Grand Theft Auto V Walkthrough: Wanted Level
Hanging over activity in Grand Theft Auto V, from flipping somebody off on the street to stealing a car to blowing up a gondola, is the Wanted Level. Perhaps the most persistent mechanic of the GTA series, the Wanted Level dictates police response to any wrongdoing you may have committed. And though it may be a ton of fun to flee the police in times of idle wandering, you should know exactly what may happen if they show up during a mission.
The Wanted Level in GTA V consists of five stars. The worse the felony you commit - or the greater number - the more stars the Wanted Level gains. This article will explore what happens in each Wanted Level, and tips for escaping the police.
The minimum in police response. A single star Wanted Level typically occurs when you commit a relatively minor infraction: firing a gun, attacking a civilian, ramming cars in front of an officer, that sort of thing. The response is weak, one or two cars at most, and the police won't go too crazy trying to bring you over. If you stop your car and let the police approach you'll be arrested, but not killed.
Escaping a one star response is easy, assuming you haven't been spotted by the police. Either find somewhere high or low to hide, away from police eyes, or get in a vehicle and circle the blocks nearby. They'll quickly give up. Entering Stealth Mode seems to expedite a one star warning wearing off, as does getting in a different vehicle from the one you were in when it began. (Though don't drive directly past police officers. They'll still notice you in the new vehicle.)
Now it's starting to get tense. Up to three police cruisers will chase you around, and the police will start shooting at you - not as a warning, but to kill. Their driving also becomes much more aggressive, moving to greater speeds and ramming the vehicle you're in. Killing someone is a one-way ticket to a two-star response, as is fleeing from police during a one star response. Causing mass explosions will also bring two star police out of hiding in a hurry.
Things are getting trickier here. If the police know you're around they'll pursue you recklessly, and you'll have to weave through traffic or simply out drive the cops to get away. If they don't see you, stay out of sight until the warning is dropped. It's still relatively easy to remain on the roads and not get caught by three cars on patrol.
The police are on to you. Typically triggered by killing a police officer, as well as entering some restricted zones on the map, a three star response is serious business. Police will be wearing bullet proof armour to better protect them against attack, and more cars will pursue you at a time. Worse yet, the police will send out a helicopter to tag your every move. Snipers in the helicopter will open fire on you from above, either to puncture your tires or simply to destroy your car. The police will also set up small roadblocks complete with spike traps to stop you from fleeing.
Three stars is tense. If you're on the road you'll inevitably run into blockades; anywhere else and the helicopter will follow you constantly. Going underground is the best way to throw off pursuit from above, particularly into the train tunnels beneath Los Santos. Car parks work, but not as well. If you can throw off the helicopter (possibly by blowing it up!), fleeing to the hills is an option. Just be sure you avoid those blockades - though they're seemingly low-key, spike strips will ruin most escape attempts.
Now you've done it. The police force and NOOSE will join forces to bring the player down, typically for remaining on the lamb for an extended period of time and killing a lot of police officers in the process. The police presence is larger, more helicopters will join the pursuit, and NOOSE vans with heavily-armoured troops hanging off the sides will either try to blockade the road or shoot you from behind.
The same tactics with a three star Wanted Level apply here, though you need to be especially manic in your escape to get away. Set up a roadblock of your own, blow away the competition as quickly as you can, find a new vehicle, and escape. Look for the nearest sheltered hiding spot away from the road and stay there. Getting into the air really helps at this point, if you can make your way to an airstrip.
The top of the top. Remain in a four star alert long enough (as well as kill a ton of people) and the number of police increases dramatically. NOOSE will be out in full force, bringing in more vans than ever to trip you up and take you down. The police are also noticeably more aggressive, though their cars are the least of your concern when helicopters and heavily-armoured vans are firing at you from all angles.
Hide or die. It's extremely difficult to escape a five star Wanted Level without biting the dust. A fast plane will help; otherwise, get underground, into the train system, and stay there until the Wanted Level has abated. Good luck making it to a tunnel!