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Why GTA Online and next-gen consoles deserve each other

Grand Theft Auto V Screenshot - GTA Online

Grand Theft Auto V scoffs at your next-gen consoles, declaring that the 360 and PS3 can still do some amazing things. The graphical detail and scope of Los Santos is pretty impressive, even on aging hardware. Sure, the game would still look much sharper on PS4, Xbox One, or *gasp* a decent gaming PC, but these dinosaurs get the job done. Graphically, GTA V is what I’d call “perfectly fine, even impressive” on current gen consoles. Where the consoles start to show their age, in some subtle and not-so subtle ways, is when you load up GTA Online.

Here I will propose my reasons for why GTA Online and next-gen consoles deserve each other.

Keeping the city bustling

GTA Online screenshot

The most obvious difference between GTA V single player and GTA Online is that there’s a lot less stuff going on. Less cars, less pedestrians, less random junk in the street -- it all leads to a feeling that Los Santos is experiencing a light post-apocalypse.

On next-gen platforms, the game would hopefully be able to maintain the same level of complexity between single player and multiplayer, perhaps even adding more cars, pedestrians, and physics objects. A lot of that might depend less on processing power and more on network infrastructure, but that’s something the new consoles seem to be addressing as well.

Los Santos, city in the cloud

GTA Online screenshot

Perhaps GTA Online could take advantage of next-gen’s highly touted cloud technology. At the very least we have to hope that with dynamic, multiplayer games like Destiny and Titanfall, there will be a better infrastructure in place to support more complex environments and more players in games without a ton of lag and synchronization issues. You have to hope, anyway…

Supposing games can offer more complex online experiences in the future, a next-gen GTA Online could look very different. How about more players per server? Los Santos could easily allow 32 or even 64 players to cause chaos in its streets. How about more seamless matchmaking? Instead of so clearly bouncing between free roam sessions and more focused gametypes, what if the game never had a loading screen or lobby menu to sit through?

New avenues of play

GTA Online screenshot

With the extra horsepower comes entirely new play experience potential. What if every server of GTA Online was also an epic game of Spy Party or Assassin’s Creed multiplayer? Players could opt to lose their opponents in bustling crowds or follow the traffic rules until they get some breathing room. With a busier city and more players per server, the free roam could take on an entirely new, exciting dimension.

Perhaps some players could elect to side with the law and chase down those wanted levels. Playing as a good guy in GTA may be a bit out of character, but we already have playable women in GTA Online, so why not break down another barrier? That, and manhunts between real player cops and robbers would be exhilarating.

OMG! Did you see that!?

GTA Online screenshot

Crazy, hilarious stuff happens on the regular in GTA Online, and not everyone has the equipment to capture their favorite moments. On PS4 and Xbox One that won’t be a problem, as both platforms have tech for capturing video and streaming. When anyone and everyone can record their favorite moments, it’ll be the most outrageous moments that rise to the top.

...and maybe a gimmick or two

GTA Online screenshot

The new consoles have their fair share of shiny toys that could be gimmicks, but could be cool too. The Dualshock 4’s touch pad could be used for the map, browsing the web, or for feeling up strippers. The Kinect could be used to scan your own face as your character’s parent. And since both consoles are touting second screen experiences, why not allow people to use their own phones to take calls from Lamar and Simeon. How cool would that be?

The bottom line is that GTA Online would be better on next-gen consoles and PC. There’s no doubt about it, even if some of my ideas are a little far fetched. Will Rockstar port the game to other platforms? Based on sales they certainly made the right move for their first platforms to launch on, but I'd sincerely like to see any great game of  the last year get another chance on new hardware. I hope Rockstar considers it, because if a fresh “GOTY” version of GTA V came out on PS4 and Xbox One a year from now, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab it and take a spin on GTA Online once again.

Enjoy random thoughts about the latest games, the Sega Saturn, or the occasional movie review? Follow me @JoeDonuts!

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Joe Donato Video games became an amazing, artful, interactive story-driven medium for me right around when I played Panzer Dragoon Saga on Sega Saturn. Ever since then, I've wanted to be a part of this industry. Somewhere along the line I, possibly foolishly, decided I'd rather write about them than actually make them. So here I am.
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