All spoilers for Grand Theft Auto IV, Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, & Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony will be unmarked. You Have Been Warned!
Grand Theft Auto V is the fifth and latest entry in Rockstar North's Grand Theft Auto series, released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on 17 September 2013, with an Updated Re-release for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One released on 18 November 2014 alongside (after a handful of delays) Windows PCs on 14 April 2015, as well as an "Expanded and Enhanced" edition released for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S on 15 March 2022.
The game is set in the Los Angeles pastiche of Los Santos and its surrounding countryside of Southern San Andreas based on the greater Southern California, primarily the Mojave Desert. In a first for the series (unless you count Grand Theft Auto IV's Episodes from Liberty City adding in new characters), the game features three playable protagonists as opposed to just one, all from different backgrounds. They are (in order of unlocknote ):
- Franklin Clinton, an ex-gang banger in his twenties who works a dead-end job as a repo man for a shady car dealership, and lives with his sexist, ungrateful aunt in Strawberrynote . He feels trapped in the ghetto by both his job and his friends, who in turn see him as having grown "soft" and disrespectful of his roots. After a botched job repossessing the car of 20-year-old deadbeat Jimmy De Santa, Franklin meets the guy's father...
- Michael De Santa,note an ex-bank robber in his late forties who, after a job gone bad, decided to retire, claiming to be part of the FIB's Witness Protection for those that know he's alive. He is now living in a mansion in Rockford Hillsnote with his unfaithful wife Amanda and their disrespectful children Tracey and Jimmy. Try as he might, he's soon forced back into crime after the stress of his home life causes him to lash out, inadvertently angering a local crime lord. Michael has a long history with...
- Trevor Philips, an ex-military pilot in his mid forties. The Canadian Air Force permanently grounded him due to his severe mental instability. Left without a cause as an on-and-off cargo pilot in the Midwest, he soon befriended Michael, which led them to be partners in crime. Unlike Michael, Trevor never retired, instead remaining a drug-abusing career criminal, living out of a trailer in the small desert town of Sandy Shoresnote north of Los Santos, where he deals in drug-trafficking and gun-running. After he learns that Michael is alive and residing in the city nearby, he decides to track his old buddy down and partner up again.
Together, They Cause (or Are) Crime. Players can switch between the three at any time once they meet the characters (with a few mission-related exceptions), and a major part of gameplay is heist missions in which all three characters take part. On the fly, the player can switch between, say, the guy taking hostages inside the store, the guy sniping cops outside, and the guy rappelling down the side of the building, while the game seamlessly takes over control of the character just vacated.
Less than a month after GTA V's initial release, Rockstar launched Grand Theft Auto Online, this game's MMORPG-esque multiplayer component. GTAO was marketed as a standalone product separate from GTAV, although it took until the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 releases of the game for them to actually sell them as completely separate products.