Skip to main content

GTA 5: Dan Houser talks heists, characters and plot

Grand Theft Auto 5 has been laid bare by Rockstar North in the December issue of Game Informer. Rockstar's vice president of creativity Dan Houser has broken his silence on the project to discuss the game's many heists, character swapping, plot, side missions and more. He rarely talks, so read well.

Houser's words were seen among Game Informer's sprawling 18-page GTA 5 feature. If you missed the game's reveal check out our coverage here.

Financial gain will be a big theme in GTA 5 and it sees its three protagonists Trevor, Michael and Franklin pulling off as string of heists, to which Houser explained, "We really wanted to make heists a big theme in the game based on missions not just from GTA 4 but from previous games people really responded to.

"People are in love with doing bank jobs, particularly when they feel like they have prepped the bank jobs. We never felt we’d done a great job with a bank job so we decided, ‘Let’s properly invest the story and mission design for some of the mission into making some of these built-out series of heists. That was a huge part of the story missions – trying to set the game apart from games we’ve done in the past."

Said bank jobs, as well as other missions will see all three characters active at the same time, and Houser discussed just how three stars will work during gameplay, "We want to move from having one character in a mission to having two of three. This makes the missions feel distinct in that they feel very high action but they will have a very different tone depending on who’s on them, how many people are on them and how much we’re using switches to make it feel different.

"We have a design issue that all games have – the games are at some level about doing stuff, you being in charge of the mechanic. When you are only one character, it means they always have to be driving is when the driving is fun, shooting when the shooting is fun, flying when the flying is fun and parachuting when the parachuting is fun.

"It can lead to things being a little ridiculous – having a lot of time spent climbing ladders, or a lot of segues from moment to moment that can end up slightly contrived. With [multiple simultaneous protagonists] we can get past that and also cut out a lot of the transitional moments to just always put you in the action”.

On the three-way plot, Houser added, "We’re starting to feel that’s it’s our strongest plotted game because the characters are so intertwined. When you’re advancing Michael’s story you’re also advancing Trevor’s story in a different way, and the meeting points are very exciting.

"I think making that work as certainly been challenging given our inexperience and lack of skill, but we’ve done our best to come up with something we think is giving this much more densely plotted experience that we couldn’t have pulled off when you always need the lead character for every moment”.

Excited yet? Stay tuned for our massive feature on GTA 5 later today.

Thanks OPM.

Read this next