GTA 5 is the benchmark all aspiring future open-world games should strive to replicate.
Games shouldn't try to be a "GTA clone," but there is still a lot of basic gameplay mechanics and features that are worth taking inspiration from. Elements like attention to detail and amazing audio aren't unique to the GTA franchise, but a game like GTA 5 takes it to the next step. It's the non-specific reasons that future open-world games should take lessons from GTA 5's success.
GTA 5 is one of the most successful games of all time. While the fact that it is a GTA title certainly helps, that would be a discredit to the hard work Rockstar Games put into GTA 5. GTA 5 is a genuinely great game, and it's unlikely to be considered outdated in the same vein that a similarly well-received game like GTA III is for modern times.
Five reasons why GTA 5 became the benchmark for future open-world games
#5 - Amazing audio
Like in GTA San Andreas, GTA 5's audio is simply superb. The voice acting is top-notch, the various sound effects are excellent, and the radio stations all feature wonderful music. Each individual aspect is amazing to have in a game, but the fact that GTA 5 excels in all of these categories is something all future open-world games should consider.
Audio is an underrated aspect of gameplay. It's part of the reason a game like GTA 5 can be considered timeless, while an older open-world game might not be seen in the same light. It's like adding a cherry to the top of a mouth-watering sundae. Most GTA games have top-notch audio, and GTA 5 is no different in that regard.
#4 - Multiple protagonists and innovative gameplay
Although the multiple protagonists' angle could've been handled better from a storyline perspective, it's fantastic from a gameplay point of view. Not only does every protagonist have their own unique special ability, but they also have their own innovative gameplay features.
A lot of it is tied to specific character missions and random events, but not all of it. For example, Franklin can't partake in tennis, but Michael and Trevor can. Each character also has their own unique spheres of influence, which also determines who can hang out with who. Multiple protagonists are a common concept in an RPG, but it's not something most open-world games attempt.
#3 - Amazing attention to detail
GTA 5 has an astounding amount of detail put into it for a game made in 2013. This kind of attention to detail is something to expect from a AAA title in 2021, but the fact that Rockstar was able to cram so much into GTA 5 is truly breathtaking. There are several videos that cover how extensive it is in GTA 5, but a few interesting details will be covered below.
For example, it is possible for a player to enter a store as it's getting robbed by a random NPC. There's also the fact that if the player tries to take a photo of a topless girl at the Playboy Mansion expy in Richman, they'll call the player a creep and nearby people will try to fight the player for doing so. Finally, players lose access to their GPS when they enter tunnels.
#2 - Hours upon hours of gameplay
The best part about a great game is the ability to keep playing it over and over again without it feeling mundane or repetitive. In GTA 5's case, a player could spend over a hundred hours and still not 100% complete the game in a casual playthrough. There is so much to do in GTA 5, that players can sometimes discover new things unintentionally.
This reason also ties into the fact that there is so much to do in GTA 5. It isn't just mindless collectibles or missions; there is significant gameplay variety in GTA 5. Even nonessential activities like hiking can drain a player of their time. There's yoga, arm-wrestling, golf, tennis, and that's not even all of the minor activities.
#1 - Top-tier offline and online game modes
Both GTA 5 and GTA Online can be considered masterpieces if they were standalone games. The fact that a player with a copy of GTA 5 essentially owns both "games" is a terrific deal. GTA 5, by itself, can make a player spend hundreds of hours. Add GTA Online to the mix, and a player would be lucky to have time for other games if they are a functional member of society.
A player doesn't have to like both games to enjoy what a great deal it is to own GTA 5. Somebody who solely plays GTA Online can still create memories for years to come, just as would somebody who only plays GTA 5. Very, very few open-world games can excel offline or online, so doing both at the same time is a herculean task that GTA 5 knocked out of the ballpark.
Note: This article reflects the writer’s personal views.