“Genius”, “Masterpiece” , and sometimes even “Flawless” are adjectives or hyperbole many in the gaming community have thrown around when speaking of GTA 5. The game’s impact on the industry, solely on the basis of the its quality, polish, and scale are undeniable – and for a game that came out in 2013 – it has no reason to be selling as incredibly well as it does in 2021 – or does it?
The truth is, there are plenty of reasons why GTA 5 sells incredibly well today – whether it is because of the endlessly enjoyable and fun of Grand Theft Auto Online or the modding paradise it once used to be, or because of GTA RP. In addition to all of that, however, is the fact that Grand Theft Auto V is a multi-generation-defining title that simply has very few equals in terms of mainstream appeal, cultural relevance, and impact.
Simply put, Rockstar Games been nigh infallible for the better part of the last decade – but it seems like since the start of the new decade – cracks have begun to show.
GTA 5 – Does the game really need a PS5/Xbox Series X/S remaster?
To put things into perspective, there have only been a handful games to have gotten a release on 3 different console generations – and GTA 5 is one of them. The game was initially released on the PS3/Xbox 360, later remaster for the PS4/Xbox One, and now another remaster is slated for release in 2022 for the PS5/Xbox Series X/S.
While Grand Theft Auto 5 isn’t exactly an anomaly in the sense that it will eventually have gotten a release across 3 console generations – it will be one in the way that feels sort of unwarranted. Many in the community have speculated as to when exactly does a game warrant a remaster, and while it is completely subjective, there are a couple of reasons most can agree on – Age and Availability (or lack thereof).
Has GTA 5 aged well for a game from 2013?
When speaking of age, especially when it comes to narrative-driven games like GTA 5, the conversation involves two halves – the writing (story, characters, and more) and the technical aspects of the game (graphics, sound, and gameplay).
In terms of writing, GTA 5 remains a complicated subject to deal with. On one hand, its satire is scarily accurate, not only for its time, but for now as well. The game’s bold predictions of how it sees society evolve into the near future is both hilarious yet frighteningly close to accurate. The game world is packed to the brim with all sorts of great references and interesting lore that adds to the experience of it feeling like a lived-in world that can exist independent of the player.
No aspect of Grand Theft Auto 5’s world ever feels like a product of its time that has rapidly aged in the past 8 years. In many ways, it feels more timely than ever and feels like a game that could be released today and it would fit right in. The story has been talked about endlessly, and is of course, enjoyable in 2021 despite certain sections (By The Book torture sequence) feeling just a tad bit dated, but it seems like a product of misdirection rather than age. So when it comes to writing, GTA 5 has not only aged well, it seems to have evolved with the times – which is the sign of a seminal piece of work.
The RAGE (Rockstar Advanced Game Engine) engine used for Grand Theft Auto 5 feels somewhat less refined in terms of physics and environment than the version seen later in 2018’s Red Dead Redemption 2, but it’s truly a matter of preference picking between the two. Some prefer the slightly weightier movement and controls of GTA 5 and how the physics work in that game as opposed to RDR 2.
Controls are as slick as ever despite the Sprint button always being kind of odd, but that’s signature Rockstar at this point. Controls seem just fine and come no closer to feeling archaic as the newest 3rd person shooter on the market in 2021. Visually, Grand Theft Auto 5 looks as great as it did back then if one can cut the game only a slight bit of slack.
Despite it being a product of 2013, later remastered in 2015 – the game looks every bit as 2021 on PC (w/mods) and even the consoles aren’t that shabby. At best, if one forgets about how great RDR 2 looks, one can even pass GTA 5 as a 2018 game without it being that jarring.
Is the game readily available to those looking to play it?
The other major contributing factor to a publisher or studio doing a remaster is that the game simply isn’t available as readily to the player. Take, for instance, games that came out on the PS3 (such as the original Red Dead Redemption), and because the PS4 doesn’t allow backwards compatibility – the publisher might be keen to do a remaster so that PS4 owners can experience the game on their consoles.
That isn’t the case for Grand Theft Auto 5 as both next-gen consoles offer backwards compatibility. If players can make peace with a slighly last-gen looking game that doesn’t run like a next-gen game (and we think they can), the game would feel pretty fine on next-gen consoles.
So if the game is readily available, has aged perfectly fine, and its technical aspects have held up well – why is Rockstar releasing a remaster? Majority of the speculation as to the “why” of the Expanded and Enhanced Edition ultimately comes down to the industry juggernaut and major money-maker that is GTA Online.
The game shows zero signs of slowing down, even picking up steam towards the end of 2020 and becoming even bigger than before. Simply put, Grand Theft Auto Online, as a way of introducing and experimenting with new types of content and generating revenue through micro transactions is simply too valuable to Rockstar.
If a next-gen performance boost is what helps more players get into GTA Online, then that will be Rockstar’s course of action. While it is a bit cynical to suggest that the reason for the remaster is purely driven by financial incentive through Grand Theft Auto Online – there have been no signs from Rockstar suggesting it is also a creative endeavor.