Can the best get better?
After months of speculation, new-generation ports for Grand Theft Auto 5 were announced at E3 2014. With the additional horsepower provided by the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and high-end PCs, Rockstar has already promised advancements like improved textures and car damage, greater volume to terrain like grass and trees, and more traffic to truly capture that SoCal rush-hour vibe.
As great as GTA 5 is on previous-gen systems, there are still a few upgrades many are hoping for on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. If we could see some of these improvements implemented later this year, GTA 5 may just steal another wad of cash from our wallets.
Modding, of course, but with a bone thrown to console gamers
While Grand Theft Auto 5 was revealed at Sony's E3 press conference, the console announcements played second fiddle to the potential afforded by the PC version. As great as Grand Theft Auto 4 is on consoles, the game's lifespan on PC extends far past its console cousins (KAHZEEN) thanks to the countless mods enterprising players have applied to the game. From the functional (boosting to new-gen-level textures) to the insane (playing as a horse , driving a piano car, or removing all vehicle friction), PC-owning GTA fans get far more choice. Sure, many PC games have mods, but Rockstar's series is as much about messing around, causing chaos (aspects significantly enhanced by mods), as it is about serious crime.
While Rockstar has yet to announce how mod-friendly GTA 5 is, many sensibly assume it'll have a thriving PC community. I just hope the developer will try to share the love with consoles, perhaps vetting and aiding community members in bringing content to the PS4 and Xbox One, much like Valve did with Left 4 Dead 2's Cold Stream DLC.
There's no denying that Grand Theft Auto 5's soundtrack is pretty darn extensive. Between the 17 radio stations and the 240 songs, it's likely you won't hear all of GTA 5's audio, even if you play the game to 100% completion. Still, most wouldn't object to having a few new tunes added to the proceedings.
Previous ports (like the retail release for Episodes from Liberty City) changed the soundtrack by switching out tunes on pre-existing radio stations, so Rockstar could easily pull the same trick again. We don't necessarily need to hear new radio chatter, but a new song here and there, sandwiched between the standards would go a long way.
It's been plaguing the Grand Theft Auto franchise for almost a dozen years now; while we've seen great improvements to driving, gunplay, and melee combat, piloting a helicopter is still the GTA equivalent of threading a needle. While wearing boxing gloves. Thankfully, there aren't too many helicopter-based missions in Grand Theft Auto 5, but the few that do exist are made a good measure more difficult, especially when you have to precisely place the chopper above a marked location.
Could the slight upgrades made to Microsoft and Sony's new-gen controllers potentially deliver the key to helicopter control woes? The DualShock 4's touchpad and enhanced gyroscope could help with balancing the unwieldy aircraft, while the impact triggers on the Xbox One could aid with properly accelerating a helicopter. That, or just replace every existing chopper in GTA 5 with a stealth bomber.
Multiplayer in North Yankton
The time spent in North Yankton during the course of Grand Theft Auto 5 is short but sweet. Between the thrilling flashback prologue and a drama-filled return later in the campaign, the quick teases of this wintry East Coast locale leave us yearning for more.
Enterprising players actually found a semi-playable tract of North Yankton within the GTA 5 map (via a fair measure of trickery), but it'd be nice if Rockstar could give it a spit and polish. Perhaps it could be a 'vacation' option within the confines of GTA Online, where the wealthiest in-game characters could stage shootouts in a much different locale?
This is a no-brainer. While in-game load times have been virtually abolished (remember those awful 15-second stops on Vice City's bridges?), Grand Theft Auto 5 still comes with the slightly unbearable initial boot-up, even after you've dedicated gigs of hard drive space to storing game data. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are all about bringing you right into the game after selecting it from the main menu, so hopefully that wait is shortened somewhat.
Additionally, the transitions between characters can sometimes take a bit too long as the game slowly hops up from your current character to a satellite view, repositions over the next guy, and then zooms back in. While it's initially a neat little effect, it can get annoying (especially when you accidentally switch to the wrong accomplice). Can you imagine jumping between characters across town almost instantaneously as you can during a heist?
Police and Ambulance Missions
You don't know what you got 'til its gone. While Grand Theft Auto 5 brings a lot of new stuff to the table, a few long-held traditions are shelved. Police and Ambulance side-missions--mainstays since Grand Theft Auto 3--are sadly absent from GTA 5, making those vehicles just a tad less alluring than they were before.
If I had my way, I'd dial these side-missions back to their two-generation-old model. A simple button press or analog stick click, and players are given the next perp to bust (or fire to fight). Slowly scrolling through a police computer made the police missions a bit tougher to take on, in later games. Look, we don't need radio dialogue or a weird menu to explore; just tell players what emergency service to provide and we'll be there. To make things a little worse...
Video editing for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Remember the first time you pulled off a sick stunt while trying to escape from the fuzz in Grand Theft Auto 3, and bemoaned that the moment was lost without anyone else around to see it? Besides an extremely buggy instant replay system, implemented in the original Xbox's version of San Andreas, we've yet to see something that can save our most insane GTA memories. Hopefully GTA5 on PS4 and Xbox One can remedy that.
While Rockstar has stated that "Grand Theft Auto 5 for PC will also feature a video editor designed for advanced movie-making," I hope that PlayStation 4 and Xbox One get similar love. Sure, the system-based video capture options for the two consoles are already pretty good--I'm definitely going to wear out that Xbox, record that voice command--but it'd be nice to be able to do some sort of rudimentary editing in GTA 5 on consoles. Nothing more than the most recent 15-30 seconds, just like how sports game do it (albeit on a much smaller playing surface).
A better cover system
No, we're not talking about hiding behind surfaces in order to avoid detection or gunfire. In that regard, Grand Theft Auto 5 has a perfectly fine cover system. No, we're talking about bed covers, the bane of every GTA hideout from the last decade.
Look, I understand that GTA's many protagonists lead busy lives and can't really dedicate the time to really get a good night's sleep in, but seeing every character lie on top of their meticulously made sheets and blankets breaks a bit of the immersion. GTA 5 celebrates excess more than any previous game in the series, so let the trio enjoy those high thread counts and get under the sheets!
The winds of change
Grand Theft Auto 5 is one of the previous generation's top-selling games due, in no small part, to the incredible level of detail and improvements Rockstar made to the series formula. Hopefully, we'll see a few tweaks come with new-gen releases to make the upgrade worthwhile.