Hands On: Is GTA V Worth Buying All Over Again For Xbox Series X|S?

Almost a decade since it first released for Xbox 360 all the way back in 2013, Grand Theft Auto V gets its third Xbox outing this week on Tuesday, March 15th, this time in the form of a dedicated version for Series X and Series S. It's not a free upgrade from the Xbox One version, so you'll need to consider whether you want to pay for the next-gen improvements. Is it worth dipping into your pocket for? That depends on what you're hoping to get out of it.

The biggest difference with this version of GTA 5 (and GTA Online) compared to the Xbox One version relates to visuals and performance. We've only had a chance to try the Xbox Series X edition so far, which features three performance modes in Fidelity (native 4K, 30fps), Performance RT (upscaled 4K, 60fps) and Performance (upscaled 4K, 60fps). All three of these modes look pretty similar to each other, so even if you opt for the latter, the visuals are undoubtedly a welcome upgrade over the aging Xbox One version.

Fidelity mode is where you'll start, and it looks pretty great considering this is a game that was made ten years ago. In particular, the three main characters (Michael, Trevor and Franklin) look sharper and more detailed than they've ever done on Xbox before, while the game's lighting is also notably improved across the board. The downside to Fidelity is that it's still locked to 30fps, and just like the Xbox One version, it just feels a bit too choppy in our opinion. If you've ever played GTA 5 on PC, you'll know what a difference 60 frames per-second makes to the experience, so Fidelity is probably best reserved for taking beauty shots. The upgraded detail is certainly evident in this mode though, even if we wouldn't describe it as a huge transformation.

Hands On: Is GTA V Worth Buying All Over Again For Xbox Series X|S? 1

Performance RT is intended to be the sweet spot, still containing ray-tracing features (although these seem quite subtle at first glance), but also targeting 60fps at an upscaled 4K resolution. You can just about see the difference compared to Fidelity in terms of the visuals, but it's only a small downgrade. Plus, you get the benefit of that increased framerate, which makes an absolutely massive difference to the performance. The game feels very fluid at 60fps and doesn't noticeably chug (albeit with VRR turned on), even if you're doing something like firing a homing launcher into a pile of busy traffic. The third option, just called "Performance", is again another minor downgrade in visuals, prioritising a smooth 60fps above all else on both Series X and Series S.

We feel like the game's use of HDR might be a little bit bugged at launch, as certain scenes appear overly dark to us, but we're only basing this off a couple of initial hours of impressions — there's more testing to be done before we can give a final verdict on this. In regards to everything else, we're suitably impressed with the visual and performance improvements in GTA V for Xbox Series X, much like we were with the Xbox One version in 2014.

Both GTA 5's story mode and GTA Online allow you to transfer your progress over from Xbox One to Xbox Series X and S (permanently in regards to the latter), and GTA Online also features a few other new features specifically for this next-gen version. If you want to start from scratch, you can take advantage of a one-time Career Builder feature that gifts you $4m to get a business up and running, and there's also a new intro sequence, exclusive content including new vehicles and missions, migration bonuses and more. It's still basically the same game (although it doesn't feature cross-play with Xbox One), but with a few quality of life upgrades.

Hands On: Is GTA V Worth Buying All Over Again For Xbox Series X|S? 2

Another thing we should mention is that the game's notoriously long loading times are improved on Xbox Series X and S compared to Xbox One. Jumping into GTA V or GTA Online is still definitely not instant by any means, but you're not sitting around for over a minute just waiting for Story Mode or Online to load up. That's a relief in our book.

So, is GTA V worth buying for Xbox Series X and/or Xbox Series S? Again, we should point out that these impressions are only based on a couple of early hours with the game on Series X so far, but this version ticks most of the boxes for us. Sure, it's not a massive visual transformation, but the Xbox One version has felt outdated for quite some time now, and the addition of greater graphical detail throughout the game coupled with that all-important 60 frames per-second target (in certain performance modes) breathes new life into GTA V for next-gen consoles. Whether it's worth the money depends on how eager you are to revisit the world of Los Santos on Series X or S, but after playing this version, we'd admittedly find it very difficult to go back and enjoy its sluggish Xbox One counterpart.

Got any questions for us about GTA V on Xbox Series X and S? Let us know down below.