>these under the hood stuff stopped because of some delusions of cost effectiveness and probably diversity hires
It always was because of the Online aspect, tons of details means tons of metrics which means tons of sync/ping variants which means potential for massive lag, which is something that happened very often in IV's online as cars glitched often because of their suspension simulation going out of sync all the time in full servers.
Airport was popular for many reasons and one of those is because the game didn't load many things compared to Manhattan hence running better than usual. Cops N Robbers mode was lag galore for example. Obviously these don't mean a thing for single player other than abusing and getting your fps down to 20 but that could be tolerated due to happening in special occasions (exploding 10+ cars in a crowded area)
Taking away all those little things meant that Online ran much better and optimized, it was a streamlined experience.
>the Houser brothers fucked off from the vidya business because they said it was too sensitive and stuff.
They lost the plot since V due to their personal problems in life, writing sucked major ass and their respective supervision seemed to be pretty bad due to several plot holes and seeming lack of knowledge from the previous game which is why people are still debating if V is canonically in the same realm as IV. Benzies which was the gameplay producer had a quarrel with them since mid-development and was fired unceremoniously after the release, sued, won and is currently making some MMO.
RDR3 also sucked hard for the same reasons along with a poor gameplay concept, it's a game with great gameplay mechanics and details yet the plot justifications for actions (aka missions and "rules") and map (aka areas of applied mechanics or "levels") do not take advantage of these advancements. It's like being given a sports car but you can only drive it at 60kmph in an empty one-way street.
Rockstar had their days counted since the exodus of the old dev teams around 2009 and 2010 along with the major employment of nudevs to fill those voids for the release of Max Payne 3 and V.
That is true, last time i replayed i spend much more time in early game going around fighting hand to hand with thugs, getting ATM and armored car money along with ammo hoarding from knocking out fat cops. I still think it needed more side activities for that extra immersion like San Andreas had with burglaries, drug transport, hood safehouses and so on. Even the randomized vigilante minigame had potential if it wasn't for the limited timers that reset (unlike old games that accumulate) and the armored thugs that appear sometimes making the only option to stop them being via assault rifle or RPG... and this is in early game.
It wasn't San Andreas but it was very solid, V on the other hand was a step down in many aspects alongside the actual Reddit-tier plot which even had the cutscenes made in the annoying modern fashion: Shaky camera, random zooms, random humor, lack of development from characters (while otherwise changing their scenarios drastically yet not their personality), too many characters and lack of coherent priorities for a discernible end goal... it is hilarious to think that Franklin, the unchanging blank state nigger meant to be a pseudo-spectator/player's avatar, is the best character of the bunch mainly because it doesn't do anything aside from smoking weed and being forced to pick ending options which punishes you for picking anything but the one the writers intended to despite the story's inertia and motives implying other options.