Given Grand Theft Auto’s long-running commercial and critical success, GTA 6 is something of an inevitability. How will the game carry the series’ formula forward? Where will it be set? When will it come out? The answer to the last question is, most likely: not until 2021 at the soonest.
That may seem like a long time, but a few morsels of information about the series’ future direction have already appeared. For example, there have been supposed leaks from a Rockstar insider that its next open-world crime sequel will return to the iconic Vice City, the Miami stand-in from the sixth entry of the GTA series. There are also murmurs of a playable female protagonist, which would be Rockstar’s first foray into such territory.
One thing we can be sure of is that GTA 6 is coming, and Rockstar has got plenty of ideas up its sleeve.
In a 2013 interview with Develop magazine, Rockstar President Leslie Benzies stated that he “doesn’t know what GTA 6 will be, but we (Rockstar) have got some ideas.”
Benzies continued to confirm that the gaming giant “have about 45 years’ worth of ideas we want to do” and that they’ll “pick the right ones”.
GTA superfans worldwide will be relieved to hear that Rockstar are far from running out of steam when it comes to their flagship game. We’re excited to see which of the ideas mentioned by Benzies prove to be the cream of the crop, and make their way into GTA 6.
GTA 6 release date: When will GTA 6 come out?
Games industry analyst Michael Pachter spoke to Gamingbolt about the future of Grand Theft Auto, and he doesn’t see a sequel launching for another three to four years.
“I say it comes out after 2022,” Pachter told the site. “Remember, Red Dead Redemption 2 comes out eight years after the first one – so the idea that GTA 6 comes out before 2021 seems ridiculous. And Rockstar, the only announcements they’ve ever made more than a year before launch was because the launch itself was delayed. So best case, GTA 6 gets announced in 2020 for a 2021 release.”
So far there have been a few early signs that Rockstar is plotting the course for a new Grand Theft Auto, but the developers are keeping quiet about specific details. 26 October sees the release of Red Dead Redemption 2, meaning Rockstar will certainly dedicate 2018 to its wild west series. But with that game out of the way, the path would be clear for a return to present-day crime action – whether that takes three or four years remains to be seen.
A probable time frame would be a GTA 6 release around 2021, if not later. With the current console cycle winding down, that timeframe suggests GTA 6 might be released in time for the next generation of Xbox and PlayStation machines. The latter, currently dubbed the PS5, has been rumoured to be launched in the next couple of years.
GTA 6 location: Where will it be set?
A number of rumours have suggested that GTA 6 could see a return to Vice City. 2002’s GTA: Vice City was set in the Miami-esque metropolis in 1986, and packed full with all the cop-show tropes you’d expect. GTA V and IV saw the series return to Los Santos and Liberty City respectively, so a modern take on Vice City makes a certain amount of sense. If it were to happen, would the game similarly return to the 1980s, or would it show a modern version of Vice City?
Web TV site The Know reported that it has an insider source who has confirmed that the game is in early development, and will jump between two distinct locations: Vice City (aka Miami), and an as-yet-undetermined region in South America. Presumably, the continent-hopping aspect will allow players to delve into the world of international drug trafficking.
There have also been mutterings that Rockstar could be considering locations outside of America – even a return to London following 1999’s Grand Theft Auto: London 1969mission pack for the original game.
Water has been thrown on that particular fire thanks to a 2013 interview with The Guardian, which suggests the game won’t be set in London. “I think for us, my gut feeling is, GTA London was cool for the time, but games were more limited then,” said Rockstar’s Dan Houser. “These days I think we would love to set a game in the UK, set in London, whatever, but I don’t know if it would be a GTA game. I think there are plenty of great stories we could tell about the UK, great environments to showcase, great gameplay mechanics that could have the UK bent to them – I just don’t think it would be a GTA necessarily.”
There are reports that Rockstar could be set out to recreate a map that spans the entirety of the country, not just one city. Driving game The Crew offered players a condensed version of the US to navigate, so it could be that Rockstar wants to do something of similar scope.
That said, there’s a big difference between county-spanning highways and the detailed environments seen in GTA 6. We’d prefer to see something with depth, rather than senseless scale.
GTA 6 story: Who will you play?
In the aforementioned video from The Know, its anonymous insider source at Rockstar was quoted as saying that there will be a ‘playable female protagonist’. This is in line with various statements that Rockstar developers have made in interviews over the past five years.
In the 2013 Guardian interview, Houser also stated that Rockstar is open to the possibility of a playable female protagonist, which would be a first for the series.
“We didn’t really think about it this time [of GTA V],” he said. “That’s not to say that we couldn’t or we wouldn’t. This character set is just what came to us: it wasn’t, ‘we’ve got X and Y so we need Z,’ we weren’t trying to do it off a checklist – I don’t think that will ever give you something that’s believable or engaging.
“In the future, could we do a game with a lead female character? Of course. We just haven’t found the right game for it yet, but it’s one of the things that we always think about. It didn’t feel natural for this game but definitely for the right game in the future – with the right themes, it could be fantastic.”
A female character would certainly be welcome, given their dearth in previous titles. We also loved the three distinct playable characters in Grand Theft Auto V and would like to see this happen in the future, but perhaps they could expand on that, with the option to create your own character akin to the character creator in GTA Online. Of course, doing this would likely change the balance around a scripted narrative.
GTA 6: What we’d like to see
1. New surroundings
This almost goes without saying, but it would be fantastic to see an all-new setting for GTA 6.
The San Andreas of GTA 5 is a vibrant world on an absolutely enormous scale, but fans of the game have been playing in it for over five years now, and it’s in danger of getting tired. For this reason, a new location could be exactly what GTA 6 needs if it is to go one better than its predecessor.
As previously mentioned, there are strong rumours of a return to the Miami-based Vice City – this would be sure to go down well with long-term fans of the series. Returns to previous locations such as Liberty City and London would also be sure-fire hits.
Or could Rockstar try something completely new? There’s never been a GTA set in Chicago, Boston or Atlanta – all three being culturally-rich American cities with huge scope for satire.
It’s highly unlikely that Rockstar will stick with the same Los Santos setting for the series’ next instalment, so we’re excited to see which direction they’ll go in next.
2. A more interactive world
Don’t get me wrong, one of the absolute best things about GTA V isn’t just the scale of Los Santos, but also how brilliantly playable it is. Rockstar have done a fantastic job of making the city interesting by way of improvements to NPCs and sprinkling interactive easter eggs and side missions all over the map.
The question is: can they take it even further?
The art of making a believable city is in the detail. We’d like to see improved AI, more buildings that you can enter and make use of, believable interactions and more realistic gameplay mechanics in GTA 6, amongst others.
Rockstar set the bar incredibly high with GTA V, but we’d really appreciate increased interaction with the new world in the next game, wherever that may be.
3. Different vehicles
At the risk of sounding like a spoiled child, a wide range of new vehicles would also be a great addition to GTA 6. The success of GTA has always been built on the in-game vehicles, and we’d love to see even more expansion in this area.
Modes of transport we haven’t seen before include rollerblades, skateboards, skis and snowmobiles.
But, I’ll admit, the main reason I wrote this section is because I want to be able to break into SpaceX (or its equivalent) and fly away in a rocket. Make it happen, Rockstar!
4. A female protagonist
As mentioned earlier, this particular GTA 6 rumour has done the rounds and looks to be a real possibility for the next game.
GTA has never before had a playable female protagonist. Rockstar really missed the boat last time out by including three heroes, but still overlooking the possibility of making any of them female.
It is 2018 (and will probably be 2022 by the time GTA 6 comes out) after all, so it’s about time Rockstar stood up to past criticism of their sexist attitude, and introduced a playable female character with depth in their next GTA game.
5. First person perspective
Admittedly, first person GTA 5 (eventually) became a reality when the new generation of consoles landed in 2014, and it was bloody brilliant.
Even walking down the street feels quicker when you’re that much closer to the action, but parachuting from a plane or speeding down a highway in a stolen car became a genuine thrill after the switch.
We’d love to be given the option of either first or third person play from the beginning in the next game. A big chunk of gamers who bought and completed GTA V before the first person option became available really missed out, and we wouldn’t want this to happen again.