Some questions about GTA 5 are answered and Rockstar North president Leslie Benzies talks about character mechanics.
Rockstar North president Leslie Benzies recently spoke with Jeuxactu in an interview about the three main protagonists for GTA 5 and how players will be able to control them.
This is quite the switch-up to what has been the norm in previous GTA titles from the main series, that being that there’s only one protagonist getting themselves into a hornet’s next of shenanigans. Back in the day, according to Benzies, several characters were also considered for GTA: San Andreas, but the idea was discarded because of technical reasons. Now with GTA 5, however, three playable characters have been implemented because “one character alone could not manage all the activities and tasks we wanted to establish.” So I suppose stealing a Harrier from a naval carrier should have been damn right impossible for one guy?
Also unlike previous GTA titles, which slowly build up the protagonist from the start (or after a gun wound to the face) into the homicidal sociopath/criminal mastermind they later become, GTA 5 will in the face of its players with “very intense missions” right from the start, with a greater degree of pace compared to previous titles to boot.
“I think it was the right strategy for stories we wanted to tell at the time, but not this time. Today, we want to surprise people with very intense missions from the start. The pace of the game is much faster than any of its predecessors. From the beginning, we want to show off the new game mechanics while creating intense, action-packed gameplay, to capture the player’s attention immediately. Remember that the three characters in the game are already living in the city of Los Santos and surrounding areas. They are not newcomers like Niko and Tommy Vercetti, or people returning after a long absence like CJ.
They already have contacts, they are integrated with the world and lead a busy life – these characteristics should give players a sense of immediate and total immersion.”
However it seems that the player will not be able to play all the characters right from the get-go, they will first have to play each character in turn so they can be better acquainted with each character instead of having them all at once.
“We want to give the player the opportunity to get to know the three characters individually, and explore the world as each of them, and it would not have been possible if all three had been available from the start.”
What’s also a key thing in GTA 5’s whole immersion factor is the game’s sense of naturalistic realism. GTA 5 trailers in the past have suggested large amounts of satirically violent lunacy and shenanigans are in store for the player, but Benzies insists that all of the lunacy and shenanigans will be grounded in plausibility and carefully framed by the game’s plot.
“You won’t see anyone doing crazy things for no reason. The player will have access to enough heavy artillery early in the game, but again, in a particular context and not without reason.”
Speaking of GTA 5’s character mechanics: in a feature by Official PlayStation Magazine, a couple fan-asked questions pertaining to how the three protagonists will be used were answered courtesy of the OPM team themselves.
Before they headed off to Rockstar’s London HQ, OPM invited its fans to ask various questions about GTA 5. The following is both the questions sent in by those curious gamers and answers from the point of view of the OPM writer, who offers up insight to another mechanic set to appear in GTA 5 which, to me, implies a proficiency leveling mechanic much like that in GTA: San Andreas.
How does the character-changing work?
Byron (@ByronButter1986), via Twitter
“GTA 5 no longer centres on one protagonist. This time you’re in charge of a three-man band you can switch between at any time. There’s Franklin, a resident of South Los Santos; career crim Michael, who spends most of his time sheltering in Vinewood’s swanky Von Crastenburg Hotel; and total loonjob Trevor, based in a trailer near the Alamo Sea.
Character-switching is handled by a weapon wheel that sits on the lower right corner of the screen. You hit up on the right stick to control Franklin, right to switch to Trevor, and left to hop into Michael’s shoes. The change isn’t immediate: instead of a loading screen, the camera zooms out until it looks like a Google Earth-style satellite image, then back in again to settle on the character you’re adopting. The closer the characters are, the faster the switch happens – in-mission, it’s close to instantaneous. It’s worth mentioning that – other than in three-man missions – everything you do with a character pertains only to him, be it racking up dollars, buying new threads or improving individual attributes – all characters are rated in nine different areas: stamina, strength, stealth, shooting, flying, driving, mechanic, lung capacity and ‘special’.”
Can you outline exactly how a three-person mission works?
Rob Murphy, via email
“Sure. A big innovation in GTA 5 is the inclusion of heists: missions that aren’t necessarily part of the main storyline, yet see all three characters working together to pull off a job that, when completed, has them splitting a sizeable reward three ways. The three-person mission I see is similar to one such heist, but forms part of the main storyline.
It’s entitled Blitz Play, and introduced with a cutscene where our three protagonists go over their plans in detail. Michael’s contacts with the FIB have asked him to retrieve something valuable from an armed IAA vehicle, and naturally knocking on the door and politely asking for it back isn’t an option.
Instead, our three men don masks – Trevor looking especially comical as a monkey – and split up. For the first half of the mission, you no longer have the option of switching between characters: the game contextually decides who you control. To begin with, we’re Michael, driving a garbage truck to the waypoint on the map in readiness for the ambush we’re about to perform. Once there, we park across a single-lane road to ensure the
The next task is to take control of Franklin and again drive to the specified waypoint, this time in a tow truck, preparing to play a little game of ram-and-take. With that done, control switches to Trevor on higher ground – he’s monitoring the situation with binoculars in order to make sure everything runs in sync.”
Rockstar have confirmed that the recently released gameplay trailer was running on the PS3 – the trailer itself shows off how the three-way character mechanic can be used in practice. They’ve also detailed combat mechanics and customisation options.
What do you think of ‘GTA 5’s three-way character mechanics? Let us know in the comments!