Grand Theft Auto 5's three main characters - Michael, Franklin and Trevor - won't all be playable at the start of the game, Rockstar has revealed.
Speaking to French website jeuxactu.com (translated via Google), Rockstar North president Leslie Benzies explained that offering players control over all three characters immediately would have "hurt the gameplay and story", while introducing the characters over a period of time will let players "explore the world of each of them".
"Much of the game relies on the three characters and the way in which the lifestyle and actions of one affect the other two," said Benzies. "We think of the three characters from the start but we thought that it would hurt the gameplay and the story. We want to give the player the opportunity to know the three characters individually and explore the world of each of them, and it would not have been possible if the three had been available from the start."
It isn't known in which order the characters will become playable. But even though you may not be able to play as each of them at the start, GTA 5's entire map will be explorable from the beginning, and characters will be able to meet each other between missions.
"You can meet each character if you know where they are," adds lead designer Imran Sarwar. "For example, if Michael leaves after a mission and you play Trevor, you can go to meet him. You can also force things, if you wish, from one character to another and make them meet. They can then become friends and spend time together. We thought to make the characters appear on the map to be able to follow the day to day in the city, but we chose to focus our efforts on the system of interchangeable characters."
GTA 5 launches on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 17. A first look at gameplay footage was revealed last week.