Updated at 2:50 p.m. with info on the Allow Independent Camera Modes option. We apologize for the original oversight.
Grand Theft Auto V’s Los Santos is bursting with variety, but most gamers are probably burned out on it after spending hours in the virtual city last year (read our review). Well, after some time with the updated version, we found two reasons for upgrading.
GTA V is out tomorrow on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and it is the same game you played last year but slightly prettier. The story is the same, the characters are the same, and the city is the same. But developer Rockstar added one major feature that enables you to experience the game in a whole new way. On top of that, both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have built-in capabilities that could potentially help you get more from the experience.
Let’s go over both.
First-person mode is amazing
For the first time in the series, Rockstar has enabled a first-person mode in Grand Theft Auto V. You can walk around and observe the world from the eyes of the three heroes. When you get in a car, you sit in the seat and look out the windshield from a cockpit view. It works, and it changed the way I interacted with the world that the developer built.
First-person probably makes the biggest difference when it comes to combat. I like the shooting in GTA V. In first-person, cover is sticky, and it’s easy to target enemies — on top of that you can aim down the sights of your weapon. Firefights feel a lot more dangerous when you can look around and see all of the cops swarming you and hear your cohorts yelling and screaming just out of the range of your peripheral vision.
That sense of immersion extends to every aspect of GTA V.
Hell, the color of the world even changes if you put sunglasses on your character. You can punch the hats off of pedestrians. Rockstar put as much attention to detail into its first-person view as it did into the rest of GTA, and it shows.
First-person doesn’t always work, like when you play the tennis minigame. You don’t even have the option to go into first-person. And the first-person isn’t always the best choice — like when driving. Thankfully, the “Allow Independent Camera Modes” in the display options lets you set the camera to first-person when on foot or to third-person when in the car (or vice versa) if you want.
But for most of the game, first-person is a blast, and it’s an option I hope all GTA games have in the future.
Easy screenshots and video-sharing
The second big reason to upgrade to GTA V on PS4 or Xbox One has nothing to do with Rockstar. Instead, it’s all about the built-in sharing features of Sony’s and Microsoft’s consoles.
Grand Theft Auto V is lousy with story missions and outlandish characters, but that’s not why I play it. Really, I just want to goof off in its playground for hours doing dumb and insane stuff. I want to break it. I want to surf on top of cars like in Teen Wolf. I want to try to land a jet ski into the bed of a pickup truck.
But most of all, I want to stumble into stuff I’m not even expecting — and then I want to easily record and share it.
PS4’s Share button and Xbox One’s Kinect (or double-tapping the Xbox button) make doing so simple. I’m playing on PS4, and I have around 45 minutes of saved videos that my wife and I collected throughout our adventures over the weekend.
I’m uploading a particular clip where we got hit by a car, only to roll up on to its trailer. It made us laugh, and we think the world should see it. And ee didn’t have to think to set up recording equipment before like we would have had to do with GTA V on PS3 or Xbox 360.
Check out a clip from my time playing the game live on Twitch:
But that’s it
Jumping into GTA V on the PS4 and Xbox One has its benefits, but it’s not anything you didn’t play last year. The best-case scenario is that you skipped last year’s with the hope of playing it on the newer consoles or PC. That’s how you’re going to get the most out of the game Rockstar is shipping this week.
But if you tapped out last-gen GTA V, you’ll either have to decide if first-person and easy-sharing are worth upgrading for — or you may way to wait a little bit longer. Rockstar plans to release GTA V for PC in early 2015, and that might turn into the ultimate version thanks to mods. The community may even get the first-person mode working with the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset.
Without mods, however, GTA V on PS4 and Xbox One is the same great game all over again.