Collectibles are usually meant to incentivize players to explore the world in GTA, but the underwhelming ones often fail to do that.
If a player isn't properly rewarded for collecting all of a certain collectible, then they are highly unlikely to bother doing so in the future. Strangely, it's the later games in the series that make collectibles more underwhelming, as the earlier games often gave a lot of money or weapons for completing it in increments. The increments part is especially nice, as it meant players could collect some of it, but not feel obligated to collect all of it for the whole reward.
Unfortunately, the later games tended to focus more on the all-or-nothing principle. There are even more collectibles than ever in the HD Universe of games, so having the rewards be so disappointing is a devastating blow to fans of collectathons. Even if that wasn't the case, some collectibles are bound to be more underwhelming than others by virtue of comparison.
Five of the most underwhelming collectibles with lackluster rewards in the GTA series
#5 - Submarine Pieces (GTA V)
Imagine collecting 30 pieces of one collectible to earn an astonishingly high reward of $10. Yep, just $10. It's not required for 100% completion, so players who bother collecting all 30 Submarine Pieces aren't even rewarded for their valiant efforts. The main thing that helps this collectible be less underwhelming is that it's one of the few underwater activities in GTA V, which might be fun for players seeking new activities.
While collecting the Submarine Pieces might be fun, the mission that's unlocked after collecting all of them isn't. In this mission, Michael could either allow Abigail Mathers to get away, or he could kill her, but neither impact the game's story in any meaningful way. $10 and a signed autograph (which Michael throws away) are hardly worth a player's time, making this collectible underwhelming.
#4 - Letter Scraps (GTA V)
GTA V has a lot of cool ideas, especially in the uniqueness of their collectibles. However, GTA V collectibles often fall short compared to past collectibles in the series, making them feel highly underwhelming. Letter Scraps are a prime example of this, as the reward for collecting all 50 Letter Scraps is just a simple mission.
It isn't an exciting mission; the player could just leave Dreyfuss alive or kill him. Doing the former would make the whole collection pointless, plus killing him is essential for getting a Gold Medal on this mission, so it's only logical for players to choose the latter option. There's no real incentive for collecting this collectible other than for moral justice, making it underwhelming for most gamers.
#3 - Rampages (GTA San Andreas)
Rampages don't exist in GTA San Andreas's single-player campaign, perhaps due to Carl Johnson's different morality compared to past protagonists. However, this infamous collectible can still be activated in multiplayer mode. This is underwhelming because not all versions of GTA San Andreas have a multiplayer feature.
Even if the player is on the PS2, Rampages are still an underwhelming collectible in GTA San Andreas. There are only five of them, and the rewards are simply the carnage players might cause throughout those five locations. It's an interesting way to entice people to play GTA with their friends, especially back in the day, but it doesn't change the fact that Rampages in GTA San Andreas are a highly underwhelming collectible.
#2 - Epsilon Tract (GTA V)
The Epsilon missions in GTA V are easily one of the most annoying in the entire series, so having a collectible unlock after finishing "Unknowing the Truth" only makes this collectible even more inconvenient. Even if a player ignores how one is supposed to unlock this collectible, there are still several underwhelming aspects about the Epsilon Tract.
The best part about the Epsilon Tract is that there are only ten of them to collect. However, the reward is still non-existent. The reward for collecting all ten is practically just text. Mumble jumble about the Epsilon program is hardly enticing, especially when this collectible can be inconvenient to collect given the large map of GTA V.
#1 - Flying Rats (GTA IV)
GTA IV does many things right; collectibles aren't one of them. Flying Rats (sometimes referred to as Pigeons) require the player to shoot them in order to "collect" them. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, as GTA Vice City Stories did that pretty well with 99 Red Balloons. However, GTA IV's reward system makes it not worth the effort.
There is no reward for doing it in increments either; a player has to shoot down every pigeon to unlock their reward. There are two problems with that. First, there are 200 Flying Rats, which is a lot more compared to other collectibles in past games. Second, the reward is an Annihilator spawning on top of the MeTV building. Considering the Annihilator doesn't always spawn and that there are other, more easily accessible spawns for it elsewhere, this collectible isn't worth the hassle except for 100% completion.
Note: This list is subjective and reflects only the writer's opinions.