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Rockstar decided to shake things up in a major way after GTA IV, and go down a different route in the next game’s story mode. Thematically, the game shifted the tone back to the more light-hearted nature of the original 3D-era titles like San Andreas.
Mechanically and gameplay as well, Rockstar made the bold move to give players three different protagonists to play as, namely: Michael, Franklin, and Trevor. All three characters had unique personalities, animations, but the core gameplay remained much the same.
Rockstar was able to fit a tonne of detail in GTA V unique to each of its characters, and the experiment was a success. Players enjoyed the experience of being able to switch freely between characters either in the open-world or during missions.
GTA 6: Single Protagonist or Multiple Protagonists?
Pros of a Single Protagonist Game
The GTA experience, for the large part, has been with a single protagonist. This allowed for players to be invested entirely in a singular story, and thus have a better connection to the character.
Characters such as Tommy Vercetti, CJ, and Niko were able to shine as their personalities took centre stage. The audience was able to stay invested and follow the journey of the protagonist without losing focus.
The games benefit from having a single protagonist for the players to sink their teeth into. The story, as a result, felt more compelling and immersive as there is a singular narrative focus on the protagonist.
Pros of a Multiple Protagonist Game
The clear benefit of a multiple-protagonist experience is variety, as players are afforded different perspectives and play-styles to experiment with. In GTA V, players were able to seamlessly transition between different characters to have a wholly different experience during the same missions.
The variety that it adds merely is unparalleled, but it does take away from the game’s narrative focus. As players are given multiple plot points and story arcs to keep track of, and as a result, it leads to ultimately the narrative losing focus.
Rockstar was able to tell an entertaining story with GTA V, but it was a difficult task nonetheless. Gameplay-wise, it is the best thing to happen to the GTA franchise, but it does take away from the game’s story.
While gameplay is one of the biggest reasons why people play the GTA franchise, the plot is also an important factor. Thus, Rockstar needs to make a crucial decision on whether to give more weight to the narrative or focus on gameplay complexity and depth.
The gameplay options are aplenty when developers decide to make a game a multiple-protagonist experience. The trade-off is the lack of narrative focus, which is a tough decision for any developer to make, let alone with one of the biggest franchises in gaming: GTA.