Grand Theft Auto is on a very short list of franchises that can make headlines by releasing a trailer for a video game, though developer Rockstar Games has always made these short previews worth your time if you’re willing to dig deep. Aside from the showy explosions and crime-ridden tableaus the teasers are known for, Rockstar always makes sure to sprinkle some core details in their carefully selected clips, and fans are known to pick the bones clean of each new reveal. The new trailer for Grand Theft Auto V, which released just today, keeps to the same tradition and showcases some big moments and equally important subtleties.
The first thing to note from the trailer, as with the initial announcement teaser before it, is the variation in Los Santos’s environment. Aside from the sprawling cityscape (which looks pretty varied in itself), you’ll also have mountains, deserts, suburbs, and even, if certain rumors are to be believed, underwater depths to explore. All this geography is a part of a map ‘3.5 times bigger than Red Dead Redemption’, and according to IGN “you could fit the Red Dead, GTA IV and GTA: San Andreas maps into the GTA V map and have room to spare.”
That is no small feat; San Andreas itself boasted a map so large that not that many sandbox games have outdone it in the 7 years since its release. To dump two other open world games in there is nearly ludicrous. I also suspect that Rockstar is no longer satisfied with a huge-but-sparse landscape. If GTA IV is any indication, they want their worlds to feel more lived in than previous titles, which means much less sprinting across empty fields with narry a landmark to please the eye.
The next thing to take into account is the focus on characters. For the first time since its early days in top-down camera mayhem, Grand Theft Auto V will have you playing as more than one character. This implementation is more than just changing up the player skins however; Rockstar has made this element the focus of the game so far. Everything from narrative to gameplay to basic traversal are affected by transitioning between characters in GTA 5. New systems in place will allow you to jump between protagonists during some missions:
[box_light]“GTA V is going to pack solo missions, tag team missions and then big three-man escapades. When this happens, you’re going to either be given the choice of who to control (Don’t want to fly the helicopter? Be the guy shooting out the back of it or vice versa.) or be funneled [sic] to specific characters like Franklin sniping from across the map.”[/box_light]
However you’ll also be able to jump from one character to another whenever you want outside of missions, as well.
[box_light]“When you’re just feeling like roaming the streets of Los Santos, you can switch to whatever character you want – you’ll even take control of them as they’re out living their lives.”[/box_light]
Lastly, there are some gameplay features that are alluded to during all the action in the trailer. Planes will make a return as usable vehicles after their sorely missed absence in GTA IV, and all signs point to racing and the usual smorgasbord of criminal activity maintaining their place in the Grand Theft Auto universe. Gangs become an important focus this time around, as do heists, which look to be the driving focus of the story.
[box_light] “GTA V has a goal. You’re not just trying to make ends meet however you can. You and your crew are trying to pull off five to six heists to bankroll as much money as possible and get on with life. The missions you have in the game are all about setting up these heists, these Ocean’s Eleven/Heat moments. There’s a driving force for your actions[.]”[/box_light]
This is the most appealing feature of all that I’ve heard about Grand Theft Auto V. As much as I love the free-wheeling openness of the previous games, the goofy characters and the snarky parody of the American lifestyle that seems to be threaded throughout the franchise’s history, I’ve never felt much like I was experiencing a momentous narrative. For the first time it looks like a GTA game’s endpoint is more focused than “amass an unspendable fortune and then buy everything in sight”. With the way Rockstar treated storytelling in Red Dead Redemption and the continuing innovations Rockstar makes to their gameplay, this could be the best trip to the criminal underworld yet.
What do you think of the Grand Theft Auto V trailer? Sound off in the comments section below!