Stealing every headline across the web was Rockstar Games' recent official confirmation that the next Grand Theft Auto game is indeed in development - however, that wasn't the only new reveal the developers had up their sleeves. We now know that Expanded and Enhanced is going to launch on the 15th of March.
Despite rumors of additional delays hitting the next-gen update of GTA 5, it seems that we can expect E&E to go live on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 quite soon, with a little over a month to go. This lines up with the second release window that Rockstar announced for the title back when it got first delayed.
Expanded and Enhanced was originally slated to launch in November 2021, but was hit with an all too common delay; something we've come to get used to, and even expect, in the current industry climate and state of the world.
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Some insiders suspected that another, albeit shorter delay was impending due to troubled development behind the scenes. Apparently the next-gen update for GTA 5 was initially conceived as a set of free patches, making it possible for the backwards compatible versions of the game running on new consoles to make better use of the stronger hardware.
At some point someone became convinced that they can indeed sell the game once again, after two previous re-releases, and to make the idea stick additional upgrades and brand new content were also added to the project.
Unprepared for this sudden change in scope, the development team needed more time to finish what would now be a new release as opposed to some patches. Combine that with the uncertain working conditions due to the pandemic, and it isn't surprising that release had to be delayed.
Rockstar Games will be offering a character transfer service for players making the upgrade, allowing them to continue where they left off in the new version - or make use of the "Career Builder", a new system designed to help new players catch up with all these years of content.
Career Builder was created for GTA Online's solo debut, as the game is splitting off from the main GTA 5 experience when E&E launches. Career Builder was created with new players in mind for whom the huge breadth of content in the game would seem daunting, and the grind to reach a point in progression to actually enjoy new stuff as it arrives instead of playing catchup was tiring.
This way, when you start GTA Online afresh, instead of being dropped into the world penniless and with no background, you now get to choose from a Biker, Executive, Nightclub, or Gunrunner business which you get for free, and a nice lump sum as starting money to make other content more accessible.
GTA Online as a standalone title will be available for free on PS5 for free for its first three months. Pricing after those initial months are over, and on other platforms, has not yet been revealed - but we're sure it will be ahead of release. Stay tuned for more info!