Rockstar Games has been showing us the finer details of its next-gen overhaul of last year's mega-selling Grand Theft Auto V, out on PS4 and Xbox One in a couple of weeks. And the most noticeable upgrade outside the expected "1080p visuals at 30fps" bump (with 4K to come on PC in January) is that you can now play the entire game in first-person.
Earlier this year a modded Xbox 360 forced the perspective on the old build to hit-grabbing effect, but now Rockstar has integrated the viewpoint properly into its redesigned game for all scenarios: shooting, driving, wandering around in your pants checking your texts, the lot.
It's terrifying, too, Los Santos's enormous, complex play area almost swallowing you whole with its many stimulus and aggressors. You're living in this damn thing – new weapon-loading animations kick in under your eye line, the 3D smartphone hub shows off selfies in real time, and wipeouts on bikes send you face-first through whatever it is you've just smashed into.
All the game's vehicles – which, on next gen, now include all the DLC-added ones – have had their interiors redone for the first-person cockpit view, too. All the dials work, all the material is stitched (if that's your thing) and a click of the right analogue glances back to see who's chasing you/chilling in your motor/what bridge you just choppered over. In gunfights, it scopes in for a better shot as you'd like, too.
The first-person implementation is sure to be subjective, and there are parts of the game where it works better than others depending on your strengths, but switching back to a third-person view is only a button press away. There's also a vast menu of tweakage to cherry-pick which parts of the game you'd like in what viewpoint.
It's the obvious extension of player as director of their own film, amplifying dramatic shootouts and tense hot-wire scenarios in first-person, but pulling back for more precise third-person vehicle maneuvering. We spent plenty of time tinkering – it will be worth exploring the cover possibilities, too – and we're rather partial to dogfight cam…
We tried it on PS4 and the Interactive Menu from GTA Online is now just a touch-panel hold away, its easy map and waypoint access without pausing ported over to the main game. There are other nice, format-specific tweaks, too: phone calls and police radio crackle out of the DualShock 4's speaker; swipes of the touch panel change weapon (up/down) and radio station (left/right); the light bar flashes red and blue when you have Wanted stars. They're only little things, but really add to the immersion.
As do the visuals – indeed, the side-by-side video demo we're shown at Rockstar almost makes the last-gen efforts look downgraded the difference is so striking. Puddles twinkle with ambient light, dust flies from helicopter blades, we begin to totally nerd out over foliage more than we thought possible. The added memory of the next-gen machines has doubled the draw distance, too.
We're already dreaming of a Red Dead Redemption sequel to these standards…