We’ve known all along that the upcoming Grand Theft Auto V would have online multiplayer. Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption both had it, so it only kind of makes sense that Rockstar Games’ latest in the storied franchise would also enable connected car and gun-fueled chaos. We haven’t heard anything about it, though, unless you count the brief bit of footage in the most recent trailer.
That is until today. Announced as Grand Theft Auto Online, it will come out as a patch for Grand Theft Auto V proper on October 1st, a few weeks after the main game comes out. Access to this “persistent online world” will be free for owners of the game and “will continue to expand and evolve after its launch.” The trailer itself doesn’t show how exactly Rockstar will be doing that themselves, but it will allow for tons of user generated content like races and deathmatch maps, highlighting the creation tool by dropping checkpoints and weapon spawns before playing out a sequence of blowing up a helicopter.
You’ll be earning money and reputation by completing jobs like robbing banks and liquor stores with or without a crew, which you can then leverage into customizing your character, buying a pad where your real life friends can come and hang out, and filling a garage of sweet whips and hot rides. But you can also just go off and do whatever you want, a differentiation they call “structured and unstructured activities” (as they show a bunch of players driving motorcycles off of a mountain ridge and then deploying parachutes).
Not much else is known. Surprising, I know, but let’s be honest: even if Grand Theft Auto V had come out yesterday, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rockstar just forgot to tell us. They’re not big on ginning up news for nothing, but this is pretty exciting. This takes what is otherwise a standard evolutionary step in the series and takes it to a new level of ambition. Persistence and narratives (they showed what appear to be story-driven cutscenes) tucked into an online open world multiplayer game.
Just some things hopefully get clarified: 1) number of players at any given point, 2) single or multi server persistence structure, 3) connection to the main campaign, i.e. will your actions in Grand Theft Auto Online affect the world that Michael, Franklin, and Trevor inhabit, and 4) is that a submarine that comes up at 0:25? I swear to god that’s a submarine. Oh my god there are submarines. (Unconfirmed and unsubstantiated.)
I’m also curious as to how the cash flow of slowly earning rewards in an online space will change the singleplayer experience given that it’s never been particularly difficult to accrue egregious amounts of money in past offline Grand Theft Auto games. But I guess we’ll find all of that out soon enough. What do you guys think?