Rockstar’s not just shooting for the stars with Grand Theft Auto V – it’s targeting the unexplored void that lingers beyond them. The ambitious publisher has lifted the embargo on its latest open world opus this afternoon, and we’ve gobbled up the details more ravenously than a meal deal from Burger Shot.

While our invite to the game’s big reveal must have got lost in the post, we’ve read enough of the previews to pick out the highlights. First and foremost, the sequel is ditching the drab gunplay of its predecessor, replacing it with combat mechanics akin to Max Payne 3. This comparison is furthered by the fact that each protagonist – of which there are three – will have a unique ability.

Michael, the bank robber turned family man, will be able to slow down time in gun fights, just like the aforementioned eponymous hero. Franklin, on the other hand, will be able to nail hairpin bends by initiating a similar skill when driving, while madman Trevor will boast a frenzy mode, allowing him to dish out double damage.

You’ll be able to switch between all three protagonists at will, each of which will play slightly differently. Using the characters in certain situations will improve their statistics across a variety of categories, but Franklin will always be the best driver, for example, because that plays into the overarching plot.

When you’re not participating in missions and side quests – of which there will be many more than Grand Theft Auto IV – you’ll be able to enjoy a spot of golf, tennis, or yoga. There’ll be character customisation options, allowing you to augment the protagonists with tattoos and new hairstyles. Furthermore, you’ll be able to invest in property, and earn rent in the process.

The title will feature an upgraded smartphone in the form of the iFruit. This will come installed with a variety of apps, including a web browser and a social network. Apparently, the developer’s gone absolutely insane with detail, so expect every inch of the title to be teeming with lore and content.

And if all of that wasn’t enough, there’ll be an entire underwater setting to explore, too. Certain boats will include wet suits and flippers that will allow you to go deep sea diving, where you’ll be able to hunt for treasure and more. However, you won’t be the only one looking for these goodies, as NPCs will attempt to steal them from under your nose.

You can learn a lot more about the game via the links below. Once you’ve checked them out, don’t forget to share your favourite new features in the comments section. It’s worth noting that the title is being demonstrated on the PlayStation 3, which isn’t always the case for multiplatform games. Let’s hope that Grand Theft Auto IV’s technical woes have finally been ironed out.

[via polygon.com, gameinformer.com, ign.com, gamespot.com, edge-online.com, youtube.com, neogaf.com]