In many regards, GTAV for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S is milking done right. Let me elaborate on this to understand precisely what this means.
First and foremost, let me start by saying that I’ve played the original Grand Theft Auto V on both PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, and I completed the story mode several times throughout the years.
The only mode that offers incredible replayability is obviously GTA Online, which feels different every time you start from scratch. This is valid regardless of the platform, as your experience in GTA Online depends precisely on the route you want to follow in the game.
Sure, the company has substantially improved the performance and the graphics, and these are all available in the story mode as well. But if you go single player, you’re not getting anything than these exact improvements. The story is exactly the same, so if you’re like me and played GTAV several times in the past, there’s a chance you’ll get bored after only a few minutes.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the graphics aren’t an important addition to the modern experience. They are, and I should obviously highlight the 4K support, the improved population and traffic variety, the water reflections, the new details like refined explosions, and the lighting quality in shadows. All of these make GTAV look good, but it’s all just a matter of time until you end up wandering on the streets of Los Santos admiring the improved graphics before eventually getting bored of the same old story.
The DualSense integration is great, and I love the fact that Rockstar found a way to provide Haptic Feedback and use the adaptive triggers on the controller in a way that feels natural. There’s almost no learning curve here, as everything feels precisely in the place where it should be from the very beginning.
Enter GTA Online and the whole experience changes.
There was a time when PC gamers had to wait for no less than 9 (yes, nine!) minutes to load GTA Online, but Rockstar has clearly learned from its past mistakes. GTA Online needs some 30 seconds to load on PS5, and you can’t imagine how important this is for someone eager to play the new-gen version.
The attention Rockstar has paid to GTA Online proves what I said earlier. First and foremost, there’s a new Career Builder that provides you with GTA$4,000,000 to choose your path in the game and decide how you want to handle the streets of Los Santos.
Rockstar also offers guides that help beginners find their way into the game, making it a lot easier to discover what GTA Online is all about.
Everybody got used to it eventually, but having this tutorial-inspired system clearly makes things easier.
As for the part that makes sense here at autoevolution, not much has changed. The cars all look and feel the same as in the previous version of GTAV, though they benefit from the improved graphics and DualSense feedback like the rest of the game.
To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the HDR flood and the abundance of reflections in the game, pretty much because it makes it harder to keep the attention on your character, but I realize it’s something that Rockstar had to do in order to take advantage of the new-gen capabilities.
GTA Online also comes with a new addition to the Los Santos Car Meet, and it’s called Hao’s Special Works. You’re thus getting new vehicle upgrades, a new class of Races that includes only specially modified vehicles, plus the opportunity to drive modified vehicles for free thanks to Premium Test Rides.
Driving on the streets of Los Santos continues to be as exciting as ever, especially because the music continues to be phenomenal. The traffic variety has also improved, and so has the vegetation density and the population on the street.
Overall, the streets of Los Santos feel more alive, so don’t be too surprised if you end up simply driving around just like a respectable citizen.
THE BOTTOM LINEI can’t help but say it again: the new-gen version of GTAV is mostly a makeover of GTA Online. And there’s one reason for this: GTA Online is the one bringing home the bacon for Rockstar, so it’s no surprise this is where the company has focused most of its efforts.
Improving the story mode no longer makes any sense for Rockstar. At least, not with GTAVI coming later this decade, presumably at some point in 2025 or 2026. So if anything, the company just wants to make sure GTA Online has what it takes to generate revenue and keep the world’s interest in the game at surprising levels even after so many years.
I’ve heard many people claiming GTAV on new-gen consoles feels like a completely new game. It does not. It’s still GTAV with improved graphics and other refinements here and there. GTA Online is the one that got most of the love, and given it’ll also launch as a standalone title, everything makes perfect sense.