Friends made me want to buy this game to check it out, because you could play heists together and you could "fool" around in the open world. This seemed appealing for me but I wasn't really enthousiastic to buy it in the first place for the following reasons:
I played 2 GTA's before namely San andreas and GTA 4. And there was novelty to it back then. If I have to name a favorite of the 2 I say GTA:SA, because you could do way more goofy things in that game involving on-the-wheels car stomps and the AI was just more over the top than in GTA 4, which was a bit of a let down, as I liked CJ much more as a character than Nico Belic. And for me, liking a character is an important point of liking the overal game. Wihtout Zoey, I wouldn't even play left 4 dead anymore. Without Isaac Clarke, dead space would still be enjoyable but not so much. So it depends a bit on the gameplay or, how much I played and exhausted myself in a certain game.
So yeah, GTA 5, has an online mode, and the story mode is like.... more gangsters. I've got this "I-seen-it-all" feeling. We'll just be doing criminal gigs, driving cars, shooting people, running objectives, failing and then having to drive all the way to the objective again. I somehow was tired of it.
Added to that, I played watch dogs last year which is also an open world game, but at least had some interesting twists to it. I liked the main character more because he's a bit more like me. Passive agressive, a bit socially awkward but highly sensitive for injustice. And now I'm coming to my point.
Watch dogs is just the better game for me personally. As a visually impaired person. GTA5 has the max payne 3 curse which totally ruined that game for me. So it inherited some difficulties very hard for me to overcome as a player who only sees barely with one eye, and as you know my nystagmus requires me to have extra accessability to stay focused on a target.
I played GTA5 a bit and I just failed 4 times miserably at the first mission of the online mode. With that in mind, I looked at the following shortcomings:
- Hide & shoot AI (same as in max payne 3, little heads popping out of cover now and then in an open world environment requires me to refocus all the time, while I don't know where the other guy is shooting from and I just get spammed to death because I don't know where to cover because somebody is spamming me from the back. Who will hide as soon as I turn around and then the other will pop out of his hiding place. Rinse repeat. Frustration number one.
- The issue that makes point 1 even more of an obstacle is the crosshair constantly dissapearing for aesthetic reasons. And there is no option to keep it visible as soon as you draw out a gun, as in any other game. This makes me lose focus on the point where I have to shoot even more.
- No "in-world" GPS signals whatsoever. The car chases in gta 5 are pretty difficult. On it's own right, that isn't really a problem. But the fact that I am forced to look on the mini map to find out where my target is, poses several problems. Because I need to look away from the center of my screen, I loose focus on the road. If I lose focus on the road, I bump into things because I'm concentrating on the whearabouts of the blip on the minimap. Because the minimap turns all the time, the target changes and I need to constantly refocus on my driving and the mini map. So: because there is no waypoint "in the world", I am constantly losing track of it.
- In combination with bullet point 3 and the complexity of the city. I just loose track of "too fast targets".
- Car handling is horrible. And from an arcady shooter game you wouldn't espect such "car simulator" behavior, as it will just add up to all previous points mentioned and reduces the fun. For example, one little clip against an other vehicle and my car spins totally out of control in the opposite direction. That's just the final straw.
In watch dogs, everything has visual accessability aids.
- The stealth is so much nicer to do. Cameras can highlight enemies. Enemies are "hide and shoot" in that game as well but not so extremely unforgiving. If I highlight them with camera's, at least I can strategize on my own term because I see where they are even if I can't shoot them, and when I turn around quickly I can better see where they are.
- Even the cover mode in WD is better. It lets you seamlessly sneak from one cover place to another by visual aid (and hotkey) and this is way more efficient because the enemies tend to not see you so quickly.
- When you have to pursue an enemy on the road, you can place a GPS on them and you see markers on the streets. And because the target has a waypoint on top and is moving "in the world", I can concentrate on the road and I don't even HAVE to drive on the marked roads per say, I can flank them depending on the way they move across the city. I can cut roads without the need to look at the minimap. This enables so much more freedom for me.
- Focus mode: I'll be able to shoot myself out of difficult situations with this one, while the "hide & shoot AI" in GTA won't allow me this advantage. This focus mode adds drama AND convenience and makes the game less unforgiving in intense moments.
- Reputation system and the inability to shoot in cars makes dealing with targets more engaging and dynamic. In GTA, you simply shoot from your karakuruma vehicle (online) or in single player you're sometimes even not able to hit your target because the story is scripted in such a way that you can "fail" a mission doing so. Ofcourse you have much less survivability than in watch dogs but in watch dogs this is exchanged by engaging interplay from the world. its different gameplay requires you to get out of your car to intercept an enemy and that means you have to plan ahead and try to flank it , build road blocks. Using the city as a weapon as the game advertizes. This always winds you up in different situations.
- Explosions and particles are much nices in watch dogs. You might see this as trolling but it's a simple fact that I can see.
- Instanciated network play is much more seamless and hassle free in watch dogs. You're not waiting 10 minutes for your online heist to start, only to find yourself crashing out of the session and then it ends for everybody
I have the feeling that GTA is excused so much glitches, hassles and shortcomings, and watch dogs ahs been turned down because of ... graphics. And the rest is ofcourse taste. The story is quite short yes, I admit that. But I like Aiden Pearce. It shouldn't always be niggerslang and gang wars. I just don't put GTA on a pedestal it once had because it was the only open world game out there.
So because of all this "aesthetics before practical UI" stance from Rockstar. I just feel that I'll not be a great contribution to my friends in GTA Online. Steam offered a refund because some people had problems with the social club aspect of the game. I used that window of chance to just bail out.
I'm sure that in general, people don't have these problems with GTA5. And this is not an attempt to shame the game, nor is it an attempt at trolling. It's just my oppinion as a guy who is more in favor for watch dogs. Am I a watch dogs fanboy ? Yes.
Do I find some gameplay aspects offered in watch dogs more refined and engaging ? Yes. People who find GTA better don't seem to get (or to appreciate it) that you have these subtle interplay interaction with the world such as avoid being detected, ctos alert stages, reputation, stealthy driving, not attracting getting attention to yourself, criminal investigations etc.. It makes the city alive in another way.
These are in my oppinion the same people who will appreciate the "in your face" and destructive gameplay from GTA. You can see that when you get your character online and as soon as you connect, you need to immediately go into passive mode or else you'll be destroyed (even without a bounty on your head). So I don't have any reason to exit passive mode if I want to do my daily jobs in GTA. Then I wonder why you are in the online world after all. The only thing that is left to do is to gather friends and play heists, which isn't bad, it's just not that GTA to me is the "oracle of openworld gaming" anymore. And I stand by that.