Rockstar just released a batch of images showing the updated Grand Theft Auto Online in action. No, it doesn’t look too different from the single player version. Yes, it still looks fantastic.
Naturally, all of the visual improvements to Grand Theft Auto V will carry over to Grand Theft Auto Online when the next-gen makeover arrives later this month (on PS4 and Xbox One, anyway; PC users will get the updated title in January). So, a dune-buggy race with your friends through Paleto Forest now kicks up even more dirt and grime, thanks to improved particle systems. When taking a fighter jet for a joyride over downtown, rays of sun cut through the Los Santos haze thanks to the addition of “volumetric light pollution.”
The screenshots also show Grand Theft Auto V's new first-person mode in use during multiplayer. Again, more of the same, but that's not a bad thing. By default, Grand Theft Auto Online allows players to switch between first- and third- person on the fly. However, if for some reason you want to limit players to a single perspective during a match, you’ll have that option.
Of course, visual improvements aren't the only way that Grand Theft Auto Online is changing. The multiplayer mode now allows 30 players at a time, plus two spectators. That’s double the number of the last-gen version. The character creation system’s also been redone, offering a greater degree of control over your digital criminal’s appearance.
Take it from someone who lives in Los Angeles; that’s exactly what smog looks like.
If you like tinkering with Grand Theft Auto Online’s Content Creator, there’s some new stuff there too. Rockstar’s added “over 120 new props” to Grand Theft Auto Online’s creator tools, and they’ve doubled the number of props allowed in player-created matches. Given the continued popularity of sandbox-style creation games, throwing a bone to more creatively-driven gamers probably isn't a bad idea.
All of the vehicles and weapons previously released for Grand Theft Auto Online will be available at launch. Even better, they'll also be included in Grand Theft Auto V’s single player campaign. Rockstar isn't just giving us a better looking Grand Theft Auto; they’re giving us more of it.
Is that enough to convince the 34 million people who already own Grand Theft Auto 5 to double-dip? We’ll see. But if you have access to a next-gen console and haven’t purchased the game yet, there’s no doubt which version you should pick up.
Grand Theft Auto 5 launches on November 18, 2014 for PS4 and Xbox One; the PC version is scheduled for January 27, 2015.