GTA 5 was launched a good three years ago and has since seen two other re-releases on further platforms. Over these three years, the game has changed a lot - but nowhere near as much as it did prior to launch.
Online likely went through way more iterations than we'll ever know about. However, a few recent uploads on the portfolio page (now removed) of a former Rockstar employee give some insight into a previous version. And before you say it, yes the images below are stock images from the game - we have chosen not to display the actual leaked images out of respect for Rockstar.
Quite a few theories fans and enthusiasts have maintained about pre-release GTA Online have been confirmed by the deleted batch of work-in-progress screens. The most important of these was the nature of the game's very foundation.
LATEST GTA NEWS CLIPS
According to the images, at one point in GTA Online's development cycle the game was supposed to be a faction-based affair with a greater focus on acquiring turf and furthering the cause of your faction instead of individual progress.
Most importantly, there was to be a police faction. Yes, a police faction. Players have ben clamoring for a law enforcement DLC pretty much ever since launch, and have yet to receive any such thing. However, the game at one point featured an entire player faction focused on police roleplay.
The gameplay focus on taking over territory also looked to have many similarities with the turf war system from San Andreas. It's possible that earlier in development, Rockstar wanted the similarities between the two GTA games set in the same location to be more prominent, with 5 hearkening back to SA in a greater capacity.
It also seems that the Vagos, Families and Bikers would have joined the Cops as the other factions, with the map of GTA 5 sliced up into small blocks which could then be conquered by the players of each faction. Other side activities, such as a "CNC Heist" that was referred to in the images (a reference to "Cops n Crooks"?) indicated that there was to be greater depth to gameplay in this version already, though the whole game seemed to be very different from what we eventually got.
Another interesting insight was the pre-release profile screen, which amongst others things revealed two skills that weren't eventually added to the game: reliability and sniper. Presumably the former would have acted a bit like how mental state functions currently, while the latter may have affected swaying while aiming with a sniper rifle.
The now-deleted uploads also show us what the game's HUD looked like at an earlier stage in development. One of the most notable differences was the shape of the minimap. As opposed to the current rectangular map configuration, the game initially had a more traditional round minimap.
Another interesting tidbit is that even before launch, Rockstar had already planned on adding a sawed-off shotgun weapon, which only actually made its way into the game almost three years after release via the Lowriders update. The "Los Santos Surf" radio station shown in the images didn't make the final cut either, and it hasn't been included since.
Finally, one of the most striking changes in the final version is that of the pause menu. At some point in development, the pause background screen consisted of a selection of highly stylized images with the word "pause" sneaked into it in some capacity. Instead, what we got is a dimmed overlay.
It's always interesting to get a look at what the most popular games looked like in their infancy, though in some cases this glimpse into the past is more painful than interesting - I mean, freaking cops. It's particularly interesting to see something like this leak from a Rockstar title, as the dev is universally known for its secrecy and aversion of the media.
Which of these revelations about GTA 5 prior to release interests you the most?