‘Grand Theft Auto 5′ Plot Details, Characters Finally Revealed

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 12th, 2012 at 4:24 pm,

Rockstar Games has kept silent about their upcoming return to the franchise that made them a household name, but at long last, Grand Theft Auto 5 has been detailed. Fans were promised a big reveal in November, and they won’t be disappointed. With a number of series firsts, and story lines that are at one time both perfectly suited to the GTA series and refreshing, now would be the time for fans to really get excited.

[Update: Check out the new screenshot gallery and character details now]

Plenty of rumors and apparent leaks proceeded this official unveiling, now more easily divided into facts and rumors. Three new protagonists from three different walks of life, a larger game world than any before, and improved customization will all help to convince skeptics that the franchise still has a few surprises in store.

The GameInformer exclusive may not have kept every bit of information under wraps, but none of that matters now. The first look at the magazine’s December issue first had fans scratching their heads when it sported not one, but three main characters beneath the Grand Theft Auto V name. Now that looks to be accurate, as the first details from the magazine have made their way online.

Three main protagonists are Trevor (‘the redneck’), Franklin (African-American/Hispanic man) and Michael, the middle-aged former businessman who was narrating the first GTA 5 announcement trailer. Besides proving that the most recent batch of rumors weren’t accurate, the reveal of a much larger playable cast shows Rockstar is ready to tell a different kind of story.

Grand Theft Auto 5 Michael

Each of the characters will be distinct from one another (as their brief descriptions would imply) in both appearance and personality, with the player apparently able to switch between any of the three at nearly any time. Rockstar’s Dan Houser points to the lessons learned with Red Dead Redemption and the Liberty City Episodes for an understanding of the studio’s thinking behind the new main characters. According to Houser, the benefits of telling three distinct stories in one city seemed like a logical evolution of their formula:

“It’s been very challenging, because before you were trying to keep one story alive and now you’re trying to keep three…It’s definitely had complexities and things that have challenged us, but I think the advantage at a very simplistic and blunt level is it lets you tell a more complex story in a more naturalistic way. It is the same with game design as it is with story design, so you aren’t forcing the lead character through every situation and every piece of information. At another level, it lets you play as both protagonist and antagonist. We hopefully have a strong and interesting cast of supporting characters, but maybe less wide-ranging than in previous games because a lot of the time, the people you’re not necessarily fighting with, but bickering with, are your other lead characters.”

That approach to video game storytelling is uncommon in triple-A development, and Rockstar is already discovering why that is. The challenge is larger than any they’ve faced before in terms of plot, but Houser believes it will pay off for players:

“We’re all starting to feel that it’s our strongest plotted game because the characters are so intertwined…When you’re advancing Michael’s story, you’re also advancing Trevor’s story in a different way, and the meeting points are very exciting. I think making that work has certainly been challenging given our inexperience and lack of skill, but we’ve done our best to come up with something we think is giving this much more densely plotted experience that we couldn’t have pulled off when you always need the lead character in every moment.”

When the playable characters are closely examined, it isn’t hard to see how they will come into conflict. Michael is certainly the best well-off (in a way) of the bunch, living the high life in Rockford (read: Beverly) Hills. The set-up is part of a sweetheart deal with the FIB’s witness protection program for the forty-something former bank robber. With so many criminals anchoring past GTA games, this chapter of that story seems a welcome change. Yet Michael’s wife Amanda can’t stand him, he doesn’t understand his kids (looks like we were right about him being a father), and soon hears the thrill and rewards of crime calling to him once again.

The details aren’t as plentiful for Trevor or Franklin just yet, but there are some hints provided. Players won’t have to worry about airplanes being restricted to near end-game portions of the campaign, thanks to Trevor’s time flying during the war. All he needs is a plane to get airborne, hinting at just one reason why players may spend a lot of time exploring the open world of Los Santos. And when we say ‘open,’ we mean it.

Grand Theft Auto 5 Release Date Spring

The emphasis on extreme sports and exploring the countryside goes far beyond missions or linear pathways. According to Art Director Aaron Garbut, the imitation-Los Angeles concocted for GTA V is larger than the environments of Red Dead Redemption, San Andreas, and GTA IV combined. We don’t know if that’s including the coastal shelf explorable via SCUBA, but either way, Garbut explains that the updated version of Los Santos is designed to bring every aspect of L.A. to life, not just the gang culture highlighted in San Andreas.

With the new game engine and increased technology, the sprawling city can be portrayed as even more bustling and logical than any in the past. Garbut provides one example of the routines driving the NPCs players are ready to encounter: landscapers and gardeners seen waiting at bus stops in the early morning, tending gardens in the upscale neighborhoods during the afternoon, and returning home in the evening. It’s a small slice, but shows how Rockstar is attempting to make a more rounded experience.

Of course, the real question is how the missions will be reshaped by the new triple-protagonist structure. Rockstar is using the idea of bank heists (as seen in GTA IV) as one of their main mission types, with increased focus on the planning and teamwork involved.

The mission described requires the player to bring Michael, Trevor and Franklin together for the job before beginning the heist itself. Sparks fly, since the three are simply partners, not friends. The cutscenes look to be some of the most entertaining yet, but the real innovation comes when the bullets start flying.

Next: Details on the new mission structure and customization…

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TAGS: Grand Theft Auto, Grand Theft Auto 5, PC, PS3, Rockstar Games, Take-Two Interactive, Xbox 360

  • G

    Not sure how I feel about just switching back and forth. Should have just done 3 seperate campaigns.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DownloadableConflict TaboriHK

    I honestly can’t wait. Dunno how three PCs at the same time will work when it comes to getting into the characters or how they behave between missions, but I’ll always give Rockstar the chance to show me firsthand.

  • George

    I was so psyched about these details immerging, and I can say I am very dissapointed with their approach to this. Firstly, who wants a map as big as pretty much all rockstar games combined? That seems to big, and a damn ball ache to get around. Even with fast traveling, it’ll still be a bother. In GTA 4, I liked driving about and knowing my way around off by heart within the first few days, you just sought of feel at home with it. Looks like that will be more annoying to acheive with this, with a high chance of very repetitive scenary, like Red dead (still a good game)

    Then we have this three playable characters thing. I don’t think anyone wants that at all, that just seems to be another bother. Only being able to do select activites as one of the three, again, another bother. Just seems wasteful and unjustified. I want to go on this journey with one character and experience the things he does, instead of arsing about with three of them. I know it won’t nessercarily be a case of condensed game time or cutscene time with them, but I find the best plots and stories have ONE main protoganist who has supporting characters.

    I am actually not as excited as I was for this now. A real shame, I hope they can turn my head a second time.

  • Winslow

    More whining…Game fans are the hardest fans to please though..however sounds like another amazing rock star game to me. Can’t wait.

  • Ryuhza

    Rockstargasm. These guys are incredible.

  • Rocky

    As always GTA will decimate the competition.This sounds more then a game more like a crime sim.

  • Gary

    When I found out the game took place in San Andreas, I’m not going to lie, I was really hoping we’d see the return of CJ from GTA: San Andreas. Just to see where he is years after the events of that game.

  • jwalka

    letting the players play with more characters doesn’t make a better story/game, these guys need to hire someone that knows how to write characters and make them appealing to everyone, not just foreign drug dealers, or poor white/black people that sell drugs. maybe when they release a game that doesn’t have drugs or prostitution in it, i might give them a chance, but as it is they’re just a group of ‘kids’ regurgitating the same bs story over and over

    P.S please dont read this post with straight logic and reply with something stupid like ‘but the main char in san andreas was black so how is that the same story?’

    • s1yfox

      The game is called ‘grand theft auto’, so
      I fail to see where drugs and prostitutes dont fit in since theyve been in every gta title im existence. I embrace the multiple mains so long as they are well written for and have that snowballing interest that every main character in a game has. I think rockstar has done enough to know how to keep players like you from losing interest in the characters, but i guess well have to wait
      And see.

      • TalonLean

        So anyone that collaberates in or does the crime of Grand Theft Auto automatically does drugs and prostitution. Is that what you’re insinuating. That’s a big generalisation. One character would have been more then sufficient. After all the people who usually play games like these have short attention spans and having to role play three characters is going to stretch the limits in terms of enjoyable story as there is three fold the risk. Maybe I’m just tired of playing as poor gangbangers or corrupt white businessman. It’s just so linear and predictable. Ofcourse all these three characters, criminals in tow with each other band up to get rich… Because tad daa, they’re poor, then they get into trouble with the police AND local gangs and in the end kill or bribe off each side. Story done.

        • Wayne26uk

          If you dont like it dont play it or buy it,stop whining like a little baby and expecting too much from a game,real life would suit you better if this is how you react to everything…

    • http://www.facebook.com/DownloadableConflict TaboriHK

      You 100% missed the point of why they made three characters this time around.

    • ATG

      If they change some of those elements, might as well change the title. Seriously jwalka, it’s a sequel. Change too much and it’s a spiritual successor.

      • jwalka

        the drugs and prostitution stuff is always there and never really does anything to the game besides make those that dont do drugs or have had intercourse feel BA. they could remove that bs and it really wouldn’t effect anything besides cutting the sale due to the aforementioned reason.

        i would love to see a more corporate GTA game, where the protagonist is a high end dirty businessman who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty, that would be more BA then some poor ambitious cardboard cut out running around acting like ramirez (doing everything like it’s second nature) breaking his balls just to get some cash and become more popular with the neighbours.

        and what’s to say that if they do really change everything, the new title does better then the constant re-treads they keep releasing ? sometimes a name change is all it takes to draw in more customers b/c people dont know exactly what the game is as opposed to a numeric sequel which everyone knows what will be contained in it.

        • http://gamerant.com/author/dyce/ Andrew Dyce

          I don’t really remember there being prostitution as a ‘theme,’ as you’re making it out to be in either GTA 4 or Lost and the Damned or Ballad of Gay Tony.

          In fact, the characters in both Liberty City episodes were far better written than in any previous game. The only thing Niko had was dating, which Rockstar is taking out.

          And if a mid-forties former thief in witness protection as a wealthy Beverly Hills socialite whose wife hates him, and doesn’t have a strong connection to his children sounds like not enough of a change from Niko, Tommy, CJ, or Claude….I don’t think you’re looking for the right things from this series.

          • jwalka

            prostitution wasn’t a theme but it was always there and in your face, which made it seem like the dev’s are a bunch of little kids who probably snickered to themselves when adding whores on every corner street. it was distasteful, immature and had no point except to make fun of america saying that there are just as much prostitutes as there are macdonalds 😛

            i didn’t really read up on the characters, hence why assumption that they’ll all be gang bangers. it’s good to know that at least one character will be fun to play as (if i even get the game). but i still dont like the 3 part story, i just hope they dont just fade out the screen and bang you’re the next guy, b/c that would be really poorly thought of for a transition and immersion stand point (something which they’re claiming 3 stories will have).

          • boogoo

            Jawalka- You’re pretty ridiculous. You describe the Rockstar devs as being immature yet you’re the one who relentlessly insults everything and anything you dislike. And now you just admitted you didn’t actually read anything about the characters you were complaining about. I wonder if you’ve even played a GTA game. It’s a crime game….filled with crime. It doesn’t need to change its themes or format to appeal to you because it’s obvious that it isn’t for you. Not every single game made needs to appeal to your interests. You complain complain complain with nothing but assumptions. That’s all your comments ever consist of.

  • Matt

    My excitement for GTA V has been amplified 1000%.

  • Wayne26uk

    My bro works for Rockstar,if you want secret info then you must pay me 5000 rubies and 20 goats!

    (First bit is true,the rest is pure sarcasm)

    Please troll responsibly!