A little piece from Techradar has been doing the rounds this past week, a piece about Rockstar Games having considered making a Grand Theft Auto game set in Tokyo around the time they were making GTA 3 and Vice City. Apparently the team visited the city to do some location research but ultimately decided to abandon the idea, the reasoning for which IGN states is “thanks to the structure of Tokyo streets.”
But Techradar’s source also threw in another little morsel of info: that Rockstar has already begun work on Grand Theft Auto 6.
This really shouldn’t be a surprise. After all GTA V originally came out in 2013, a full five years after GTA IV so a sequel being well under way is a no brainer.
Techradar’s source didn’t reveal anything in regards to the location the new game will be set in (here’s a vote for Melbourne, Australia!) or a release window, but that won’t stop me from thinking about a few things I’d like from a new Grand Theft Auto game. Well, two things. So if you’re reading this Rockstar (I know you’re fans), take notes.
Bigger isn’t better, more detail is
With the exception of GTA IV, each Rockstar game has upped the ante when it comes to map size. GTA IV went a little smaller than its predecessor, the massive GTA: San Andreas, but they went all out when it came to GTA V. The city of Los Santos combined with Blaine and Paleto counties made for the largest GTA map ever, it was truly a sight to behold. The sprawling city, desolate hick towns and rural communities were bursting with personality, somehow coming together to make a living, breathing game world that to this day still blows my mind.
Suffice it to say, GTA V has set the bar for open world games. Some may argue The Witcher 3 topped it, but I found its environments, while stunning, never matched the autonomy of San Andreas state. Things happen in GTA V even without your intervention, just go look at the plethora of YouTube videos of the random encounters non-player characters have with each other.
Anyway, despite all the intricate complexities of GTA V‘s world, there’s still much to be improved when it comes to being a truly realistic sandbox. Most buildings still can’t be entered unless they’re mission specific, a change that could make player favoured rampages/police chases all the more interesting.
But the thing I’d like to see them focus on is more intricate AI from NPCs such as the police. The police seem to know you’re exactly the criminal they’re chasing no matter what kind of manoeuvres you employ to evade them. GTA IV and V introduced the police having a cone of vision, so if you stayed out of it long enough they would give up, but they would somehow still know if you had swapped vehicles etc.
How cool would it be if you changed clothes or cars out of their sight then the police might not notice you casually strolling by or cruising through their checkpoint?!
Perhaps the one exception I’ll tolerate to this “not bigger, better” rule is if the multiple cities idea from San Andreas comes back. Having several smaller cities would make for some cool story-lines, like turf wars or maybe international crime rings if the cities were in different countries.
And speaking of cool narrative choices…
Enough with the “criminal climbing to the top” stories
Seriously, enough already. While nearly every GTA game brings something new to the table when it comes to the location it’s set it, the time period and the characters, they’re all about the same goddamn thing: a small time crook with a dodgey past ends up rising through the ranks of *insert local criminal organisation* to become top dog.
GTA V semi-subverted this trope with the coming-out-of-retirement story for Michael, his past with Trevor and their entanglement with the Feds; but Franklin was definitely filling the shoes of the up-n-coming gangster. Now I know this kind of story works for GTA. It sets clear goals and allows for missions and scenarios to escalate and grow in scope. But I just remember how fresh and compelling GTA V felt story-wise because it didn’t just focus on what it’s done so many times before.
So what other mobster stories could we explore? Personally, I think seeing things from the other side of the law would be really interesting, either as an undercover cop ala Sleeping Dogs or a crooked one juggling his criminal ties and maintaining his position on the force. Given the kinds of tasks often set for players in GTA games, I could imagine the moral dilemmas and branching choices that could be made would be very interesting. But then again, I’m probably the only person who questions the morality of what I do in these games…
Now we’re still in early days regarding the game, so we probably won’t hear anything official out of Rockstar for a while. Or will we, because GTA publisher Take-Two Interactive bragged in February that they would be presenting at E3 “in a big way”? Could be the reveal of GTA 6, or maybe Red Dead Redemption 2? We’ll just have to wait and see.
In the meantime, I’ve got some mimes to go take care of…