Over the years we’ve seen video games focus more and more on the multiplayer component without really evolving things or pushing the limits as we know them. In some instances there may only be so much a developer can do with a multiplayer mode given the confines of the game and the balancing act that needs to be done in respect to time management and the overall budget. But overall, multiplayer gaming almost seems to have been stuck in a rut for years as we see the same old stuff presented in the same bog standard way.
The preconceptions we have about multiplayer gaming now changes with the reveal of Grand Theft Auto Online. Revealed today by Rockstar Games, GTA Online isn’t just an immediate tie-in/bonus mode to the core experience found in GTA V. Instead, the online antics we can get ourselves into this time will be presented as an entirely separate entity that is doing some rather amazing things – not just within the setting of GTA but the landscape of multiplayer games in general.
So making its second appearance on The Breakdown is GTA V with the reveal of Grand Theft Auto Online.
DOES IT MAKE SENSE?
Rather than follow in the footsteps of what they’ve previously done, Rockstar Games has created GTA Online as an entirely separate mode/game from that of GTA V. So while we may be able to access our online character somehow through the main GTA V campaign, we won’t be able to just hop into an online game mode through bringing up the virtual cellphone one of the three main characters wields.
That may sound disappointing to a degree, but given that Rockstar is seeking to create a world that’s totally persistent, allows complete freedom in what the player wants to do, and the world itself will evolve over time through DLC it certainly does make sense for the mode to in a way be looked upon a separate product from that of GTA V.
And as this trailer so brilliantly shows, in typical Rockstar fashion of course, the scope of GTA Online is almost unlike anything we’ve seen a game do these days, especially those in the sandbox/open-world genre in which the action is either minor or limited to a mere co-op mission.
DOES IT LOOK COOL?
If the ability to create a crew/gang and rob banks, roam around and compete in insane off-road rally races, or merely mess about and engage vehicular shootings West Coast style doesn’t get your blood pumping as a player then you’re dire need of a personality change.
What really stood out the most about this first look at GTA Online is that even with a moderate player count in matches, being able to hop online with some friends and just go crazy by flying planes, helicopters, or even submersibles at any given moment is going to create an atmosphere that not only is truly fun, but can allow anything to happen – thus further making the city of Los Santos feel alive.
It’s not just the way Rockstar is approaching the general outline of GTA Online in its mixture of persistent gameplay combined with traditional modes that I find impressive, but the fact that they’re allowing players to extend the general lore of the game by having key story characters dole out elaborate missions that can be undertaken.
Ultimately it may be a minor thing that may result in a brief cameo by one of the three protagonists in the game, though it once again shows that Rockstar is keen on building worlds and allowing the player to feel fully immersed in them, a feat which I think this time out will be more impressive and pertinent since players can create their own character.
IS IT WORTH PLAYING?
We all knew that GTA V was going to bring the goods based on the reputation of Rockstar, but I think GTA Online may be the ultimate showstopper in a sense. The ability to do traditional things like Team Deathmatch events, do crew heists with some buddies, or just roam around the city and cause mayhem is going to be such a blast that I think it may be enough to make some people hold off from making a next-gen console purchase since they’ll be so busy exploring Los Santos.
The truly commendable thing about GTA Online is that Rockstar is not only making sure the online experience matches that of the single-player in how epic the missions can be, but that they’re slowly evolving the mode as a whole. The arrival of a mission/level editor is a rather huge thing since it’ll be the first time in a GTA game, without the aid of a PC mod at least, that gamers can tinker with the world and totally do as they wish.
Dropping the placement of a few race markers or weapon locations may just be the GTA version of what Bungie did back in the day with the Forge mode in Halo, though it does show that Rockstar is willing to take some big leaps with the general formula rather than adhere to an approach that becomes stale over time.
Ultimately the only thing that I think could bring GTA Online down is if it features such poor netcode that makes everything an unplayable mess. But given the time and presumably massive amount of money Rockstar has likely sunk into GTA Online, which has to be separate from that of GTA V, I’m sure the game will be up to the standards of what players expect these days.
Melding together what they learned from developing GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption, along with looking beyond the trends that exist today, Rockstar is entering territory with GTA Online that will almost put players in a modern day Wild West environment with the ruthless and ever lawless nature that will be present; and I for one can’t wait until I finally experience such a thing.