GTA 5 vs GTA 4: 5 major gameplay differences that fans were quick to spot

(Image via Rockstar Games)
(Image via Rockstar Games)
Rahul Bhushan
Modified 02 May 2021

The GTA franchise has been a monumental success for Rockstar, and the effort that goes behind each game is absolutely astounding. Developers have created several fascinating stories, memorable characters, expansive game worlds, and entire cities with vibrant personalities.

Each GTA game strives to be bigger, better, and more authentic than the last, leading to the series being one of the most significant parts of the gaming zeitgeist. But one of the most talked-about and divisive games in the series, GTA 4, made many changes to the formula.

Its sequel, GTA 5, saw the studio scale back some of those changes and expand upon them simultaneously. This article dives into some differences between GTA 4 and 5 that fans could spot right off the bat.

GTA 5 vs GTA 4: 5 major gameplay differences that fans were quick to spot

1) Driving physics

One of the biggest points of contention between GTA 4 fans and critics was its divisive driving physics. The game took a far different approach to driving mechanics than previous titles, especially regarding the weight of the cars and just how much more realistic they were.

GTA 5 saw the studio strike a balance between old and new with a much more forgiving set of physics for the game. Driving wasn't as challenging as it was in GTA 4, and many players appreciated Rockstar making driving more accessible again.

2) More functionality in the Phone

The in-game Phone was a nice touch in GTA 4, especially regarding how it allowed players to make decisions that they previously could not. Hanging out with characters was a possibility that wasn't explored to the extent that it was in GTA 4, adding a new level of interactivity to the series.

GTA 5 doubled down on it and introduced even more functionality on the phone, including a fully fleshed-out internet. Players could now surf the net, read interesting articles, and invest in the stock market, among several other things.

The Phone became an important tool in the game and a far more fleshed-out mechanic since its debut, much to the delight of the fanbase.

3) No health bars on enemies

GTA 4's combat was perhaps one of the biggest advancements the studio had made and included a new cover system. The cover system allowed combat to be far more forgiving than simply strafing about and looking for beams and columns to hide behind.

In addition to that, enemies also had a health bar of sorts. It wasn't entirely new, but it did make combat feel more "gamey." GTA 5 dropped the health bars altogether from the Story Mode, which increased immersion, as the UI remained skeletal and contained only the most useful information.

4) More customization

GTA 4 stripped back many of the customization options for Niko that the previous game in the franchise contained. Gone were barbers and tattoo artists who could've given Niko a massive makeover should he have needed one. This was perhaps in a bid to emphasize the gritty nature of the game and separate it from previous games in the series.

GTA 5 saw many of those features return to the fold, including barbers and tattoo artists for all three protagonists. Players could once again customize the character's outfits and appearances to a larger extent than the previous game in the series.

5) Side activities/hobbies

GTA 4 contained many side activities such as going to the bar, playing darts, and of course - bowling. This made Liberty City feel all the more alive and authentic and was an integral part of why the gaming world was so incredibly immersive.

GTA 5 dialed up to 11 when it came to side activities as players could now straight-up play sports like golf or tennis. This was absolutely unprecedented as the game had so many distractions that players could spend days simply mucking about and trying out different hobbies.

This was one of the most talked-about aspects of GTA 5, and rightfully so.

Published 02 May 2021
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