Grand Theft Auto V "evolves nearly every mechanic" found in previous games in the series. GTA V's world is bigger than the worlds of Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto IV combined. Areas in the game world include beachfronts, mountains, the wilderness, a "Salton Sea" region, a military base and the suburbs. The ocean floor is fully detailed and can be explored.
GTA V's single-player story is told through three player controlled protagonists. They are Michael, Trevor and Franklin, criminals whose stories interconnect as they complete missions together. During story missions, the player can switch between the protagonists as they work together to accomplish an objective; in one such mission, Michael rappels down the side of a building, Franklin provides covering fire with a sniper rifle, and Trevor controls the getaway vehicle.
Outside of missions, the player is free to swap between the protagonists and explore the game's open world, the fictional city of Los Santos, based on Los Angeles, and its surrounding countryside, whilst viewing the games wildlife, including Coyotes, in a full fledged ecosystem. Camera zooms out to a "Google Earth-style" perspective when switching characters and then drops into wherever the chosen character is. Even when the player is not controlling them, each character will still go about their own business across Los Santos. As any of the protagonists, the player can engage in activities such as yoga, triathlons, Jet Skiing, base-jumping, tennis, golf, scuba diving or go to the gym. Each character will have unique hobbies, which can be completed with the protagonists' friends, but the dating system from GTA IV does not return. San Andreas' RPG-like player customization is also absent, but the player can customize the clothing of each character. Characters can "flip off" people and people react differently depending on the area.
The mobile phone introduced in GTA IV returns, but a lot of its features have been altered. The mobile phone is mainly used for activities and can also be used to access the in-game internet. There will be a "vibrant and fun" economy system, but the player won't be able to buy property as in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Shooting has evolved "a long way" in terms of feel and mechanics, and the melee combat is better than previous GTA titles.
GTA V will feature more vehicles than in any GTA to date, including BMXs, mountain bikes, road bikes, dirt bikes, huge variety of cars and trucks, helicopters, planes, ATVs and Jet Skis. Fighter jets also return. A scene in the second trailer shows a fighter jet firing two missiles at a helicopter, destroying it almost immediately. The cars will feel less "boatlike" than in GTA IV, they will "hold on better to the ground" and "it feels more like a racing game".