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Interfering with GTA 5’s underwater modification was a daunting challenge – and probably something you shouldn’t be doing

Grand Theft Auto 5 On PC has no shortage of water modsm, so turning Los Santos into a sunken metropolis should be easy. But what I got instead was an aquatic, corpse-heavy nightmare that even James Cameron couldn’t capitalize on.

At the risk of sounding like an old-fashioned Bond villain, I’ve had a long-standing interest in flooding the world of Grand Theft Auto 5. When the PlayStation 3 was jailbroken some 10 years ago, modders discovered they could interfere with its operation.

It’s amazing that such an old game can look so good.>

I watched a YouTube video of one such mod in action, with the sea level so high that only the tops of buildings were visible. It was an imposing and unsettling sight, reminiscent of a big-budget disaster movie. But since I didn’t want to risk being banned from PlayStation Network, I never got around to experiencing the delights of drenched Los Santos.

That was, until last week, when YouTube’s algorithm turned up another GTA 5 underwater video, this time from the PC version of the game. This long-forgotten idea resurfaced and after finding a mod that worked (I drew a blank with the first), Grand Theft Auto 5: The Drowning began.


Here’s Franklin, floating with some chips.

Admittedly, a significant portion of the chaos was down to my own blatant stupidity, though I should add that it wasn’t the general population that was being turned into fish food. I had already taken out pedestrians and traffic, so it was only Trevor, Franklin, and Michael who suffered. Largely. There were a few exceptions, but I’ll get to that later.

The good news is that the latest version of GTA 5 prevents you from going online with mods installed, so I wasn’t in danger of getting banned. The bad news is that while happily installing “500m Flood, Calm”, I hadn’t really thought about how deep the water would be.


Could it be peaceful?

I’d like to blame Subnautica for my foolishness in making me think there might be oxygen plants out there that I could fill Michael and co’s lungs with, but that’s a pretty worn out excuse. The truth is I thought 500 meters sounded like a cool, round number and off I went.

If I had done even a little bit of research I would have learned that again that is well over a third of the size of the Eiffel Tower. If I had thought for even a minute, this whole mess could have been avoided. However, it probably wouldn’t have been as much fun.

So instead of breaking the surface surrounded by the tops of Lost Santos’ skyscrapers, Michael died before he even saw sunlight. Maybe I wasn’t swimming fast enough, I reasoned, so I hit the sprint button. Again, it didn’t end well.

Franklin was no better and while I thought Trevor would be too angry to drown, a screen-filling WASTED proved me wrong. It did get me closest to the surface when it spawned on Mount Gordo, but it wasn’t close enough.


I have questions about how this works.

At this point a sane person would have gone back and lowered the water level, but I was determined not to give up. Worst case scenario, I could always use one of GTA 5’s cheats to spawn a minisub and continue my undersea adventures that way.

But no, I stuck with it, did the same thing and expected different results. I found that if I switched between the three characters as their lungs deflated and their health started to decline, I could reset their internal drowning meter. I continued in this vein for a while, but then, the next time I switched to Michael, something else happened.


The only thing that is ‘wasted’ here is my time.

In particular, there seemed to be a car floating in his driveway (the water was too murky to tell if it belonged to him) and when I swam over to investigate it fell on him. It didn’t kill him, but it was enough to persuade me to change tack.

The only good thing about having so many characters die before your very eyes is that as time goes on you get to experience their character-changing scenes underwater. I watched Michael wave silently to his tailor, nothing but bubbles coming out of his mouth, before the game handed control over to me.

On another occasion I laughed at myself when he said good-bye to his wife Amanda after lunch, who drowned moments later, also sitting down. Yes, I am a horrible person. Oddly enough, his son Jimmy seemed content to continue playing his video games, not caring that his console was now water-cooled.


Ironically, he hates underwater levels.

Franklin, too, didn’t seem to notice that his bag of chips was floating away or that the strip club he left was probably handing out aqualungs to his dancers. And Trevor? As in the unaltered GTA5V, his antics were as entertaining as they were disturbing.

Besides catching him in the bathroom shaking hands with Aquaman, he managed to get into a fight with two underwater porters. I say “fight” but it could be that they were just trying not to drown, but once I, as Trevor, started swinging, there was no going back.

I finally saw sense and, when I picked up the game’s console, I typed in BUBBLES to summon a Kraken mini-submarine. It materialized and promptly fell on Michael. I switched characters and tried again. This time it fell on Franklin. It wasn’t deadly, but it was certainly unworthy.


You know that wonderful underwater episode of Bojack Horseman? This is nothing like that.

A few tries later, I had a knack for getting out of the way. I swam to the hatch and… nothing. Why? Because while deploying a submarine under the “normal” works, in flooded Los Santos, doing so anywhere other than on the surface turns into an unusable wreck.

I felt like cursing Rockstar’s name, but then it hit me how ridiculous that would be. QA departments have it hard enough as it is, it would be absurd to expect them to compensate for a future user-made mod.

So I admitted defeat and set the water level to a more reasonable 100 yards. That gave me the experience I craved. though I don’t want to think about how many Franklins, Michaels, and Trevors I’ve been through. I surfaced, jumped into a hastily summoned submarine and explored the eerie depths of the city. Rapture, eat your heart out.


Amanda? I barely knew her.

Could I leave well enough alone? Of course not. That’s how, after maximizing water depth (and using a momentary invincibility cheat), Michael was ripped to pieces by a shark. I don’t know where it came from – I do know that this mod does not spawn marine life. Perhaps it was GTA 5’s own water god, furious that I dared to exert control over the oceans.

But for now? I think I’ll stay on dry land for future GTA 5 forays.

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