Dan Houser has already promised that the world of GTA V will be bigger that the worlds of San Andreas, GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption combined. In other words, it's going to be absolutely frickin' huge, probably the biggest game world of all time. It’s hard to put that kind of scale into context in your mind though, especially given that GTA V actually only includes one city and its surrounding area, rather than an entire state a la San Andreas and Red Dead. The variation in the locales in both GTA V trailers is fascinating, and everything I've seen so far points to this being not just the biggest, but the best virtual playground of all time. Damn you, Rockstar hype machine!
WHAT WILL BE THE 'STUPID FUN/REALISM' BALANCE?
As soon as we found out we'd be going back to Los Santos for GTA V, this is the first question that popped into my mind. San Andreas was the apex of the last generation's GTA experience; ridiculous, playful and outrageous right from the moment CJ stepped back into the 'hood. It was also a game that was epitomised by its excess, with more secrets, mini games and distractions than any other game I can think of. It also examined huge historical and social issues to do with racial inequality in America as it paralleled the '92 L.A. riots... and alongside that it had Area 69, Harrier jump jets and jetpacks. It was the embodiment of the GTA philosophy.
GTA IV was a significant change of pace, with a greater focus on characters and on telling a (slightly) more believable story about the spurious nature of the American dream from the point of view of an immigrant. It too was a marvellous game, but a lot of people were ultimately disappointed that some of the craziness of San Andreas was lost when the series took a more focused, mature approach.
Now we have a game set in San Andreas' world, but with GTA IV visuals and sensibilities. GTA V is clearly going to be heavily story focused again, but given that they've included a protagonist that appears to be the definition of bat shit crazy, there's reason to be hopeful that we'll be getting up to some ludicrous stuff in and out of missions once again.
CAN WE ALWAYS BE FRIENDS?
Co-op has been popping up in GTA since San Andreas, but it's never been threaded into the main plot. Now that we've got three protagonists, it will surely mean we’ll see a more developed co-op element. How far Rockstar will take it remains a mystery for now, but the appeal of completing missions as a team, with each player having different skills and weaknesses, is there for all to see.
STUCK TOGETHER OR WORLDS APART?
We all knew this game was going to look amazing, and given Rockstar's pedigree for building sandboxes it's no surprise that Los Santos looks remarkable. Therefore, the biggest shock to the GTA core has to come from the fact that we now have three playable characters that we can hotswap to at any time.
The real question is how closely linked are these guys outside of missions and the central story? How will the hotswap mechanic alter that classic GTA feeling of being a small, troublesome fish in a big pond? What will the two dormant characters get up to when you're not in their shoes? Does this mean only certain characters can do certain things, i.e. fly helicopters (one of them is a qualified pilot after all, that can't be just a coincidence)? So, so, so many questions to be answered on this front.
D'YA LIKE DAGS?
In the nicest possible way, I fucking hate dogs in video games. Not because I don't like dogs or want to see them in games, it’s purely because they represent that classic gameplay curveball of the fearless on comer. Just like the equally terrifying running zombie, they're fast, aggressive and will literally eat your face off. Given that GTA IV was all about cover shooting and being pragmatic in a fight at times, it'll be interesting to see how the dynamic will be altered when the enemy has that kind of ace up their sleeve as a way of driving you out into the open like an overly harassed postman.
A SOCIAL NETWORK?
One of the most divisive subjects on GTA IV was in its extracurricular activities. Where San Andreas was bursting with all manner of things to do, GTA IV circled around using a smaller selection of mini games as a way to highlight and build the relationships between the game's characters. Some of these exchanges were hilarious (it's hard not to laugh at the stupidity of a drink-driving mini game, oh the outrage!), but eventually they did become a bit more of a distraction than they probably should have been, particularly when the full map was opened up and you'd have to drive from one side of Liberty City to the other to meet you’re stupid Cousin to go and look at 3D strippers, or something. It'll be interesting to see if this kind of thing is still present, given that the three protagonists will potentially all have a different set of allies outside of their core group.
I also really hope that little details like the spoof websites and TV shows remain. It's crazy to think Rockstar made hours worth of television for GTA IV that you could easily ignore, on top of the always excellent radio programming. Little touches like that are what set Rockstar's sandboxes apart from the crowd for me, and I'm sure they'll have plenty more to come.
BURNING DOWN THE HOUSES?
One of the standout moments from the second trailer is when Trevor blows up a house and does the classic Hollywood slow-mo casual walk away with his back to the explosion. The animation and effects for the explosion look great, as does the way the house begins to cave in. The question for me is a simple one - is that a scripted moment in one of the missions, or are we going to see certain buildings that are fully destructible in the new game? Honestly it's more likely to be the former, but you never know.
PLANE + SUV + PARACHUTE, SERIOUSLY?
Another epic moment in the second trailer is when one of the characters drives and SUV out of the back of a carrier plane in mid-air, before jumping out of the car and into a base jump. Absolutely ridiculous and it looks fucking awesome. So, similar to the last question, is that going to be a specific moment within a mission, or is it going to become the new de facto way to get around the huge map? It looks way too much fun to only be done once, surely?