Grand Theft Auto V lands again on next-gen, is it worth buying? | Our Review

Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V blockbuster hit from 2013 has grown to be one of the biggest game titles in the industry, spanning over 160 million units sold. That’s more than twice the UK’s population all thanks to its online component GTA Online. With more active players than ever, GTAV lands once again for the latest generation of consoles with some visual enhancements and exclusive quality of life improvements to GTA Online with a shiny front-end menu to access all online modes and news on the game within a press of a button.

Let’s face it, GTAV is getting old. It’s approaching its nine-year release, even as a day one player from 2013, the game is starting to age a bit and it can be a little difficult to play due to the outdated game mechanics that continue to persist in the enhanced version. But this new version of the game focuses on visual enhancements, bringing Los Santos and Blaine County detailed as ever before on consoles. Although the enhancements are rather a bit minor and not really a big visual step up compared to the previous console releases. Rockstar’s been throwing around all sorts of fancy words in their marketing materials, but really the game brings some of PC’s visuals to console, with some exceptions, that is ray-traced shadows, new particle effects and other new changes to weather effects such as rain now reacting to the world’s lighting correctly.

Now, needless to say, the game is still a breathtaking experience. Flying a plane over Mount Chiliad as the sun rises for another sprawling day in Los Santos shines. While sometimes the technical limitations can show, the textures did not get any new enhancements and uses the PC’s high setting preset that can sometimes result in a blurry experience and just not overall great across the world and even character models. If you’ve never played the PC version, it will look a lot better compared to the PS4 and Xbox One releases.

With this release, the game offers a variety of graphical modes for PS5 and Xbox Series X users enabling the player to choose for a tailed preferred experience, it offers three graphical modes that any time can be changed in the display settings from the pause menu – Fidelity Mode opts for a detailed 4K experience with shadow ray-tracing, it comes with a capped frame-rate at 30 frames per second, Performance RT Mode is a little different but it’s favoured by most players, it comes with a 1440p experience with limited shadow ray-tracing at 60 frames per second, in our testing, we found Performance RT Mode to hold a very stable frame-rate. Lastly, Performance Mode packages with a near 4K experience without the use of ray-traced shadows – it’s really up to you on how you want to play the game.

Now, sadly this new enhanced release does not come with any form of ray-traced reflections seen in games like Cyberpunk 2077, Rockstar is rather again opting for cubemap reflections, also known as a lower detailed world used to cast a reflection, but it’s insanely limited and it’s completely static, so your player model and vehicles around the world cannot cast a reflection anywhere in the world, except in interiors with a mirror – it’s quite disappointing Rockstar didn’t decide to change its super old reflection rendering solution to screen-space reflections (SSR). It’s totally understandable ray-traced reflections can be insanely demanding on a GPU’s workload, but again I still feel like SSR would considerably help make the world of Los Santos feel less static on vehicles and buildings.

Grand Theft Auto V lands again on next-gen, is it worth buying? | Our Review

The releases comes packaged with a highly requested front-end menu similar to Red Dead Online‘s. The game’s old landing page from 2013 was altogether removed with a revamped clean user interface with features to allow the player to quickly engage in heists and other modes with a click of a button – there’s even a new feature to see the latest news on GTA Online and much more. This is a really welcome addition to the game and definitely as a long-time player a dream to see from Rockstar.

Now with all the technical tad bits out of way, Rockstar has gone for a very sensible pricing approach for these new versions but the current pricing will only last for a few months, after this, it will return back to its original $40 price tag – the traditional version of the game with the Story Mode and GTA Online is at the moment up for grabs for little as $20 on the Microsoft Store and PlayStation Store, that’s unbelievably cheap. I absolutely did not anticipate a low price point at launch during its pre-release phase. It has given me a lot of motivation to have another replay of GTAV’s blockbuster Story Mode. Honestly, I’m having lots of enjoyment out of GTAV again. While I have personally replayed it many times, Micheal de Santa and Trevor Phillips never disappoint with their hilarious humour – and hey the Story Mode feels more immersive than its online component without any flying vehicles in the skies of LS.

GTAV & GTA Online arrives with some quality of life changes to the game’s particle system with considerably detailed explosions, rain, fire and water effects. Shooting at a car window blasts with shattered glass all over the bonnet, a new explosion effect is visually more detailed with more smoke being scattered around an active fire, vehicle tire smoke was modified to look more intense and fires now have proper bits of ember flying into the air with more detailed fire particles and smoke effects.

Tad Disapointing Features for GTA Online

Don’t get me wrong, I love GTA Online. But this re-release for GTA Online feels little barebones and underpromised. The wait for the next GTA title is a long way, way, it’s safe to say GTA Online is staying for a good while. I had hoped Rockstar Games would fully tap into cross-save and cross-play support for GTA Online – most developers in the games industry have incorporated their own social platforms to enable these features for their titles, yet it’s not still possible to have our progress from GTA Online available on whatever platform, so be it PS4 or PS5. I believe Rockstar Games needs to really start pushing for these features with its upcoming GTA title – these two features are at this point an industry standard and it’s becoming more important.

On the feature set side of things, it comes with some exclusive vehicles and an entirely new Hao Workshop at the LS Car Meet club, but it just doesn’t feel enough. Rockstar had nearly two years to develop these new enhanced versions of the game, I still feel like the new content offered here just isn’t adequate, it would have been even better if these versions opened up Cayo Perico with an open roam map with a variety of modes to showcase of the possibilities of these new consoles – or even better an exclusive Heist to engage the player to play this new version of the game.

Our Verdict

Grand Theft Auto V and GTA Online on the latest generation of consoles are a great way to experience the game at the highest visual fidelity possible without having to fork out on a new PC for a decent frame-rate boost. Rockstar Games have delivered some great features for consoles users, while some disappointing GTAV is still a blast to play in 2022, with over 40 updates in GTA Online to play and a 30-hour single-player mode at such a little starting price point is fantastic.

This re-release could be better in certain areas, it should’ve been a much bigger product than its current state with updates to its single-player component and bigger quality of life changes to GTA Online, it’s a little underwhelming but good enough to warrant another purchase whether if you’re a GTA Online regular and enthusiast or a first-timer for the Story Mode.

Grand Theft Auto V was reviewed on PlayStation 5, the game was purchased via the writer’s own funds