GTA V Co-op: 5 Reasons It's a Dead Cert
By now you'll no doubt have pored over every detail of the second GTA V trailer, just like us. One major change to the delicious GTA formula is the introduction of multiple player characters and much has been made of the ability to switch between them, even in the middle of the game's bank heist missions. Strikes us, though, the ability to offer a switching mechanic is just a pleasing side effect of a game built for full campaign co-operative play. Here are five reasons full campaign co-op is almost certainly going to be in GTA V.
1. Rockstar have done the groundwork
Take a look at Red Dead Redemption's brilliant, and entirely free, co-op DLC. This is the beginnings of what GTA V's co-op will look like. The sandbox functions brilliantly, it's loaded with enemies and four players can romp around the place completing multi-stage, objective-based missions. Most big publishers share technology between their in-house studios and Rockstar is no different, so the work that Rockstar San Diego did nearly two years ago to get that to function will have been borrowed and refined upon by Rockstar North for GTA V.
2. Three characters makes sense
Yes, the default numbers of co-op players tend to be even ones, either two or four, but it's a trend rather than a hard and fast rule. Look at it this way - it takes a lot of work to flesh out a character and make you care about their fortunes. Add to that the fact there are very few story-based games that have managed to make the plate-spinning of an ensemble cast work.
Three seems a good balance between making a co-op game that isn't just two mates griefing each other and not overwhelming the solo player with too many lead characters. Bear in mind, unlike games that just drop extra players in, the modern plot-led Rockstar will always require them to have a bearing on the story and the world.
3. Characters are designed to be occupied at all times
One key detail about the switching system is that while you're playing as one character, the others will be going about their business. Given that the appeal of GTA is the ability to abandon the story at any time and go exploring, a co-op campaign would have to be robust enough to allow each player to be doing completely different things at the same time. Even Saints Row's great two-player co-op doesn't let you tackle missions alone, dragging the other player across the map if you want to start an activity.
4. Character switches are optional
Based on Game Informer's article on the game, even mid-mission switches aren't mandatory. The preview describes the game as flashing up a "switch option" during a heist and says you could stay in the shoes of one of the protagonists for the entire mission.
This kind of flexibility allows Rockstar to guide the solo player into attempting each character's contribution to the heist but also ensures it would also work with any combination of co-op players. It's unlikely Rockstar have accidentally designed single-player missions that just happen to work perfectly in co-op.
5. Multiplayer and switching are together on the HUD
The heads-up display in previews of the game is apparently a placeholder, but Game Informer mentions the multiplayer option is located right next to the switch option. This implies two things. One, its prominent presence during a single-player demonstration suggests single player and multiplayer are intertwined more than ever before. And two, placing it near the switch icons implies that Rockstar want to make inviting friends into your game to take control of the other characters as easy as it is to switch to them yourself.
Of course we could be wrong. We're convinced co-op will be present in some capacity in GTA V, with full campaign co-op obviously the ideal, but it's entirely possible Rockstar will just break out the larger, three-person heist missions as individual co-op challenges. How do you reckon they're going to play it? Would you want your friends dropping in and out of your GTA story or would they just ruin it?