GTA V: Let’s Speculate

GTA V: Let’s Speculate

GTA V is coming.  Now we know that much and, aside from a trailer release date, Rockstar is remaining tight-lipped about what is on the horizon. What better time than to speculate about what we might see in GTA V?

The Realism Continues

GTA IV was a landmark in the series. A sprawling, highly-realistic city running on a next-generation system for the first time, Liberty City differentiated itself from the older versions of GTA by delivering a gritter, more realistic storyline that was devoid of jetpacks and crazy hippies.  The result was, naturally, critical acclaim from the very get-go; GTA IV took the established formula of the series, tweaked it for the modern audience, and delivered one of the best games on the next-gen systems we’ve seen.

The realism that was used in GTA IV will probably also continue into V, judging by the critical reception IV received; in fact, Rockstar seems to be shying away from the old, madcap mentality of GTA and moving towards delivering a tighter narrative and less lunacy in their approach to games. Red Dead Redemption. GTA IV. LA Noire. All of these are firmly grounded in reality (apart from RDR’s Undead Nightmare DLC) and as a result of the critical appeal, it is easy to see why Rockstar would be keen to continue this trend in GTA V.

I don’t know if I’m in the minority here though, but I personally missed some of the lunacy that was missing in GTA IV. I still remember the moment I found the jetpack when playing GTA: San Andreas and being instantly wowed. This then resulted in what can only be described as at least six hours of flying around the entirety of San Andreas on a jet pack while attacking anything that moved with whatever weapons I could get my hands on. A similar experience also occured with the jet in San Andreas; there’s something immensely satisfying about ascending to ridiculous heights before parachuting/splatting onto the ground below.

Now I really liked GTA IV – it was gritty, the storyline drew me in and there was a massive city filled with shiny cars and lots to do. There was always that nagging thought in my mind as I was playing though that something was missing from the game – in fact, I was constantly on the look-out for Rockstar’s trademark secrets that range from finding a real Easter Egg to displaying messages telling us we aren’t supposed to be here. GTA IV, in that respect, was somewhat of a disappointment. Aside from the very real heart inside the Statue of Liberty inside Liberty City, there wasn’t really much in the way of crazy secrets to be located in GTA IV and I personally feel that, for V, Rockstar needs to move back into incorporating a sense of realism while still offering a significant playground of crazy vehicles, weapons and areas that rival San Andreas’ in terms of scale.

The Location

Rumours are abuzz about the location of GTA V. People are speculating all over the internet about where the franchise could possibly be headed next, ranging from the far-flung, apocalyptic future filled with zombies to a return to the sandy shores of Vice City.  No one really knows for sure except Rockstar themselves and, despite prodding with sticks by various media outlets, they aren’t budging until the trailer is revealed in November.

Seriously though, where would Rockstar go next? I’m personally going to believe that they’re going to go back to San Andreas – in terms of scope and impressing the fans, that would be the most logical choice. Think about it – for IV, Rockstar went back and recreated Liberty City, which was already given to us in GTA III. Is it not the logical choice to assume they’d then move on to their biggest sandbox and try to replicate that as well?

You could argue that Vice City came first, but I don’t want to imagine another foray that moves into the modern era, and therefore isn’t full to bursting with an absolutely amazing 80’s themed soundtrack. It could still happen, but would anyone really want to see a modern version of Vice City? Perhaps, but, for me, I wouldn’t.

The future, meanwhile, seems like a bit of stretch for Rockstar. They’re yet to take the gamble and move the franchise into the future where yellow taxis are replaced with teleportation, but a lot of people have wanted a future GTA for a while now.  That’s not what GTA, fundamentally, is about though – Rocktar’s approach with the GTA experience has always been to make it about our past/present and lampoon what’s already happened in spectacular fashion. If you set GTA in the future, this then negates that sense of parody from the franchise, as we don’t really have a clue what the future holds for the world just yet, and GTA would merely be speculating, thus getting rid of the elements we can relate to. Not that it wouldn’t be awesome to fight off the futuristic police using a laser machine gun while riding a hoverboard. Just saying, Rockstar.

Of course there’s also the chance that Rockstar could take us to an entirely new area we’ve never seen before, whether this be in Rockstar’s vision of America, or actually goes overseas like GTA: London did a long, long time ago.  There’s still a whole lot of the world left to explore for Rockstar and they can distort areas as they see fit, so it really is hard to predict where on earth they might be going with this foray into the series.

Personally I’m really hoping that they go back to San Andreas for this entry into the series – the time is nigh to see that game replicated in the modern era complete with a new storyline, better characters who don’t get fat no matter how many Burger Shots you eat and great mechanics filled with secrets and lots to do.

Branching Morals

GTA IV experimented with it, but branching storylines are yet to make a massive appearance in the GTA franchise. If rumours are true about the game incorporating multiple playable characters, then the storyline is likely to be much more branched out than ever before, but will lack the morality of making decisions because it would more than likely get far too convuluted and confusing to have multiple character all making moral decisions.

Personally I feel that this information is probably not true though; Rockstar is widely known for putting you in the shoes of one character and making sure you’re that person for the entire game and, by taking that away, the storyline as a result would make sure you couldn’t connect with your character in the way you usually do when playing a GTA game.

If -and it should be true – that GTA is still focusing on one major character, then the time is nigh for a GTA storyline that offers multiple outcomes based on your decisions. Rockstar already flirted with the idea in LA Noire, and now is the time to make sure that GTA V encourages multiple playthroughs by branching the narrative in different ways, with different missions becoming available based on your decisions. For example, shooting a prolific mob boss in the face might have knock on effects that destabilise the mafia, while continuing to work for him will strengthen the mafia’s hold over an area. The possibilities are endless and perfect for a Sandbox like GTA which is designed to encourage experimentation and doing your own thing.

I always love a branching storyline that works well because it ensures that the game remains unpredictable, and I often wonder exactly how things would play out if I went back and did it again making a different decision. GTA V would work extremely well with this approach as, while I usually love GTA’s endless plethora of missions, it would be great to see them have more depth and impact by using decisions.

The Character

While many would probably love to see CJ, Tommy or even Claude make a return to the franchise, it is unlikely that this will occur. GTA loves experimenting with new guys with every game they churn out, and judging by how this is GTA V and not an expansion like Vice City/San Andreas was, it is unlikely we’ll be seeing a familiar character as Rockstar loves to reboot every single time.

As said above, some reports on the internet are claiming that the game may have multiple playable characters, but, again, I think this is a load of hogwash, GTA V’s character will be someone with a checkered past, a past, that perhaps, could tie in with moral decisions by allowing the player to shape the character’s past experience similar to Mass Effect.

Closing Thoughts

You know, there’s every chance I’m completely wrong. I don’t claim to predict the future, but its always good fun to speculate on what a big name like Rockstar will do next. But what do you think will happen in GTA V? Why not comment below and tell us your theories about what’s coming next for the franchise? The answers will be answered on the second of November 2011, but until then, we can only speculate.

We’re also hosting the GTA trailer as and when it becomes available right here.

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