GTA: Ranking the games in order of difficulty

(picture credits: ZacCoxTV, youtube)
(picture credits: ZacCoxTV, youtube)
Rahul Bhushan

The GTA franchise isn't particularly known for its level of difficulty and challenge. However, some games in the series are far more challenging than the others.

The series has gone through several massive changes over the years, and the level of sophistication, mechanics and gameplay has transformed to stay up-to-date with the trends of gaming during the time of each game's release.

Each GTA game tends to add certain gameplay elements in order to increase or decrease the level of challenge. GTA Vice City was ultimately more punishing in terms of gameplay as the player could not swim.

The swimming mechanic added in GTA San Andreas reduced the challenge and did not punish players for accidentally getting into the water.

Ranking the mainline GTA games in order of difficulty

Honourable Mentions:

  • GTA I and II
  • Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
  • Grand Theft Auto: EFLC
  • Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories/ Vice City Stories

5) Grand Theft Auto V


The latest entry in the GTA franchise, and one that presents perhaps the least challenge. The shooting mechanics have been updated, and the cover mechanics work adequately enough to avoid gunfire.

Players found it much easier to survive combat and even felt overpowered in individual sections. The ability to skip missions entirely reduces the level of challenge in GTA V.

4) Grand Theft Auto San Andreas


As previously mentioned, the swimming mechanic added to the game was a welcome addition by the fans. It reduced the challenge in the way that the game did not punish players for getting in the water.

One of the most annoying parts of GTA Vice City was accidentally veering off the road and end up in the sea with no means of escape. The shooting mechanics remained much of the same, but the ability to move while crouching certainly helped during combat.

3) Grand Theft Auto Vice City


The challenge in GTA Vice City does not merely come from the lack of a swimming mechanic. But the clunky controls and lack of a cover system only makes combat that much more difficult.

While challenging combat is always considered a plus in most games, GTA Vice City's combat ends up feeling more cumbersome than challenging. Players would often resort to using cheat codes to nullify the punishing combat of the game.

2) Grand Theft Auto III


As with the case with GTA Vice City and San Andreas, the lack of a cover system during combat is one of the many reasons why combat in the older games was so punishing.

However, GTA III's controls were even more unrefined than Vice City and the player character would more often than not end up being shot as a result of sprinting out in the open.

The games weren't difficult by design, but were made more challenging due to the clunky and non-responsive controls.

1) Grand Theft Auto IV


As the most grounded of all entries in the GTA franchise, Grand Theft Auto IV excels in giving players a much more challenging experience.

The combat isn't the only thing that is challenging in the game, but the driving poses a massive challenge in the game. The sim-like driving mechanics adds more weight to each move in the car, making standard car chases an exciting part of the game.

Edited by Utkarsh Rampal
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