Dive Into ‘Grand Theft Auto 5′ With New First-Person Mode

Source: Rockstar Games

Source: Rockstar Games

The rumors were true: When Grand Theft Auto V comes to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, the game will feature a first-person mode. Developer Rockstar announced the new mode with a trailer, and let IGN take it for a test drive.

The game, which came out for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2013, has only ever been playable from a third-person, above-the-action view. And while a new perspective on the same game might not sound like such a big deal, the footage in the trailer makes it look like an almost entirely new experience.

“It’s a very intense, in-your-face experience… literally,” Rob Nelson, the animation director for the game, told IGN. “Obviously, we felt like one of the most compelling things you could do to make an experience people have had before feel different was the new first-person mode.”

IGN’s reporter agrees with that assessment, saying, “From shooters to action games, we’re all used to adopting the first-person, but the way in which this new perspective transforms the GTA 5 experience can’t be understated; it fundamentally alters how you inhabit and interact with this world. It rewrites the experience, both in single-player and online… The world feels much, much bigger. You’re enveloped by it – no longer looking down on its citizens, since you’re now one of them.”

The feature is included in part as an attempt to get people who have already played the game to buy it again on the new hardware. Rockstar says it’s something the development team would have liked to include in the first place, but they didn’t have time.

Technical limitations on the PS3 and Xbox 360 also made it impossible — or at least a bigger challenge than the team was able to address. Nelson says, “We were out of memory on the old consoles for animations. We were constantly fighting about what we could have and what we could still push in, and what other areas you could steal memory back from – audio, art, maps – for animation. So we could’ve added all the atoms to make a first-person mode to the level we wanted. We weren’t sure the world would have held up the way we would’ve wanted it to.”

Source: Rockstar Games

Source: Rockstar Games

Even with the more powerful new hardware, creating a first-person mode took a lot more work than just moving the camera down. Many of the game’s textures had to be improved, because the camera now goes in much closer than it did before. Driving a car means seeing the dash board up close, so they’ve made all of the speedometers work, and the radios of newer cars display what song is playing. Riding a motorcycle means putting on a helmet, which muffles the sounds of the game world, and limits your vision.

Then there’s the combat. Nelson says, “There’s stuff that just doesn’t exist in third-person: The weapon recoil, the reloads, the weapon switching. All of the weapons have been up-rezzed and animated properly, so the shells come out the right way and have the right muzzle flashes. I think we created 3,000 animations on weapons alone.”

Rockstar has also included a lot of options for the first-person mode. You can use the standard controls from the third-person mode, or choose from several pre-set control schemes that mimic other popular first-person shooters. You can also make it so the game pops out to a third-person view when you get behind cover.

Grand Theft Auto V is scheduled to hit PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 18, and PC in January 2015.

Follow Chris on Twitter @_chrislreed

More from Tech Cheat Sheet: