[Regarding player character]
I've noticed a very distinct difference between the protagonists in the previous GTA games compared to V's and I think this may be the answer as to why something feels "wrong" (opinion) about V. With this theory in mind, there could be hope for a very good GTA: Next.
Claude Speed, Claude, Tommy, CJ, and Niko were all merely vessels to carry us through the criminal underworlds of R*'s universe. The world never revolved around them. This could also be why at times it seems the games have a very guided intro, then get lost during the center of the story, only to return to the original plot at the end of the game. The intro is the reason for our character to exist, it sets the motion. The middle of the game is our exploration of the criminal underworld. We go from boss to boss experiencing the different elements and forces at play, then return to the plot at the end to formally conclude the adventure. GTA III wasn't about Claude, it was about the underworld of Liberty City circa. 2001. Same with Vice...it wasn't about Tommy. San Andreas wasn't about CJ and GTA IV wasn't about Niko.
Claude was screwed over by Catalina, and after the unplanned escape was forced into the criminal underworld, since he was technically a fugitive. He had no choice but to be a part of this world. It was survival.
Tommy was screwed over with the robbery at the beginning of the game and had to navigate through the underworld to pay Sonny back. He had to be part of this world. It was survival.
CJ was setup by Tenpenny and C.R.A.S.H., and had his moral debt to the Grove to keep him in the underworld. It was survival, not only for him, but his family.
Niko was an undocumented immigrant, in a new place, and had to handle his stupid cousin's debts... how could he get a decent paying job to save him and Roman's ass? He couldn't.. he had to be part of the underworld.
This is how there could be such a variety in the people we come in contact with in previous games. The characters never had to fit a certain mold to fit the narrative. The narrative was always just a REASON for us to be part of this vast underworld to explore.
Something changed with GTA V. It was written as if Los Santos revolved around the protagonists rather than the protagonists just being reasons for us to see all the crazy criminal characters that plague the back alleys and streets of Los Santos. The game could have just as easily revolved around the idea of high profile robberies, but with our protagonist being a vessel that carried us through the different robbery crews, gangs, crooked cops and jobs that go down in LS.
We weren't allowed to see the gangs of the underworld, or really anyone that wasn't directly involved with the predetermined robbery plot. We weren't even part of the Los Santos underworld, just our own business. This made Los Santos feel very bland and lack character.
In a way, having such a focused plot has bottle necked the possibilities of what is acceptable to experience.
Claude didn't feel out of place doing gangster hits for El Burro and King Courtney. Tommy didn't feel out of place shooting up Haitians in the hood. CJ didn't feel out of place robbing a Casino Ocean's 11 style etc. My idea to create the perfect GTA game, would be to return to the concept of the neutral "vessel" protagonist, like Claude. The original Saints Row had a good idea, but the execution was very corny and wiggerish. I think with a bit darker, true grimey atmosphere, the vessel character could allow for more development of the crazy people we would be doing jobs for. It would allow more side activities to be implemented without worry of feeling out of place. The characters could also completely integrate with online. Wanna do drug wars? Sure. Gang wars? Sure. Yoga? Sure. Bank Jobs? Sure. 24/7 stick ups? SURE!
I'll edit this occasionally with ideas on different gameplay aspects. Just wanted to get it out there and moving.