Grand Theft Auto 5: A Wishlist
The Grand Theft Auto series is particularly famous for promising its players the ability to, basically, do what they want. If you want to blow shit up for the fun of it, you can. If you want to climb to the top of the tallest skyscraper and practice your parachuting sans parachute, you can. If you want to cause the city’s entire police force to trip over themselves trying to catch you, only to see your life extinguished because you drove into a wall too many times, then you can do so. The freedom to do what we like, when we like, in a city-wide playground is there. But still, we always want more.
So, unless you’ve been living in an internet-devoid cave for the last two years, you’ll know that GTA V launches worldwide in less than two months. Of course, the internet has been rife with speculation about what you’ll be able to do, how you’ll be able to do it, and how awesome it’ll be doing it. Rockstar have dispensed with a few details here and there, confirming leisure activities like golf and tennis, as well as being able to have–and lose–your own pet dog, but there’s always room for more.
In that regard, this is a wishlist of mine containing certain things I would love to see included in GTA V, no matter how impractical some of them may be. It’s not a complete list of everything I would like to see, because if I did that, we’d likely be here for days, but it’s just a relatively small sample of how I think the next game could be a raucous success were it to include them.
Seasonal Changes and Stronger Weather Effects
This may sound strange to some people considering it’s a pretty meaningless inclusion, but I would love to see GTA V employ a stronger, more varied set of weather effects. Features like varying degrees of rain (from slight drizzle to monsoon-esque downpours) that produce visible effects on the environment, like water flowing downhill if a road is on an angled decline. Or, thick, intense fog that makes driving difficult, and possibly even heatwaves that have pedestrians wearing different types of clothing to compensate for the increase in temperature.
Alongside more varied weather effects, I would also love to see seasonal changes that adhere to an in-built calendar. For instance, in the fall, trees would turn a different colour, eventually shedding their leaves entirely. In winter, perhaps snow would fall, making driving more difficult unless you purchased specific tyre types to combat the ice. Also, I’d like to see the sunrise/sunset times change depending on what time of year it is, with the amount of daylight decreasing during winter and so forth.
If having the game change season on a schedule that repeats indefinitely is too tricky, perhaps making it similar to Mafia 2 would be an option. In that game, the seasonal changes occurred as certain points in the narrative were reached, rather than happening outside of the story.
As I said, weather systems are a pretty cosmetic inclusion in any video game, but for me, they add a sense of true realism to the environment that contributes a considerable amount to how immersed I become. I regularly play open-world video games and find myself disappointed with how stagnant their respective climates are, and while GTA IV’s weather systems weren’t especially disappointing (it did have pedestrians use umbrellas and newspapers for cover during rainfall), I still think there could be improvements in this area.
Less People at Night
When recently playing GTA IV, I noticed that the time of day in the game really doesn’t mean much at all. There are as many pedestrians walking the streets at 4am as there are at 4pm, and that goes for vehicular traffic and friends calling you at all hours to go bowling and drinking, too. It doesn’t make sense to me that the city would be as alive at that hour as it would be at any other time, and I’d like to see the time of day actually have a more significant impact on the city in GTA V.
What would I do to achieve this? Well, between midnight and, say, 6am, I would have fewer pedestrians on the streets (other than the homeless and party-goers), less traffic, and certainly nobody calling you at 3am to go bowling. Oh, and no hotdog vendors selling their wares at 3am, either. As with the previously mentioned weather effects, I feel it would ground the game in reality more than what it would if things continued in the same vein as GTA IV.
Fully Integrated Smartphone
Rockstar has already confirmed that your smartphone will have internet access in GTA V, negating the need for internet cafes, but I’d like to see more on top of that. Perhaps your phone could replace the start menu so that when you brought it up (it would be in the landscape orientation and take up nearly the entire screen), you’d have access to the map of the city, the options menu and so forth right there within the game.
Also, any smartphone worth that label has a camera built in, so the game could make use of that this time around. Players love sharing interesting moments they’ve just experienced with other people, and taking a picture and having it automatically upload to the Social Club (or even social networks) would be a great inclusion. GTA IV also had a camera feature in the phone your character had access to, but it was a mostly pointless feature that didn’t save captured images or did anything with them at all. I’d like to see that change.
Perhaps more ambitiously, GTA V could have a social network of its own built into the game. For example, anybody on your Xbox Live/PSN friends list would become your ‘friends’ in the game’s social network (obviously given a name that parodies existing networks, like ‘Flitter’ or ‘Wastebook’ or something far more creative), and any pictures you take could be automatically sent to the network that your friends could then check out when they’re inside the game.
No More Clunky Controls
I don’t know about anybody else but if there’s one thing I hated about GTA IV from almost the first moment I started playing, it was the clunky, awkward controls. More specifically, controlling Niko was not as fluid an experience as I would’ve liked, with the awkward camera shifts depending on which direction you were facing being particularly tiresome when in combat.
It wasn’t just in that area where controlling Niko was horrid, either. Giving your thumbs a workout in order to have him sprint didn’t take long to become annoying, as did the frustrating aiming system that felt far too easy with auto-aim enabled. In fact, I wouldn’t complain if it was done away with entirely in the next game, or at least not enabled by default.
I had several major issues with GTA IV in regards to controlling your character, and I would hate to see it repeated come September. There needn’t be irritating camera resistance when you’re trying to look around whilst walking. Also, I understand the need to have three different degrees of character movement speed, but transitioning from one to the other doesn’t have to be a clunky process like in GTA IV. It can be smooth and responsive, like in Red Dead Redemption. Rockstar have released numerous titles in the time between 2008 and now, and they would do well to learn from the things they did right in those games.
Melee Combat That’s Actually Useful
We all know that melee has never been anything worth a damn in any of the games so far, but isn’t it about time that it is? GTA IV, in particular, had an awful melee system that was not far from utterly useless. But there is a place for it alongside the explosions, the rocket launchers and the assault rifles mowing down armies of enemies.
Sleeping Dogs, released last year, demonstrated that melee and gunplay can go hand-in-hand in an open-world game. Granted, it had a significantly stronger focus on the former while the latter became the lesser weapon, but it was a very strong combination nevertheless. I don’t expect anything approaching the strength of Sleeping Dogs’ melee in GTA V, but taking some hints from it might not be a bad idea.
Of all the things I loved about GTA IV, it seems silly that being able to take cab rides and actually experience the entire journey was one of them. But I simply loved hopping in a cab and riding from one point of the city all the way to the other, taking in the sights and sounds from the backseat–and I would love for it to make a return in GTA V.
As well as bringing back the ability to take cab rides (perhaps with more varied interior designs so every vehicle doesn’t feel cloned from the previous), I’d love to see other modes of public transport be included, like buses and trains. Also, as well as being able to experience the rides for yourself, the ability to command control of them and ferry passengers from point A to B would also be appreciated.
This would also tie in with bringing back the taxi side missions that were inexplicably absent from GTA IV, and perhaps even the ability to partake in bus and train side missions. I’m not asking for Grand Theft Auto: Transport Simulator, but being able to take time out from the action for these kinds of activities is a welcome respite that adds to the immersion.
Improved Multiplayer Free Roam
When it was revealed that GTA IV would have a free roam mode for up to sixteen players to adventure across the entire city, doing whatever they wish, people were expectedly delighted. But then it was quickly discovered that beyond blowing each other to smithereens, or flying helicopters into the Statue of Liberty to access a secret room, there wasn’t much else to do. Rockstar attempted to rectify this by adding activities to participate in with the second expansion pack The Ballad of Gay Tony, but it was a case of too little, too late.
So, with GTA V, I want the game’s free roam to be full of fun stuff to do right from the bat. You can play tennis, golf, and even go scuba diving in the singleplayer, so put them in the multiplayer, too. If you can go to a casino and play numerous games there, I want to be able to do that in free roam. Driving trucks into each other is fun, yes, but there comes a point when even that gets tiresome. Having all of these activities to do alongside that would make things immeasurably more exciting than they were last time around.
Perhaps Rockstar could also take a leaf out of the book they used with Red Dead Redemption–and even Max Payne 3–by introducing a crew-like system in the free roam. Players could join, or be invited to, a crew with other people and maybe even take control of areas on the map that could be contested by the rest of the lobby. Maybe there could also be little side missions dotted randomly across the map, such as vans full of stolen money that need to be escorted to a drop-off point, with the other players trying to thwart said journey.
There are an almost limitless number of possibilities in which GTA V’s free roam could be an amazing experience, and I really hope they utilise the opportunity they have. GTA IV had the right idea, but the wrong execution.
More Realistic Police Behaviour
With GTA IV, Rockstar finally did what needed to be done and stopped the city’s police force from being telekinetically able to share your location with cops tens of miles away. Basically, you could escape their attention in ways that didn’t involve death, incarceration, or getting a paint job for your car. And as successful as that move was, I’d like to see more added on top with GTA V.
For a start, I’d keep the current ‘wanted zone’ mechanic that has you having to pass through the circumference of a zone on the map, that varies in size depending on how wanted you are, in order to escape. I’ve already read Rockstar state that in GTA V, cops will operate on a line-of-sight basis, meaning you can escape their wrath within the wanted zone so long as you keep yourself well hidden. But in terms of their intelligence and behaviour while they’re chasing after you, more can be done.
For instance, if you have police officers chasing after you and you enter a building, they will continue to mindlessly pour in one by one, inevitably getting a mouth full of shotgun for their troubles. It’s not intelligent behaviour by any means, and I’d prefer to see them think more tactically, such as surrounding the building you’re in to wait for you to emerge. Also, because they work on a line-of-sight mechanic in GTA V, they could employ the use of sniffer dogs to weed out your location, making hiding from them a much more difficult process.
Oh, and one more thing: TANKS! Yes, I would love to see the six-star wanted level mean that the police force, or the army, brings out the big guns in order to take you down. They were disappointingly absent in GTA IV, and I’d greatly appreciate that being changed.
A Better Lobby System
You remember how difficult it was to boot troublesome players from the match in GTA IV? How you had to get more than half of the players in the lobby to concur with the vote, but who usually didn’t bother because it involved stopping, pulling up the phone, and wading through a dozen different menus? Or how a lobby became full of players all raring to go but found themselves sitting and waiting because the host was on the toilet? Or how the game insisted you search for a new match after completing the previous unless you partied up? Or how you were booted back to the singleplayer, enduring loading screens galore, if you encountered connection problems?
Well, suffice as to say that I sincerely hope that GTA V has a significantly stronger, and better-designed lobby system than its predecessor. Getting into a match could sometimes be more of a painstaking process than it needed to be, and there are numerous ways to avoid that. If Rockstar insists on keeping the rule of needing half of the lobby’s players to consent to kicking a player, I’d like them to make it a simpler experience. Have a button prompt appear on screen instead of menu after menu. If the host of a game doesn’t start the match after a determined period of time, have the game automatically kickstart the proceedings. Don’t shove players back to the singleplayer if the game experiences connection issues; merely have them returned to the lobby screen. Simple things like this can do so much to eradicate the unnecessary obstacles people faced in GTA IV.
People love cheating in GTA games. I, too, am one of those people. Once you’ve finished the game and you have an entire city out there at your disposal, it’s great to kick back and give yourself all the weapons you’d ever need, cars that materialise out of thin air, and pedestrians that all go insane and attack everything in sight. But said cheats usually involve inputting codes you need to scour the internet for, or phone numbers to dial that take ages to bring up.
My suggestion would be to have unlockable cheats, and a great variety of them. For example, if you just completed a mission involving a specific type of helicopter that’s perhaps not easy to find, a cheat would unlock giving you access to it at any time. Or, being killed, say, a hundred times would unlock a ‘Full health’ cheat. Perhaps some cheats could be hidden behind side missions, unlocking upon completion and encouraging exploration outside of the central narrative.
Of course, enabling these cheats would do what should be done–disable achievement progress, and the like. But in my opinion, it’d be more fun to explore the city, completing side missions and perhaps even picking up cheats hidden away in difficult-to-find areas, than simply running a google search to find out how to make cars fly.
I don’t know about anyone else but I absolutely adored the burglary missions from San Andreas. Yes, the repetition of interior designs became frustrating over time, but that feeling of stealing TVs and microwaves while the owners slept a few feet away was indescribably wonderful. I was disappointed when they were removed from GTA IV, along with the taxi/paramedic missions and so forth, but now would be a great time to bring them back.
With the opportunity they have with GTA V, bringing back burglary missions could be done with more varied interiors, such as small apartments or huge mansion-type complexes, and perhaps even businesses. There could be more objects to steal with varying degrees of payout depending on who you fence them to–a small back-alley dealer might pay less but give you less chance of being caught, while pawn shops would pay more but give you much stronger chances of police detection.
Also, Rockstar has talked about how you’ll be able to plan heists prior to beginning them (although without specific details), so perhaps you’d be able to do the same with burglaries. You could pinpoint between 5-10 locations on your map, with each building having a difficulty rating between 1-5 stars, and maybe even purchase the floor plans from somebody to make your life easier.
Plus, while we’re on this topic, it’d be great if Rockstar brought back taxi and paramedic missions as well. I don’t know why they were removed from GTA IV, but it gives you stuff to do outside of the typical action-packed shenanigans–and the more of that, the better.
The things I’ve mentioned above are but a few of the things I’d love to see in GTA V. For example, character stats and customisation equal to San Andreas would be wonderful, as would a wide variety of real estate to purchase and subsequently manage. Maybe even a fuel system for vehicles, too, that would have you stopping at gas stations every so often to refill, or carry cans of extra fuel in the trunk for those times you’ll inevitably run out in the middle of nowhere. Oh, and BICYCLES!
Sometimes more does not always equal better in video games, but that’s not the case for GTA titles. A huge open-world environment demands endless amounts of stuff to do in it, and there is so much potential for Rockstar to learn from their mistakes and create something of absolute beauty. I’m excited beyond comprehension. Just give me the game now, already.