GTA 6 and the curse of the mission marker – Reader’s Feature

GTA 5 – do you know your way around? (pic: Rockstar Games)

A reader laments the fact that mini-maps and mission markers have made the process of exploring maps, especially in GTA, much less fun.

I read with interest a recent reader’s letter about their first experience of GTA 5, as I had been having similar thoughts recently, but for different reasons. I originally bought the game shortly after it came out on PlayStation 3. Soon afterwards though, I had my first child and therefore gaming took a back seat and I never got further than about 20% into the game. This is unusual for me, as I had completed GTA 3, Vice City, and 4, including almost all of the collectables.

Other than a recently acquired Switch, I have skipped this generation of consoles and therefore, when it was free on Epic Games Store, I decided to jump back into it.

I have been having great fun with it, and love the missions (although I hate Trevor with a passion, and always do my best to squander his money so he can’t buy anything), but the one thing that is holding it back is that I can tell you almost nothing about Los Santos. If it weren’t for the map, I wouldn’t have a clue where I was.

And that brings me on to the reason for this. Mission markers, or more particular, the sat nav telling me the quickest way to get there. Back with GTA 3, I remember sitting in my living room, the physical map that came with the game spread out in front of me, as I worked out the quickest way to get from A to B. I knew that city better than my own, so when chased by the cops I would have an immediate plan of where to go and where to hide.

But GTA 5? No chance. My eyes seem to spend their time focussed on the mini-map, as it directs me to my location. Chased by the cops? I drive aimlessly, just hoping that they won’t spot me or that I hit upon some tunnel or shortcut. So much time must have been spent turning this virtual city into a reality, with little details here and there, but I don’t seem to have looked at any of it, let alone remembered it.

I understand that these sorts of things are there to improve the quality of life for most players and I’m sure most people love them and would never want to go back to how things used to be. But for me, I do miss the idea of truly learning the game and the environment in which I’m playing it. Otherwise, I may as well just play mission after mission, without worrying about such issues as getting there in the first place.

That said, I know that I could just turn it off. But here’s the thing, I don’t. And the reason that I don’t is because it saves so much time. Maybe it’s also a reflection of how most people drive now in the real world. Using satnavs rather than looking at a map. My wife genuinely can’t remember how to drive around the old town that we lived in without a satnav, despite having lived there for over five years.

So here’s to hoping that whenever GTA 6 comes out, they stop the hand-holding and let us play the game as we used to do. Even if secretly, I’d rather they didn’t!

By reader Moriosi

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