GTA V's First-Person Mode Highlights the Thin Line Between Open-World Games

GTA V's First-Person Mode Highlights the Thin Line Between Open-World Games

Grand Theft Auto V adds a first-person mode in its remaster, which steps onto territory occupied by Ubisoft's Far Cry series.

Today, Rockstar announced that the remastered Grand Theft Auto V for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC will also have an all-new first person mode. The mode had been rumored a month ago, but Rockstar finally took the wraps off and showed the world. The company also revealed new details about the game, including the fact that it'll run at 1080p resolution and 30 fps on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One with 4K resolution support on the PC version.

Prior to taking a look at the trailer, I was a bit skeptical. After watching the trailer though, I'm totally ready to revisit GTA V's world, even if I won't play it in first-person mode all the time. (I actually prefer third-person games to first-person ones.) I admit, simply pulling the camera in front of Michael, Franklin, or Trevor doesn't sound like a compelling experience at first. Apparently Rockstar agreed, because the Rockstar North put in the work to make first-person view work.

"You have to change pretty much everything," GTA V animation director Rob Nelson told IGN. "I mean, if you want to do it right. We have a very solid third-person animation system, but you don't just put the camera down there and expect to see the guns, aim, and shoot. All those animations are new when you switch to first-person, because it all has to be animated to the camera, to make it feel like a proper first-person experience that I think people would expect. All the timings have to be re-evaluated."

"There's stuff that just doesn't exist in third-person: the weapon recoil, the reloads, the weapon switching. All of the weapons have been up-rezzed and animated properly, so the shells come out the right way and have the right muzzle flashes. I think we created 3,000 animations on weapons alone."

The trailer shows off that effort, featuring a game that looks like it was meant to be played in first-person mode. It looks fun as hell: hopping in and out of vehicles, evading the law, blowing up people, shooting everything in your path.

Where have I seen this before?

That's a trailer for Far Cry 4, the latest in Ubisoft's first-person open-world adventure series. It's coming out on the same day as the remastered GTA V. That's not to say that Grand Theft Auto V and Far Cry 4 are the same game, merely that I get the same feeling when I watch their gameplay trailers. The devil may care attitude that allows you to do almost anything; GTA V and Far Cry 4 share a tone that feeds into that feeling. Jumping from one to the other makes me feel like the line between open-world games is getting inevitably blurry.

Open-world hasn't been whittled down to two competing juggernauts and the also-rans like some genres in gaming have, but the entire genre shares ideas. It's a short jump from Grand Theft Auto V to Far Cry 4 or Watch Dogs. The latter titles share DNA with Ubisoft's own Assassin's Creed. From Assassin's Creed, it's only a few short steps to Shadow of Mordor or the Batman: Arkham series. Some games focus on vehicles, some don't. Certain games are about the up-close melee action, others let you take on foes with trusty firearms. (Oddly enough, the vehicle games seem to prefer firearms.) The bleed-in between open-world titles is pretty strong. That's fine for me, as a fan of the genre, but I could see others tiring of it.

That means it's imperative that each title do what it can to standout. Assassin's Creed and Batman: Arkham are trading heavily on the narrative to pull players in. If you don't dig a specific era of Assassin's Creed, that game will probably fail for you. Batman is the same multi-billion monster he is in other mediums. Other titles try for a specific gameplay hook, like Shadow of Mordor's Nemesis System or Watch Dogs' hacking mechanic.

Hopefully Pagan Min will be as awesomely horrible as Far Cry 3's Vaas.

Far Cry's claim to fame was the fact that it was a first-person shooter with open-world action, something that's more rare than it should be. With Grand Theft Auto V stepping on that territory, Far Cry 4 has to lean more on its narrative to bring gamers in. Luckily, Pagan Min looks like another great villain you love to hate, so Ubisoft isn't out in the cold yet. The Far Cry franchise can continue to carve a niche by providing players with more exotic locales. I'll probably pick up both games this holiday, just to taste their specific flavors of first-person open-world action, but I feel like the time of dueling juggernauts is coming. Hopefully I'm wrong.

Grand Theft Auto V is coming out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 18, 2014. Far Cry 4 is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC on the same day. Good luck, Far Cry 4.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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