The Grand Theft Auto series has been one of the pioneers of the third person open-world/sandbox genre, and with the upcoming GTAV, these are some things I hope to see implemented that would help push the franchise and the genre to a new level. Since the game is rumored to possibly be released this year, these also apply to future titles as well if they’re not in GTAV.
Editor-in-Chief Gary’s Wishlist:
1.) Real World Simulation
GTA4 was a serious crime game, and I’d very much like to see GTA5 be more of the same in that respect. There’s a place for over-the-top insane open-world games, and Saints Row pretty much has that spot occupied. Games like Just Cause and super-heroish ones like InFamous and Prototype also fill that void. GTA5 needs to be serious, it needs to be real.
For example, I ran into a cop car with my motorcycle while playing The Lost and the Damned, and the cop didn’t come after me. I sped past a cop, and the cop didn’t come after me. It’s here that GTA needs to get more realistic, in fact this is one of the aspects that I would like to see lifted from Mafia II.
In Mafia II, you could speed and if a cop saw you they’d chase after you. To help with this, the game had the option to press a button so that your speed would be limited. This helped you control the car and stay in traffic like a normal, real driver. I’d like to see this used in GTA5; I used it all the time in Mafia 2 and in Red Dead Redemption I would walk the horse instead of flying through the towns… It’s simply more realistic and easier than trying to apply a certain amount of pressure to the acceleration button.
To go along with that, if you speed and there’s no warrant out for you, you should simply be able to pull over and get a ticket or try to out run them and get into a high speed chase. The more options here the better. Vehicles should be able to run out of gas, meaning you’d have to monitor it and pull into a gas station and fill up. You should have to eat to not only maintain health, but also maintain strength. Obviously, that doesn’t mean you’re having to spend a lot of time monitoring your gas and pulling into a gas station, or constantly spending money on something to eat. Nor should they be mandatory, but the more realistic the game can get the better.
2.) Destructible Elements
Gamers like to blow stuff up and wreak havoc, and there’s ample opportunity to do that in Grand Theft Auto games. GTAV needs destructible elements. By that I mean players should be able to leave their mark on the world in a number of ways. Gas stations for example, you should be able to blow them up like in Just Cause 2 and InFamous; because running cars into gas pumps at high speeds and having the whole place blow up is fun. It’d also alter the world somewhat; the gas station is blown up. Make it dynamic where the road is then closed while clean up happens and the store is rebuilt.
Obviously I don’t mean everything should be destructible, but there should be items and a few buildings that can be demolished that will either be rebuilt in time or completely destroyed for that save file.
3.) Character Development and Connections
I’d like to see better, relateable characters too. I think one of the reasons, besides the bad graphics, that I had a hard time getting into GTA4 is because the character was a douche. I like the freedom of being able to play as a bad guy, but being forced into that role makes you lose all connection with the character. I can choose not to kill random people, but so what? The character is still going to go along with killing someone in a mission for no real reason.
Meanwhile, John Marston was a character you could connect with. Former outlaw trying to change his life around. I thought of John as a good man, thus I played him as a good man. Captured people when I could instead of killing them, not killing random people, didn’t steal, and helped everyone I could. But at the same time, it would have made just as much sense for me to keep John an outlaw and run around being a bad guy if I wanted too.
It’s like True Crime. You were a cop, and you could be a good cop and go around arresting people and killing bad guys, or you could be a bad cop and go around stealing and killing. GTA4, at least from what I’ve played of it, is all about “hey, you’re a dick, play it that way.”
On that front, why must it always be a criminal character? Do something different and let the main character have some redeeming qualities where being a good guy could be realistic. How about something like an undercover cop with the option to really be a good cop or be a bad cop? Or a criminal trying to get away from that life. Yes, we can tell from the trailer that the character we’ll be playing as was trying to get away from that life and settle down and start a family, but of course was sucked back into it. And I get it; GTA games are about criminals and GTAV will be no different. Fine, but future installments to go a different route. An undercover cop is either good or actually a criminal would be an excellent alternative, as it allows for two different ways to play and could open up choices that affects the story being told.
I’m not the biggest fan of the police, but I do get a little tired of killing them. I’d like to see characters more easy to relate too and draw a connection too, like a John Marston.
4.) The Perfect Game?
The open-world is my favorite kind of game. True sandboxes are even better. GTA V should maintain all the in-game activities we’ve come to expect; pool, darts, bowling, cards, arcades, cellphones, Internet, etc. At the same time, I’d like to see the inclusion of random events like that which populated Red Dead Redemption and really kept that game feeling fresh. I’d like to see a ton of side missions that would have some bearings on the main story and some where doing one prevents you from doing a certain other one (think InFamous with its Good/Bad side missions).
Give me the graphics of LA Noire, the detailed world of Mafia II (gas stations, car washes, houses, lights you can turn on and off, flushing toilets and running water, and a great attention to detail), the activities of GTA4 (pool, darts, Internet, cell phones, bowling, dating, etc.), the random events and side missions of RDR, a character you can connect with like RDR, and the sense of exploration of a Skyrim, and I think you’d have the perfect open-world game.
Grand Theft Auto V can’t just be more of the same, and I don’t think it will. It needs to take everything Rockstar has learned since GTA4 and build on all of that to really push the genre to new levels and basically evolve the open-world genre to something even more immersive than it already can be.
Game Reviewer Eric W.’s additional GTA 5 wishlist:
I’d lazily co-sign Gary’s column and call it a day but I’d like to add just a few more ideas of my own to what he’s already written.
1.) Better vehicle controls especially for any flying vehicles.
Do I even need to explain this to anyone who has played any Grand Theft Auto game before?
There have been plenty of other sandbox style games that have had considerably better flying vehicle controls like Just Cause 2 and Saints Row 2 and 3. Just Cause 2’s in particular stands out to me as the best I’ve seen in these kinds of games thus far for all vehicles but especially flying vehicles.
2.) More customization and options for all aspects of the game.
Saints Row 2 and 3 hand GTA 4 its lunch here along with some other games. It’s not even close. They might even exceed the earlier GTA games in this regard. In the Saints Row games you can buy properties and own businesses that give you even more money. It doesn’t end there, though. Like the earlier GTA games prior to part 4, you can then use the money to buy properties, weapons, vehicles, and other odds and ends for your character. GTA 4 actually went backwards on this aspect.
Saints Row 2 and 3 took these concepts even further and I’d like to see GTA 5 match them in its own more gritty and realistic way.
Like in the SR games, let me customize and trick out every place I buy, every vehicle I see and ‘acquire’, and let me customize my own character at least as far as would still work logically within the game’s narrative. Saints Row 3’s character creation abilities outshine many role playing games and set a new standard of sorts. I’d love to see something comparable and yet logical for Grand Theft Auto 5.
3.) More variety and freedom of things to do in the game world at any given time.
Another thing that was a disappointment in GTA 4 was: You had this gorgeous game world but there really wasn’t anywhere to go except a few shops and a few places to shoot pool and the like. This was another area where it felt like GTA 4 took a slight step backwards vs the earlier games, notably San Andreas.
Yet again, Saints Row 2 and 3 you can go into a lot of different buildings, malls, airports, and locales. The interiors are fully realized areas where you can explore, find side quests, and get into more trouble. Those game world are loaded with sidequest, hidden quest, bonuses and any other kinds of things just waiting to be explored and uncovered. Very little of this was to be found in GTA 4. Open the world back up in part 5 and give us more to do in the game world even after the main story line is done.
I probably could come up with a few other things although Gary has pretty much stolen a lot of my thunder here so consider this an add on to his post. ;)
The bottom line to it is: Rockstar has been put on notice in the time that’s elapsed since GTA 4 has come out. I’m a huge GTA fan and will of course be pre-ordering the game the first chance I get but make no mistake about it: I’ve been spoiled in the meantime between GTA games and I’m no longer reliant on only the GTA series to give me my “freedom sandbox crazy game” fix. That being said, when they’re on fire, no one brings the goods quite like Rockstar does and I’m hoping they’ve listened to the fans and really come out firing all the big guns for part 5.
Gary said it right. Grand Theft Auto is a pioneering series. Let’s see that again. I want to see the king ascend and return to his throne with part 5. I want to see a game that finally makes me and some other people finally move on and forward and say: “Wow, this is even better than San Andreas was!”
The early promotional material suggests a game that possibly combines elements of San Andreas, arguably the best game in the series although Vice City has its share of fans, too, and the “high production values/ serious narrative” of GTA 4. A game that brings forward the best of the old GTA games and combines it with the best elements of GTA 4 really could be something for the ages.
That’s the kind of game I’m hoping to see.