Words by Nik Taylor
GTA V - join the chat about this upcoming release on The Student Room's gaming forum

Amid a release schedule awash with triple-A blockbusters, one massive title stands out from the rest.

The Student Room's gaming forum is buzzing with chat about the imminent arrival of GTA V, which hits the shelves next week (!) on 17 September.

"I have big hopes for GTA V but I'm not trying to get too excited," says TSR member Swanbow. Don't worry, Swanbow: here are seven reasons GTA V is going to be even bigger than its hype.

1. It's bloomin' huge

The map in GTA V is the biggest GTA map ever: a mighty five times more capacious than the vast landscape of Red Dead Redemption. Yup, that big. Spread across two major areas - the city of Los Santos and the countryside area of Blaine County - this game world is not only immense but, for the first time ever in a GTA game, you can get to any part of it right from the off. What you'll find includes mountains, rivers and lakes, military bases, beaches, ocean, farmland, desert... That's right, you're going to be kept busy.

2. You can pilot a submarineGTA V includes a submarine that you can pilot

GTA V's selection of vehicles is the biggest ever seen in the series and - of course - there are some cool one-offs to be found. We're particularly keen to get our hands on the sub for a spot of underwater exploration. Should that vehicle prove elusive, it's also possible to swim with the fishes by grabbing hold of some scuba gear. Outside of the watery world, there's a huge selection of cars, bikes, aircraft, jet skis - and, of course, at least one tank. A nice bonus for anyone who preorders the game is the ability to fly the Atomic Blimp.

3. Strategy and stealth are important

Sure, the guns and fast cars will pull you in, but it's the detail that will keep you playing GTA V for weeks on end. Back in previous GTA titles, a smart way to get rich was to buy property that would then earn you an income. It added a layer of strategy and it's something that makes a comeback in GTA V - augmented by the chance to dabble on the stock market. Strategy elements extend into gameplay as well: the game's storyline is now based around heists - big multi-part missions that require serious planning and execution. You'll need to take your time with these - and you can choose to play them stealthily, or steam in all guns blazing.

4. Your characters have special abilities

In case you've not heard already (where've you been?) GTA V has not one, not two, but three central playable characters, which you can switch between at will. Michael is a retired bank robber who hankers after a return to his glory days, Franklin is an up-and-comer aiming for the spoils that come from a life of crime and Trevor is a classic GTA nut-job. Each has a special ability - Michael can slow down time in gunfights, Max Payne style, Franklin can slow down time while driving and Trevor can regenerate health by stringing together multiple kills.

5. Online has been completely overhauled

Online has always felt like a bit of an odd fit in GTA, hauling you out of your one-player game world for a quick and vaguely unsatisfying deathmatch. Rockstar promises a 'brand-new approach' to online in GTA V, with a dynamic and persistent world for 16 players that allows you to buddy up with friends to take on missions together. The online mode will continue to be a focus after launch, with both Rockstar and community-created content being added. It sounds like exactly the GTA online experience we've been waiting for...

6. You don't lose your weapons

Good news! If you run out of ammo - or even if you get busted - you won't lose your collection of weapons. That's not the only change to the heat you'll be packing - there's now a Red Dead Redemption-style weapon wheel, so you can quickly switch between multiple boomsticks, and your piece can be customised to make it prettier (paint jobs etc) or deadlier (extended magazines, suppresors etc). Combat's had an overhaul, too, with shooting from the hip and a new cover system added.

7. It's got, um, yoga in it...

There aren't many titles that could get away with a yoga sub-game, but hey this is GTA, so we know not to expect a straight-faced take on the downward dog... As well as that slice of randomness, there's going to be plenty more side quests and activities to keep you busy. If you played the likes of Red Dead or Skyrim, you'll be familiar with what Rockstar catchily calls 'randomised dynamic missions' - gameworld events that happen while you're minding your own business, that you can choose to get involved with. In GTA V, these range from hitchhikers that you can pick up through to crashing aircraft that you can chase down. It's stuff like this that really brings the GTA game world alive.