After what seems like six years, I've finally finished GTA 5 ('Deathwish' ending, for those interested.) Strangely, it was at this point where I felt the game truly began. Freed of the constraints of finishing the story, I'm now free to do as I please. (I was before, of course, but it felt a bit weird to go off and smoke a bong when I was wanted dead by half the state, a billionaire PMC shareholder, and even my own friends.)
I started by making about 15 million dollars in the stock market, to go along with the 30 or so mil I'd accrued for each character by completing the story. A buying spree occurred shortly after that, but only for Franklin.
Trevor, on the other hand? The same as usual. There's simply no reason for that man to buy stocks, or cars, or do anything that's not approaching total and utter chaos. And so it's Rampage missions, bombing rival drug-runners, and unfortunate kidnappings for him. I used to feel bad about that.
Michael? Spending his time at the bottom of the ocean, attempting to find submarine parts. Skydiving. Triathlons. He's screaming mid-life crisis more than a sold out REO Speedwagon world tour, but still. It seems like the right thing to do.
As I've said before in this series, it's Franklin who I've been moulding into the businessman of the group, the guy who would, in context of the story itself, strive to make more of, well, everything. And so I buy a hangar, for those planes I haven't bought yet (I'll probably just steal them, in fairness). Other businesses follow, and soon Franklin's digital days are being spent as some sort of virtual land baron. There's a strange level of freedom now that, in perception only, didn't seem evident earlier in the game. Maybe it's because he has got $40m in the bank now, and buying a tank and wreaking havoc seems like Tuesday.
There's still plenty left to do. Trevor needs to connect with his dear old ma. Michael has to win every triathlon. Franklin needs to engineer a risky financial-market scheme to get enough capital to buy the golf course.
But it's not in these missions where the true future of GTA 5 lies. It's in the hands of the modders, scripters, and mad bastards that are waiting, in no way patiently, to get their hands on the PC version of the game.
Like GTA 4, I expect the world that Rockstar built to be tweaked, tucked, and in a lot of ways improved upon by the community in a years time. I bought GTA 4 on launch day for my 360, and was still playing, albeit on PC, until a week before GTA 5 was released.
Why? Because the canvas Rockstar offers, and the ingenuity that the community brings to it, is an irresistible combination. Want improved textures? Sure. Real cars? Why not. Play as Iron Man, or the Hulk? Naturally. Fly from Liberty City to the Moon in a spacecraft and fight aliens? What are we, farmers? Of course you can do that.
I'm expecting even more creativity, given the new and in a lot of cases, improved mechanics on offer in GTA 5, to be on show when modders finally get their hands on them. It'll be fascinating to see how the stock market is used (and abused), and whether functionality from GTA Online will be ported over. (I wouldn't be surprised if the amount of property you can buy/use skyrockets.)
The same can be said for custom missions and scripts. The Assassin mod for GTA 4 springs to mind: wander over to any payphone, hit a button, and you've got a contract, not unlike Lester and Franklin's interactions in 5's base game. Expect that to return, with the aforementioned stock market being a large part of it.
A quick look at sites like GTA4-Mods.com will show you the breadth of content on offer. A lot of it will be chaff, just like with everything else. But whether it's making Liberty City look as real as it can, importing Max Payne into the game, or hacking the way it actually plays, it's a great glimpse into what's coming next. GTA 5 PC will go from being a concrete, finished product, into an ongoing playground for those with the skills to show off their programming and design skills, to keep players interested until the next fully fledged GTA game.
Or until the next officially sanctioned GTA DLC. Rockstar would be insane to not revisit Los Santos for more story-based shenanigans, and the way it has previously crossed timelines and characters offers up interesting possibilities as to who we'll be controlling - and killing next. We may have seen the end of GTA 5, but Los Santos itself is just getting started.