The sprawling open-world in Grand Theft Auto V won't only be the largest Rockstar Games has ever created, but also the most finely detailed, according to art director Aaron Garbut.
"In terms of raw man-hours, this has been way in excess of any project we've done at Rockstar before. From the outset, we wanted to ensure that not only was the world big but that it was absolutely packed with character and life," Garbut told Buzzfeed. "It's levels of magnitude above Grand Theft Auto IV in terms of what we've done on the environment side."
Garbut admitted that, geographically speaking, there are games larger than GTAV, but none are bigger in terms of content, he said.
"I want to stress that not only is this world huge but it’s absolutely handcrafted. Every little bit of this world has had a large number of extremely talented artists pore over it," he said. "There's always something to discover, something weird or interesting to see or interact with. It's absolutely not a massive, empty world. We've considered the placement of every tree."
Garbut explained that Rockstar has not copied buildings around the map or procedurally generated terrain to "pad it out." He said Rockstar has put so much effort into handcrafting every element that he does not think many players will ever see everything the studio has created.
"That in itself, though, means that most people will have different experiences," Garbut said. "In terms of process, other than plain old hard work, this has just been an incredibly iterative process where a large number of us have existed in this world for years now and wherever we could, we've added more depth and interest. What we've got at the end is I think something quite new. We used to call Liberty City a living, breathing world, but this is way beyond anything we've done before."
GTAV launches September 17 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Rockstar will release the first official trailer and details for the game's online mode on Thursday.