Grand Theft Auto V

What We Know About Grand Theft Auto V: The Overview
by Matt Bertz on Nov 12, 2012 at 07:00 AM
Platform PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Publisher Rockstar Games
Developer Rockstar North
Rating Mature

Our 18-page cover story goes into great detail about the narrative, characters, mission structure, setting, and extracurricular activities, but if you’re looking for a brief overview on the game here is a concise summary.

The Characters

  • Building off the idea of multiple playable characters introduced in Episodes of Liberty City, Grand Theft Auto V stars three main protagonists.
  • Michael is a retired bank robber who is living a life of luxury thanks to a sweetheart deal with the FIB. But when his wife burns through all his money he is forced to get back in the game.
  • Trevor is a frequent drug user who is prone to violent outbursts. A former military pilot, he used to rob banks but now he scrapes to get by living on the fringes of Los Santos society.
  • Franklin is a hustler who works for an Armenian scam artist who sells young kids cars they can’t afford. When they default on the loans, Franklin repossesses the cars. He crosses paths with Michael when looking for a bigger score.
  • Players can switch between these characters at any time when they are off mission.
  • Rockstar says due to the heavy volume of voiceover recording sessions, celebrities don’t make sense as options for lead characters. Like Niko Bellic before them, Michael, Franklin, and Trevor will all have unknown voice actors.
  • Each main character has a few unique hobbies that only they can participate in.
  • Though Rockstar wouldn’t name specific characters, it confirmed that some familiar faces from Grand Theft Auto IV and Episodes From Liberty City may resurface in Los Santos.
  • Niko Bellic will not be one of the recurring characters.
  • Characters from the PS2 era of Grand Theft Auto games will not appear, either.

The Missions

  • The story missions feature a healthy variety of styles. Some feature one protagonist, while others have two or three participants.
  • When a mission features multiple protagonists, players are often given the option of switching between them at will in the middle of the job. Rockstar chose this approach to always keep the player in the action and eliminate the flat spots.
  • Each of the three main characters has a fully fleshed-out story arc, but instead of waiting for the finale to introduce complex missions, Grand Theft Auto V peppers several complicated, multi-tiered heists in the vein of Grand Theft Auto IV’s popular “Three Leaf Clover” mission across the narrative. These missions will including prepping for the heists and the break-ins themselves.
  • The mission we watched during the live gameplay demo started with Trevor and Michael taking a helicopter to the IAA headquarters, which is the GTA equivalent to the CIA.
  • When they arrive at the skyscraper, Michael repels down the side of the building until he locates their target – a person being interrogated that the FIB wants removed from the hands of the IAA. 
  • When Michael breaks through the glass and grabs the target, a switch option appears for the player. From here you could stay as Michael or switch to Franklin, who is positioned with a sniper rifle in an adjacent building, to take out the startled IAA agents. These changes happen instantaneously and smoothly, with cinematic angles that help you re-orient yourself in the new perspective.
  • Once the player clears the room of IAA agents and Michael safely makes it into the chopper with the extraction target, a helicopter chase ensures. During this sequence, the player can switch freely between piloting the chopper as Trevor and shooting out the back toward the tailing helicopters with either Franklin or Michael.
  • For the first time in a GTA game, Rockstar is using a score to bring some tension to the missions.

The World

  • Taking the interiors and exteriors into account, the world of Los Santos is bigger than the worlds of GTA IV, San Andreas, and Red Dead Redemption combined, with room to spare.
  • Grand Theft Auto V combines the best of both GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption, giving players the largest open-world playground in Rockstar history with a huge and diverse city serving as the epicenter.
  • Locations include beachfronts, wine country, a large wilderness area surrounding a fully explorable Mt. Chiliad, a region modeled after the Salton Sea called the Alamos Sea, a military base, and of course the sprawling suburban hills leading up to the bustling urban center of Los Santos. Bring your scuba equipment, too, because you can even explore the fully detailed ocean floor along the Los Santos coastline.

The Gameplay

  • Rockstar says it has rebuilt the shooting mechanics, driving, and melee combat from the ground up.
  • To encourage players to explore this vast expanse, Rockstar is giving them more vehicles than any other Grand Theft Auto to date. 
  • Confirmed vehicles include a BMX bike, mountain bikes, road bikes, dirt bikes, a huge variety of cars and trucks, helicopters, planes, ATVs, and Jet Skis. You won’t have to wait until the endgame to take to the skies, either. Since Trevor is a former war veteran with flight experience, you just need to find a plane to fly it.
  • Rockstar plans to blow out off-mission activities to an even greater degree with a variety of different side missions and more sophisticated minigames in the vein of Red Dead Redemption’s poker. 
  • Confirmed activities include yoga, triathlons, Jet Skiing, base jumping, tennis, and even a full-fledged golf game.
  • Because Michael, Trevor, and Franklin are fully fleshed-out characters with specific skill traits, Grand Theft Auto V does not have the RPG-style player customization so many people loved in San Andreas. 
  • However, you can still customize the look of the characters with different clothing.
  • The dating system is not returning to GTA V, which Rockstar says is due to the nature of the characters.
  • GTA V does not allow players to buy real estate, but Rockstar knows players didn’t have much to spend their money on toward the end of GTA IV so it plans to remedy this with the sequel.

If you want a deeper dive into the world of Grand Theft Auto V and give some context to these bullet points, find out how to purchase a copy of our December issue here. To discover new content throughout the month, please check back regularly by visiting our hub:  

Products In This Article

Grand Theft Auto Vcover

Grand Theft Auto V

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date:
September 17, 2013 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360), 
November 18, 2014 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One), 
April 14, 2015 (PC), 
March 15, 2022 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S)