The GTA series has undergone some significant changes to its formula and identity, shaping the series into the cultural phenomenon it’s known today.
Every new mainline GTA game introduces some innovative features that drastically change the way the game is played. More often than not, these features tend to remain within the series in some capacity, although their significance may differ greatly between games.
The most significant changes to the series tend to revolve around certain features that are completely reworked for the better. An example of this would be the HD universe’s introduction of more realistic graphics and better physics.
It has appeared in several games and is likely to continue shaping GTA’s identity for the better.
Five significant changes to the GTA formula
#5 – Multiple protagonists
The idea of multiple protagonists in a GTA game seems strange at first, but GTA 5 proved that it could work well. Now, multiple protagonists are not the sole reason why the game did so well. Still, it’s an incredibly unique feature that drastically changes how the game is played.
It would be surprising if a game like GTA 6 didn’t have multiple protagonists. Different features could be allocated to different protagonists, which in turn is something that can’t be said about the earlier GTA titles.
#4 – A massive amount of customization in GTA San Andreas
Many GTA games tend to change a few notable features, but it’s arguable that GTA San Andreas introduced the most in the series when it comes to customization. Comparing it to the games before it in such a category is like comparing day and night.
Some games following GTA San Andreas did remove a few or all of its customization features, but it’s largely returned to GTA 5 and Online in a big way. It’s unlikely that future GTA titles will cut this feature, either, as it’s an immensely popular feature.
#3 – More realistic graphics and physics
The HD Universe brought a myriad of changes unlike most other alterations in the series up to that point. Better graphics was one thing, but introducing a whole new physics system was another.
Gone were the days of arcade-esque gameplay and in came the days of its modern GTA identity. Ragdoll physics and a more realistic approach were some massive changes that perfectly complemented the new graphics.
#2 – The transition to 3D
It cannot be understated how monumental of a change it was for the series when it underwent the transition from 2D to 3D. GTA 1 and 2 were good games in their own rights and were commercially successful, but they would never compare to the games that came afterward.
GTA 3 propelled the series into the mainstream with its introduction of a 3D open world. That, along with its good controls (for the time period) made it stand out immediately compared to the numerous other 3D titles of that era.
Of course, the series has mastered the art of an open-world 3D environment since then.
#1 – A focus on an online-only game
The GTA series has messed around with several multiplayer and online features before, but nothing was quite as drastic as GTA Online. In a way, it’s made GTA 5 the best-selling GTA game of all time by a large margin.
GTA Online has been the main GTA title for nearly eight years, and it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon. It has generated so much money for Rockstar Games, that it’s incredibly likely that future GTA games will include their own version of GTA Online.
Note: This article reflects the writer’s personal views.