GTA 5 Gameplay: Why Los Santos Could Be The Best Open-World Gameplay Yet

Samuel Roberts


Combining the best of previous GTAs and Red Dead Redemption, here’s a breakdown of Los Santos as we’ve seen it so far…

Published on May 1, 2013

After seeing Grand Theft Auto V in action, the feeling I took away from it was the impressive way it wove together elements from the many different Rockstar games we’ve seen released in the past ten years.

This immense world, this county, captures the vibe of San Andreas, with the detail of Grand Theft Auto IV, scale on a par to Red Dead Redemption and the multiple character snapshots seen in Episodes From Liberty City – indeed, if Rockstar wanted to build the ultimate open world, adding up these elements really should yield some success.

In the gameplay demo, we saw three very different snapshots of Los Santos. First, we saw Franklin jumping out of a helicopter before parachuting over the immense natural landscape in the game, selling the San Andreas-style vibe that will be reprised in Grand Theft Auto V.

It’s astonishing to take in – you can see various shades of this open world in the distance over this enormous landmass, from mountains to the distant sight of skyscrapers.

As Franklin breezes past Mount Chiliad, we spot wildlife as well. When he lands, we see people fishing by a river. The detail doesn’t seem to let up, even when it feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere.

Secondly, we cut to Trevor, who wakes up on an island in the middle of nowhere in his underpants, surrounded by the bodies of the Lost, as seen in Episodes From Liberty City (Trev fell out with their Western chapter).

In Trevor’s case, we get to see jaw-dropping detail as he dives into the ocean, revealing a whole world going on below the surface. We see divers, seeking out lost cargo from enormous chunks of a downed tanker – then, we spot sharks, which leads to Trevor gulping in his scuba gear.

The underwater sections were a real unknown quantity prior to this demo, but if even parts of the map can replicate this level of detail on the ocean floor, we’ve got a lot to look forward to here.

Finally, we saw the world through Michael’s eyes in more of a traditional GTA-style environment: central Vinewood. The camera looks forward, where we catch a glimpse of the Los Santos skyline at night; it then pans behind, showing the giant Vinewood sign on the hill.

We see a fading actress on GTA’s equivalent of Hollywood Boulevard, Pamela Drake, relaying her story to anyone who will listen. An open world event, where Michael has to drive a young starlet called Lacey Jonas away from prying photographers exposes even more details, such as a deer jumping out the way of the headlights of the car, implying how the urban and nature elements of the open world design will collide.

It’s a three-pronged illustration of the variety waiting for you in Los Santos, then, and the instantaneous character switch shows us that we can tap into different parts of the world in just a few seconds.

The potential for exploration is immense: this is Rockstar’s biggest open world ever, and from what we’ve seen so far, the concentrated detail will live up to the standards demonstrated in GTA IV’s dizzying Liberty City environment.

We’ve gone in-depth with the mission content we've seen in GTA V elsewhere – but as an early indicator of the open world design of Los Santos, there’s so much that will resonate with fans of previous Rockstar games.

The past ten years of Rockstar projects have all led to this; switching instantly between the three characters will really bring the most out of GTA V’s Los Angeles pastiche.



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