access the save function, then the player's Wanted status is removed.
GTA Online only methods
After the player unlocks Lester Crest as a contact, the player can call him to remove their Wanted Level for a nominal fee. The amount of the bribe depends on the player's Wanted Level.
Before committing a crime, the player can equip a disguise to make them less recognizable. During the probationary period, the player can then remove the disguise to reduce their Wanted Level by one star.
At one star, any law enforcement patrol present will give chase and attempt to arrest the player on sight. Officers only open fire if they feel threatened. Also, any nearby civilian security guards may engage the player. While wanted by law enforcement, the player cannot switch protagonists, use a taxi as a passenger, purchase any item in stores, or partake in any side activity. In GTA Online, the player cannot join a Job while wanted by law enforcement.
One star is attained by:
- Attacking or killing a civilian
- Damaging or destroying a vehicle
- Discharging a firearm in public
- Stealing any vehicle
- Driving a vehicle with its alarm going off
- Committing vehicular hit-and-run
- Attempting to rob a civilian
- Committing arson
- Trespassing in any area patrolled by security guards after closing hours, such as the Los Santos Golf Club and the Kortz Center
- Repeatedly harassing someone
- Obstructing justice when law enforcement attempts to arrest a civilian
- Driving a stolen vehicle (GTA Online only)
At two stars, law enforcement officers call for backup, shoot to kill more often and use more aggressive driving techniques to stop the player. When the player switches to Trevor Philips, there is a chance that the player may automatically have a two-star rating upon assuming control.
Two stars are attained by:
- Resisting or evading arrest
- Attacking or killing a security guard, firefighter, or paramedic
- Killing multiple civilians in a short period of time
- Destroying several vehicles in a short period of time
- Attacking an armored truck (in GTA Online, this warrants three stars)
- Robbing any convenience store
- Trespassing in the Bolingbroke Penitentiary
- Entering Fort Zancudo's airspace; the player has 10 seconds to divert course away from the base before the Wanted Level is escalated to four stars, and anti-aircraft missiles are fired upon the player
At three stars, LSPD officers and Sheriff's deputies wear visible bulletproof vests at this level and above. Law enforcement officers begin setting up single-car roadblocks, with officers opening fire as the player approaches; occasionally, these roadblocks may employ spike strips. If the player breaks through the roadblock, then the roadblock officers join the pursuit. The Police Maverick is dispatched and has sharpshooters equipped with Carbine Rifles on board. If the player is in the water, Predator boats are dispatched.
Three stars are attained by:
- Attacking or killing a law enforcement officer or Fort Zancudo soldier
- Continuing to resist or evade arrest
- Continuing to cause collateral damage
- Shooting down any aircraft
- Entering the tarmac area of Los Santos International Airport without proper clearance; owning a hanger or participating in the flight school gives the player permission to enter the tarmac area
At four stars, NOOSE units and a second Police Maverick join the fray. NOOSE reinforcements drive Granger SUVs with armed officers hanging on both sides. NOOSE officers are armed with Carbine Rifles, Pump Shotguns, and throw Tear Gas Grenades. Up to 4 NOOSE officers can rappel down from helicopters to engage the player on the ground; alternatively, the helicopter can land to offload the NOOSE officers if space permits. Roadblocks utilize additional and heavier police vehicles and typically block both directions of traffic.
If the player is over Fort Zancudo's airspace, then lock-on anti-aircraft missiles are fired to bring down and neutralize the player. If the player is near Fort Zancudo on the ground, soldiers engage the player with Carbine Rifles and Pump Shotguns; however, soldiers do not engage the player beyond the base's perimeter. If the player is inside the base, the Rhino uses its turret to neutralize the player.
Four stars are attained by:
- Continuing to retaliate against law enforcement
- Continuing to cause collateral damage
- Trespassing in Fort Zancudo
- Remaining in Fort Zancudo's airspace after being warned
- Trespassing in the grounds of Humane Labs and Research
At five stars, survival and escaping is most difficult. On the road, all law enforcement vehicles pursue, fire upon and ram the player's vehicle relentlessly with no regard for collateral damage. On foot, the player must act accordingly to avoid getting neutralized by gunfire.
Five stars are attained by:
- Continuing to retaliate against law enforcement
- Continuing to cause collateral damage
Achievements and Trophies
The player can earn one achievement/trophy related to Wanted Levels: "Three Man Army". To earn the achievement/trophy, the player must survive a three star or higher Wanted Level for at least three minutes with each protagonist outside of a mission.
Escaping from law enforcement
- Avoid using motorbikes and open top vehicles at high wanted levels.
- An open vehicle leaves the player vulnerable to gunfire, especially from helicopter sharpshooters.
- Because of the police's tendency to ram fleeing vehicles, using a motorbike is especially dangerous, as the player loses health when thrown off.
- Use aircraft and boats to escape; it is easier for the player to escape by air and water than by land. On higher wanted levels, unless using a fast vehicle or one outfitted with weapons, escaping by water and air is more difficult due to the presence of Predators and Mavericks, respectively.
- If scuba gear is available, abandon the boat and go deep underwater; however, the player should watch out for sharks when doing so.
- Avoid main highways and long, straight stretches of road, as the police can gain speed to catch up with the player and set up roadblocks more easily.
- Use alleyways, side streets and parking garages to lose police vehicles; when in remote areas and using an appropriate vehicle, go off-road.
- Go underground, in tunnels, or under bridges and overpasses to lose police helicopters. The player should watch out for oncoming trains if the using the Los Santos Transit Metro tunnels as a means of escape.
- Use bushes and shrubs to hide from police while on foot.
- Take down police helicopters and outrun the police on the ground before any new helicopters spawn.
- Killing the pilot causes the helicopter to crash; alternatively, killing all of the sharpshooters on board forces the helicopter to retreat.
- Helicopters are most vulnerable to attack while offloading NOOSE officers. When rappelling officers, the helicopter has to remain stationary, and officers are defenseless.
- Lure helicopters to the RON Alternates Wind Farm; as police helicopters tend to fly low when pursuing the player, the turbines' blades can easily destroy them.
- Stunt jumping can give the player considerable distance from the police but may not guarantee total escape as certain factors, such as the environment of the stunt jump, the "projectile" motion concept of physics, and the position of other police units, come into play.
- If a roadblock only consists of a Police Transporter, this means a spike strip is present. When possible, take detours or u-turn to avoid the spikes.
- Outfit vehicles with armor and bulletproof tires to increase a vehicle's durability. Install performance modifications to make outrunning the law easier.
- When playing as Franklin Clinton, use his special ability to evade traffic, recover from attempted PIT maneuvers, and make turns at high speed when outrunning the police (Story Mode only).
Fighting law enforcement
- Typically, the player should never engage law enforcement in a head-on firefight; however, if a confrontation cannot be avoided, especially during certain missions, weapons with a high rate of fire should be used. While certain weapons may have a higher damage rating, using a weapon with a low rate of fire may result in the player getting swamped by law enforcement.
- Use the AP Pistol, Micro-SMG, and Assault Shotgun at close range.
- Use the SMG, Assault SMG, Machine Gun, and Combat MG at medium range.
- Use the Assault Rifle, Carbine Rifle, and Advanced Rifle at long range.
- Use the Grenade Launcher and the Minigun for destroying police vehicles.
- Use the AP Pistol, Micro-SMG, or Sticky Bombs for vehicular combat.
- Equip extended magazines to reduce the number of reloads needed, grips to improve accuracy, and scopes to improve range.
- When in a gunfight with the police, make full use of the cover system. Even if the player is proficient in out-of-cover combat, not using it can result in the player getting surrounded and wasted by law enforcement very quickly.
- When in combat, fire semi-automatically or in bursts to improve accuracy and reduce recoil at medium and long ranges. Only use fully automatic fire at close range or when engaging multiple officers.
- When possible, attain headshots for instant kills. This also replenishes Michael and Trevor's special ability meters (Story Mode only).
- Neutralize officers with shotguns quickly, as they can kill the player with 1-2 shots at close range.
- Be wary of officers who are down but barely alive, as they can still fire their weapon in a last stand.
- Avoid getting stuck into open, dead end alleyways, as that allows the police to easily finish off the player.
- Ram law enforcement SUVs to force riot officers hanging on the side off.
- When playing as Trevor Philips, use his special ability to deal more damage and reduce damage received, particularly if the player's health is below 50 percent (Story Mode only).
- When playing as Michael De Santa, use his special ability to pick off officers easily (Story Mode only).