Thursday, January 12th, 2012
JAN 12
GTAGaming Feature: Grand Theft Auto V's Bold New Direction

Grand Theft Auto V - General News | @ 01:16 AM MDT | By victim

Before GTA IV’s first trailer broke the internet and the game itself was still just a speck on the horizon, Dan Houser boasted the game-world would feel like a “living, breathing city.” When it was released, this statement certainly rang true. Liberty City was wall-to-wall covered in realism; from the gritty back alleys full of trash-cans and sleeping vagrants, to pedestrians milling about carrying shopping bags and having cell-phone conversations. The architecture and city-mapping so closely resembled real-life New York that critics labelled Liberty City as the true main-character of the game. Gamers could actually believe that people and characters existed inside this world.

“A living, breathing city.” Rockstar sure do love their buzzwords.

Looking forward, we can see GTA V as that speck on the horizon where we once saw IV. Though, Rockstar are boasting something entirely different with this outing. Rockstar’s official press-release is promising more than just the most ambitious game they have ever created. They are promising a “bold new direction.”
A bold new direction in open-world freedom, storytelling, mission-based gameplay and online multiplayer, Grand Theft Auto V focuses on the pursuit of the almighty dollar in a re-imagined, present day Southern California.

Generally, for better or worse, people fear change. In the gaming industry, repetition of franchises is what reels in the big bucks and innovation can be somewhat of a daring move. A franchise like Grand Theft Auto could easily keep moving to new locales and creating new protagonists, but how long would it take for the franchise to become drab and complacent for all the wrong reasons? A bold new direction not only implies a risk but also a drastic reimagining of the series.

What could this new direction be? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Let's break down a few of our options.

Multiple Protagonists

IV took a dark approach to the American Dream, while V will move the series’ focus towards America’s harsh economical climate and the recession. The trailer’s voice-over informs that our main character starts the game with quite a bit of money. Having multiple protagonists could allow us to see the flip side to that coin; imagine a character that has to steal and kill to scrape together a living, while contrasted against a more prosperous protagonist.

Rumors of multiple protagonists in V have been circulating the web since before the game was announced. It’s something Rockstar have already explored in other games, perhaps most recognizably in GTA IV; with the addition of the two episodic content releases, we got the stories of Luis and Johnny play out simultaneously to the original game. It worked well as the stories weren’t weaved intrinsically together - they essentially acted as three separate story arcs played out in one locale. Exploring the suburbs of Alderney on a bike in The Lost and Damned was a different beast when compared to the socialite degeneracy of The Ballad of Gay Tony or the ghetto of Hove Beach.

If V’s first trailer told us anything it was that the multiple protagonist rumor may be a little closer to fact than we all had cared to realize. We were treated multiple shots of three separate people, all of which looked like they could have been the game’s leading man. Other than the older gentlemen we saw two separate black characters both in heated pursuits with the law. This could mean that pedestrians can now get into hot-and-heavy police chases like our leading characters always could. It could mean something else entirely.

Decisions, Decisions

One of the lesser spoken of features of IV was the ability of decision making within certain missions. Sometimes these were small and seemingly irrelevant, other times they would spark major story moments or give the player something they couldn’t get otherwise. Decisions like the memorable Deal or Revenge finale altered Niko’s journey through Liberty City. As players, we could choose whether we wanted Niko to have humanity or if we wanted him to be a cold-hearted killer. Decision making abilities put certain moments in the hands of the player and added an extra dynamic to the sandbox world which Rockstar had created.

Let’s use our imaginations for a moment. What if Rockstar brought decision making to GTA V on a grander scale? These days we are seeing countless titles which change and adapt based on player decisions. A game like Heavy Rain is based around decision making, while the Mass Effect series brags that every choice the player makes will have a direct impact on the story and the game-world. So why not Grand Theft Auto? A new-approach to mission structure and choosing your own allegiances could give complete control to the player. Perhaps it could be detrimental to the story, though on the other hand it could create an entirely new experience – something the likes of which we have never seen before in a GTA game.

I'm not going to pretend like I have experience in Game Design. The truth is I know as much about GTA V as the rest of you so be sure to share your ideas on the GTA V's new direction in our comments section.

One of the best parts of the waiting game is imagining and speculating on the possibilities of the road ahead.

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Viewer Comments
Registered User

Registered: Aug 2003
Posts: 6,204
i think youre right about decision making playing a bigger part in the game. san andreas and IV had some RPG-like characteristics to them, and i think that V will be the polished version of that concept that we all hope to see.
01-12-2012 11:17 AM
Registered User

Registered: Nov 2010
Posts: 20
I'm really wondering what these bold nude erections are gonna be.
01-12-2012 03:22 PM
Registered User

Registered: Apr 2008
Posts: 1,219
While i didn't like the RPG elements in SA, if done right in V, they could work. I didn't like the fact, you had to do them or you would be hindered. If it was just a case of levelling up by working out etc, to develop new abilities, that's fine. What I didn't like was that you needed to keep eating, and working out before the bars drop down or you'd run slower etc.

With the multiple protagonists, I think it could work, Rockstar know what they're doing, so i have faith in them. The only thing I'm thinking about is after the story is over, will you end up being stuck finishing the rest of the game and free roaming, with a character you didn't like as much as another one? Perhaps your decision making through the game would decide who you end up finishing the story with. That way, you only have yourself to blame, lol.
01-12-2012 05:46 PM
Registered User

Registered: Jul 2004
Posts: 2,788
I had a thought about this recerntly playing Red Dead Redemption/Undead Nightmare.

I thought in RDR that the way the stranger missions worked were interesting. Rather than being like the main RDR missions (and therefore main GTA missions) where you go to a location to start the mission, then finish the mission and return to free roam, they are "always on" and only move forward when you trigger the next step. This is also how pretty much all of the quests work in Elder Scrolls games.

I noticed in RDR's Undead Nightmare that the majority of the main story missions are like this. Perhaps Undead Nightmare was a test to see how a game like this would work, where the main story consists almost entirely of missions that are "always on" waiting for the player to step them forward.

I remember they talked about wanting to blur the line between being on or off a mission in the lead up to the release of San Andreas (I think), well as far as Rockstar's games go, Undead Nightmare does this the most.

A mix of these passive "always on" missions as well as the traditional active missions that you must finish before being "released" again could mix things up nicely.
01-12-2012 10:19 PM
Registered User

Registered: Jun 2006
Posts: 3,296
I agree Jimmy and I too remember them talking about blurring the line between when on a mission and when not. There was even a few moments in IV when this happened -- like in the Francis McReary mission when you had to kill Tom Goldberg. Doing something like this could overhaul the game in very big ways, especially if combined with the decision making I already spoke about.

I think the best evidence of this happening is when you continue reading the bold new direction line of the PR announcement. "A bold new direction in open-world freedom, storytelling, mission-based gameplay..."

[ post edited 01-12-2012 10:32 PM by victim ]
01-12-2012 10:29 PM
Registered User

Registered: Sep 2009
Posts: 256
It wouldl be interesting to see if something you do while just free roaming wouldl influence how later missions will play out.
01-14-2012 12:01 PM
Registered User

Registered: Jun 2004
Posts: 456
I'm really looking forward to what this is going to do to the series. I'm sure R* will be able to pull this off.
01-14-2012 12:35 PM
Registered User

Registered: Jan 2008
Posts: 248
I really want more RPG elements - that sounds great.

But I don't want multiple protagonists. Not only do I think it's dumb from a story/narrative standpoint but that's what I loved about CJ in San Andreas. He was "my CJ" - he was unique despite retaining a core identity and it made the player feel a sense of pride and connection with the character. Obviously if you have multiple characters it's hard to 'dig in' emotionally and either you feel betrayed for losing your RPG upgrades or if they carry over, it's cheapened because it wasn't with *that* character.

All this being said, the GTA V trailer looked fantastic. IV was a big disappointment for me but I think they'll rebound big time with V.
01-16-2012 08:51 AM
Registered User

Registered: Oct 2004
Posts: 80
Some RPG elements are okay, but get rid of the girlfriends and cell phones, and let us enter cheats the old way so I can restore health while I'm surrounded by people with M16's

I don't care too much either way on the multiple characters, I just want to unlock the last island as quickly as possible so I can free roam anywhere

More cheat codes, first person view added for on foot, and better ledge detection for jumping and climbing over stuff, less sluggish character and vehicles also
01-16-2012 09:50 AM

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