The GTA franchise isn’t exactly Dark Souls when it comes to difficulty, but one might wager that the early games in the series are still quite challenging. The problem is often due to complicated game design such as enemy placement and number, time constraints, level design, and things of that sort.
The games in the GTA series haven’t precisely attempted to be the most challenging missions out there but can still evoke strong reactions of frustration in the player. While many players love challenges in video games, many are often put off when difficulties and challenges are raised due to wonky controls and movement.
GTA has been guilty of unfair mission rule-sets or simply not allowing players to use the tools that they usually would be able to. This article dives into games in the GTA series based on difficulty.
Which is the toughest mainline GTA game?
- Note: GTA I and II are not considered for this list.
5 – GTA 5
It only makes sense for the latest game to have been the least challenging game in the series by far. This is mainly due to modern AAA video games embracing accessibility over challenges and allowing players to use checkpoints to restart missions quickly.
The aiming and movement controls are also the best in the series by a long mile, making completing the missions a relatively easy task. The cover mechanics paired with the characters’ unique special powers essentially makes GTA 5 a breeze to play through and the quintessential AAA experience.
4 – GTA 4
The argument could be made that GTA 4 is the toughest game in the series purely because of one aspect – driving. The majority of time in a GTA game is spent driving around, and when driving controls are as weighty and realistic as this game’s, that task is made a hundred times more challenging.
The challenge during vehicular sections is quite considerable, but the shooting galleries are much easier this time around with the introduction of the cover system.
3 – GTA 3
The title that helped break GTA into the mainstream, GTA 3, still has many charms that it had way back then. Yet, players would much rather do anything else in life than try to complete “Espresso-2-Go!”
The game somehow feels unfair with its somewhat absurd time constraints on specific missions and the lack of any actual cover mechanics. Trying to maneuver around enemies and getting a shot off is what players will be trying to do half the time and fail quite a lot.
The game wasn’t as hard by the standards then, but it isn’t easy today.
2 – GTA Vice City
Vice City has the unenviable task of following up on a genre-defining Grand Theft Auto 3. Rockstar Games stepped in and delivered what is quite possibly the most seminal title in the series, but one that can still drive players to insanity.
Missions such as “Death Row” still bring back nightmares from those days, as getting through them was considered nothing less than an ordeal. While the overall game was fun, the unfair mechanics and rule-sets during some missions make players question whether they should continue or not.
1 – GTA San Andreas
GTA San Andreas was quickly the most popular game in the series at that point, and rightfully so. The game was fantastic in many ways, but stellar combat mechanics and gunplay still weren’t one of them.
The game feels incredibly punishing when played in 2021, as enemies will spawn in the most random locations and get a shot without warning. Movement and shooting both feel shaky, with no real sense of which CJ areas will be safe.
GTA San Andreas is an incredible game, but just one that might seem impossible without cheat codes in 2021.