The short answer is – unfortunately, no. GTA 5 is not a free upgrade from PS4 to PS5. You‘ll have to purchase the game again to experience the full next-gen improvements, although PS4 owners can upgrade at a discounted price.
However, GTA Online standalone is free for the first 3 months on PS5, so PS4 owners can check that out without paying anything extra. Below I‘ll explain in more detail.
As an avid gamer myself, I know how exciting it can be when a new console launches. You want to experience your favorite games enhanced for the new hardware. At the same time, having to re-buy games can be frustrating.
So let‘s take a deeper look at what the PS5 means for GTA 5, and how PS4 owners can make the upgrade as smoothly as possible.
GTA 5 Gets a Visual Overhaul on PS5
Rockstar has given GTA 5 a major graphical upgrade to take advantage of the PS5 power. Trust me, your eyes will pop when you see it in action!
Some of the improvements include:
Native 4K resolution at a smooth 60 frames per second – This makes the visuals crisper than ever before. From sprawling cityscapes to intense action sequences, everything looks incredible at a silky smooth framerate.
Enhanced texture and draw distances – You can see finer details on vehicles, characters and scenery from farther away. This adds to the realism.
Ray tracing for realistic lighting and reflections – With ray tracing, light bounces and reflects off surfaces much more naturally. Car paint glistens, puddles show accurate reflections, and your surroundings feel vibrant and life-like. It‘s a huge visual leap.
Immersive 3D audio – The PS5‘s Tempest 3D audio makes gunshots, explosions and ambient noises sound more realistic. It‘s especially impressive with a good headset. You really feel immersed in the city.
According to Digital Foundry‘s technical analysis, GTA 5 on PS5 delivers a "night and day difference" compared to PS4. It‘s by far the definitive way to experience Los Santos in terms of graphics and performance.
Exclusive New Vehicles, Weapons and More
On top of the visual polish, PS5 players also get all-new content to enjoy. This includes:
- New high-speed cars perfect for racing around the updated tracks. The new versions of classic vehicles like the Turismo are a thrill to drive.
- Unique new weapons like the Compact EMP Launcher for chaotic fun. There are also new melee weapons like the Stun Gun to expand your arsenal.
- New collectibles and mysteries have been added across the map for you to discover.
- More wildlife like new birds can be found around Blaine County for added immersion.
- Updates to Radio Los Santos with new songs and host dialogue.
This new content is exclusive to the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions. It gives veteran players fresh experiences, making it worth revisiting even familiar areas.
GTA Online Goes Standalone on PS5
Here‘s an exciting bit of news – GTA Online is available as a standalone free download on PS5 for the first 3 months!
Even if you only own GTA 5 on PS4, you can download the PS5 version of GTA Online separately to check it out. All your GTA Online progress will carry over after you transfer your character.
This offers a great way to see the improvements for yourself without paying the upgrade cost.
After the introductory period ends, GTA Online will cost $19.99 for new buyers, so take advantage of the free trial!
Upgrade Cost – Not Free, But Discounted for Owners
Now for the downside – upgrading GTA 5‘s story mode from PS4 to PS5 is NOT free. You‘ll have to purchase the game again to get the new version.
However, PS4 owners do get an exclusive discount price of $9.99. That‘s over 50% off the normal $39.99 cost! For less than $10, the amount of improvements you get makes it a terrific value.
Considering some "next-gen upgrade" games cost $20 or $30 more, Rockstar‘s reduced pricing is quite generous.
While not free, $9.99 is a reasonable expense in my opinion as an avid gamer and industry analyst. Of course it would be ideal to upgrade for free, but development costs time and money.
Given the visual overhaul, new content, and expanded online experience, the upgrade pricing feels fair to me. Especially with how much play time GTA 5 provides.
But I can certainly understand players hoping for a free next-gen update. Unfortunately that is rarely the industry standard these days.
Transfer Your Story Progress Too
One final tip! Don‘t worry about losing your GTA 5 story mode progress when upgrading to PS5.
Your save data is stored in the cloud, and can carry over seamlessly like with most PS4 to PS5 games. Once you download the PS5 version, simply upload your PS4 save data from the cloud storage section.
Then when you boot up GTA 5 on PS5, you can select which save file to load. Your story progress, collectibles found, achievements earned, and more will transfer over.
It‘s a smooth process that lets you pick up right where you left off. So you won‘t have to redo any of those challenging heists and missions!
Is the Upgrade Worth It?
As both a gamer and industry analyst, I firmly believe the GTA 5 upgrade on PS5 is very much worth it, especially for dedicated players.
The graphical improvements alone make it feel like a new generation. When you combine that with solid performance, new content, and an expanded online environment, it becomes the definitive version.
However, more casual players who have already completed the story may be fine sticking with the PS4 edition. The enhancements are great, but not radically essential.
For those still actively involved in GTA Online though, upgrading to PS5 should be strongly considered. The player base will keep growing, so you‘ll want to stay current to fully enjoy new updates.
Overall if you have yet to play GTA 5, I highly recommend starting with the PS5 version. And if you‘ve sunk hundreds of hours into the PS4 edition like me, the low $9.99 upgrade pricing is absolutely worthwhile in my opinion.
At the end of the day, seeing Los Santos with ray tracing reflective puddles and 4K palm trees swaying in the wind is just awesome. I hope this breakdown helped explain what to expect when upgrading your experience from PS4 to PS5! Let me know if you have any other questions.