Nine years on since the launch of Grand Theft Auto V and would you believe it, GTA 6 still isn't on the market. It's something that would have been considered an impossibility a decade ago, and yet here we are. Waiting day by day for a sliver of information concerning Rockstar's next open world video game.
Well, thankfully, at long last, it was confirmed that GTA 6 is in "active development" earlier this year, giving us all some renewed hope. It was nothing substantial but it was something. Just to know the game exists is massive.
With GTA 6 now actually happening and Rockstar making a next-gen version of GTA V available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, I took the opportunity to revisit the game for the first since it launched way back in September 2013. A lot has changed since then. Some things have aged brilliantly, some things have not. So, here's what I found and what I believe needs to be bettered for the game to live up to the monumental expectation its predecessor set.
Warning: spoilers for Grand Theft Auto V
Let's start with the obvious one: story. While its sister series, Red Dead Redemption, has been lauded time and time again for its narrative, Grand Theft Auto has been severely lacking. GTA V is ridiculously ambitious, offering some of the most cinematic moments to ever grace a video game, as Michael, Franklin and Trevor do everything in their power to try and get rich quick. It creates some funny shenanigans – Heists are spectacles still – it just doesn't tie together well in the 30-hour narrative.
The biggest issue stems from an absent main antagonist (or be that, a lack of a central one) to serve as a throughline. Take the final mission that focuses on multiple characters being assassinated in what feels like a last-minute attempt to create some drama.
It then culminates as Trevor kidnaps billionaire business tycoon Devin Weston. Devin Weston! That memorable villain that everyone clearly remembers who needs no introduction whatsoever. How could we forget? As you can tell from my use of hyperbole, the character fell flat, consequently condemning GTA V to go out with a whimper more than a bang. This is GTA. This needs to be the best of the best. And this wasn't it.
Two things remain impressive about GTA V's map: one is its scale and two is how gorgeous it has remained to this day. So when I'm talking about the map, I'm more talking about how it operates. The map itself is huge. So why is it so difficult to navigate in the menu? You can't even zoom out completely to view the whole thing at once. It's a strange decision that makes jumping in and out (that you do constantly) more annoying than it needs to be.
Additionally, there is room for improvement with the design. Los Santos is a bustling city, where life and amusement are found around every corner. Blaine County, on the other hand, is the opposite of this and even if that's the point, it doesn't make for an equally fun experience. Variety is key but there needs to be something aside from desert and mountains.
It's such a simple feature these days so I was shocked when I rediscovered how fast travel in GTA V works. As opposed to the simple point and click on the map function that we've come accustomed to in 2022, it's a lot more convoluted – having the player call, wait and then use a taxi to get to their desired location. It's not even available in certain locations, only those where a taxi can physically get to. I get Rockstar loves realism, it's just this is one of the most archaic things about the game and needs updating for the new age.
The wanted level in GTA V can be quite frustrating, due to it alerting the cops whether you are in a busy street in the middle of Vinewood, or miles away on top of a mountain. The system needs to make sense to your surroundings.
Expanding from this, having a wanted system that is customised to that specific location would things more exciting. Local law enforcement for rural areas, heavy artillery for military zones and modded police cars for chasing down street racers for inner-city areas are just a few ideas I came up with. I'm sure Rockstar can do better.
Following the successful completion of the final mission, Michael, Franklin and Trevor become stinking rich. Each character has a ridiculous amount of wealth to spend on the handful of purchases that the game has to offer, including garages, hangers, a cinema and even a golf course. This and whatever side-missions (Strangers and Freaks) you didn't complete first-time around is everything that is considered as end-game content.
It's hardly compelling, wasting potential for this city and keep coming back with Rockstar putting all of its eggs into GTA V Online. This clearly paid off with the game making million every month but from a single-player perspective, the campaign needs more.
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