- This article refers to maintaining major friendships in GTA IV. For the minor characters Niko meets in the street, see Random Characters and Characters in GTA IC
In Grand Theft Auto IV, the player will eventually befriend several acquaintances over the course of the game's storyline, primarily after performing an adequate number of missions for the contacts.
The player's friendship with a character is determined by a "[Character name] like" attribute found in game stats; the higher a friend's "like", the better their relationship with the player. Hanging out with friends is the primary method to improve on the player's relationships with their friends, eventually allowing the player to unlock special benefits; the player can also increase his friendships (as well as their "respect") through certain storyline missions. However, rejecting offers by friends to go out or ignoring friends for too long will eventually result in a friend's "like" towards the player dropping; players will be notified of the latter via a text message.
The player may engage in specific activities with a characters, including bowling, going to a strip club, and going for a drink at a bar; these activities are activated by either having the player call their friends for a specific activity on their mobile phone, or wait for their friends to call instead (to which point their friends will pick a specific activity to do instead).
After setting an appointment, the player will have to head to their waiting friend, which will spawn in one of several possible points of the city; if the player does not pick their friend up for several hours, the friend will eventually become "bored" and cancel the meeting, reducing the friend's "like" towards the player. They can also call their friend to cancel the activity, this will reduce the friend's "likeness" as well, but only in a smaller percentage than if they're not warned and left to wait (read below). After picking up their friend, the player's is primarily instructed to head to the activity as agreed upon during the phone call, but can in fact make several stopovers on the way for other activities to boost the increase of the friend's "like" upon completion of the outing. Once the player complete the primary activity, the friend will ask the player to drop them off a specific location, at which point the friend's "like" will increase.
The friendship feature is derided by certain commentators as a tedious and annoying aspect of GTA IV, as friends will consistently call the player on offers to go on outings, and there is no clear way of avoiding the activity without sacrificing their player's friendships. (Thereby making it difficult to leisurely explore the city or seek out Flying Rats and side missions.) Even if the player chooses not to go on any outings, friends will still call the player regardless, even if the player sets their phone into silent mode (which is intended to block incoming calls). However, there is a simple method of avoiding going on outings without penalty; this is achieved by initially accepting a friend's offer to go out, and selecting the "Cancel Plans" option after the call.
The friendship feature was apparently downgraded in importance following GTA IV. The feature was brought over to The Lost and Damned (see Friendships in The Lost and Damned), but is no longer mandatory to the player to do. In The Ballad of Gay Tony, the friendship feature is the same as in TLAD; it is not mandatory to do as there is only two friends available for the player.
There is a total of five available friends in GTA IV, two of which may be killed over the course of GTA IV's storyline:
- Roman Bellic, unlocked after "Bleed Out". (If the player chooses the Deal ending, he is shot and killed and he is no longer available for friendship activities)
- Little Jacob, unlocked after "Shadow".
- Brucie Kibbutz, unlocked after "No. 1".
- Dwayne Forge, unlocked after "The Holland Play", if the player chooses to kill Playboy X instead and positively answers his email.
- Patrick McReary, unlocked after "Three Leaf Clover".
It should be noted the gap between the completion of the mission and the point which a friendship is established may last several days. Also three of five friends are required for 100% completion.
There are a total of ten activities that can be performed in an outing, including
- Eating. This can be done at any Burger Shot, Cluckin' Bell and Pizza This branch throughout Liberty City, and also other diners, cafes and restaurants that become available while you're out with a friend.
- Drinking at the bars in Hove Beach (Broker), Steinway (Dukes), Purgatory (Algonquin), or Hatton Gardens (Algonquin). Being seen driving drunk will attract Wanted stars; it's best to take a taxi. It may take more than one try to hail a cab whilst drunk, as the taxi driver may not respond to your calls.
- Go bowling in the alleys at Purgatory (Algonquin) or Firefly Island (Broker).
- Play pool in Schottler (Broker) or at Playboy X's loft (if available; see spoilers below).
- Throw some darts at the Irish/German Pub in Steinway (Dukes) or in Purgatory (Algonquin).
- Visit a strip club. There are The Triangle Club in Northern Gardens (Bohan), and Honkers Gentlemen's Club in Tudor (Alderney). Lapdances are available in strip clubs.
- Visit the Cabaret Club in Hove Beach (Broker) or the Comedy Club, Split Sides, in Star Junction (Algonquin) to catch a show.
- You can go with Brucie Kibbutz and two of his lady friends on helicopter and boat trips throughout Liberty City.
- Occasionally you will be called to give someone a lift; this usually happens when a friend is injured.
Only certain activities are available to each friend, and even then so friend may express preferences towards a certain type of establishment to go to:
- Roman Bellic: The Burger Shot in Beechwood City, Broker
- Little Jacob: Cluckin' Bell in Cerveza Heights, Dukes
- Brucie Kibbutz: Superstar Café in Lancaster, Algonquin
- Dwayne Forge: Cluckin' Bell in The Triangle, Algonquin.
- Patrick McReary: You can't eat with Packie.
Like girlfriends in GTA San Andreas, friends provide special benefits if their "like" percentage reaches 75% (they will call you to offer their particular ability). You can lose these benefits if their "like" percentage fall below 75%; when you raise the level again, you will get a text message. This will also have effect on the voicemail your friend leaves when he/she is absent.
Note: Sometimes a friend's benefit will not be available, due to excessive use or being blocked during certain missions.
- Roman Bellic: Sends a cab to pick Niko up and take him anywhere for free (albeit at the driver's annoyance). Unlike the other taxis in game, it can be used even if Niko has a wanted level, which can be used to easily get out of range of the police. Following Roman's Sorrow, this benefit will be unavailable for several missions (as his depot has been burned down). The car service will be available after completion of the mission Blow Your Cover, when Roman's insurance money pays off. After Mallorie calls to report Roman missing, Niko cannot hang out with him or call for a taxi until he rescues Roman in "Hostile Negotiation". Roman is available at all times for activities. After this mission, Roman will buy a new fleet of cabs. However, if you chose the Deal Ending, Roman will be killed, and you are unable to hang out with him anymore.
- Little Jacob: Drives to a secluded location near the player; his car's trunk is full of guns to purchase at a discount (60% off). Niko can do this during a mission. The best times to call for activities are between 2pm - 4am. After Elizabeta calls Niko to get to her place, Niko cannot hang out with Jacob until the mission The Snow Storm is completed.
- Brucie Kibbutz: Picks Niko up with his helicopter, and transports him to designated landing zones around the city (Niko will have to meet him at these points). The best times to call for activities are between 7am - 1am.
- Dwayne Forge: Sends a car with two armed men who will follow and help Niko in combat. In order to unlock his friendship, the player must allow him to live in The Holland Play, and later respond positively to an e-mail he will send (some time after this he will invite Niko out). The best times to call for activities are between 11am - 3am. Sparing Dwayne also allows use of Playboy X's loft apartment, including its pool table.
- Patrick McReary: Supplies Niko with a car bomb which can be placed under any car and detonated using Niko's phone. The best times to call for activities are between 3pm - 6am. After a brother's funeral and Gerry ordering Niko to kidnap Gracie, Niko cannot hang out with Packie until the mission Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend is completed.
- It is possible to arrange more than one appointment with multiple friends, but the player can only select one friend to pick up, to which point other appointments are automatically canceled. There is no penalty in friendship under this condition.
- If Niko is late to pickup a friend, the friendship will drop.
- Except Roman, a friend may be sleeping and will tell Niko to call back at the time they request when he calls them at a late time. If Niko performs this, the friendship of that friend may drop.
- The player can use nearly any mode of transport during an outing. In addition to regular road vehicles, the player can also take a Taxi or ride the subway. If the player chooses to pick a friend up using a motorbike or a helicopter, the friend will utter unique comments on the player's choice of vehicle.
- After picking up a friend for an outing, he will usually engage the player character in a conversation about their personal life.
- Roman and Dwayne are the only friends whos special benefits and doing all activities do not count towards 100% completion, because they can be killed during the game.
- Dwayne is the only friend that you don't get an achievement from unlocking his special ability, most possibly since Niko has to decide his fate.
- After the player finishes the mission One Last Thing, Niko cannot hang out with any of his friends, (including Packie and Dwayne) until the final mission is completed.
- All friends have a file in the LCPD Criminal Database.
- The friendship system was heavily criticized by GTA fans, because of the friends may constantly call Niko and ask them to hang out, and it is hard to explore Liberty City without any interruptions. Because of this, the feature is absent from Grand Theft Auto V. However, you still have a small amount of friends (you can now hang out with another protagonist), and they will call you less often.