We explore the side missions of past GTA titles and share what we think is to come in GTA V
As we continue to look forward to what the huge world of GTA V will offer, many people are starting to think not only of the main campaign missions but of what side missions we will be tasked with. First, let's have a look back at some key highlights of what the past side missions were before having a look at what is confirmed for GTA V and also speculate on what we would like to see.
With much improved graphics and a wider map to navigate, vehicle-based side missions became a popular area of the more recent GTA games. Missions such as Firefighter, Taxi Driver and Paramedic all revolve around finding a specific vehicle within the open world.
GTA III Taxi Driver Missions where always close to hand
Firefighter required players to find and extinguish burning vehicles within a time limit, Taxi Driver saw players navigate NPC's from one place to another to earn extra money and Paramedic focused on a player finding a specific patient within the city and delivering them to a certain hospital in a desired time frame.
GTA Vice City
In addition to continuing the Firefighter and Paramedic missions, GTA Vice City saw the inclusion of Stadium events in the Hyman Memorial Stadium. My memories of these events continue to put a smile on my face. Players participated in a few different missions in a NASCAR style race across three different side missions.
Enter the Dirt Ring, one of many Hyman Memorial Stadium missions in Vice City
These missions were only available throughout certain times of the day, which was something new for side missions and something they continued with future instalments. It would not be surprising, with the scope of GTA V to see the reappearance of time specific side missions within the game.
GTA San Andreas
It was with San Andreas that players saw a huge increase in side missions and activities to while away the hours. Not only did we see a lot of side missions re-introduced from previous titles, but there was a lot of focus on different vehicles, such as boats and aeroplanes.
To get the players up to speed on each vehicle there were four types of schools, and completing each helped to obtain that 100% completion of the game. The side missions and schools were Bike school, Boat school, Driving School and Flight School.
Take to the skies in GTA SA Flight School side missions
In addition to the schools and probably one of the best puns we have seen in the recent GTA games were the 'Beat the Cock' triathlon events. Similar to the stadium events in Vice City, these triathlons were only accessible during in-game weekends and saw players participate in swimming, cycling and running events.
With GTA IV we saw a reduction in side missions compared to recent games within the franchise. Instead we saw certain NPC's take a larger role within the game and offer longer and more complex side missions. These included The Fixers Assassinations, Stevie's Car Thefts and Exotic Exploits.
In The Fixers Assassinations, players are given a specific target, a specific weapon and body armour to then carry out the assassination for the Fixer. It was a simple hitman mini-game, but it added some fun to the regular crime sprees and firefighting.
Stevie's Car Thefts tasked the player with finding 30 specific cars across Liberty City to hijack and deliver to S&M Auto Sales.
Stevie's Car Thefts weren't always smooth missions, thanks to the instant heat from the local LCPD
Exotic Exploits was similar to Stevie's car tasks, however this time the player waited to receive an email and then steal a certain car, sometimes generating a wanted level straight away to keep things tense and force an extra challenge on the player.
With the huge array of customisable cars within GTA V, I would be really disappointed if we didn't see similar side missions brought back for the latest instalment of the GTA franchise. Imagine how many hours you could spend hunting around the huge map in order to find the final few missing cars on your list, or how fun a police chase would be if you hit that 5 star wanted level. With the wide, open areas of land, sea and air vehicles, you wouldn't even have to limit these side missions to cars.
So what does GTA V have in store? So far little has been announced. We know there will be a shooting range somewhere within the city where you can practice your shooting and level up your gun skills. Whether this will only impact accuracy or also reflect on damage, reload speed and clip size is yet to be confirmed.
There has been confirmation of an arms trafficking side mission as well. Little detail has been given on this, but I would imagine it to involve buying and selling guns to other NPC's, unless this is something that can perhaps be exported into the GTA Online element.
With a bigger world GTA V will have a vast number of side missions to keep you busy
When reviewing previous side missions, we talked about specific time events and Rockstar has announced that GTA V will see the introduction of something similar, with their random world and random character events. These will be triggered, randomly of course, and include activities such as picking up hitchhikers and either delivering them or disposing of them in your own way, or alternatively missions including investigating dead bodies. Again there has been little detail on what these will include.
There will be some missions based around the stunt plane, akin to what players experienced in GTA San Andreas and the return to plan side missions will no doubt make many happy.
The achievement list also mentions keeping certain targets alive (the opposite of hitman challenges that have been seen in previous titles) as well as an achievement based on stunt jumps. Again with a vast arrange of vehicles I would imagine each to have their own time trials, races or general challenges.
GTA V will also be the first game in the franchise where animals will be introduced. So far all we know is that players are able to go hunting, however it has not been said if this is as a sport like tennis or Golf, or is linked to the campaign or side missions. As of yet we are unsure if it is character specific or not.
Overall, GTA V is a game that already sounds like it has everything a player could want and Rockstar have not disappointed in adding some extra value in with their side missions. While little is known about what the latest instalment offers, we can guarantee that if there is a bar, there will be some darts, if there is a casino, there will be some poker and with the huge world map there will no doubt be a chance to play the part of a taxi driver.
What do you think about the side missions we have seen previously in the franchise and what do you hope is included in GTA V? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
As well as our countdown articles, we also have our usual screenshots and videos for Grand Theft Auto V, which you can view over on our Grand Theft Auto V media hub page for the game.
View a full list our Countdown to GTA V articles.