GTA V Post-Mortem: What can Rockstar improve for GTA VI?

The wait is finally over. Nearly 2 years after it was announced, Grand Theft Auto V is in stores and boy was it worth the wait. Having wrote countless posts speculating about the game before release it is surreal finally talking about the game having already played it for over 65 hours. The game has received insane reviews & is breaking commercial records everywhere. As a GTA super fan I am extremely happy with the game but it is not perfect (nothing is). Let’s dissect what the game nails and what perhaps could be improved upon in the next instalment

Note. This is solely playing devils advocate and trying to add a different perspective on the game. It’s obvious from all the reviews and if you've played the game how fantastic it is. This is merely talking about the minor flaws and criticisms I have with a modern day masterpiece. The only way you achieve perfection is if you seek it. So here goes nothing.

The open world in itself, which is undoubtedly the most important part of any GTA game, is almost flawless. Los Santos is huge and has so many activities to keep you entertained for many hours. It is bustling with life and has everything you could want ranging from random encounters and meeting strangers that offer interesting missions, partaking in a range of sports such as golf or the usual street races and base jumping. The whole map is given the same care and attention and the countryside is filled with gorgeous terrain and interesting sights to see. With the inclusion of wildlife also this really is one of, if not the best open worlds ever created.

When you consider how old the current consoles are it's extremely impressive just how amazing LS looks. This for me is the biggest achievement of GTA V as Liberty City lacked the replayability of past cities. This game really does have everything that will keep you coming back again and again even after your story ends.

The biggest flaw of the open world once again for me is the lack of interiors. The game is all about exploring the outside world and you don’t really notice it until you stop and think about just how many of the buildings don't have interiors. It has been a criticism of the series for years and I really thought this would have been worked out by now. It must not be a concern for Rockstar but being able to enter almost every building in Los Santos would have just been incredible and added that extra level of detail that GTA games strive to bring to the genre.

Underwater is a tricky one also. I wouldn't even mind if you couldn't swim like older games but with the scuba equipment, submarines and sharks it was clear before release that Rockstar was focusing on underwater more than ever before. The idea of being able to search through sunken ships was great in theory but that never materialised in the final game. Outside of when I had to for the story (which rarely happened) I haven't ventured underwater and don’t intend to. It seems like a waste of resources and needs to either have a reason to explore like the rest of the world which is admittedly hard, or just scrap it altogether.

The one area that did disappoint me the most was the story. Whilst it's not vital to a GTA game it is still a big part and I do think there are still many ways in which it could can improve. What started off as a rather unique take on multiple characters views and perspectives on trying to better their lives slowly turned into a more predictable and bland crime story. Stronger supporting characters such as Lamar started off strong but were then thrown to the side in favour of the three protagonists and it was hard to ever feel attached to anyone due to how much screen time each individual character got.

I also felt that the game suffered the usual problems in the form of its mission structure. At times I felt like I was performing pointless tasks for people I didn't even know or why I was doing it. My motivation was unclear and it felt like the typical busywork in GTA games. I definitely didn't feel this as much as past games but it’s still a small area of frustration which I know can be improved upon in the future.

SPOILER ALERT - Minor story spoilers follow

The endings in particular I really felt underwhelmed. Boiling down the final choice into three boring options felt like such an outdated feature that shouldn't be present in 2013. None of the endings felt that rewarding in my opinion plus I would rather there was just one true ending like in Red Dead Redemption as opposed to giving the player multiple options, none of which felt satisfactory. My actions over the course of the game had zero impact and none of the options presented I felt stayed true to the characters I had come to know rather well during my time with the game.

Some of the character’s actions and motivations also do sometimes seem rather odd with Trevor in particular being rather bipolar at times. This does suit his character somewhat being a unhinged psychopath but I also felt that he went through a bunch of character revisions in production which ultimately muddles him slightly. The times where Trevor came across as a rather intelligent and scary human being were fantastic. He was aware of how crazy his actions were, made reference to them and was in on the joke. Clearly inspired by modern day super intelligent movie villains.

Then there was the unfortunately majority of the time where he seemed clueless at how abnormal his behaviour was and at many times the butt of the joke. He was quite simply a dumb, deranged criminal and all the layers that were hinted out were thrown away in favor of an a more simple, comedy relief character. Still entertaining but really could have been something way more memorable.

Having said all that I want to reiterate these are my minor criticisms of a game I absolutely adore. It was completely worth the wait and met my extremely high expectations in almost every way. The whole package is just so well put together it's really unlike anything we've seen before in the genre. Once again it's up to Rockstar to push the envelope in almost every direction and it really makes you wonder how long they can stay at the top. Seeing as they've been there since GTA III, I wouldn't take any bets on that happening any time soon.

Overall this game is undoubtedly a masterpiece. It will go down as one of the best games of this generation and arguably one of the best games of all time. Continuing to set the bar for everyone, GTA and Rockstar look set to dominate for many, many years to come. Long may that reign continue. The real problem with the game though; how will they top this with GTA VI?

44 Comments
44 Comments
Posted by jimmyfenix

The one thing i would like to see is Rockstar do is set GTA VI in a new city. The amount of detail they put in Los Santos was amazing. Imagine what they could achieve in GTA VI.

Posted by _Mattallica

@jimmyfenix: I think it's most likely for the new one. It's clear they aren't really interested in San Fierro or Las Venturas anymore. People are dying for more Vice City but it's so small and would be hard to do if it's not set in the 80's. I definitely want to see a new city. Hopefully Carcer City that's always mentioned but never seen would be great. A separate Carcer to Manhunt's version that is.

Edited by Andorski

I completely agree with wanting more interiors of buildings. It's really jarring to see this virtual city full of life and then finding out that almost all the doors are just "painted" onto the buildings. Something like a mall (which was in SRII) would be great to roam around/cause havok in.

Edited by MB

I wonder if they could find some way to procedurally generate building interiors. So, not every single building would need to be pre-rendered, but the engine would generate an interior that was appropriate for the building when the player went to enter it.

Moderator
Edited by Seppli
  • Refined chopper controls. While I can control them proficiently and efficiently by now - make 'em go exactly how I want to go, hover and land exactly where I want to land, when I want it, and so forth (flying choppers is actually amazing fun, once one has a feeling for how to manage their inertia) - they still feel rather limited in terms of range of movement. Worst of all, precise aiming with the helo-mounted miniguns is, as far as I'm concerned, absolutely improbable, if not impossible.
  • More repeatable crime activities like Trevor's gun running. I want to deal drugs. I want to steal cars and bring them to the chop shop for profit. Run a call girl ring. All that good stuff. While playing tennis and such is really well done for what it is, I'd prefer doing more crimes and make some cash. The greatest thing ever would be non-scripted procedurally generated heists.
  • I'd love if cool vehicles with special abilities were available during regular play too, not just in missions. Like carpet bombing with Trevor's gun running plane? I'd love to do that just for fun.
Posted by Scampbell

Europe would be cool but that is not going to happen. The lack of interiors are definitely the most obvious flaw but I guess at some point games will be limited by the cost of production surpassing the profits. I think GTA is probably the game that is going to reach these limits first, though I would still like to see a GTA being even more "alive".

Edited by rjayb89

I want to stand in the middle of a street and have cars spawn normally.

Edited by Seppli

Setting-wise? I'd love a GTA game set in the borderland of Texas and Mexico. That'd be baller. Mexico is so fucking scary. Texans are fun and crazy, and an easy target for satire.

Otherwise? I'd want to know what Rockstar's take on a fantasy open world would be - like Rockstar's take on Baldur's Gate 2. Or Rockstar's take on a Shadow of Rome-like scenario.

Posted by RandomHero666

A PC release alongside consoles.

Posted by MEATBALL
@seppli said:

Setting-wise? I'd love a GTA game set in the borderland of Texas and Mexico. That'd be baller. Mexico is so fucking scary. Texans are fun and crazy, and an easy target for satire.

Otherwise? I'd want to know what Rockstar's take on a fantasy open world would be - like Rockstar's take on Baldur's Gate 2. Or Rockstar's take on a Shadow of Rome-like scenario.

Seriously, Rockstar taking on Texas would be fucking awesome.

The first improvement that springs to mind is some way to make landing Helicopters easier, goddamn that shit feels like wrestling with the controller. And when the game asks you to pick something up and drop it off with a helicopter? Urgh.

Posted by wemibelec90

I'd like a different kind of game entirely, but I know that will never happen. I'm really tired of open-world games in their current form; only games like Saints Row IV and Infamous, where maneuvering around the world is quick and fun, still seem interesting.

Posted by RubberBabyBuggyBumpers

the shooting mechanics and aiming while in a vehicle need to be improved.

a totally different location would be nice. los santos and liberty city are played out.

make flying airplanes and helicopters fun again. the same goes for parachuting/skydiving. airplane and helicopter controls are fine in saint's row: the third.

Posted by _Mattallica

@mb: This seems like a good solution. Most buildings don't need to have tons of detail, as long as they represent what you would expect and just had the basics it would be better than nothing.

Interesting a lot of people have referenced the flying controls. Other than landing a helicopter which is always tricky I found flying planes & heli's and skydiving very easy to control. Could be because I've played GTA games for so long now I'm just used to it. The shooting also I think has been improved a lot if you go back and play IV. No surprise after MP3 pretty much nailed 3rd person shooting.

Posted by Ares42

Once again it's up to Rockstar to push the envelope in almost every direction and it really makes you wonder how long they can stay at the top. Seeing as they've been there since GTA III, I wouldn't take any bets on that happening any time soon.

While you're throwing around plenty of superlatives I don't quite agree with, this is probably the part I disagree with the most. To me GTA V just felt like an old horse trodding along. If there's one thing they need to change, it's to look around and see what others have done with open world games. GTA might be king when it comes to driving around and campaign missions, but as far as being an open world game it's fallen quite far behind. Having finished the main story and all the Freaks and Geeks quests I'm looking at the legend on the side of the map and basically nothing there excites me in any way.

Posted by SomeJerk

1) Develop for the PS4 as a master platform, then downport it to the other platforms
2) Have the story written like a book and not an action film
3) Done, success guaranteed

Posted by Missacre

As I've said in other threads, I'd like to see a GTA set in Las Venturas centered around the mob's involvement in it, I guess kind of like the movie Casino, maybe set in the 60s or 70s. That would be a great game. I would also like to see more buildings you can enter, bigger gun variety, more melee weapons than just a bat and a knife. I'd like to see something like Dead Rising where you can use things in the environment to use as weapons, within reason of course. A character creation system would be neat, but I don't know if it'll work for GTA. Also, maybe a female protagonist, but if it doesn't work in the story, it's not gonna work. I don't want it to be forced. Also, maybe develop the PC version along with consoles and release them at the same time, or use the PC as the lead platform, there's so much more you can do on a PC.

Posted by _Mattallica

@ares42: That's your opinion and if you find there's not much to do outside the story that interests you then I can't disagree with that. However it's clear from the sales and reviews that many believe GTA to be the best in it's genre, including myself. As I've stated, there's still areas I think can be improved but overall no other games in the genre have made me come back as often as GTA. I've enjoyed Saint's Row and I'm looking forward to Watch_Dogs but they just don't do it for me in the same level. I guess it's just a matter of opinion really.

@somejerk said:

1) Develop for the PS4 as a master platform, then downport it to the other platforms

This might be possible in the future but seeing as development started on GTA V way before PS4 dev kits were available this was ultimately impossible this time round.

@missacre said:

Also, maybe develop the PC version along with consoles and release them at the same time, or use the PC as the lead platform, there's so much more you can do on a PC.

Whilst I agree and Rockstar more than anyone have the luxury of not having to worry too much about finances and selling copies like other companies. However it's clear that the console versions will make WAY more money so it makes perfect business sense to make those versions your top priority. The PC version will come and delaying it will hopefully limit the amount of problems it has so I'm sure it will be worth the wait for people who don't have the option of the console versions or just chose to wait.

Posted by _Mattallica

@missacre said:

As I've said in other threads, I'd like to see a GTA set in Las Venturas centered around the mob's involvement in it, I guess kind of like the movie Casino, maybe set in the 60s or 70s. That would be a great game.

I like this idea a lot. Really hope we see this setting in the future.

Posted by Barrock

@missacre said:

As I've said in other threads, I'd like to see a GTA set in Las Venturas centered around the mob's involvement in it, I guess kind of like the movie Casino, maybe set in the 60s or 70s. That would be a great game. I would also like to see more buildings you can enter, bigger gun variety, more melee weapons than just a bat and a knife. I'd like to see something like Dead Rising where you can use things in the environment to use as weapons, within reason of course. A character creation system would be neat, but I don't know if it'll work for GTA. Also, maybe a female protagonist, but if it doesn't work in the story, it's not gonna work. I don't want it to be forced. Also, maybe develop the PC version along with consoles and release them at the same time, or use the PC as the lead platform, there's so much more you can do on a PC.

This would be amazing. Casino's one of my favorite films, so getting something similar in a game would be amazing.

The character swap aspect could work towards an Ocean's 11 type game as well. There's so much they could do.

Posted by sadsadsad

Whilst I agree and Rockstar more than anyone have the luxury of not having to worry too much about finances and selling copies like other companies. However it's clear that the console versions will make WAY more money so it makes perfect business sense to make those versions your top priority. The PC version will come and delaying it will hopefully limit the amount of problems it has so I'm sure it will be worth the wait for people who don't have the option of the console versions or just chose to wait.

To further the "good business" argument, contrast and compare the scenarios:

"Please Rockstar bring the game to our platform"-petitions. Creating a certain type of hype, where their product seem to be a privilege for the console consumer.

Or a "twitter shitstorm", because of the inevitable problems some consumers will have on the PC.

People love to bitch on the internet, what kind of bitching do you think Rockstar prefers during their launches?

Posted by Video_Game_King

Post mortem? What? It's been out for about two weeks, and it's been an obvious critical and (I'm assuming) financial success. What part of that suggests it being dead?

Posted by _Mattallica
Posted by ZeForgotten

Man if I knew that I wouldn't write about the games and play them I would develop them.
I would love to see more interior stuff as well though. There's much potential to be had there I believe.

What I really want Rockstar to do is not bow to the mass hysteria and pressure from people demanding a female protagonist. (which they're hopefully smart enough not to listen to, I mean come on, they're adults, right?)
If you write a good story and it's centered around a female as a protagonist then that's fine, that'll make it work.

If it's just "Ok, so we had this character, he started as a male character. But we gave him boobs and changed the name and voice so now it's female" that's not gonna cut it.

Also, more stuff to explore!
While GTA V is a great looking game (especially considering the amount of shit that goes on just on the technical side of it) there was really no super duper important point to say, hike in the mountains or something like that. Impressive looking sure but what other point was there to be up there for more than a few minutes(when it came to a few side missions) or your GPS decided to guide you to your location using the most boring route in the entire game.

But again, I'm not a developer or writer for video games so what I say means absolutely nothing at all.

Posted by Oldirtybearon

@zeforgotten: I don't think you have to worry about Rockstar bowing to any public sentiment anytime soon. It's Rockstar. They've been doing their own thing since the first Grand Theft Auto.

Edited by spraynardtatum

I want Rockstar to do whatever they feel like they should do for GTA IV just with less microtransactions.

Posted by Microshock

Interior stuff is my biggest gripe. Why remove Clucking Bells and Burger Shots? It was just part of the atmosphere/immersion.

Posted by MideonNViscera

I was thinking they could do Vice City again in present day, and just add in the swamps and an amusement part or something.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@_mattallica:

Pointing out that the use of the word "post-mortem" is strange in this context, since it suggests that the game is dead (mort being the Latin word for dead).

Posted by Kung_Fu_Viking
@mb said:

I wonder if they could find some way to procedurally generate building interiors. So, not every single building would need to be pre-rendered, but the engine would generate an interior that was appropriate for the building when the player went to enter it.


The problem with creating new spaces is that they need to be filled with meaningful content content or else you end up with a huge open world filled with nothing. Procedurally generating actual missions is not an easy problem to solve and the output will almost certainly not be as good as content created by hand. However, if you start assigning people to create content for every interior in the game, the workload increases by a huge amount.

The only ways to have all interiors accessible and meaningful using current technology would be to either increase the developer count (which costs a lot) or to decrease the scope of the game so there's less "stuff", but all of that stuff is interactive and meaningful.

Posted by ZeForgotten

@oldirtybearon: I fully believe you're correct in saying so but even still it's really just one of the things I don't want them to do whenever the next GTA game comes around.
Not that I need that game right now anyway

Posted by Rick_Fingers

Ask Volition to make it and just do the art?

Edited by _Mattallica

@video_game_king: Post Mortem is a common phrase when discussing a game after it has been released. Has been used in this context for years, mainly by developers.

Posted by Video_Game_King

Has been used in this context for years, mainly by developers.

When?

Posted by supermonkey122

The next one should take place in Carcer City, where Manhunt 1 took place. I would love to see what they could do with a really dangerous city, since Carcer is based on Camden, and Detroit.

Edited by _Mattallica
Posted by Spidu

Make a good game.

Posted by Microshock

Ask Volition to make it and just do the art?

If Volition had their hands on the game, all that would happen is that they'd re-use the GTA V map, put a bunch of bad jokes in, and add one new gimmick to the world.


Posted by Kung_Fu_Viking
Posted by Video_Game_King

@kung_fu_viking:

The more surprising part is that Gamasutra's been around since 1997.

Posted by JasonR86

They need to stop with the snarky, trying to be clever but is far too obvious, "funny" writing. By and large it has been fucking painful to listen to. Also the mission structure for a lot if the early, and even some later, missions are just dull. I don't really like putting up with a lot of bad or a little bit if good.

Posted by sdharrison

@seppli said:

Setting-wise? I'd love a GTA game set in the borderland of Texas and Mexico. That'd be baller. Mexico is so fucking scary. Texans are fun and crazy, and an easy target for satire.

Otherwise? I'd want to know what Rockstar's take on a fantasy open world would be - like Rockstar's take on Baldur's Gate 2. Or Rockstar's take on a Shadow of Rome-like scenario.

These are all great ideas. The Mexico setting has so many possibilities. Cartels scare the shit out of me lol

Posted by LackingSaint

Focus on compelling and interesting characters, rather than this constant slaw of "LOOK WHAT AN ASSHOLE/WEIRDO THIS GUY IS WA-HEY". I get that this is apparently the way all GTA games have been written, but in the year 2013 it has become painfully clear what a stale, boring way of character presentation that is. It says a lot that everyone likes the main three, Lamarr, and then.... maybe Wade?

Edited by MonkeyKing1969

I coudl yammer away in this topic for pages, but I will try to keep it simple.

1) Branch the story, branch the options in teh story, and allow for more outcomes. Dialogue trees, choices for what happens, failing missions making something else happen, etc.

2) It doesn't need to be a city! Make a small town, and island, or a village. But make 90% of the building, homes, etc places you can enter. Make 80% of the population people who can talk with for more than 15 seconds. Make half the people you see on the streets people you either have a main story lien with or people who are in major submissions. Yes, it is smaller...yes that would be much smaller...but the density of content would be teh same. Use the NEXT GEN tech for faster loading so that despite everything you see being very complex inside/outside geometry it all works.

3) It is a Grand Theft Auto game, it will probably be about thieves? That first hesit in GTA 5 was magical, so I would want more off that outside of the main story. Plan a heist, make the preparations, and then execute teh plan...than do whatever it takes when things go pear-shaped. DO that repeatedly! Also, allow for not doing any heists...or not pulling one off

4) Come on, put a main character that is a women in there - just do it. Do it because that would make an interesting story, do it as a challenge, or do it because it is just the right thing to do.

5) If you really think it needs to be a satire...which I actually don't because a stright up crime story would be fine with me. But, if it must be a satire choose your targets better. Pick on the people with POWER, not on people who merely annoy your as a W.A.S.P. values. Also...lighten up you bitter old turds! Not ever person, place and thing is beneath you contempt; would it kill you to show a hooker with a heart of gold or a stripper working her way through college? Most of you character need to have some redeeming values unless you truly plan for them to be the antagonists or the jerks of the story.

Posted by ProfessorEss

@seppli said:
  • More repeatable crime activities like Trevor's gun running. I want to deal drugs. I want to steal cars and bring them to the chop shop for profit. Run a call girl ring. All that good stuff. While playing tennis and such is really well done for what it is, I'd prefer doing more crimes and make some cash. The greatest thing ever would be non-scripted procedurally generated heists.

I think the #1 area in which they could improve is to stop using resources on creating darts and golfing mini-games and change all (or at least most) of the side activities to crime-related activities. I love the way Rockstar puts together a living, breathing world but none of the mundane, life-like activities draw me into the world anymore than I already am.