Crate drops are unlocked after achieving rank 12 and completing the first missions for TPI. Ron will contact the player to advise that there would be packaged air-drops containing special weapons to be tested, but that there would be competition so the player needs to make sure they get them first. They could be considered the online extension of the Story Mode Arms trafficking missions conducted by Trevor from the McKenzie Field Hangar.
When a crate is going to be dropped, a message will appear in the top right corner of the screen saying "A plane is on its way to drop a crate that contains useful supplies". Many crates contain simple but useful supplies such as ammunition and food such as P’s & Q’s.
Before it is dropped, the general area in which that the crate will be dropped is marked by a large green circle on the map. Finally, when the crate is dropped, the player will receive a message saying that it has been dropped, and the green circle on the map will be replaced by a small question mark icon, indicating the exact location of the crate. If a crate is not collected for a while, then it will disappear, saying that "Arms smugglers have picked up the crate".
Usually, after the crate is dropped, there will be a large number of NPCs (usually The Professionals) whose main goal is to protect the crate and presumably take its contents for themselves. These NPCs are well armed, and the player must battle the enemies, and after killing them all, the player will be able to pick up the loot and keep it for himself.
Even if the player has already started the battle for the crate drop, the player can easily run away from the area and will be back to normal.
Rarely, instead of a regular crate, the player will be notified that a special crate is going to be dropped. The player will be notified 10, 5, and 3 hours ahead of the crate drop. Note that these times are in game time, where one hour is two minutes in real life. Unlike the normal crates, whose text is displayed in white letters, the special crates have text in gold letters. These special crates can contain super heavy Armor, thousands of RPs, a Minigun, Carbine Rifle, or a full supply of food.
With the Independence Day Special update, the special crates now also contain exclusive items, that can only be obtained through them. There are 7 different items that can be obtained through the special crates:
- Pisswasser Beer Hat.
- Benedict Beer Hat.
- Patriot Beer Hat.
- Supa Wet Beer Hat.
- J Lager Beer Hat. (was not available for the public)
- Blarneys Beer Hat. (was not available for the public)
- "Happiness is... land." T-Shirt from GTA IV.
Note: The beer hats will immediately appear in your inventory, while the T-Shirt can be purchased for free at any clothing store.
With The Last Team Standing Update there was a special Victory Fist T-Shirt that could be picked up in crates. Rockstar made the crates spawn more frequently in sessions this time, possibly to compensate for the smaller time that the Victory Fist T-Shirt was available in crate drops.
For the anniversary of the release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas there were special t-shirts with the logo's of certain San Andreas radio stations that were only available through Crate Drops. The special t-shirts available were K-Rose, K-DST, K-JAH West and Bounce FM. These t-shirts were available from October 24th to October 26th.
Minimum players needed for special crate drop is 8 and 10% drop percentage without events . However with events they change minimum players needed from 8 to 4 with 100% drop percentage. This happened with LTS Event and right now happening with the San Andreas Anniversary Event.
There are 31 fixed locations for crate drops to spawn.
Note: coordinates extracted from game files.
6 types of NPCs spawn inside the green circle.
They spawn with one weapon from a list of specific weapons:
- Combat MG
- Heavy Sniper
- Sniper Rifle
- Advanced Rifle
- Carbine Rifle
- Assault Rifle
- Assault Shotgun
- Pump Shotgun
- Sawnoff Shotgun
- AP Pistol
- Combat Pistol
Most of the NPCs will spawn with a pistol, with the occasional one spawning with another weapon shown above.
- Most crates will be dropped in Blaine County.
- Sometimes there will be enemies defending the crates, usually The Professionals.
- Wherever a crate is dropped, there will be a red or orange signal flare nearby. The flare is the same one used for Merryweather air strikes.
- There is a 10% chance that a special crate will be dropped. (This is increased during special event periods such as Last Team Standing Event weekend).
- The Crate Drops do not appear if there is another activity going on like Simeon Import/Export Requests, nor will it appear if playing on solo/invite only, or in an empty public server.
- However, as of patch 1.17, Crate Drops and Special Crate Drops return to Invite Only/Solo sessions for the players to safely collect without the hindrance of other players.
- If a player stands in the green circle, the crate will never drop.
- If a player kills the NPC enemies within the circle before the crate drops the crate will never drop and the player(s) may get a message to state that the pilot was unable to make the drop as the zone was "hot".
- During the DLC period for the Independence Day Special, there were a total of 6 Beer Hats, but only 4 were available to the public. the J Larger and Blarneys were only available to hackers/modders. Though Rockstar Claims all 6 were available. Now that the content has expired, Public players will never know.
- Sometimes the player will be notified for a crate drop and others won't, sometimes they won't even drop.