Grand Theft Auto V PS5/Xbox Series X Review – A Decent Upgrade

Competing with Skyrim for the award of most re-releases possible, Rockstar Games’ brilliant Grand Theft Auto V has made its way to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles. And while the game was initially promised as an ‘Expanded and Enhanced’ edition of one of gaming’s true masterpieces, the end product still manages to tidy up some of the last-gen version’s notable shortcomings.

That comes by way of a welcome visual and performance upgrade across the board. It might not look as good as what we’re regularly seeing from new titles these days, but Grand Theft Auto V still looks downright gorgeous at times. The world’s packed with things to see and do, and that’s further improved in the current-gen port.

Three visual and performance options are available in this outing if you’re playing on PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X – Fidelity, Performance RT and Performance. The former caps the framerate at 30fps, delivering a 4K image and making use of ray traced shadows throughout, while the latter two options target 60fps at a 1440p resolution.

Fidelity, while delivering a crisper image and better detail, immediately felt slow to me. Having been spoiled with fantastic 60fps modes on console games of late, I couldn’t stand the thought of working my way through the many action sequences in GTA V’s story mode in this way again.

Performance RT, however, was my preferred way to play. This mode felt like the best way to go for those wanting a snappier frame rate while still experiencing some level of ray tracing. Playing GTA V at 60fps on console makes a resounding difference to the general experience, and while I know some will happily sacrifice frame rate for quality of visuals, I found it hard to justify such a massive cut to performance. The input lag, while rough in each mode available, is incredibly cumbersome at 30fps – especially during on-foot sections. It’s worth mentioning Xbox Series S does not have any ray tracing options available and is restricted to 1080p 60fps in Performance mode, while Fidelity mode sees the Series S support upscaled 4K at 30fps.

The visual jump between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Grand Theft Auto V and the current-gen versions seemed significant enough. Again, the game looks fantastic for the majority of the time you’re moving through Los Santos and Blaine County, and the higher quality textures used from the PC version of the game make enough of a difference to recommend to players wanting the best GTA V experience on console.

The biggest change in the two versions, though, is the load times – it’s a monumental improvement over what’s come before. It’s finally time to bid farewell to the tediously long load times (two minutes plus) seen on the older version of the game, which have now been replaced with load times that are around 6x faster. Huge. Whether you’re cold booting the game from your console’s main menu, switching to a different character in story mode or switching over to Grand Theft Auto Online, there’s a significant load time difference to enjoy. If anything, this is exactly what I was hoping to see and I’m happy to confirm the super-fast SSDs in the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles deliver.

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While it’s never been my cup of tea, Grand Theft Auto Online’s new streamlined introduction sequence and Career Builder allows you to jump relatively quickly into the mode from scratch, which was nice to see. That said, cross-play between console generations isn’t available right now, so do take that into consideration if you’ve got buddies who play that are still on last-gen platforms. As soon as you make the transfer to the current-gen version of GTA V your save will be wiped from the last-gen version.

As I alluded to earlier, the notion of this version of Grand Theft Auto V being ‘Expanded and Enhanced’ is long gone. There’s very little new content to experience here, so if you’ve done it all before don’t expect any surprises. That said, GTA V’s story mode is still one of the series’ greatest and is well worth a revisit if it’s been quite some time since you last stepped into the shoes of Franklin, Michael and Trevor. Similarly, if your buddies have made the move over to the current-gen versions of the game it’s worth kickstarting or continuing your crusade on Grand Theft Auto Online. It feels a lot more welcoming than it ever has.

Is it worth the paid upgrade? I’m not so sure. We’ve seen updates like this for many games over the last few years that have released and cost nothing. As such, it’s a bit disheartening to see this launch as a paid upgrade (even though it’s currently discounted for a couple of months). It’s still a fantastic game though, and well worth revisiting if it’s been a while or if you’ve somehow never managed to give it a crack.

Even though it’s not the ‘Expanded and Enhanced’ version we were hoping for, Grand Theft Auto V on current-gen is the best way to play the game on console. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles showcase their finest traits, improving load times drastically while adding minor technical improvements that make the experience that much better.
Still the same great story…
…And still the same great gameplay
60fps modes are excellent
Load times are massively improved
GTA Online’s streamlined introduction makes it easier to get into for newbies
Hard to justify this as a worthy paid upgrade
Not a lot of new features
Fidelity mode feels tediously slow