GTA 5 on next-gen: is it worth triple-dipping on this remaster?

GTA5 Next-Gen PS5 Review Header

Grand Theft Auto V needs no introduction at this point. Not only has it been around for nine years and three console generations, but it’s one of the very best-selling games of all time with over 160 million copies sold. Now it’s time for the game’s second remaster, enhancing it for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S (and no doubt adding to that monstrous sales tally). Still, is it worth picking this game up for the new generation?

Powered by the PS5 and Xbox Series X, there’s been a serious bump to the game’s performance and fidelity on home consoles. The first remaster was never enhanced for either PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, meaning it was stuck at 1080p and 30fps while PC players could make the most of their super-expensive graphics cards. On the new generation you now have a choice between 4K visuals with some ray tracing at 30 frames per second, or 60 frames with a performance mode or even a performance RT mode that adds in ray-traced shadowing. You’ll also get HDR colours, improved textures and draw distance, thicker foliage, increased numbers of NPCs and car variety, and more.

It all loads in 22 seconds as it’s optimised for the console’s SSD – that might not sound that impressive, but it’s twice as fast as loading up the PS4 version via backward compatibility on the PS5’s SSD, so it’s clearly been optimised. Switching between characters takes just a few seconds now as well, which frankly feels like the first time outside of a mission that the character switching system has been properly realised. Returning players can transfer their save files across to the new version, though just the one time and that’s provided you still have the PS4 version to load up to do so.

GTA5 Next-Gen PS5 Review Single Player

Now with all the boring technical stuff out of the way, how does it actually look? Well, it’s pretty good, though clearly an older game. Textures overall are higher quality, everything is nice and sharp in fidelity mode, and it’s still sharp and silky smooth in either performance mode. It looks particulary nice at night, whilst during the day it looks… adequate. You will still find some blurry textures, the world geometry is aged, and there is also still a little pop-in, whether it’s higher quality textures suddenly loading very obviously whilst you’re flying around, or lights blinking into existence ahead of you whilst you’re driving through the city. There isn’t anything too egregious, but it’s noticeable and frequently reminds you that it is now nine years old. Things look a little bland and lacking a little detail during the day, as is typical with older remastered games, as injecting all that extra detail requires more than just loading a higher texture quality to catch up to modern games.

Of course, this isn’t going to look like a current gen game without a full on remake, Demon’s Souls style. In addition to the above, you also have to contend with character models that really show their age in cutscenes – the facial animations really lack movement around the eyes and cheeks. They have their moments where they just get by, but much of the time they just look like they’re not emoting very well, sometimes putting them at odds with the excellent voice performances. Then there’s all the added vegetation, which looks good, but can make some things a little annoying, like that hunting mission with Cletus near Mount Chiliad. While you’re hunting he tells you to shoot a buck off in the distance, but all you can now see is lush vegetation that the game keeps focusing on with a depth of field effect, blurring everything behind it so you basically can’t see properly. I had to turn the depth of field off in the settings for this mission.

GTA5 Next-Gen PS5 Review Online

It’s not all by the numbers though. Whilst driving with the DualShock in hand, the different surfaces feel distinct through the haptic feedback., whether it’s the rough, hard feel of a metal bridge or a softer, gritty feeling whilst driving over sand, they’re really quite good. The adaptive triggers aren’t quite as good, but I did enjoy that you can use the right trigger to aim, then pull it further to shoot, which is a nice touch even if it isn’t really that useful. There’s some feedback in the triggers for driving as well, but not so much that it makes much of a difference – this isn’t a racing sim like Gran Turismo 7. Outside of these features, the city also seems to be more populated both with cars and pedestrians, which makes it feel a touch more alive than it did.

Other than that, it’s GTA 5, for better or for worse. The single player game was a defining experience in 2013 and 2014 for its original releases, but it’s since turned into a huge money-maker thanks to GTA Online. With a fresh standalone GTA Online release, this is now the first option presented to you when you boot up the game, and yes, you can still throw £65 at 8 million fictional dollars for online if you really want to get taken advantage of. It’s exactly the kind of thing you’d expect GTA to satirise, but there you go.

The core game’s design is showing its age at this point. Many missions are fun activities sandwiched between needlessly lengthy driving sessions. Seriously, the number of times if makes you drive between Sandy Shores and the main city of Los Santos is ridiculous, or having to follow a plane for a full ten minutes for no real reason before getting to board it. It would feel like padding if this wasn’t already a long game without them. In spite of this, the story and characters can carry you through the rougher parts so you can enjoy the heists and the witty arguments along the way.

GTA5 Next-Gen PS5 Review Night Time

While there’s no free upgrades from the last generation, the good news is that it’s pretty cheap, and especially so on PS5. Until June, GTA Online is free on PS5 and the single player is just £8.50, which is worth it just to be able to play at a higher frame rate. On Xbox, that’s £8.99 for the online, and £17.49 for both online and story. Of course, these prices are time limited, and it will become a significantly harder sell once they jump back up to £40 for the single player. The game is really showing its age under the new gen facelift and, if you were interested in it, you’ve probably played and enjoyed it already. It doesn’t really look like a new game, but it doesn’t look quite as old anymore either. Of course if you’re a fan of GTA Online, then playing at a higher frame rate with better graphics can only be a positive, and since that’s free on PS5 it’s a no-brainer.


  1. Where did that 22 seconds figure come from? It takes about that long to go through all the logos and warnings at the start. But if it decides to not show those (which it does sometimes, completely at random), you might get into story mode that quickly. Online can take a lot longer.

    Once it’s loaded, it’s pretty impressive. With the odd extra long wait for it to do things online at times. Looks probably as decent as a 9 year old game can look, and yes, the rumbling is pretty decent. Especially in a nightclub.

    Things look a bit odd at times if you put it in fancy graphics mode. The performance RT mode is probably the way to go. Also makes first person mode a lot more pleasant than it is at 30fps. Still not great, but you need to play that way for a trophy, if you want to do that stuff.

    Overall, enough improvement to make £8.75 a bit of a bargain.

    • The 22 seconds figure comes from me personally timing it booting up single player, but only when it’s actually loading it – i.e. the loading screen lasts 22 seconds. It took 45 for the PS4 version if you’re interested.

      • I just timed it myself. Yes, about 22 seconds, give or take a couple of seconds, from the menu where you get to pick online or story mode. And about 7 seconds to get to that point. Unless it wants to show the Rockstar logo and the usual medical warnings.

        So it can be quite impressively quick to load. Less so for online. Not quite as good as it could be, in theory.

        Weirdly, as I just discovered, if you use the PS5’s activity cards and launch straight into story mode from there, it takes about 43 seconds. But does launch you straight into story mode.

      • Very strange that it takes so much longer from the PS5’s interface, wonder why.

  2. I hadn’t played GTA5 for about 5 or 6 years, so I’m quite enjoying playing it again. I wouldn’t have paid any more than a tenner, and as I’ve not got many PS5 games, it was a no brainer for me.

Comments are now closed for this post.