A few months ago I took a two week vacation to the City of Angels, aka Los Angeles, and despite the beautiful sights, sounds and the skin-scorching heat, there was only one thing on my mind: Rockstar Games did a phenomenal job at re-creating Los Angeles for Los Santos.
After GTA IV hit shelves in April 2008, it seemed damn near impossible that Rockstar could add any more detail to any one of their three settings. Every corner, shop, street, building, etc, felt stunningly realistic and really was one of the many reasons that the title garnered the acclaim that it did. The city itself felt like a character and it was clear that each future setting would follow the same path. Vice City and San Andreas’ level of detail would match that of Liberty City’s.
But the reason why GTA IV was such a success wasn’t just because of the setting. It was because of the story, the characters, the gameplay, and much more. Everything one looked for in a GTA game came to fruition (bar one or two mini details). So how could we ask for want more when we have already been given almost everything we seeked?
Well Rockstar, yet again, showed us that there were more things to seek.
GTA V was big, very big. The amount of protagonists had more than doubled, the size of the map represented Red Dead Redemption, GTA IV and GTA San Andreas’ maps all rolled into one gigantic map (although you’d be forgiven for thinking that it wasn’t upon first viewing the map). Animals were added for the first time in the series, purchasable property made a return and doubled in amount of places to buy, more oddball characters were added, everything was bigger, badder, better.
We all loved and appreciated Los Santos’ level of detail – both the inner city and outer city. I did also but it wasn’t until my recent LA vacation that I REALLY appreciated Rockstar’s hard work. Everywhere I walked I found myself saying, “that building is in GTA V”, “that street is in GTA V”, “that vehicle is in GTA V”. I even saw the building where my GTA Online apartment is (sadly I wasn’t allowed access to it because apparently GTA isn’t real, so the Security Guard said as he ushered me out the building). All those oddball characters are real people. I met them all: the clowns, the crazy old people, the cult people, Jihadist screaming in protest against Jesus, homeless people, Batman, a guy with two living pythons, Michael Jackson impersonators (like we need more of them, even by LA’s standard), the whole 9 yards. Don’t believe me? Go to LA yourself.
I just couldn’t get over how everything I saw was so detailed in the game. I honestly felt like I was walking or driving through Los Santos sometimes instead of Los Angeles.
So all this got me thinking: Just what can Rockstar do next?
I know we asked the same thing after GTA Vice City, San Andreas, IV, and V but seriously – what could they honestly do for GTA VI?
Well here are my thoughts.
Every GTA title that has graced our screens has seen thousands, possibly millions, of stores, buildings, and homes but out of all of them only a handful has been accessible inside. We’re only able to enter stores such as Ammunation, fast-food joints, clothes shops, and our apartments and garages. Everything else isn’t accessible despite the many, many buildings, which would make great exploration.
For example, the FIB and IAA buildings were both featured in GTA V’s story but are inaccessible in free mode and GTA Online. Not to mention the coroner’s office, hospital, union depository, police stations, etc. So many more hours could’ve been spent exploring and having fun in all these buildings.
Therefore in order for GTA VI to be much bigger they need to make EVERY SINGLE building, shop, house accessible. All the inside needs to be as detailed as all the previously accessible shops have been. Is this a massive undertaking for Rockstar? Absolutely but that’s okay because they have five maybe six years before the next GTA is to be released (in my opinion anyway) and Rockstar are more than talented enough to do such work.
2. Map Size
Like I said earlier, you’d be forgiven for thinking that GTA V’s map was the Red Dead Redemption, GTA IV, and GTA San Andreas’ map all put together. I think all of our responses where along the lines of: “There’s no way that map is the size of those three maps put together. No way.” It was only upon further exploration when we got our hands on it that we found out that it possibly was, with the size of the ocean and indoor spaces combined with the actual map size.
When it was revealed that Los Santos was the setting, I got to admit I thought it was going to be the actual size of Los Angles and all the surrounding towns. When I say the actual size of LA, I mean the actual size of LA – which if you’ve been to LA you know is absolutely massive.
So you could probably guess what my next idea is going to be.
Yep, the map size should be the EXACT size of the city – be it Los Santos, Liberty City, Vice City or somewhere else. Just think of the endless hours you could spend sprawling across the real life size of Los Angeles or New York or Florida. Again, is it a big under-taking for Rockstar? Yes, but they can do it.
3. Three protagonists? Two? One?
Possibly the biggest announcement about GTA V was the reveal that for the first time in the series, not one, not two, but three playable protagonists would be available. For GTA V and Rockstar it was the next big step for the series. GTA IV provided us with almost everything we wanted so the next big step for the series was only to increase the protagonists.
Did it work? For some: yes. For others: no. I’m apart of the ‘others’ part. The three protagonists just didn’t work for me – that’s nothing against Rockstar necessary, they saw a way to expand the series and they went with it. But for me I just didn’t connect with all of them. That’s probably down to the acting more so then being three protagonists but I certainly think had it been one protagonist then I might’ve connected with them a little more.
So now that Rockstar have visited the multiple protagonists idea, where do they go from here? Do they continue to go with three? Knock it back down to two? Increase it to four? Five, even? Or do they go back to what they’ve been doing in previous installments and have one main protagonist? A lot of people loved having three protagonists and I understand that if Rockstar went back to one those people will be increasingly upset and angry. So will Rockstar stick to three forever in fear of backlash from fans? Where do they go from here?
4. Female protagonist?
One could argue the next logical step for the series is to have a female protagonist. It’s a topic that is always hotly debated when brought up in discussion. Some are for it, some are against it. Is it sexism? Can a female protagonist fit into the GTA world? I have a feeling that it would. Having a female protagonist will be a massive change to the series, probably the biggest change since they went from 2D to 3D.
Other games have proven that having a female protagonist can indeed work. One only has to look at two of the most popular series – Tomb Raider and The Last of Us. Sure, the content of both games probably don’t compare to the content of the GTA series but both games are a prime example that having a female protagonist in a hostile environment can indeed work. Again, other fans will probably argue different.
Make no mistake about it – if Rockstar were to go with a female protagonist for GTA VI, it’ll be the most controversial moment in the gaming industry.
5. City spin-offs. New setting?
It seems very likely that GTA VI is to be set in Vice City. If you look at the order of cities which has been featured as the settings it’s seems only logical to head down south. GTA III was Liberty City, Vice City was Vice City, San Andreas was California, Liberty City Stories was Liberty City, Vice City Stories was Vice City, GTA IV was Liberty City, GTA V was California.
Vice City is also the last city yet to be featured current-gen consoles (PS3 and Xbox 360), the city is just waiting to be re-imagined with high-definition graphics and I honestly think, once it has been done, it’ll be the best looking setting out of them all. Imagine all that sun, neon lights, palm trees in stunning high-def.
But is it possible we could maybe get a whole new setting for GTA VI? It’ll for sure shake things up offering us a completely new setting, with new surroundings and new people to meet. I for one would be interested to see the series head back across the pond and revisit London, something which they originally did back in the 90s when they released, Grand Theft Auto: London 1969. I’d love to see today’s more gritty London visualized in high-definition. Or maybe they’ll stick with the states and offer us an altered Chicago, or Boston, or Texas.
Or could we possibly see some city spin-offs. GTA V was set in California but it only featured just one California setting, Los Santos (based on Los Angeles). A lot of people were thrilled with the announcement that the series was heading back to San Andreas but were surprised when it was confirmed that Los Santos was to be the only featured city. So has this opened up an aspect for Rockstar to give us a single setting for San Francisco (aka San Feirro) and Las Vegas (aka Las Venturas)?
So those are just some ideas/thoughts on where GTA VI and other future installments may go. It’ll be even more interesting to see where they go from here because lately they’ve released the next-gen edition of GTA V which featured a first-person perspective for the very first time in the series. But was the first-person mode something they should’ve held onto for the next installment rather than using it as a marketing tool to generate sales for the next-gen edition of GTA V?
Again, that just continues to beg the question – GTA VI: What next?