The nine-year-old Grand Theft Auto 5 will be released this week on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S. This means that the game has been released on no fewer than three consecutive console generations. That's not given many games. However, GTA 5 remains relevant. That's partly due to the course Rockstar is sailing these days, but let's certainly not discount the quality of the game.

The year 2013 was an excellent gaming year. In that year the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One appeared, but the ‘old’ generation got a farewell in style with games such as BioShock Infinite and The Last of Us.

Especially the unique structure with three main characters comes to mind when we think back to the good old days of GTA 5. Where the previous ‘games in the series always pushed you into a specific box with, for example, drug dealer Tommy Vercetti or gangster CJ, you experience GTA 5 through three completely different glasses. . Michael, Franklin and Trevor could hardly be more different. Players can switch seamlessly between the three characters, thereby also switching lives.

The world keeps turning, even if you as a player are not touching the buttons for a while. For example, if you switch to Michael, there is a good chance that you will find him in the middle of an argument with his wife. Trevor – clearly a victim of mental health cuts – is often found drunk on the roadside or in the back of his pickup truck, while Franklin often hangs out with his buddy Lamar or walks his dog. GTA 5 goes a step further than just some missions that suit the character; it creates entire lives for the digital offenders.

Plus, Los Santos feels like a real city. Anyone who now starts Vice City or even San Andreas will notice how small those worlds actually are. The game world of GTA 5 is even in 2022 large, expansive and still very detailed. especially if you compare these details with newer games, Los Santos is still doing very well. In the heart of the city you will find expensive shops where you can buy a new jacket for Michael for exorbitant amounts, while around the village of Paleta Bay at the foot of Mount Chiliad there is no sign of the city bustle. Some radio stations are even only available in specific areas. Everything is right and in balance.

Yet even the most expansive and detailed single player ever comes to an end. Rockstar solved that with the introduction of GTA Online. There have been many experiments with multiplayer modes for the franchise in the past, but with GTA Online Rockstar managed to put down a mature online mode despite a messy start.

GTA Online initially thrived on the same large, detailed game world we explored in the single player, but over the years it was constantly updated with new content to stay interesting and fresh. From new locations such as a casino and Cayo Perico island, to new story content featuring Dr. Dre, especially in the last few years there is always something new to experience online. Not every player is eager to dive into the online mode for this content and the call for ‘normal’ single player content remains high, but Rockstar undeniably uses a successful formula.

GTA 5, or rather GTA Online, is thus kept actively relevant. Yet there is another reason that GTA 5 still matters: there is still no successor. Grand Theft Auto 6 is officialy in development, but that’s literally all we know about it. It could just be years before we can actually play a complete new GTA.

It is remarkable that GTA 6 is taking so long. Still, it’s not entirely unexpected either. After all, the intervals between each part are getting longer and longer. GTA 3, Vice City and San Andreas all appeared in a span of just four years. GTA 4 then appeared almost five years later, and GTA 4 and GTA 5 had already passed a little over five years. Large games simply cost more and more time and money to make.

However, the GTA drought is extra special, because Rockstar only released Red Dead Redemption 2 in between, apart from some reissues. In comparison, between GTA 4 and 5, the studio released Midnight Club: Los Angeles, GTA: Chinatown Wars, Beaterator, Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne 3 and expansions for GTA 4 and Red Dead Redemption. Rockstar’s various studios worked simultaneously on various large and small projects, resulting in a constant stream of new games.

For Red Dead Redemption 2, the company reversed its strategy. That game was too complex to be performed by one studio, so Rockstar merged all separate studios into one team of about two thousand employees: Rockstar Studios. Even with so many hands, it took years to develop and there was reportedly quite a crunch, something that is fortunately less and less tolerated in the game industry and would also be a thing of the past with Rockstar.

Red Dead Redemption 2, however, was a resounding success both critically and commercially, just like GTA 5. The ‘smaller’ games that Rockstar used to make, such as Max Payne 3, were commercially disappointing. Creating gigantic game worlds, populated by increasingly complex characters, therefore pays off for Rockstar. But Red Dead Redemption 2 sets the bar for open world games in general and expectations for everything Rockstar touches specifically, sky high. Surpassing or even equaling GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2 will therefore take time, especially if Rockstar wants to avoid heavy crunch time.

In addition, it is undoubtedly a challenge to create something that is more ridiculous than today’s reality. GTA has always been a parody of reality, like a kind of distorting mirror held up to us. However, GTA 5 came out in a simpler time, when we were still mainly concerned about our privacy on social media. For example, the Facebook-like social network Lifeinvader plays a major role in the game. Since 2013, Trump has become president, the world has been hit by a pandemic and Russia decided it was time for another insane war. Try surpassing that.

We will have to wait a little longer for Grand Theft Auto 6, but until then we can at least get started with Grand Theft Auto 5. The game is available on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S. including improved graphics, HDR, 4k resolution, 60 fps and ray tracing and will be available from 15 March.