"GTA Online" helped get me through a hard part of my life. When you spend THAT much time with a game, you can't help but write about it.
How to Play "GTA Online" Solo Survival Mode
One of the more fun game modes in GTA Online is Survival mode. I seriously can't get tired of it. The only thing that could possibly make it better would be adding zombies, but shooting armies of enemies is just as satisfying. One of the things that makes Survival special is the camaraderie between four players as you band together to fight off wave after wave of gunmen. It's a rare time when no one is killing each other. You develop a strategy in your head about how you're going to help your team succeed, and at the same time how you'll live to see the conclusion and get that $30,000.
Sometimes You Can't Wait for Backup
With that being said, this entire article probably goes against the fiber of what makes Survival shine, but sometimes you want to test yourself against the game—to see if you can hold them off on your own.
Each Survival mode comes with its own key area where going solo becomes much more doable. However, it's not entirely foolproof or makes you invincible to gunfire. These strategies can also be used in a Co-op game (more on that later). Even in Co-op, four can be a crowd since certain areas seem to be conceived with a lower number of players in mind. In most Survival maps, two players seem to be the magic number. Any more than two and you might be that guy who gets himself killed trying to find a good position, or worst of all, that one player that acts like a tag-along trying to butt-in at any spot you chose first. Though this will be focused on solo play, hopefully you can utilize my strategies in a Co-op situation too.
Helpful Tips and Things You Will Need
1. Buy lots of snacks
I know this sounds like a Scout Master’s advice before you go on a camping trip, but it’s very important to do this before tackling a Survival. If you didn’t know already you can hold down the Back/Select button and bring up the User Interface (UI).
These items are:
- P’s and Q’s = 5% health recovery
- Meteorite = 10% health recovery
- Egochaser = 20-25% health recovery
- E-Cola = 15% health recovery
- Cigarette = 2.5 health damage
- Pisswaasa = Drunkenness
When you are behind cover or the wheel of a vehicle, using a Snack will re-fill a portion of your health meter instantly. This is a very useful tactic in any combat scenario, and especially in solo Survival.
2. Armor is your friend
Even though it can go away quickly in later waves Armor is a very helpful item. In the opening lobby, make sure to buy the best one. Depending on the Survival level you will have at least two spots where you can get a new vest. If you’re lucky, you can grab one during a wave depending on where you’re roosted. You will still, and always need, first aid kits/items but the Armor is a great buffer. If you want to save money you can also just grab one before the first wave.
As of Patch 1.13, you can now "consume" Armor at any time from the Inventory screen. If you are Rank 50 you can only carry four spare sets of Armor. Ranks 135 and above can carry the full ten. When you "consume" Armor from the Inventory it will stack. For example, if you use a Standard Armor when your meter is low it will refill a portion of the meter instead of completely replacing it like the old system. For the record I wrote a walkthrough for three of the Survivals before discovering this, would have been nice to know then . . . I still advise grabbing Armor between Waves. Why drink from the canteen when you're by an oasis? Besides you're going to need to save as many as possible for later waves.
3. Tear gas is more useful than you think
There has been a lot of misinformation going around that Tear Gas is useless. I can tell you that it’s used more for displacing enemies than killing them (much like in real life). There will be moments in Survival where enemies will take cover, and even more annoyingly, in places where you can’t shoot at them clearly. This is when Tear Gas really shows its uses. It will either make the enemy move to somewhere else or they will choke to death. The former is a more likely outcome which gives you a chance to shoot them.
4. Take time, and cover, to have a breather
When you can find the time for it, and while you’re in cover mode, stand still for a few seconds when your health is in the red. The bar will regenerate halfway. You might not always have time to, and you might catch a bullet or two once enemies bunch up, but it will save you some precious Snacks.
5. Every second counts
Depending on what area the Survival takes place Armor, Health, Ammo, and Explosives might be a bit of a jog from your position. You get anywhere from 15-20 seconds between Waves to gather your resources. If you play Call of Duty Zombies I’m sure you’re familiar with “making a crawler” in order to prolong the time before the next wave. The same can be done here. When the last enemy is on screen equip a pistol and shoot them just until you knock them down. When they fall to the ground it will either be briefly or they will stay down injured. If they stay down injured they will shoot at you with just a handgun. Take this time to gather supplies because their “last stand” won’t last long. Once you are ready to begin the next wave, finish him off with a pistol or shotgun. Sometimes the "finish the last remaining enemy" notification might not appear, but you will know when there's only one enemy left whether the game says it or not. Which reminds me . . .
6. Loot the dead
You can’t always pick up Ammo from dead enemies, but if you have room in your Inventory, you can pick up Snacks. If you don’t have a high enough rank to unlock certain weapons at Ammunation (more on this in a minute) you can pick up Miniguns, MGs, and Assault Shotguns from dead enemies. Even better you get to keep them for as long as you’re in GTA Online! So enjoy that*. As far as Snacks go enemies seem to drop Meteorite bars and P’s and Q’s, maybe an EgoChaser occasionally. Never en E-Cola though . . . Maybe they’re scared it will get shaken up in their pocket? Just keep in mind (as mentioned above) that make every second count when gathering resources.
*I’m not liable for ammo lost when killed by some guy in Free Roam.
7. Rank means something
I seriously recommend being at least Level 50 before going solo so that you can unlock the MG and Sticky Bombs at Ammunation. If you were able to download the Valentine’s Day Massacre DLC (and purchase the Guesenberg Street Sweeper) then you could tackle solo Survival at a lower rank. Each Wave in Survival gives you pretty much everything you need as you go on, but having a Minigun (unlocks at level 120) is very helpful against helicopters early on. Unless you’re a great shot with an RPG, which I’m not . . .
8. Clear your schedule
I probably should have mentioned this earlier but solo Survival may take about a half-hour or more. If you need to eat some lunch or use the bathroom, you should do so before you start this. There is no actual game pausing like in Single Player. Even when you’re in very good cover, enemies will eventually find a way to get a shot at you.
9. What you should bring
- Full Snacks
- A Full Set of Armor: (you can get a full set, even if you’re low rank, when the game starts) As much spare Armor as you can carry. 4 for a Rank 50, 10 for anyone Rank 135 and above.
- Combat Pistol or Heavy Pistol: The Combat Pistol is a great gun but the Business Update’s Heavy Pistol is useful too. Have at least 1,000 rounds of ammo.
- Any Shotgun: It should have at least 3,000 rounds (I recommend the Heavy Shotgun but any will do.)
- SMG or Combat PDW with Extended Magazine, Scope, Grip: Have at least 6,000 rounds of SMG Ammo.
- An Assault Rifle: Yeah that’s vague but I’m going to leave this to your preference. You can pick up any of them during Survival but I use the Business Update’s Special Carbine. It’s not as accurate as the Advanced Rifle but it’s a hard hitter. Whatever you choose to upgrade it with Grip, Scope, Extended/Drum Magazine, and as much AR ammo as you can carry.
- A Light Machine Gun: You can pick up a Combat MG at Wave 3 and MG’s off of dead enemies around Wave 7, but neither comes with the weapon accessories that make them beastly. As I said earlier the Guesenberg is a good gun too, but a fully upgraded Combat MG is like the hammer of God. Bring as much LMG ammo as you can carry.
- Grenade Launcher: You should have at least 20 rounds. This thing is invaluable, you’ll see why later.
- Sniper Rifle: No really, just a normal Sniper Rifle will do because you can pick up a Heavy one later. When enemies show up in vehicles you can pick them off from a distance. Or in the Heavy Sniper Rifle’s case, keep shooting the engine to “clear the playing field.” Make sure you have the Advanced Scope and at least 1,000 rounds.
- A Minigun: The ultimate Anti-Aircraft . . . anti-anything weapon. You can get these around Wave 8 off of dead enemies and one spawns around Wave 9. Bring all the Minigun ammo you can carry.
- At least 20 Hand Grenades and Tear Gas Grenades
- At least 15 Sticky Bombs
10. Don’t get angry if you die
Just hit Replay in the voting screen. If you can't beat all 10 Waves just try again, or be happy with the following payouts. Here they are by Wave (for the original nine Survivals).
- Finish Wave 1 = $400
- Finish Wave 2 = $1,200
- Finish Wave 3 = $2,400
- Finish Wave 4 = $4,000
- Finish Wave 5 = $6,000
- Finish Wave 6 = $8,400
- Finish Wave 7 = $11,200
- Finish Wave 8 = $14,440
- Finish Wave 9 = $18,000
- Finish Wave 10 = $30,000 (as of patch 1.15)
Playing Co-op Survival
There are other decent areas to hide if you're playing this with other people. As I mentioned above, you won't be the only one with the desire to survive, and you'll have to deal with those players who will tag along, and even try to bump you out of your well-planned hiding spot. (They are probably children on the other end who's parents didn't teach them the object of sharing . . . ) Regardless, if you can't get in your favorite spot there are some others you can hold up in.
The spots I list below are great for solo play, but when playing Co-op, the enemy spawn points will spread out further. The more spread out your team is the more unpredictable the enemy spawns will be. Sometimes even spawning right on top of your position! That isn’t really a bad thing since they can be taken out easily. Though YOU could be killed easier depending on the circumstances, so stay vigilant at the beginning of each Wave.
"Casino" Update: New Survivals
On September 26th, 2019, Rockstar added seven new Survival levels. With these new maps came a number of changes but the original nine Survivals have not been changed in any significant way. The new maps allow for either ten Waves (which I'll refer to as "classic") or Endless Waves. From what I've experienced so far Endless can go on until you, and your team, are killed. For the sake of my sanity, I'm going to stick to the classic ten Waves for these new Survivals.
If you're playing Classic, the game ends after Wave 10. The details are different depending on the faction you're fighting, but the formula stays the same. For example, in Nuclear Silo you'll need to contend with Juggernauts instead of helicopters. In Meth Lab, the Buzzard Attack Choppers will use their devastating Miniguns instead of door gunners. However, these things will still occur on Waves 4, 7, and 10. Each map is different in strategy, and enemy tactics, but as long as you stick to the Classic 10 Waves you'll win. Endless Survival is best done in Co-op, but keep in mind you will lose eventually. The following strategies written below are under the assumption you're playing with Endless Waves disabled. Please don't get angry if you run out of Tear Gas and Sticky Bombs around Wave 25 . . .
On another note you will not find strategies for the "Alien Survivals" in this article. I'm not going to waste my time with them because I'm honestly a little disappointed that we're not fighting waves of aliens. So I'm not going to bother with those, and I don't believe you should either.
Del Perro Pier ("Beach Bum" DLC)
Maze Bank ("Business" Update)
Legion Square ("I'm Not a Hipster" DLC)
This is the first Survival map and is unlocked at Rank 15 after a phone call from Ron. It’s a nice little location for your first Survival, providing plenty of cover options. However, there are not many Body Armor spawns and enemies have plenty of cover options too. The cover option that’s best for a solo run is the red container at the north-east corner of the "Industrial Plant." Here you have maximum protection against gunfire and somewhat good protection from helicopters. You can snipe vehicles approaching from the north. You have a small field of view and enemies can take cover near the other containers. Tear Gas becomes useful here. Sometimes, enemies can come around the other end of the container to attack (one of their spawn points is on the other side of the fence behind you).
Of only two Armor spawn locations, one of them is up a ladder. (If you keep following this pathway, it will lead you to the top of the plant. This isn't as good of a hold-up spot as you might think. It's a real bullet catcher and there's not much cover. It's a shame, because it has such a tactical advantage over the area.)
Waves 1 and 2
Pull out your handgun and start shooting when they get within targeting range. The majority of enemies will come from the south-east and funnel in the middle area near the entrance to the plant. Some will come from the west, and it's a good idea to take them out first since they can hit you easier. At the end of Wave 2, make a “crawler," gather whatever supplies you need, and then set up a Sticky Bomb at the entrance to the plant.
Equip an SMG. Enemies will come in vehicles from the north and south-east. From the container, you will only be able to snipe the ones that come from the north. When they park at the entrance you can keep shooting their engine to blow up the vehicles. If you planted a Sticky Bomb earlier then let them make a little parking lot before you set it off (you should repeat this tip for later Waves too).
Keep using your SMG and shoot enemies until you see the helicopter icon appear on the radar. It will fly near your location allowing for you to pick it off. Aim for the pilot, if you have a Minigun aim for the engine. Either way, pepper it with bullets until "(insert Gamertag) has destroyed a helicopter." After it's down, go back to business as usual, killing enemies.
Waves 5 and 6
Equip your Assault Rifle class gun now. More vehicles will come in these waves. Instead of in pickup trucks, there will be four guys in SUVs and vans. Make use of your Sticky Bombs and Sniper Rifle whenever you can. A Grenade or two couldn't hurt. You'll notice there are more enemies and their weapons are getting more powerful.
If you were playing with other players, here is where the game would throw two helicopters at you. With just you, it's one helicopter again. Repeat what you did in Wave 4, then make a "crawler" and set up another Sticky Bomb by the plant entrance.
Waves 8 and 9
Equip an LMG (preferably the Combat MG). If you don't have a Minigun already, save your LMG ammo for helicopters and continue using an assault rifle. Vehicles will be more common and enemies will now have MGs and Miniguns. If you don't have a Minigun yet make sure to pick one up off the dead. It will be very useful for the final wave.
If you were playing Co-op, the game would throw three helicopters at you now. In solo, you only have to deal with two on your own. Like other helicopters, Waves take out enemies until the icons appear on the radar. Remember to use your Snacks to re-heal the second you notice red in your health bar. Once the helicopters are down, go back to dealing with ground threats. Be aware that while you were dealing with the helicopters they probably have set up some pretty strong positions nearby. Five enemies shooting at you is bad enough, five enemies with MG's and Miniguns all hitting you at once is even worse! Don't be afraid to use your Tear Gas and Frag Grenades if you still have them. Better yet, toss them from your cover if you feel you have to.
Industrial Plant: Additional Co-op Cover
Cinder block pile at the south end of map:
It's not special, but with other players spreading out you can get a good amount of enemies coming your way AND have some pretty decent cover. Just be careful of the sneaky ones who will climb up the hill to your right, and the others that try to flank you from the left.
Container gap at the south-west of plant:
This spot does not provide the best cover from enemies approaching from the east, but with other players, you shouldn't have too much to deal with. It's also an unusually good spot for fighting helicopters although you're not completely invincible. I would also recommend taking out all of the ground enemies before exposing yourself to gunfire.
Dumpster bin in the center of plant:
This was my original favorite! You can shoot at enemies from a 360-degree angle, and you can also get a good bead on enemy vehicles that appear at the entrance. However enemies will climb up onto the nearby roof and shoot at you from above, Also the ones that take cover behind the freeway dividers can be a pain to deal with when you're getting shot at from other directions. (Not to mention helicopters can pick you apart.) 360-degree cover/shooting though . . .
Dumpster bin at the south-east end of plant:
Same as the dumpster in the center but you have fewer enemies to contend with (provided the other players are spread out) and you have semi-decent cover from helicopters. You can also deal with enemy vehicles that appear at the south-east end. Same downsides as the other dumpster; enemies can take cover behind the nearby dividers and others will go for the high ground in order to shoot you.
Crates at the north-west end of plant:
Here is a pretty good spot. The helicopters have a problem getting to you and enemies file through the containers to the east. You can also get a bead on enemy vehicles as they come down the road behind you to the north-west. However, enemies can hit you from your right and you're exposed to gunfire from those same vehicles that I mentioned.
Watch Yourself Here When Playing Co-op
"Boneyard" is one of the more popular Survivals. The reason being it's certainly easier than others. You have great cover options, a reasonable distance for supplies, and for some reason helicopters are not as common (either a glitch or intentional). The spot you are going to want to hold up will be the white construction office on the south end of the area (to your right from where you spawn). This spot is what makes this Survival so popular. You get decent cover from helicopters and enemies can only come at you from two different directions making it ideal for co-op play. On a Solo run, it's a little more challenging but if you keep your wits you can cover both ends easily.
(In the Next-Gen version of GTA Online Rockstar took the "this is the easiest Survival" thing to heart. The enemies are pretty accurate and the Construction Trailer in this walkthrough can sometimes get you caught up. For certain waves, it's a good idea to switch tactics by using the wrecked bus in the back of the yard. This will make certain waves take a little longer, but you will have less chance of instantly getting killed.)
Waves 1 and 2
Equip your pistol and start at the east end of the container. Enemies will approach from the east and north-west end of the boneyard (through the gate). You can pick them off easily as they run across the yard or out from the warehouse on the left. While staying in cover get into the habit of moving from either end of the container without leaving cover. Enemies will come from the north-east. Not many enemies spawn from this end though and those that do have a 90% chance of running over to the right side of the container (where all of the other enemies appear). However, rarely, an enemy will take cover by the other end of the container, be ready for that.
Equip your SMG. From the left-side position, you can pick off enemy vehicles as they come down the road. I don't advise spending all of your attention on doing that as there will be plenty of ground enemies to deal with. It's nice to know that all enemy vehicles will approach and park at this end of the area. Make a "crawler" and set up a Sticky Bomb at this spot whenever you can. Just in case you are on the right side of the container a simple push of the right on the D-pad can fix all of your problems later on.
Take your time dispatching ground enemies because the helicopter cannot hit you very well from between the fence and container. Take your time finishing off enemies with your SMG. Once you have killed them all, get out from cover, pull out your Minigun, and take down the bird.
Waves 5 and 6
Equip your assault rifle. I hope you set up a Sticky Bomb earlier because the enemies will be getting thicker now, including their vehicles. Also if you haven't made note already, enemies will take cover at the wood palettes and crate at the right-end of the container. Though oddly they will not shoot at you from behind the palettes. You can dispatch this annoying enemy with a Tear Gas Grenade or by aiming for their arm or leg. For enemy vehicles don't hesitate to use your Grenade Launcher, especially when they are bunched together in a small parking lot. Make a "crawler" at the end of each round and set up another Sticky Bomb.
When playing co-op, for some reason, only ONE helicopter appears at this Wave, typically it's two. In my experience of playing Solo Survival, there is a glitch that causes NO helicopter to appear. If a helicopter doesn't appear for you take the awkward silence, after the last enemy, as the time to gather supplies and loot before the next Wave.
Waves 8 and 9
Equip your LMG. Enemies will start to come in heavier. Move quickly between the two points of the container. The enemies are using powerful weapons and the enemy vehicles will be more frequent. Make sure to set up a Sticky Bomb, use Grenades, and also if you are playing in co-op (and are covering the left side position of the container) the Mk2 Pump Shotgun (with Explosive Slugs) works great on vehicles too.
Once again I'm not sure if it is intentional or a glitch, but for some reason, you will only have to deal with ONE helicopter in this Wave, rather than the usual TWO. In fact, in co-op, you just have two rather than the usual three. Like before clear out all ground enemies before tackling the helicopter.
Boneyard: Additional Co-op Cover
White Container (again but with two people):
Like in Solo Survival, this is a great spot to hold up, but in Co-op, it's even better to have one person cover each side of the container. Albeit it is kind of boring in the early Waves for the guy on the left side. There's almost nothing to do until enemy vehicles start to show up. Once they do, whoever opts to take the left side of the container becomes an invaluable member of the team.
At the east end of the area, inside the actual airplane graveyard, is the carcass of a jet airliner. In front of this downed jet airliner are a couple of rusty Mallard planes. If you take cover behind the Mallards you can shoot enemies that approach from the north-west. Other enemies will also spawn straight ahead by the small cabin and vehicle wrecks. Also, watch out for some enemies that will spawn behind you to your left.
The dumpster outside of warehouse:
You can get a front line assault on enemy vehicles that show up, as well as enemies that spawn from the north-west. You are vulnerable to helicopter fire though.
In the warehouse behind desks:
Not the most ideal spot but you can gun down enemies that funnel in from the left or right with a shotgun. Also, if you have some cash in your pocket you can grab a soda from the nearby machine between Waves. (Provided the ensuing gunfire doesn't break the machine.)
Crates inside the warehouse (two-player position):
Like with most two-player spots, you really need to rely on your buddy to watch your back while you watch theirs. You can both gun down enemies as they come in from either side, but if one of you falls be prepared to run for a better spot. Like behind the pallets at the north-east end of the warehouse.
"Sandy Survival" is the third map unlocked and comes with its own brand of challenges. There are places to hide, but not all of them are great when you're playing on your own. Unlike my other Solo Survival strategies, you are going to need to mix this one up. Instead of holding up in one location you will be going back and forth between two, depending on the Wave, and your preferences. During Waves 4, 7, and 10 you might want to hold up inside the doorway/alcove of the south-east building. Then during the other Waves hold off enemies from up on top of this same building's roof. Getting up onto this roof is a little tricky, you have to jump and climb up using the air conditioner sticking out of the wall. The best way is to run toward it pushing X/Square, if timed right your character will leap and grab as if climbing the side of a crate. Then take cover on the wall sticking out from the corner (see picture above). You have access to Armor right there in the front yard between Waves. Make sure to blow up the fence before you begin, enemies can take cover down there. You can still shoot them but you will waste ammunition blasting through the wood. It's also a good idea to drop a Sticky Bomb there between Waves while playing Co-op. A mass of enemies will spawn right there and a quick press of the right D-pad button will make the Wave go faster.
Waves 1 and 2
Typically I would tell you to equip your pistol but from up on the roof of the building it's hard to get good range with one. So equip an SMG or Assault Rifle. With the "Gunrunning" update, you could also use the Mk 2 Marksman Rifle. Enemies will mainly come from the north but some will come from your right. Some of your shots will probably hit the telephone pole. If this happens turn to the left. You will aim over the left shoulder and get a better view.
Enemy vehicles will start to appear but for now, it will just be a couple of pickup trucks. The vehicles will still get shots on you but it will be brief.
You have two choices here. I'm sure you're still on the ground after grabbing Health and Armor. You could go to the little alcove, under your normal position, and take out enemies here. Then finish off the helicopters last. You will have better protection from helicopter gunfire, but enemies will be harder to target. If you use the roof, you will have to take out the helicopter as soon as it shows up and use the curve in the roof as a partial cover, from ground enemies, until you do. Once the helicopter is down, quickly get back into your original position (or peek over the roof and clear some room with an assault rifle). When using the alcove watch out for lone gunmen, that will take cover behind the dumpster to the left. Others will take cover behind the shack straight ahead and will be harder to hit. Use Tear Gas for these guys, you can kill two or three at a time this way.
Waves 5 and 6
The enemy vehicles will now be vans and SUVs, and those brief pot shots I mentioned in Wave 3 are going to sting a bit more. If you think you can fire off a Grenade as they pass by, do so, but make sure your line of fire is clear. Or else you may blow yourself up. Enemies that disembark from vehicles will come into the yard to your left and behind you. Take your time and concentrate on the main force. The disembarked enemies can't hit you too good from here. Save them for last.
Like with Wave 4, pick off enemies until the helicopter icon appears on the radar. Then retreat to the back of the roof and spray it with your Minigun. Once it's down pick off enemies with an assault rifle. You can also use Hand Grenades but do it from an angle you know you won't blow yourself up from. HOLD the Right Trigger/R1 Button to be certain that you'll throw the Grenade a good distance, rather than toss it underhand and more than likely blow yourself up. Remember, if you're not comfortable with staying on the roof there is always the alcove below. If you decide to use the alcove remember to blow up the fence to the left to make the courtyard-dumpster-gunmen easier to kill. You might also have to pop out into the street toward the end of the Wave to finish off the remaining enemies.
Waves 8 and 9
Bring out your Combat MG, if you haven't already, and start shooting enemies. The enemy vehicles will be a bit thicker but just concentrate on the guys to the north (keep an eye on the lower right though). Some will even climb the roof to the left and drop down into the courtyard to the left. Enemies that disembark from vehicles will also go into the front yard down to your right. If you blew up the fence earlier in Wave 1 it won't be a problem. Continue to use your Grenade Launcher whenever necessary.
Ok, this is it. The last time I'm going to suggest the alcove below the roof. Not really a necessity but very welcome in this Wave because of the two helicopters. If you want to stay on the roof remember to use the curve for cover from ground enemies' gunfire. Also, remember to retreat into cover and eat some Snacks, you'll need them. If you use the alcove remember to take your time with enemies because they seem to take their time getting to you. Remember to use Tear Gas for the annoying enemies that take cover behind the shack straight ahead, and to carefully finish off any others who are too shy to come to you.
Sandy Survival: Additional Co-op Cover
Hot Dog Cart at the south end of the map:
It might seem odd in practice but you can actually take cover INSIDE this hotdog stand and kill a decent amount of enemies coming from the north. You can also toss Sticky Bombs out of the door to blow up any enemy vehicles that race past. Though you should be careful not to blow yourself up doing so. While in here you have total protection from helicopter gunfire, but your aiming is restricted a bit. If you want more freedom taking cover, outside, and behind the hotdog cart is just as good. You can kill enemies to the north, and those to the east coming across the street, if your other teammates get killed early.
On top of dumpster in the courtyard:
You might not think it, to look at it, but you can actually shoot THROUGH the wall, from up here, and get a bead on enemies coming from the north. Just take cover, and when you pop up to aim, your character will aim through the wall. Your bullets will pass through but you will have maximum protection from enemy fire.
Doorway to courtyard:
The entrance to the same courtyard that has the dumpster. The courtyard behind the wall that says "Chinese Cleaners" on it in red letters. The doorway here has a roof so you are protected from helicopters, and you can get a decent aim on enemies to the north and north-west. Also, you can switch between sides of the doorway, by doing a neat little SWAT turn. Just press the Right Bumper/R2 button while in cover.
Inside radio tower yard:
At the edge of the map is a radio tower surrounded by a chain-link fence. The gate is locked but you can still climb over it. From here you can kill enemies to the north-east and take cover behind one of the various transformers and power boxes. You can also engage enemy vehicles from here, but make sure to blow down the fence with a Sticky Bomb first.
Behind Tattoo Parlor (two-player spot):
Right behind where the Tattoo Parlor is located there are two alcoves, where a player and their buddy, can take up the position. From here you both can cover each other from enemies, coming from different directions, in a cross-fire pattern. And if one of you gets killed you still have a rather viable angle to take on enemies by yourself until the end of the Wave (if you're careful).
'Unlocked at Rank 20, "Railyard" doesn’t come without its challenges, I’m not going to lie. The spot that I picked isn’t the best but it’s doable Solo. For the first time, you MUST switch to a different spot during Waves 4, 7, and 10 to help avoid helicopter fire. Both spots come with a change in strategy. You should bring a Heavy Shotgun with plenty of ammo, full Tear Gas Grenades, and make sure you have an inventory full of consumables. The garbage container at the south end of the area is where you will hold off enemies for Waves 1-3, 5, 6, 8, and 9. Behind the red containers to the left for Waves 4, 7, and 10. In this particular Survival, you are going to be using a lot of ordinances. There is a green container on a flatbed trailer to the right of your position.
Waves 1 and 2
Pull out your pistol and shoot enemies that come from the north. Some will attack, and take cover behind the green containers on the right, and the crates on the left. This won’t make them impossible to kill but it’s something to look out for. At the end of Wave 2 set up a Sticky Bomb in the open area near the bend of the “L” shaped intersection (the entrance to the Railyard from the street).
Pull out your SMG and continue gunning down enemies. As well as taking cover to the left and right while some will try to flank around behind you. It’s imperative you kill these guys first because they can get a better shot at you. Enemies will start to spawn in vehicles. Use that Sticky Bomb you set up earlier when you feel the time is right. Use your Grenade Launcher on any others.
Run behind the red containers on the left. Equip your preferred shotgun and take cover behind the outermost container. I know blind firing is a cheap tactic (especially in GTA IV’s multiplayer) but it can be a lifesaver here against AI enemies and does not expose you to as much gunfire. Most enemies will strafe in the open, some of whom will take cover behind the garbage container to the right, but others will take cover behind the green container trailer straight ahead. You can hit them with shotgun fire from your current position, but make sure you make the guys in the foreground your main priority. Do not engage the helicopter until all of the ground forces have been dispatched. At the end of the Wave make sure to set up another Sticky Bomb at the “L” intersection.
Waves 5 and 6
Equip an assault rifle and return to your garage container. The enemies will be thicker and more will try to flank around behind you. At this point, it’s good to toss a couple cans of Tear Gas in the area were enemies take cover. Only periodically, you don’t want to use up all of your Tear Gas in just a couple of Waves. Try not to use more than three per Wave from this point forth. Some enemies will climb on top of the red container on the left. At the end of Wave 5, set up a Sticky Bomb or two at the “L” intersection.
Run back behind the red containers and equip your Shotgun. This will be a lot like Wave 4 but with more enemies. Use Tear Gas Grenades at the spots where enemies take cover if you wish. Nothing fancy as far as tactics, just kill enemies and then save the helicopter for last. Set up a Sticky Bomb at the “L” intersection at the end of the Wave.
Waves 8 and 9
Equip your LMG and don’t be stingy with the Tear Gas, Grenade Launcher, and Snacks from this point forward. In fact in Wave 9 go right ahead and toss about ten of them around the main open area, and concentrate on enemies that will flank around behind (at least until the gas clears). Wave 9 is not to be joked around with, I’ve died a lot at this point, and almost considered this Solo Survival position a bad choice (it might still be in your opinion), but after being very liberal with the Tear Gas and explosives it’s a challenge but not impossible. Just be quick with your Right Thumbstick.
Apart from dealing with the two helicopters, this Wave should go more smoothly than the last. Pull out your Heavy Shotgun and take cover behind the red containers again. Like Waves 4 and 7 don’t be ashamed to blind fire from around the corner. If you have any Tear Gas left, toss it on the enemies who take cover near the green container on the trailer. Use Snacks when you need them and Grenades when the enemies get thick. Once the ground enemies are dead start chipping away at the helicopters. Don’t focus on bringing down one-at-a-time, just hit what you can, as they circle, until they’re down.
Railyard Survival: Additional Co-op Cover
Blue container at the north end of the Railyard (two-player spot):
This spot would work great for Solo if enemies didn’t flank you while trying to take down helicopters. However, this spot works great when playing with other players. Provided one of you handles ground enemies while the other works on downing helicopters. Enemy vehicles will spawn from behind just outside the map limit.
Upper green container:
This is an elevated position. From up here, you can fire down on enemies but standing at the north end makes you more vulnerable to gunfire. If you stay in the middle helicopters have a harder time hitting you.
Boxcar at the east side of the Railyard:
You can avoid helicopter fire in here, and take on a lot of enemies in the main yard, but you are vulnerable to those who approach on the right. Enemies that come from that direction will also take cover behind the palm tree.
Behind crates near the warehouse:
There is a double-stacked set of crates that you can take cover behind. However, you have to be careful, when climbing the concrete divider to get behind it, or else you will knock over the upper crate restricting your aim movement. You are partially protected by helicopter fire but you might have trouble aiming at the right side occasionally. If you work together with the player on top of the red and green containers you can cover each other.
Flatbed car in the hanger (two-player spot):
Each of you can cover either end of the train car. Shotguns are useful here and you are covered from helicopters. The only downside is enemies funnel heavily in the front with later Waves, and you can’t attack vehicles directly but you have optimal cover from helicopters.
This Survival map is unlocked at Rank 25. There are a few good cover options but not all of them are perfect. It is a good map for Co-op, but only provides one or two stellar places to take cover. For Solo Survival the place I recommend is on the roof of the building on the north end (the one with the tower and yellow steps next to it). You can crouch down/take cover next to the building’s tank on the roof. You have to position yourself a certain way to keep protected, and still be able to shoot enemies at a good angle over the top of the roof. This can be tricky, and take a couple of tries before you’re positioned just right. You are not bulletproof to helicopters and vehicles that approach from the east. Those vehicles can really pick your Armor and Health bars apart. Also, your Grenade Launcher comes in handy here against enemy vehicles approaching from the east, but an RPG has better range. You can also blow them up before they park if you time the shot right. The location on top of the roof is right up the stairs from two Body Armor and Health pickups. I would advise grabbing the further Armor and saving the closer one encase you need it mid-way through a Wave (provided you have some breathing room).
Wave 1 and 2
Pull out your favorite pistol and shoot enemies as they come from the south. Keep in mind that enemies also can spawn across the way, to the west, inside the warehouse. This is more likely to happen during later Waves, but keep an eye on that spot.
Enemy vehicles will start to appear. Worry more about the ones that approach from the north since the passenger(s) will shoot at you before they come to a complete stop. They are just attacking in trucks so they are not a huge threat for right now. Save your Grenade rounds unless ground forces bunch up around the parked trucks.
Shoot enemies until the helicopter icon appears on the radar. Be quick to shoot it down. It has a clear line of fire on you from up on the roof. Also when you leave cover, make sure to shoot at it from the low end of the roof to prevent getting shot from ground enemies. Once the helicopter is down-stay out of cover mode and pick off stragglers, with your SMG, using the slant in the roof as cover. Make a "crawler" and plant a Sticky Bomb behind the container, on the left, inside the warehouse to the west. An enemy will take cover here and is a pain to hit with conventional fire (unless you shoot the red gas tank nearby, but that can only be done once).
Waves 5 and 6
Pull out your chosen assault rifle and start shooting enemies. Vehicles will now start carrying more gunmen, meaning those approaching from the north will be your greatest threat. Try to shoot the driver so you can gun down the passengers. When a vehicle parks (especially a Van) don’t be afraid to shoot a Grenade or RPG their way. Same goes for Vehicles that approach from the south, they will start to clutter the play field. You can also take out a lot of enemies that come from this direction.
The same as the last helicopter wave. Make sure to shoot from the low end of the roof to avoid enemy fire. Enemies will really start to pile up. Use the Sticky Bomb planted across the way when necessary. Try not to toss Grenades over the roof. From my experience, you can blow yourself up. Just take out who you can with potshots and use Tear Gas to steer enemies where you want them. At least if one of those hit the roof it will not kill you instantly. Make use of Snacks and watch out for enemies that will take cover down below to your right. Make a "crawler" and set up another Sticky at the same spot.
Waves 8 and 9
Equip your Combat MG and keep an eye out for vehicles from the north. When a vehicle shows up, turn your attention to it, and pick off as many enemies as you can. Like before use your Grenade Launcher when they get thick. At the end of each round plant a Sticky Bomb in the same place as before, if you need to.
Shoot enemies until the helicopter icons appear, then pull out your Minigun and shoot at them from the low end of the roof. Once they are downed be very careful of the enemies that have taken up positions since you’ve turned your attention to the sky. They have Miniguns and MG’s now. Like before, use Grenades (if you’re feeling confident) or Tear Gas to help disperse the crowds. Then finish off the rest of them with your Combat MG.
Processed: Additional Co-op Cover
"Processed," in my opinion, is kind of a small map. Some of the Survival maps are like that. Two or three players is the maximum for this, a fourth player would probably feel out of place. Worse of all they would be that guy who dies a lot or pushes you out of cover when they get desperate. There are other areas for co-op players that are just as good as the rooftop position. Maybe not as perfect though. If you insist on playing it with four people the following spots are pretty good.
Dumpster in warehouse south-east end of map:
This provides both good cover from enemies and helicopters. However, if they get in close you will start catching bullets. Also, enemies will take cover inside the bus wreckage in the middle of the yard. On the plus side, you can get good range on most enemies, coming from the north, and sometimes they spawn right in front of you for quick dispatching.
Dumpster outside of above warehouse:
Right outside of the above position. Like the other dumpsters, you can get hit easily, even in cover, if enemies get too close. If two players stay in this same area, in two separate dumpsters, most of the enemies will spawn from the north making it easy for two gunmen to take out waves of enemies. If one of you focuses on enemies to the left side of the bus, the other player inside the warehouse can shoot enemies to the right side of the bus for a nice setup. In this position, you are vulnerable to enemy vehicles and helicopters though.
Garbage container in the warehouse (north-west end of the map):
There is a large warehouse on the west end of the yard; in fact, it’s almost like a hanger. In the back middle is a green dumpster ramp. Take cover just at the middle part of the incline (see the third screenshot) and you have both good coverage and line of sight. You can take out enemies that climb over the wall on the right; you can also take out vehicles that appear from the north. In later Waves, enemies will really start to pour in, and you will take a lot of hits if you don’t position yourself back into cover the right way.
Dumpster in the warehouse (west end of the map):
You have great protection from helicopters and can help backup any player that is posted up on the roof (the Solo position mentioned above). There are two major downsides to this position; enemies can get in close, and you should blow up the gas tank to your right before an enemy does with gunfire. Enemies take cover around the other end of the nearby green container. If there is a player posted on the roof across the yard they can pick off THAT annoying issue. It would be wise to have a shotgun ready for enemies that come in close, because like other dumpsters you can get killed easily if they do.
"Sawmill Plant" is the last Survival level, of the base game anyway, that you unlock at Rank 30. It is an interesting map that offers some great cover options, some of which are unique ones that no other Survival map offers. There is a sniper position up on the roof, a dumpster underneath the log flume that offers total protection from enemy vehicles and helicopters, and an actual indoor position that would be even better if enemies poured in there. Unfortunately, when inside the sawmill enemies will eventually make their way down the flume, but it is a very slow process. It's a shame since it would make a great “kill-box” for the Assault Shotgun. The area where this Solo Survival will be set is in the dumpster underneath the log flume, at the south-east end of the map underneath the yellow stairs and catwalk. The only downside is if you are playing with Auto-Aim you will have to get used to shooting with a Free-Aim style. Enemies will “take cover” behind the railings on the upper area straight ahead. You will still be able to Auto-Aim enemies that appear from the west though. There is Armor and Health nearby that you can get to within 10-15 seconds. Despite the navigation of the log flume.
Waves 1 and 2
Pull out your pistol and take cover inside the dumpster. Enemies will come from the south and west. You will have to rely on Free Aim if you want to pick them off from a distance.
Equip your SMG. Enemy vehicles will start to appear but from your current position, you will not have to worry about them. Enemies will disembark from them, but should not be a problem for you since they will mostly appear from the south in this Wave.
The helicopter Wave; don’t worry you have full protection from its gunfire. One of those Survivals where you can kill off all ground enemies before even having to deal with the bird. Once all ground threats have been killed head out and take down the helicopter with your Minigun.
Waves 5 and 6
Equip your assault rifle. Enemies will start to pour in heavier now. So will enemy vehicles carrying up to four foes each. Enemies that disembark to the east will come around the log piles and attack you head-on. This is a good opportunity to fill them with buckshot. You can also toss a Tear Gas Grenade to your left if you are being overwhelmed to your right and straight-ahead. It might also be a good idea to set up a Sticky Bomb to easily destroy other vehicles coming from the east.
Like Wave 4 deal with all of the ground enemies before taking out the helicopter.
Waves 8 and 9
Equip an LMG. Since more enemies will be appearing at this point that area straight ahead, to the north, will start to get crowded. Keep an eye on guys that will come down through the log piles to your left, as well as more enemies from vehicles to the east. Keep your consumables handy. If enemies get in close they will chip your Armor and Health away very easily.
By this point, enemies will be coming at you with Combat MGs and Miniguns. Be very careful, you have nothing to worry about from the helicopters but the enemies can kill you easily. They also have good cover spots but you need to focus more on the enemies approaching from your level, and from the log piles to the left. Once all ground enemies are taken care of use your Minigun on one helicopter at a time.
Sawmill Plant: Additional Co-op Cover
In the center of the area is an indoor section where you can take cover over by the sawdust. This is a good spot that protects from helicopters but the enemy AI is dumb. They will take a long time making their way into the Sawmill. Still, this is a good spot encase you have to go do something real quick while your buddies cover you.
Top of log flume inside the tunnel (two players on either side):
From inside the Sawmill climb up inside the sawdust conveyor belt. Run to the end of this tunnel. Yourself and a buddy can take cover at either end of this opening and shoot enemies from either side.
Wood piles north-west:
You can take cover between the two high log piles, this will give you some cover from helicopters and you can alternate between directions. Whichever way you face you can gun down enemies and still have good cover from those your attention is not on. Beware of enemies that get in close, have a shotgun ready for them.
Wood storage at the north end:
You can get cover among the numerous woodpiles inside the wood storage. I say numerous because there is no ONE good spot to take cover. From here you can take on enemy vehicles directly with Grenades. You can pick off enemies from across the road, and when they get in close you can easily shotgun them. You are also protected from helicopter gunfire somewhat.
The roof of the Sawmill:
Don’t go up on top of the smokestack! I’ll just say that now and get it out of the way. Your character is too excited, will move around too quickly on the small surface, and will fall over the edge. Just stick to the various levels of the roof. Whatever spot you feel is right. You have opportunities for sniping and enemy vehicle demolition from here. There isn’t much cover though, but if you are the sort that likes to snipe and move around during Survival this spot will work for you.
Del Perro Pier
Added with the "Beach Bum" update, "Del Perro Pier" is the first of several DLC Survival maps. The following strategy involves warping the environment slightly. This will take Sticky Bombs, a Minigun, and/or the Up-n-Atomizer on a trio of Dumpsters. The idea here is to block the alleyway with the Dumpsters creating a wall. The majority of enemies will come at you from the other end of the alley, while those who disembark from Vehicles will approach from behind the Dumpsters. Taking cover here also makes you less vulnerable to helicopter fire. You can use a Shotgun, if you prefer, due to the close proximity of enemy approaches. You will, however, have to leave the alley toward the end of the Wave because not everyone will come to you.
Run for the alley and equip a Sticky Bomb/Minigun/Up-n-Atomizer. Target the three dumpsters here and keep shooting until you move them in whatever configuration you want. (Note: To get the ball rolling, with the Minigun, you will have to use some kind of explosives to "shake them loose.") The idea is to block the alley to prevent enemies from flanking you. Use a shotgun (preferably Assault or Heavy) for enemies that come to the entrance of the alley. At the end of the Wave hunt down any stragglers too shy to come to you. Use an assault rifle or SMG for them.
If you haven’t set up your mock fort yet finish that now, before Wave 3. Or re-adjust it, just don’t use up all of your Minigun ammo. Continue to use a shotgun and finish off the rest with an assault rifle at the end.
Enemies will appear behind you in vehicles, but won’t be a major threat with the dumpster wall set up. You can also kill them from where you are with an assault rifle or Marksman Rifle, but don’t ignore the guys at the front. They are the biggest threat.
The helicopter Wave. Ignore it for now and focus on the ground forces. At this point they have shotguns of their own so re-heal if you take too many hits. Once you’ve created some breathing room use your Minigun on the helicopter and an assault rifle for the leftover gunmen.
Waves 5 and 6
Before each of these Waves set up Sticky Bombs in spots where stragglers are heavily in place at the end of Waves. From this point on the less you have to venture out, at the end of Waves, the better. Place Sticky Bombs at the wall and at the bottom of the roller coaster platform for example. Any place enemies take cover, and it's pain to get to them. Enemy vehicles are more frequent but your dumpster fort will give you some peace of mind. However if you venture too far from this spot the dumpsters will reset.
Like Wave 4 but now the enemies cause more damage. Kill off the ground threats, and save the helicopter for last. The Sticky Bombs set-up from Waves 5 and 6 will help make short work of the rest once the helicopter has been shot down.
Waves 8 and 9
More of everything, don’t feel bad about blind-firing during these Waves. Just use a shotgun for the first group and an LMG for everyone else. The guys from the enemy vehicles, at the other end of the alley, will be slightly more of a threat. You know because Miniguns and LMGs are like that . . .
The grand finale. Save the helicopters for last and stay in cover as much as possible. Use Tear Gas Grenades to thin the herds, it’s the last Wave so no reason to save them for anything. Once everyone is dead concentrate on the helicopters. Remember to re-heal and put on a new set of Armor whenever necessary.
Del Perro Pier: Additional Co-op Cover
Wall near Roller Coaster:
This was actually the original Solo Survival spot, until I noticed I would become very dead around Wave 7. Luckily when you play in Co-op, with other capable players, you can hold this spot very well. Just keep an eye on the right. Use a sniper rifle on the guys at the far end (coming from the parking lot). Also, take out the guys on the roller coaster platform first too. Those guys can get a good shot at you.
Alley . . . again (two-player co-op spot):
This is the same as the Solo spot but without moving dumpsters. Both players pick a direction and cover each other. The only challenge here is trusting your partner.
Ferris Wheel support:
(See the third picture below) This position, along with the roller coaster wall can help you both make it through to the final Wave. In later Waves, you might begin to feel overwhelmed. With help from other players, you should make it through.
The area with lighted trees:
You can switch around between the trees. You have to keep on the move but you can directly engage enemy vehicles for your team.
Under the Roller Coaster platform:
Probably the best spot in co-op. You have full protection from helicopters and can take on enemies that appear near the Ferris Wheel and concession stands. Your biggest threat on the ground are enemies coming from the east.