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Grand Theft Auto V Reader Q&A

by Matt Bertz on Nov 16, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Last week, we asked fans to submit questions regarding Grand Theft Auto V. We received over 500 submissions, and I did my best to answer the most common questions.

Several of the questions you posed have no answers yet. We didn’t discuss the cover system, shooting mechanics, safe houses, car handling, game installation, health system, map, number of missions, hunting wildlife, radio stations, downloadable content, and multiplayer because we had no meaningful information to share.

Here are the questions in no particular order:

Can you play as one of the three characters throughout the whole game, or do you have to switch? Could I play it three times through and have a different perspective of the story each time?

You cannot play the entire game with just one character. Think of the narrative like a movie with several lead characters. Sometimes you’re only watching one of them, and other times they are all in the same scene. This is basically how Grand Theft Auto V is modeled. Sometimes you have to do a solo mission with Trevor, Michael, or Franklin to advance the story. Other times you will have two or three of the leads working together on a mission. When you are in those missions, however, many times you will have a choice of who you control.

Will my friend be able to control one of the three protagonists during campaign play or is all co-op separate from the story?

Rockstar told us explicitly that there is no co-op in the campaign. We can’t speak to whether or not a standalone cooperative mode exists.

While being able to play as three different characters and viewing a mission from three different angles, will you have to choose what character you play as at the beginning of the mission or will the transition happen organically throughout the missions?

In the mission we saw, the player started as Trevor flying the helicopter to the IAA headquarters, and was forced to switch to Michael to rappel down the skyscraper. Once he crashed through the window and grabbed the target, the player was offered the opportunity to either stay as Michael or switch to Franklin, who was positioned with a sniper rifle in an adjacent building. After Michael got back in the helicopter, the player had the option to either fly the chopper as Trevor or shoot at the pursuers as Michael or Franklin. That’s how Rockstar chose to build this mission, but the system affords them the ability to set up missions however they want.

What happens when you kill a protagonist you're not playing with?

Because all of these characters play integral roles in the narrative, Rockstar isn’t going to let you just off them on a whim.

Does Michael have like a house that you can walk into and find your children lounging around and can you interact with them?

Yes, you can walk into the house and interact with your family.

How far will the customization go in regards to weaponry, cars, and characters?

Rockstar didn’t speak to us about weapon or car customization, but Dan Houser did mention that players could buy new clothes for the protagonists.

Who will you play in single-player when you free roam?

You can play as whichever character you prefer. I recommend checking out all of them rather than sticking with just one, because each of them has unique side activities.

The article says that each character has his own location, like Trevor is from Blaine County. Does that mean that each character is limited to playing in just that area?

Each character lives in a different part of Los Santos, but their movements are by no means restricted. You could hop in a plane and fly anywhere.

Do you think personally that the switching works and still gives you that connection to the character?

Given Rockstar’s sterling reputation for creating compelling characters, I’m not worried about feeling disconnected just because there are three protagonists. Episodes of Liberty City worked fantastically, did it not? Michael, Franklin, and Trevor each bring something different to the table, and I hope allowing players to explore the city with these different perspectives is going to keep the game fresh. And since you're playing as a combination of all three – not just one, or all three all the time – you're learning about these characters as you go. Meeting a shared acquaintance as one guy might give you more info about one of the other guys you play as, for instance.

I would like to know more about the dogs. How can we interact with animals? Will we have our own dog?

None of the characters interacted with animals in the demo so we can’t speak to that functionality just yet, but we know that Franklin has a dog, call Chop.

How does the movement of characters work? Is it still the same or have they changed something?

GTA V uses the same Natural Motion Euphoria animation engine that powered GTA IV, Red Dead Redemption, and Max Payne 3.

Will the whole game world be open from the beginning, or will it open up as the story progresses like in previous GTA games and Red Dead?

Because Michael, Trevor, and Franklin live in different parts of Los Santos, the entire map is open for players to explore from the get-go.

Will Las Venturas and/or San Fiero be in GTA V? 

No. Rockstar chose to focus on making one proper city, Los Santos, rather than splitting that effort up into creating three.

What made Rockstar decide to take GTA V to Los Santos, and not Vice City or Liberty City again?

I’ll let Dan Houser field this question: “Sam, my brother, more than anyone, but also the lead artist Aaron Garbut, were both really interested in the idea of doing a proper Los Angeles. We felt we hadn't done that with San Andreas – which were these very small, sketch-like cities. Los Angeles and the surrounding countryside would be very interesting, giving us good themes to play on and lots of good different gameplay environments – something that could allude to aspects of IV and allude to aspects of San Andreas, but still feel very fresh and different from both of them…The geography you could get outside Los Angeles is spectacular. The contrast between desert/rural Southern California, inland from L.A. and just a bit north, compared to L.A., gives you a great microcosm of red state/blue state theme – different vibes culturally as much as geographically. I think that was something we really felt would be good about this location.”

Will Los Santos be technically similar to San Andreas in terms of being a state, with cities inside of it? 

If you’ve ever been to the Los Angeles metro area you know that so many of the cities – from Santa Monica and Beverly Hills to Compton and Hollywood – feel quite different from one another. Expect that same type of diversity in GTA V, plus some outlier communities sprinkled throughout the game world.

From what you saw, did Los Santos, the city itself (not including mountains/countryside/etc.) appear bigger than GTA IV’s Liberty City?

Los Santos definitely covers more square footage, just as the sprawling Los Angeles metro area does compared to New York City. But just like the real cities, if you’re wondering about the density of the downtown area, Los Santos proper is smaller than Liberty City.

Suffice to say, the game seems pretty big in regards to the map size and the amount that is rendered at once, so how well does the game run?

The game ran perfectly fine when we saw the demo. No noticeable lag, even when switching between characters. That’s a positive sign this far out for an open-world game, many of which are a mess right up to the final few weeks of development.

The world may be big, but just how much will there be to do in it? Will it be big just for sake of it or will there be some use to sections?

Rockstar wanted to make a large world to make flight compelling again, but don’t worry about not having stuff to do. The developers are bringing over the amazing dynamic mission structure featured in Red Dead Redemption to keep players engaged while they explore the game world. Since the lead characters live in very different areas of the map, live switching between them is a quick way to get across the map and discover what lies in a new area.

Will the missions have more variety in them? It seemed like a lot of the missions in GTA IV were just drive to location, take out target, drive back to safe location, repeat.

Rockstar is doing a lot to change up the missions in GTA V. Some missions will only feature one playable character, whereas others will feature two or three. This should give the missions a healthy amount of variety. A lot of the missions will be prepping for and pulling off complex heists. The switch mechanic also lets Rockstar skip over the flat spots in missions to always keep you in the action.

Will you be allowed to swim underwater?

Yes, and Rockstar intimated that there are plenty of underwater areas to explore.

When did the development for GTA V start? 

Rockstar started thinking about the next location it wanted to tackle shortly after GTA IV came out, around the same time it was working on Episodes of Liberty City. 

I think I speak for everyone when I ask this...will there be boats and hos?

It wouldn’t be a proper take on Los Angeles without boats or hos, so yes, you can expect plenty of both.

GTA IV really did a great job of immersing you in the game world with little things like the television and Internet. Are these going to make a return in GTA V?

Yes, both are returning. Dan Houser said you will likely be able to access the Internet directly from your smartphone, and they have some great plans for the television shows.

When you mentioned Trevor lighting a truck on fire with a gas can, is that something for a mission or is there more interaction with objects in the world?

I’m sure a mission or two may require you to light something on fire, but Trevor is the kind of psychopath who revels in destruction during his free time as well. You’ll be able to get your pyromaniac fix whenever you want.

How will the inventory system be handled with three protagonists?

Right now, each character has his own inventory and money, but Dan Houser explained that this is something Rockstar normally addresses late in the day so the system could change before the game’s release next spring.

Is there a trophy for beating at least 500 hookers to death for their money?

Probably not. But if you need a trophy for that, here is your prize.

Is GTA V going to take a more serious and realistic direction, considering competition from games like Saints Row, or will it continue with its bold history of crude humor and somewhat crazy sandbox action?

GTA V definitely contains the scintillating parody of American culture for which the series is known.

Is Carl Johnson in the game?

No. None of the characters from GTA III, Vice City, or San Andreas are in the game. However, a couple of familiar faces from GTA IV may visit the west coast.

In the screenshots Game Informer released I saw what looked like an Audi R8 as well as a Corvette and a Porsche 911. Does Rockstar have the licensing from real car manufacturers for GTA V?

No, Rockstar isn’t interested in licensing real cars for its parody world.

Will there be races?

Yes. GTA V has all kinds of races from the looks of it, including dirt bikes and triathlons.

From what you've seen, how was the game in terms of humor?

The demo we saw was focused on a rather serious mission (breaching the offices of the IAA, which is the GTA equivalent to the CIA), but it seems like Trevor’s madness and Michael’s family dynamic provide ample opportunity for comic relief. From flicking off people as he’s driving down the street to busting the balls of the security agent guarding a helicopter, Trevor’s unhinged antics brought a smile to our faces. Television, radio programs, and the Internet return as well, each of which was a great source of humor in previous games.

Is the Wanted system different in this game?

When I asked Dan Houser about this in the interview, he said he wasn’t exactly sure how it would be changing yet. They are tweaking it a bit, but probably not much.

How many discs we should expect for GTA V for the Xbox 360?

I asked if the game would require multiple discs, but Rockstar didn’t answer. Optimization often happens later in the development, so perhaps this isn’t determined yet.

Will this game be welcoming to first-time players of the series?

Since there is no over-arching story that ties the different Grand Theft Auto games together, you don’t need to come into GTA V with any previous knowledge. The narrative is entirely self-contained.

Is GTA V going to be the last GTA game in the Grand Theft Auto Series? 

I would put the odds of this being the last Grand Theft Auto game at one in a billion. The series is still massively popular, the Housers and the rest of the talented team at Rockstar are still in their prime, and the format of the game is such that they won’t be running out of new locations any time soon.

Will there be a Wii U or PC version?

As of right now, Rockstar says Grand Theft Auto V is coming to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 next spring. The company has announced no plans to bring it to PC, Wii U, or any other platform, but as we all know, that could change down the line. Rockstar does have a history of bringing GTA to the PC…

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