In GTA V, You’ll Play Villain And Hero In The Same Story

The GTA V details are simply gushing out, now that Rockstar has finally decided to actually promote the thing after teasing everyone for more than a year. And in the aftermath of last week’s epic infodump courtesy of the December issue of Game Informer, Rockstar Game’s Dan Houser, AKA the guy behind the entire GTA series, has granted an interview with the New York Times in which he talks generally about the company, and series, but at one point he dropped a revealing tidbit that further clarifies what’s going on with the game’s three protagonists:

“Just at the conceptual level, the idea was three separate stories that you play in one game,” he said, which confirms we’re looking at the GTA IV + Episodes from Liberty City on steroids. “The next bit was, let’s not have the stories intersect once or twice but have them completely interwoven. It felt like it was going to be a real narrative strength: you get to play the protagonist and the antagonist in the same story.

That’s a telling bit of information. Clearly, the stories will be far more interlinked than was previously implied, and it looks like the game might come down to a conflict between the three characters, in some form, rather than each of the three characters having individual stories that play out separately. That makes me slightly less enthusiastic about the story, since I would rather have one character I can attach myself to, and see their story play out, than have my attention constantly split, especially since part of the fun of a GTA is just taking your character and wandering around.

On the other hand, this doesn’t mean there won’t be three compelling stories being told. Perhaps one option will have you playing through the game as the protagonist, another playing through as the antagonist, with the two of them frequently having their stories connect. Of course, this begs another question: Will GTA V retain GTA IV’s limited choice-based outcomes? If so, it’d be kind of cool if the choices you make as one character or another affect who winds up on top in the end.

Either way, it’s ambitious stuff, but hopefully not at the expense of a good game. Clearly, this only makes the wait for GTA V ever tougher.

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4 Comments on In GTA V, You’ll Play Villain And Hero In The Same Story


On November 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm

The annoying thing in games with more than one protagonist is they often tell more than one story (one for each of them).
I’m hoping this game does it right and tells only one story instead of three. That’s a tough bit of writing to pull off and it demands a lot of work but that’s what would be impressive about it.


On November 13, 2012 at 6:30 am

Ross, have you played Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy? It also has three characters to control, and it accomplished it perfectly, it made the story so much more interesting.

Ross Lincoln

On November 13, 2012 at 7:41 am

SweetPea – I never played that, though I’m going to make up for that as soon as possible. I did of course play Heavy Rain, which also does a good job of balancing multiple player characters. The difference of course is that HR – and I assume Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy? – isn’t an open world game, and that level of structure suits multiple protags well.

That said, I’m not reflexively assuming this will suck, just hoping that the attention of the gamer isn’t split too willy nilly, considering how open world games function. For that to be the case, it seems to me the player will need to be able to spend considerable time with a single character. Perhaps you’ll just be able to choose at your discretion between missions.

Scott Pringle

On November 13, 2012 at 8:11 am

Fahrenheit is far better than Heavy Rain. Heavy Rain was one of the most disappointing and underwhelming things I’ve ever played. It was the very definition of superficial, much like the film Crash, a surface-deep experience that tried to make you feel guilty for finding flaws. Its plot had more holes than a Call of Duty game, and you notice them more because it was sold as “the next evolution in videogame storytelling,” which frankly says a lot for how little story writing is regarded in the games industry.

Fahrenheit at least set itself up as an oddworld story in a supernatural landscape, so it could get away with some level of stupidity, plus there weren’t nearly as many contrivances as in Heavy Rain.