Grand Theft Auto V
You’ve read the cover story. You’ve watched the trailers. Now, get a closer look at the three men whose stories define Rockstar’s next open-world epic.
If you’ve somehow managed to miss the news, this latest Grand Theft Auto doesn’t have one hero; it has three. What’s more, their sagas are intertwined throughout the entire game. During most of the game you can switch instantly between characters, experiencing the events of GTA V from three very different perspectives.
To give the game dramatic heft and variety, these characters are vastly different in temperament, background, and skills. By constantly moving from character to character, you’ll learn each one’s motives and experience the world from their point of view. Read on to discover more about each of the protagonists. While most of this information is available in our cover story, we wanted to give you a quick-and-easy summary of the game’s three heroes.
This is the character many assumed was the main character of Grand Theft Auto V. Michael is a middle-aged ex-bank robber, ensconced in his gilded cage in Rockford Hills, GTA’s approximation of Beverly Hills. Judging by his house, he was quite good at his former profession. He’s now living in quiet retirement with his wife Audra, daughter Tracy, and son Jimmy.
A big house, an attractive younger wife, a fast car, and two children – sounds like paradise, right? Sadly, Michael has found the good life lacking. In reality, his wife can barely tolerate him, and spends her time spending his money throughout the city’s finest boutiques. His daughter and son have little time for him. For Rockstar, Michael represents an interesting paradigm: he’s basically “won” the game that so many GTA protagonists have played over the years. He escaped from the criminal life with his fortune and freedom intact. Yet, he’s miserable and bored, trapped in a loveless marriage he can’t leave because he’s basically in witness protection.
From what we’ve seen so far, Michael appears to be thoughtful and calculated, and likely to keep his motives hidden. These traits were likely the ones that allowed him to survive his criminal career.
Like any aging criminal of fiction, his retirement isn’t as permanent as he thinks.
Role In GTA V
We only saw a small portion of a very large game, but we did see enough to draw some conclusions about Michael’s role in GTA V and his place in this tenuous alliance of three career criminals. As an experienced bank robber, he’s skilled in planning the complex heists that make up the structure for the single-player saga. In the cutscenes we saw, Michael appears to be the team’s leader – although neither of his partners is easily led. He’s good with a gun, and though older now, still capable of tackling challenging tasks like rappelling out of a helicopter onto a skyscraper.
He has a long, often troubled relationship with Trevor, and the two bickered frequently in the demo. He appears to hold some affection for Franklin, and seems to see a bit of himself in the young up-and-comer.
Rockstar vice president of creative Dan Houser on Michael:
“When we started with Michael, the idea was an older guy who was very successful getting sucked back into the game. Of all the various stories we've told about bank robbers, thieves, and hit men over the years, this was a story – just as we thought with GTA IV and Niko as an immigrant – that's got a lot of freshness to it.”
No heist drama is complete without one of the classic archetypes of crime cinema: the loose cannon. Trevor, an old associate of Michael’s from his bank robbing days, is the wild card in this deck. His could help save the day, or ruin all of Michael’s careful planning depending on his mood.
To put it kindly, Trevor is a difficult person to deal with. While Michael has been relaxing in luxury, Trevor has been scraping by in Blaine County, a meth infested desert town filled with trailer parks and cheap bars. His life is a shambles; in our first meeting with him he’s on the toilet, struggling with drug-induced constipation. It’s not a pretty sight, nor is the squalid trailer he lives in. Trevor lives a destitute life of small time scores and the constant plague of addiction. After leaving his trailer, he hops in his jeep, flicks off some people standing on the side of the road, and heads over another location to set a pickup truck on fire – just another day at the office.
In many ways, he’s Michael’s opposite: impetuous, vengeful, and controlled by his temper and desires. Throughout the game, he’ll make life a bit more interesting that Michael would like.
Role In GTA V
While he’s erratic, don’t discount the significant skills Trevor brings to the team. He’s ex-military, and skilled in both combat and piloting aircraft like helicopters. In the mission we saw, Trevor was the one that flew the team to the skyscraper they needed to infiltrate. In the aftermath, as the team was pursued by law enforcement copters, he proved to be an able pilot under pressure.
However, his personality is clearly going to cause problems. At the beginning of the mission, he angrily insulted an armed security guard and also tried to cause some dissent in the team, mocking Michael’s fatherly relationship with Franklin, who he seems to dislike.
Still, his fearless, nearly psychotic demeanor should make him an asset in a firefight – as long as he doesn’t get you killed in the process.
Dan Houser on Trevor:
“Trevor appeared to us pretty much out of nowhere as the embodiment of another side of criminality – of freedom, and of doing what you want. If Michael was meant to be the idea of some version of criminal control – or some sort of bourgeois criminal who tries to go straight and gets sucked back in – what about the guy who didn't do that? What about the opposite guy? What about the guy who just says ‘f--- off’ every moment, is relentless, doesn't want to stop taking drugs, doesn't want to stop partying, doesn't want to be told 'no' by anyone, and just completely revels in chaos?”
Franklin is the youngest of the crew, and perhaps the one who has the closest ties to GTA protagonists like C.J. and Luis Lopez. In his mid-to-late 20s, Franklin is a young hustler hoping to escape the world of street crime he grew up in. As such, he’s ambitious, perhaps to a fault, and very eager to take on new illegal challenges. It seems likely that these traits are something Michael recognizes a younger version of himself in.
At the outset of the game, Franklin is employed by Armenian gangsters who run a loan-sharking operation. It’s simple: they lend people money at exorbitant interest rates to purchase luxury cars, and when they default, the Armenians repossess their vehicles. That’s Franklin’s job. As a result, he’s frequently tooling around the city in seized sports cars – something that appeals to his flashy personality.
Franklin is from South Los Santos, the GTA world’s approximation of Compton, and comes from a background steeped in street hustling. Like past GTA characters, he’s stuck between the allure of two worlds as he begins his ambitious rise from the hood. In the footage we’ve seen, Franklin’s friend Lamar seems to be one of the forces attempting to pull him back into the small time world of street crime. In the second GTA trailer, we see a femle characters (a girlfriend or sister) tell Franklin, “I don’t care how many cars you steal – you ain’t changing.”
Role In GTA V
Franklin might be young, but he’s smart and capable, and provides the team with a level of physical prowess that both Michael and Trevor lack. He’s also a deadly shot. In the skyscraper segment we saw, Franklin was perched in another building, providing cover for Michael with a sniper rifle. Also, as a repo man, he’s got good skills behind the wheel.
Dan Houser on Franklin:
“Franklin was the idea of this street hustler in the modern world where the glory days – if there ever were glory days of gang banging – had long since passed. When some of the illusions of this life have been shattered, what do you do now having been in that world? That seemed like an interesting character; a guy in his mid-to-late 20s who wants to move forward but doesn't really know how and is being held back by some of his more idiotic and dangerous friends."