Fans have been waiting to know exactly what lay in store with Grand Theft Auto 5, and now that Rockstar Games has pulled back the curtain, they’ve delivered more than a few surprises. Three simultaneous protagonists from different walks of life, one of the largest game environments we’ve ever heard of, and high promises from the developers for much more.

There’s no question that GTA V will be a sales success, but it’s hard to know why Rockstar would choose to take on so many challenges all at once. Now, it seems they’re not shy about explaining their motivations.

For those who missed the full information extravaganza earlier this week, be sure to catch yourself up, and take in the massive gallery of screenshots released. Players will have the chance to mix and match gameplay experiences along with one of the three main characters at a time, in a new form of mission design that will be difficult to grasp until it’s shown in greater detail. But as promising as the premise seems, the developers are taking a chance going so far off the beaten path.

What was it that convinced Rockstar to make one of the boldest -and riskiest – decisions possible for their guaranteed blockbuster? In an interview with Guardian, co-writer and Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser explains:

“It was partly just to do something totally new…Partly, too, it was because at that point we were deep into the work on the two DLC episodes of GTA IV, and we thought, well, the bits where all the stories crossover is kind of cool, so why don’t we just do that in one game? So okay, let’s just do multiple characters.”

A simple reasoning, but one which opened the door to all kinds of new problems and challenges. The development team thinks they’re up to the task, but only when the game releases will fans be able to judge if the lessons of GTA IV‘s expansions (and Red Dead Redemption) truly mark a maturation in the way Rockstar tells stories.

Grand Theft Auto 5 Michael Trevor Franklin

The potential is present, given the first father and husband protagonist in the GTA series. Match that with a character like Trevor, a veteran who would rarely be the type of character to lead a GTA game, and you’ve got an interesting mix. Even if Michael (narrating the first trailer revealing the new Los Santos) and Franklin seem like more predictable leads, Houser hints that their characters are still capable of surprising players:

‘With Michael we wanted this older guy who’s still tough, but he’s retired. That’s a great way to start a game — at the end. That seemed fresh…Franklin was the next one we came up with because we wanted a younger character, just so he could be the guy on the up, contrasting with the guy on the down — one could mentor the other. And in some ways, I suppose, Franklin is most like your traditional GTA protagonist. And then out of nowhere, the idea of Trevor came to us. He is the guy who does everything awful, relentlessly! He has his own charm, but he … he’s a relentless maker of mischief. Not without some principles though, but totally different principles to Michael — an exact opposite take on what it means to be a protagonist in a GTA world.”

It seems that Rockstar isn’t through detailing their next game, so expect to hear plenty more over the coming weeks. What are your thoughts on the new characters and missions design? Are you most interested in the ways GTA V will resemble previous games, or the new ground it will be breaking?

Either way, Rockstar has shown that Grand Theft Auto can still be one of the most inventive and original franchises around. That in itself will be enough to shock skeptics.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Grand Theft Auto V releases in the Spring of 2013 for the PS3 and Xbox 360. A PC and Wii U release has yet to be announced.

Source: Guardian