Really great, even. A much welcomed breath of fresh air to a medium that almost never cares to take itself seriously. But for me? Personally? It’s a teaser. A bone on which to gnaw while the main course is being prepared in some mystical laboratory where video games are birthed fivem cars. That main course is Grand Theft Auto 5. GTA3 was the first game I played on the (incredible) PS2 console and, ever since, I’ve held video games to a higher standard of quality. It knocked down all the walls of the conventional game (figuratively and literally) and pushed the bar for the 3rd person perspective and literally created the open world genre.
Flash forward to today. Grand Theft Auto 4 has been out for more than 3 years and, despite the critical and commercial successes of Red Dead Redemption and now L. A. Noire, I find myself primed for the next GTA. Even though we may still be another year or more away from it’s actual release there still have been the typical signs and rumors that it might already be in development. And with E3 being right around the corner, I feel it might be the right time to bring up the question: What do i want from a new GTA?
There’s nothing wrong with GTA4’s multiplayer, so to speak. Competitive multiplayer was fair, fun and it worked. The free roam mode is a dream come true for fans of the series. With or against online players, it enabled you to explore the rich detail of the world and attempt to achieve completely absurd and arbitrary goals, such as “How many vehicles can we fit in this fast food restaurant? ” or “How long can we survive holed up in this bank against cops? ” and the fan favorite “How can i ruin what everyone else is trying to do by running them over? “. Possibilities are, for lack of a less cliche description, endless. It’s fun, but it’s not perfect. Matchmaking, and the basic online UI, wasn’t as intuitive as it could be and it could. Unlocking more appearance pieces was arcane and poorly explained (if at all).
So will GTAV’s multiplayer be any different? Of course it will. It will probably adopt the same infrastructure that made Red Dead Redemption’s online a success. But I think letting it fall to the wayside is a mistake. Grant that extra bit of functionality. Let the creator of a free roam match dictate the rules of the world dynamically and seemlessly. Allow them to summon all players to a single location– these simple added functions expedite the process to set-up those awesome moments. The money-for-appearance system shouldn’t go away completely, it should just be overhauled. Going to a shop to buy hard earned cash (via competitive multiplayer) on goods for there avatars appearance? People eat that stuff up. Each subsequent DLC release improved the multiplayer, but I could see the multiplayer being lost on those who didn’t bother digging deep into it’s possibilities. Remember those nifty multiplayer-centric trailers RDR got? Let’s have some of that.
GTA’s single-player is lost on those without a certain degree of patience. The core gameplay can get fairly repetitive: Go to this location and kill so and so, drive this person to this place and avoid the inevitable encounter. More often than not, it’s “blah blah and oh yeah, kill something”. This wasn’t the case for the Ballad of Gay Tony, however. The missions introduced were some of the most inventive and theatric I’ve ever seen. This was because the story was shorter and more condensed. I think I speak for a lot of people when i say we’d rather have a shorter, more memorable story than one that’s longer and dragged out.
Will this happen? Probably not. GTA is one of the biggest Ip’s in the industry and when people fork over their $59. 99 they expect a certain amount of content– an invisible threshold that justifies their purchase. So a more practical request might be to increase the archetypes of the missions that you run. Instead of a 4 different mission variations with a different coat of paint.
Import Export garages were an interesting feature only present in GTA3. They were a sort of side mission that asked players to find and deliver cars from a list. Once all cars were delivered, the player then had access to any of the aforementioned vehicles by visiting the garage. It’s a very simple concept that asks an arduous task for a pretty cool reward. Why this feature never returned to any of the following GTA’s, I don’t know. And why stop there? Enable import/export garages in free roam at the hosts discretion. Allowing players to manifest any car they please (with a reasonable cool down) given they’ve completed the job to do so in single-player could allow for some really fun and easy functionality in a free roam environment.
Both GTA4 with it’s quirky online dating service and the Ballad of Gay Tony with it’s redundant and useless “booty call” side-mission (if you can call It that) have entertained the idea of a relationship system, but not even at a ‘not gonna happen’ spoof level (as many things are in GTA), but at a level that required some consideration. Now, I’m not suggesting that since GTA4 dipped it’s toes into the dating sub-genre that it’s successor have a full fledged relationship mode, but rather it include a sort of progressive affiliation leveling system with any type of entity.
In GTA4 there were plenty of “put out, get back” instances– this should be expanded upon. Instead of doing ‘x’ amount of missions to receive one ‘y’ reward, mix a small story in and make the reward less transparent. Take for instance the small named quests in a game like Oblivion or Fallout 3. You join one so-and-so group/club/faction, do missions that effect it, rise up the ranks and get access to it’s resources. This almost spills over into the mission variety request, but for side-missions. Maybe, similar to Club Management in TBOGT, there could be no real end to it, just a unique way to make money. To better summarize, they’re more elaborate side-missions.