Rockstar, what’s happening, baby?
GTA V has finally released on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S after being delayed by a few months, and after a late night and a very early morning exploring Los Santos for the third time on consoles, I’m left wondering why the game was even delayed. In fact, I’m wondering why this couldn’t have just been an update, rather than a full 80-something gig download.
I suppose the writing was on the wall. GTA V for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S hasn’t been the subject of an extensive marketing campaign. Back when the PS4 and Xbox One versions were readying up for release on the then-new consoles, Rockstar was eager to show off the improvements with fancy cinematic trailers and screenshots. Now? Not so much. We’ve had to rely on Rockstar’s written word rather than carefully crafted trailer, and sadly, the word of the famed developer is starting to mean much less than it once did.
That’s not to say GTA V on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S isn’t good – it is – but it’s not the major upgrade that the numerous blog posts made it out to be. The improvements are subtle and unless you’ve got a keen eye and too much time on your hands, you’re likely not going to notice many of them, especially if you opt for higher frame rates rather than bells and whistles.
GTA V has three performance modes on Xbox Series X and PS5, while Xbox Series S has just two. The former boast Performance Mode, which runs the game at a very steady 60FPS at 1080p; Performance RT, which will run the game at 60FPS with some ray tracing features taken from Fidelity Mode, which locks the frame rate to 30FPS while bumping up the resolution to 4K and throwing in ray tracing and other visual improvements.
If you really want to see a difference between the game you’ve been playing since 2014 and this new edition, you’ll want to stick to Fidelity Mode. This mode does show a denser world with more traffic, both on the roads and on the sidewalks, while giving nighttime scenes more depth with realistic reflections. But that’s coming at a cost – 30FPS. That’s not a price I’m willing to pay. I’ve been spoiled by the new normal on these new consoles – 60FPS. Going back to 30FPS just feels wrong.
So, if like me, you favour frame rates over fancy graphics, you’ll get the benefit of playing GTA V in 60FPS, but you won’t really see much improvement, rather you’ll feel it in the moment-to-moment gameplay. And don’t get me wrong – it does feel great to finally feel comfortable playing in first-person mode – but was it worth paying actual money for? I don’t think so, and I think Rockstar and its parent company, Take-Two, knew this, hence the deep release window discount to soften the blow. An unremarkable, by-the-book release is less likely to blow up if you’re only charging $10/$20 for an upgrade, especially when other publishers (looking at you, Activision and your poor THPS 1+2 “upgrade”) have gotten away with it in the past.
Had I paid full whack once again, my words here would probably be a little harsher, and that’s the goodwill that Rockstar and Take-Two are relying on.
Like, I said, Rockstar’s word is starting to mean less and less, so when the inevitable Red Dead Redemption 2 PS5/Xbox Series X|S upgrade comes around… Who am I kidding? I’ll be there day one, just like you, and we’ll all get together on Twitter, moan about it for a week, and then forget about it, and the cycle will continue.