GTAV is rumoured to be a four-player co-op RPG with a full-scale weapon crafting system.
The new lead character is a white Hispanic middle-aged guy in his early 20s, and his co-op partners are the three respective protagonists of GTAIII, Vice City and San Andreas. Niko Bellic and Officer Tenpenny are both coming back, and you'll get to jetski through sewers while dealing with dynamically generated earthquakes. Well... That's not quite true.
You see that's only the version of GTAV that's confirmed if you believe every rumour that's hit the internet since the game's official announcement in October. As usual, 'the web' - or rather, a subset of game blogs, fan sites and twitter accounts - thinks that it knows exactly what is going on. And as usual, it's probably making most of it up.
So which GTAV rumours are true, and which ones are as plausible as a sustainable music career post-X-Factor? We've rounded up the biggest and the maddest rumours, cross-referenced them with the debut trailer, and analysed them to within an inch of their suspiciously anonymous sources. Want to know what's really going on? Here's where you find out.
In the spirit of (not-so) wild predictions, here's ours: GTAV is a multi-protagonist, split viewpoint tale led by ex-con brothers Albert (Ned Luke) and Simon De Silva, centred around a jewel heist gone wrong, with online co-op, territory wars, economic and social satire plus... cast your eyes below and we'll explain...
THE RUMOR GTA V's lead character is Albert De Silva, played by Ned Luke
THE THEORY That late-middle-aged guy in the trailer with the greying, receding hairline? That's your iconic new action hero (perhaps one of several, but we'll explain later), that is. Even cooler? His name is Albert and he's played by a guy called Ned. De Silva is an aging mobster making an attempt at retirement. A really, really crap attempt at retirement, as it turns out.
THE EVIDENCE A leaked, codenamed cast list 'Rush', very probably for GTAV, and a few Tweets from one of the protagonist's friends.
Last year, an online casting call went out for an unnamed project, codenamed 'Rush'. It read like a crime drama, with a cast of LA lawkeepers and countryside oddballs. The résumé of an actress involved later linked the project to GTA publisher Take-Two. Two characters were cast separately - dad Albert De Silva and brother Simon - implying more prominent roles.
When the GTAV trailer hit, it featured a guy of fatherly age talking about settling down and being a dad, while getting away from "that line of work". And then, via Twitter, actor Jimmy Taenaka outed his buddy Ned Luke as voicing the trailer. And a quick look on IMDB revealed old Ned to have the exact same face as the promo's protagonist. Coincidence? Hmmm.
THE RUMORThe setting will focus on the city of Los Santos and its surrounds, but not the whole of San Andreas
THE THEORY The Los Santos setting of the reveal trailer will be the primary location for the whole game. This is not a remake of GTA San Andreas taking in the entire state map. You'll venture out of the city, but not as far as any new ones, such as San Fierro or Las Venturas.
THE EVIDENCE A supposedly leaked map from a supposed Rockstar employee, and some rambling from a man claiming to be a journalist.
Back in November, a Twitter account credited to one @torontoJack233 (now deleted) posted a conveniently blurry map of the game, covering only Los Santos. However, Jack was later called out on an earlier discredited GTAV hoax, making his 'evidence' very dubious.
At the same time, a guy hit GTAForums.com claiming to be a PS3 journo (from PSM3, incredibly) with info based on a playtest. The truth? The map was likely a PC GTAIV mod, while in ten years we've never known any journo sent to a playtest at devs Rockstar North, as the leak claimed. And it wasn't one of us.
However, we reckon the duff sources got the location right by accident, or sane guesswork. While the official press release describes this as the biggest Rockstar game yet, it only references "Los Santos and surrounding hills, countryside and beaches".
Last-gen's San Andreas was smaller than you remember, and not that big by modern standards, so a single, fleshed-out, current-gen city could easily compete. Expect GTAV to be big and detailed rather than vast and bland. Don't be surprised if we get the other cities as fat DLC, though.
THE RUMORIt has smoother, more cinematic gunplay lifted from a cancelled Sony game.
THE THEORY GTAV's combat will have a much more solid cover system and far slicker animation. It will come partly via the input of Jim Jagger, an ex-Sony animator who has brought his previous work on a PS3 cover-shooter to the GTA franchise.
THE EVIDENCE An anonymous source, a clandestine interview, and a developer CV that possibly said too much.
On October the 25th, just after the GTAV logo reveal but before the trailer, StickTwiddlers.com claimed to have spoken to an "industry professional" who had worked on the cancelled PS3-exclusive shooter Eight Days. ST's writer claims that upon commenting on Eight Days' undeniably meaty and cinematic character animation, he was told that the animator is now working on GTAV at Rockstar.
StickTwiddlers then tracked down one Jim Jagger, a credited character animator on Eight Days, whose own site confirmed his employment at GTA-dev Rockstar North since 2009, working on a then-to-be-announced. project.
Suddenly it sounds plausible. And given how good Eight Days' animation looked - a meticulous Google search reveals leaked early footage set in a desert - we hope that it is. Interestingly, they also focused on intricate co-op interactions, which adds great credence to the following rumour that...
THE RUMOR GTA is no longer a single player-focused game.
THE THEORY GTAV will pioneer a new level of online co-op, not only for the series, but for open-world games in general. Think full drop-in, drop-out co-op in the main game (with maybe even a new mission and story structure to accommodate more players) and a bigger focus on multiplayer.
THE EVIDENCE Some dubious 'insider' forum posts, and the fact it's the logical development of Rockstar's multiplayer offerings (outside of GTA) thus far. Also, the press release makes a suspiciously big deal out of it.
Towards the end of October, a post on the 4chan forum claimed to have insider knowledge of expanded multiplayer and a co-op story. It also broadly nailed the San Andreas setting, before the trailer. However, it claimed that the protagonist would be a young Hispanic guy, which we suspect isn't the case.
That said, there were other elements in the post (a family-driven plot, a smoother combat system and a modern setting) that could be read as confused interpretations of what we believe to be true.
An online focus makes sense. Rockstar have openly lamented how few players finish the solo campaign, while Red Dead Redemption used its open world as a meeting-hub and playground for structured co-op missions. The GTAV press release makes a big deal of the online component. It adds up. Which adds weight to the major theory that...
THE RUMOR The story will have multiple playable characters and a more abstract narrative.
THE THEORY Rather than simply follow one character on the same old rags-to-riches-via-car-crashes-and-murder story, GTAV will mix it up via several protagonists and multiple perspectives - various economic backgrounds - on the story. Think of it like Lost, The Wire or Oz, but with more knob jokes.
THE EVIDENCE There's a very different protagonist this time around, and the reveal trailer has a very different focus. Also, Take-Two kind of said so.
Around a week before the trailer hit, Kotaku reported that "a source familiar with the game" had told them GTAV would have multiple protagonists. No more detail than that, but we rather think the trailer confirms it, albeit subtly. GTA reveal trailers traditionally focus on one specific lead character, but this time it's different. 'Albert' comes up a lot, but he's not the only character who makes a prominent or repeated appearance.
Most notably there's a tattooed guy in a vest who looks a lot like San Andreas' CJ, and there's also a similar-looking guy in a red convertible. Given that 'Albert' is seemingly already at the top of the crime tree, the traditional GTA 'rags to riches' narrative model is out, so why not an ensemble story?
The GTAV press release describes "radical reinvention" after all. And don't forget, GTAIV experimented with multiple viewpoints itself, bringing Niko and DLC protagonists Luis and Johnny together more than once. And speaking of San Andreas throwbacks, some have claimed that...
THE RUMOR GTA heroes of old, such as CJ, will be the playable stars.
THE THEORY While there will be one or more brand-new lead characters in GTAV, we'll also see appearances from some iconic crims of yesteryear. Possibly all three last-gen GTA protagonists, in fact, including Claude, CJ, Tommy Vercetti and Niko Bellic.
THE EVIDENCE Rampant internet speculation and some very familiar character design.
Give obsessive fans of any series a scrap of new content and the ability to communicate online, and they'll spin that scrap into a daringly-designed royal wedding dress complete with matching bridesmaid set-ups in minutes. Such was the case with that guy in the vest, who we mentioned in rumour #5. If he looked like CJ and the game was set in Los Santos, he had to be CJ. The forums decided that within an instant.
And once the internet had set a course for Returning Protagonist City, the rumour-boat couldn't be stopped. Suddenly Albert was definitely an older Tommy Vercetti. And if he wasn't, then he was definitely an older Claude. But he is very probably neither.
Yes, Rockstar put out a (highly expensive) commemorative 10th anniversary Claude statue just before the GTAV reveal, but as with most things relating to this rumour, we reckon it's coincidence. Also, Ned Luke sounds nowt like Ray Liotta (whose reps denied any involvement). Expect old faves in cameos, but not as the main stars.
THE RUMOR There will be hugely detailed RPG elements.
THE THEORY Love 'em or hate 'em, the controversial character management elements of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas made a big impact when they landed. Character customisation has been limited to clothing ever since, but apparently GTAV will bring bodybuilding, weight gain, tattooing and a whole lot more to boot.
THE EVIDENCE An 'insider' forum post, and a few very suspicious props in the reveal trailer.
Someone who claims to know someone who's seen 30 minutes of game footage has posted online that character clothing and body weight can be altered, just like in San Andreas.
He also reckons vehicles can be repaired and maintained, driving and shooting skills can be levelled up, and home-made weapons can be fashioned together, Fallout-style. Unfortunately, all of this came from the fake journalist guy we mentioned in rumour #2, so his version of this is total balls.
What's less spherical though, is the appearance of gyms in the trailer. Rockstar rarely put anything in a GTA trailer that doesn't eventually turn up as a game mechanic, so we suspect that dynamically editing your character's physicality will be possible, a la San Andreas. The piercing parlour at 00:24 in the trailer backs up that idea too. The rest though? Doubtful, but we'll see.