The lights are on
Rockstar Games has a
long lineage of best-selling games, but one complaint that frequently recurred
in the early years of the Grand Theft Auto series was the lack of fidelity in
gun combat. The developer tackled this challenge head-on in moving to current
generation of consoles with Grand Theft Auto IV, and has continued to sharpen
its aim with Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3. Associate technical director
and combat designer Phil Hooker explains how Grand Theft Auto V synthesizes the
lessons learned in these games to create what Rockstar believes to be the most fluid
gunplay system it has made to date.
From the demo we
saw, it looks like Rockstar has made major changes to gunplay. Can you tell us
what's happening?A massive amount of
work went into overhauling animation systems, targeting, and camerawork to
really open up new opportunities for the player in the kind of freeform,
open-world action shootouts that are the heart of Grand Theft Auto. We wanted
shooting to feel more precise and satisfying while supporting multiple styles
of play. The controls have been expanded, so now in addition to traditional
left trigger "down the sights" aiming, you can also both run and shoot
comfortably while only using the right trigger. This retains the benefits of seeing
your character from the third-person view while keeping the feel much closer to
the range of motion and shooting precision you have in a first-person shooter.
It also opens up opportunities for players to develop their skills in both
single-player and multiplayer, as the more accurate you are while moving
quickly the greater your advantage.
This range of motion
and precision is completely new to Grand Theft Auto and it really changes the
way shootouts feel. Firing on the run keeps your field of vision open, while
the locomotion system adjusts automatically between strafing with your weapon
up and the more traditional style of locomotion when you are not actively
firing. The additional freedom is great for the kind of chaotic shootouts that
emerge when you're out in the open world causing havoc and quickly find
yourself heavily outgunned and boxed in.
To make this all
work, we added an additional layer to our locomotion system. If you fire your
weapon, or become engaged in a fight, your character's bearing changes and your
default speed switches from a casual walk to a combat jog, giving you improved
mobility as well as a greater sense of urgency. If there's no threat or
you haven't been firing, you'll revert back to a relaxed state. The transitions
between these states are all handled seamlessly without breaking stride, and
your characters always appear aware of their surroundings because they're
behaving appropriately. Each character's personality is also reflected in the
way they move and handle weapons, whether it's Trevor's aggressiveness,
Franklin's swagger, or Michael's efficiency.
Would you say the
gunplay is more similar to GTA IV, Red Dead Redemption, or Max Payne 3?The best way to
describe the gunplay is that it's evolved through influences of all three
games. It's still GTA-based at its core, but as we've collaborated with other
studios along the way we've tried to bring in all the appropriate parts from
the different projects, from the more advanced cover components and
targeting of Red Dead Redemption to the more fluid transitions in and out of
gun combat from Max Payne 3. The main push for gunplay on GTA V was trying
to make everything as dynamic and fluid as possible, from animation to
targeting to camera behavior - we're trying to push every aspect to the next
Talk us through
the evolution of gun targeting since GTA IV. What is the default setting - hard
lock, soft lock, or free aim? How have each of these settings changed
from previous Rockstar games?We really wanted to
refine the way the targeting system worked so that outside of free aim, it was
a more subtle form of assistance that was almost invisible to the player and
less of a hard mechanic. Hard lock has gone altogether as we found it too
disorientating and often broke your immersion with the game, as you didn't have
to think about enemy locations. We wanted players to stay in the moment and
think more tactically about firefights.
For GTA V, we've
split targeting out into three distinct modes: assisted aiming, traditional
GTA, and free aim.
gives players a larger targeting area as well as a little more help analyzing
targets to try and pick the largest threat.
Traditional GTA is
the closest to previous GTA's soft lock option. It shares all the
characteristics of assisted aiming, with the additional ability to flick left
and right between targets using the right stick.
refinement is that every aim mode now has a timer that breaks lock so you have
to be more tactical in your approach - you can no longer just rely on holding
and shooting until a target is dead.
We've also added
other assists to free aim for each of those modes, including help with reticule
speeds near targets. We've also spent time making sure the camera movement
is smooth so you aren't disorientated by choosing between targets in the heat
of a battle. Both of these work in tandem to make the shooting feel fluid
without you noticing there's any assistance at all.
In addition to the
assisted modes, experienced shooter players should feel more comfortable than
ever playing the entire game in free aim.
How has the cover
The game at times is
all about switching from one character to the next, allowing the player to make
fast choices with seamless transitions. We carried this mentality through into
the cover system, keeping things intuitive and responsive whether the player is
quickly dashing into or out of cover or moving round corners to take aim on a
We've also pushed
the cover system to further bridge the gap between driving and gunplay. In
addition to smoothly running out of a car whilst firing a gun, players are able
to use their car as cover, getting out and staying low without exposing
themselves. They can make a stand there behind the car for a while and then at
any time quickly re-enter the car from cover or from shooting and speed away
with little exposure to enemy fire. It can really make the difference at
To read more about our impressions of combat, click here. For an even more in depth look at Grand Theft Auto V, click on our cover story hub below:
Email the author Matt Bertz, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
Wonderful Q&A on the combat Bertz! Looks like the overhaul they have been doing with the GTA-based combat have been improving the gunplay. Very excited.
I'm can't wait until September. This game is gonna be epic.
GTA V combat will be amazing.
This is probably the part of GTA V that excited me the most. Not to say that every dang aspect of the game doesn't excite me.
Sounds like the gunplay is going to be amazing, especially with RDR and MP3 elements.
I done pooped myself again!!!!!!
Looks incredibly awesome.