Been watching the GTA V trailer on a loop for the past seven hours? You’re not alone there. Everyone at the Piki Geek offices has been busy poring over every frame of footage, looking for the tiniest hints and details of what Rockstar’s return to San Andreas will bring.
We’ve exhaustively broken down the trailer shot by shot to point out every last clue, in-joke and GTA universe reference we’ve been able to find. Keep in mind that you can click each image to see it much, much bigger.
Things kick off with a shot of a lifeguard tower and a couple on the beach at sunset. See that little four-legged blob there? That’s a dog, marking the first time any pets have been seen in the GTA universe.
This is Rockstar’s take on the Santa Monica pier. We’ve got a few joggers and a sign for an amusement park called “Pleasure Pier”. One of the joggers is wearing a t-shirt that reads “Pump & Run Gymnasium”. Crude jokes aside, could the ability to work out and tone your character’s physique be making a return?
Next up, we’ve got a shot of the city skyline, complete with a fair heaping of smog. There’s a helicopter flying beside the leftmost building, which appears to be under construction.
This golf course looks fairly expansive compared to the relatively compact driving ranges we’ve seen in GTAs past. You can see Rockstar’s equivalent of the U.S Bank Tower in the background, and some sort of blimp flying above the city in the top right corner of the shot.
There’s a quick cut to the water, as a man rides a jetski in front of the camera. That’s another confirmed vehicle for the lineup. The backdrop of shipping cranes seems to set the shot in the Port of Los Angeles. The bridge might be based on the real-life Vincent Thomas Bridge. Also, look carefully at the model of the jetski: “Speedophile 2000”. Classic Rockstar humor.
The great outdoors. We’ll definitely be able to leave city limits, though it’s not yet clear if this is Mount Chiliad from the PS2-era San Andreas. That mountain was located relatively far from Los Santos, much closer to the San Francisco-based San Fierro. If Rockstar is keeping things compact and true to life, this shot could be their take on the Angeles National Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains.
Either way, it’s nice to know we’ll be able to get into nature. With Red Dead Redemption under Rockstar’s belt, we could even see a lot in the way of wildlife.
Next we see a convertible lowering its top. While you’ve never been able to do that in a GTA game, several vehicles in San Andreas had adjustable parts. Could working tractors and tow trucks be back in?
This random pedestrian looks to have a tattoo on her arm and quite a bit of jewelry. We might be seeing more variety in the NPCs this time around.
Also, an ad in the background showcases e-Cola, a soft drink that’s “Deliciously Infectious!”. There’s definitely more of Rockstar’s trademark satire here than in any of the GTA IV trailers, so we might wind up with a more lighthearted tone overall.
Another shot of the wilderness, this time of dirt roads and a wind farm. Apart from being gorgeous, this helps provide more sense of exactly how massive the game world will be. There’s no sign of the city at all, and wind farms like this aren’t anywhere close to Los Angeles in real life. The closest large-scale farm is in the San Gorgonio Pass, but this shot more closely resembles operations in Central California.
A very price house, possibly in fictional equivalent of the Hollywood Hills. The detail on display here is astounding, from the couple doing yoga to the telescope to the turntables on the deck below. Just look at how drastically different the architecture and decoration of the place in the foreground are compared to the house in the distance.
The shot is accompanied by our narrator talking about buying a house, so we might be able to get our own mansion at some point during the game.
This freeway sign shows that the 5 freeway, a real-life interstate, will be making its way into GTA V, stretching both north and south of the city. Exactly how far remains to be seen, as there’s nothing on the signage indicating you’ll be able to drive to a different city.
Los Santos also appears to have a Little Seoul neighborhood, based on Los Angeles’ Koreatown.
This shot is clearly a fictionalized take on real life outdoor gym Muscle Beach, located in Venice Beach. Could gyms be making a return?
Interestingly enough, the sign on the left refers to GTA V’s version of Venice as “Vespucci Beach”. In San Andreas, the equivalent was known as Verona Beach. This is a solid indication that Rockstar will be rebooting Los Santos to feature completely different (and more accurate) locales, just as they did with Liberty City in GTA IV.
Next, a well dressed man walks down the street and greets his friend. There’s a sign on the wall referencing a going out of business sale, our first indication that the world of GTA is going through economic troubles much like our own.
This sign at a construction site tells us a contracting company named STD is building a new high-rise apartment complex called the Mile High Club.
Our main character and narrator for the trailer? Some have speculated that it’s an older Tommy Vercetti, though he’d be pushing 61 in 2012, and this guy looks quite a bit younger than that. Rockstar’s also been reluctant to recycle protagonists in the past, even when they revisited the same setting in Liberty City and Vice City Stories.
Looks like all those months of complaining on forums about the lack of planes in GTA IV finally paid off. With a bigger city (and possibly more) to explore, we’ll get a chance to go behind the yoke once more. Just no Flight School this time, alright Rockstar?
We’ve also got migrant workers harvesting crops from some sort of farm, which means we’ll probably head to a GTA-ified version of the San Fernando Valley or Central California at some point.
This looks like the same from earlier in the trailer, adding more evidence to the pile that he’s our playable character this time. He’s apparently posing as pest control (“Putting the FU in fumigate”) to pull some kind of heist, sporting a silenced AKS-74U. Is GTA V getting customizable weapons?
Our likely protagonist and his crew head into a jewelry store to carry out the hold up.
The same middle-aged man as before, this time behind the wheel of a fancy car. He’s showing up an awful lot for someone who’s not going to be the main character.
The license plate reads “San Andreas”, and it looks like randomly generate plate numbers are back in. Those who played GTA IV will remember that the cars there all carried identical, generic Liberty City plates.
A new fast food joint, Up-n-Atom Burger. It looks to be a riff on California favorite In-N-Out, with a nuclear theme. “Once it pings, eat like kings.”
The truck pulls away to reveal some big dock equipment. While this could easily be the Port of Los Santos, San Andreas fans will remember a similar set-up featuring prominently in the layout of San Fierro Bay.
An underpass tagged with Los Santos graffiti and crowded with day laborers. This is a common site for anyone familiar with the LA area, and another sign that Rockstar is shooting for amazing attention to detail.
This postal truck drives in front of the screen, showcasing its not-so-ambitious slogan. Take a look at the incredible detail on that tire and hubcap.
As the truck passes, a man hammers a foreclosure sign into the ground in front of a house. There’s our second sign that GTA V will be using the financial crisis as story-fodder.
If you look closely, you can spot a bicycle leaning up against the house in the background. Bikes were out for GTA IV, but we’re heading back to San Andreas, so we might just get to peddle around once more.
Ah, what would a GTA game be without prostitutes?
It’s a quick pass, but this driver seems to share a profile with the man who keeps popping up throughout the trailer. With all the sports cars he’s driving, it doesn’t look like this will be the same rags to riches story that GTA loves so much.
This homeless fellow is yet another sign that the recession has hit GTA hard.
Observant fans have noticed that his clothes and hairstyle bear a passing resemblance to GTA IV’s Niko Bellic. Some have speculated that this is Rockstar taking a shot at the pay dispute they had with his voice actor.
More signs of urban decay in the form of a tent city that’s sprung up beneath a freeway overpass. Also, that’s quite possibly the ugliest couch in video game history.
As if that crop duster wasn’t confirmation enough, a jet fighter crosses through downtown Los Santos. Given how much fans loved the Hydra in San Andreas, odds are good we’ll get to pilot this bad boy in-game.
A bouncer tosses a drunk patron out of a night club. Euphoria’s definitely back, and Rockstar looks to have made the dynamic animations even smoother and more lifelike than before.
We’ve also got our first shot of a motorcycle, though those are old hat in the world of GTA.
An oil pumpjack sits in the foreground with an expansive view of the city at sunset behind. That blimp from earlier is back as well.
This cop car bears the menacing motto, “Obey & Survive”, a play on the real LAPD’s “To protect and serve”.
There’s also a city seal on the car. If you look closely enough, you’ll see that the bottom right quadrant features something that looks an awful lot like the famous image of Bigfoot. Back when San Andreas was released, rumors swirled that Bigfoot could be spotted somewhere in the wilderness, with all sorts of crazy theories about the exact steps you had to take clogging up message boards for months and months. Looks like Rockstar wanted to give the conspiracy nuts a reason to start early this time.
Next, we see some unfortunate gangbanger being chased down an alleyway by a few police officers and a helicopter. Some fans have noted that his clothes resemble CJ’s default outfit in San Andreas, though that’s probably either a coincidence or a subtle nod rather than anything worthwhile.
It’s worth noting that the detail Rockstar has poured into this single alleyway is astounding.
The same chase as before, only this time from above.
An ambulance responds to a car fire on the freeway. This might indicate that the paramedic side-missions will be making a return, although it’s unlikely CPR will help whoever was in that car.
Here’s one thing about San Andreas that Rockstar clearly won’t be renaming: Vinewood. Their take on Hollywood is back, and you can bet we’ll be getting a fresh batch of celebrity satire out of it.
You can also spy a private jet coming over the hills, resembling the Shamal from San Andreas.
Finally, the camera shifts to a view behind the plane, and we look over the expansive sprawl of Los Santos. Whether Rockstar includes the other cities from San Andreas or not, GTA V’s game world is already shaping up to be massive.
Oh, and there’s that damn blimp again. We’re calling it now: at least one mission in the game will involve you getting on board that thing.
So there you have it. Now all that’s left to do is board the hype train and speculate until Rockstar releases the next trailer. With no release date announced, we could be in for a very long wait indeed.