The enduring success of Grand Theft Auto 5 not only in terms of sales, the continuous updates to GTA Online, and a vibrant GTA 5 Role Play scene, but also as an iconic title that has become somewhat of a household name, GTA 6 is inevitable at this point. The question is when can we expect it to drop and what new adventures, not to speak of locales, will players jump into to wreak havoc in Rockstar’s unique flavor of gritty criminality and irreverent humor?
We’ve compiled from high and low all the latest news and rumors for GTA 6 alongside a suspected release window and some healthy speculation about locations and characters.
GTA 6 Release Date
As it stands, GTA 6 has no release date. Rockstar’s release habits for mainline GTA titles are inconsistent with gaps as short as two years rising to five years between the two latest games. The only real constant is that the gap between releases has widened over time. If we go by the five-year marker, GTA 6 should have landed sometime in 2018. As we all know, that didn’t happen.
As such, it’s hard to speculate when GTA 6 might see the light of day, especially if we consider Red Dead Redemption 2 released near the end of 2018 and Rockstar is working hard to prop up the underwhelming offerings of the Red Dead Online multiplayer mode.
Regardless of personal opinion, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a colossal piece of work that required the majority of Rockstar’s resources to complete and the likelihood of GTA 6 being developed in parallel, beyond a skeleton team coming up with concepts and holistic plot lines, seems small. GTA 6 may not even be in full development yet, and if that is the case release may be a way off.
Rockstar isn’t opposed to straddling two console generations as we saw with GTA V. It initially released on PS3 and Xbox 360, before migrating over to PS4 and Xbox One, months later once these new consoles had launched. With the release of next-gen consoles penciled in for any time from 2019 onwards, the possibility of Rockstar repeating the feat is high, but the developer would need to release the game sooner rather than later to profit from this strategy.
Best case scenario estimates gravitate towards late 2020, while cautious optimism suggests 2021 or even 2022 is more probable. The former being a stretch given that Rockstar usually ramps up the hype with extensive pre-release marketing pushes that can last upwards of 18 months, if not longer. With the game not even announced, well into the next decade is the astute pick.
Going by past releases, a PC release of GTA 6 is more or less guaranteed shortly after an initial console release.
GTA 6 Trailer
Since the game has yet to be officially announced, let alone teased with screenshots or even a title logo, and to the dismay of pretty much anyone with experience playing a GTA title, there’s currently no GTA 6 trailer.
GTA 6 Gameplay and Story
Historically, the Grand Theft Auto games have been a one-person affair with a lone protagonist navigating the oft-treacherous underbelly of a beautifully curated sprawling metropolis, but with GTA 5, the formula was thrown out and replaced by a three character arrangement (Franklin, Trevor, Michael) that worked incredibly well. It highlighted the disparities in wealth, ambition, and lunacy between distinctly unique character whose fates were coincidentally intertwined.
With GTA 6, the money is on a similar set of multiple protagonists to allow Rockstar a large canvas to tell a compelling and involved story. We may even see a female protagonist for the first time – an element that has long been missing from the franchise. In a 2013 interview, Rockstar head honcho Dan Houser revealed the studio was eager to use a female lead but had yet to find the right game, stating this as an unintentional result of organic story building and thematic goals. Here’s to GTA 6 being the right fit.
With such a heavy emphasis on criminals and their travails, theories have emerged that GTA 6 may flip the formula on its head and have players take on the role of a law enforcement officer of some form. Doing so would inject a new perspective that would sit well alongside the usual criminal protagonists.
The gameplay is sure to reflect the staples of the series with increasingly frantic and violent missions, heists, and robberies alongside an encyclopedic array of side activities and mini-games to flesh out the world and the inevitable arsenal of vehicles and weapons. Additionally, in true Rockstar style, GTA 6 is sure to produce some cutting commentary on the cultural and political topics du jour.
We imagine the world itself will use Red Dead Redemption 2 as a blueprint with the same in-depth dynamism implemented in GTA 6; smarter behavioral AI, a living and realistic natural environment, complex weather systems, impactful NPC-player interactions, and an incredible amount of detail. The technology is there, and if anything, we imagine Rockstar will push the boat out even further when GTA 6 comes out.
GTA 6 Map
An expansive new world is par for the course, but when can we expect GTA 6 to be set? As you can imagine, numerous theories exist with some placing the game in location as alien to the series as Tokyo, while others expect it to return to London as in Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 and Grand Theft Auto: London 1961, the only non-US city Rockstar has explored under the guise of the GTA franchise.
Another viable theory relates to the trifecta of GTA locations, specifically Los Santos, Liberty City, and Vice City, all of which featured in the original Grand Theft Auto in 1997 and the first trilogy of third-person 3D games released in the early 2000s.
Liberty City and Los Santos have returned in the form of GTA 4 and GTA 5 respectively, suggesting that if Rockstar keeps to this pattern, we can expect GTA 6 to visit Vice City. If Vice City is on the cards, a jump back in time to either the 1970s or 1980s is likely given these eras are ripe with drug trafficking, crime, feuding gangs, and sketchy government corruption to inspire a compelling setting.
A map incorporating all three locations is also rumored as is one that encompasses the full expanse of the continental United States. A large map is a given but the travel times inherent in having a US-sized sandbox may prove too costly to the game’s flow (as in traveling from mission to mission) to be viable. One option could be a segmented open world where the map breaks down into large subsections moved between via a menu or fast travel mechanic. Again, this is a bit at odds with GTA being traditional a seamless open world with no loading screens to navigate.
GTA 6 News and Rumors
GTA Online Hoax
Back in summer 2018, a tantalizing message began showing up in GTA Online stating that Rockstar was on the verge of making a long-expected announcement about GTA 6, specifically a release in 2019. Thrilled fans were finally going to receive some long-awaited news. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. The message was none other than an elaborate hoax orchestrated by scheming troll via in-game mods. Rockstar was quick to clarify that the message was in no way official.
GTA 6 VR?
A slightly tenuous rumor is that GTA 6 is set to feature full VR support, as in the game will be playable from start to finish in VR. In our eyes, this is not something Rockstar would invest substantial resources into given that VR remains a niche technology that hasn’t gained universal adoption. Equally, the studio’s single attempt at VR (LA Noire: The VR Case Files) may have put them off due to a lackluster response.
Bully 2 May Be Rockstar’s Next Game
With all the hype surrounding GTA and Red Dead Redemption, another Rockstar franchise, the cult classic scholastic ruffian simulator, Bully, is often forgotten and a second entry may very well be the studio’s next title. A casting call for voice actors alongside alleged concept art leaks and sources intimately acquainted with Rockstar stating Bully 2 will be released in 2020; the rumor has stature. The news bodes poorly for GTA 6 as this will inevitably push back the release even further.
“The Know” Scoop
According to the YouTube channel The Know, an inside source at Rockstar provided a flurry of details. Chiefly, GTA 6 is codenamed “Project Americas” because the game will take place between a version of Miami (read Vice City) and South America with the player able to fly from one to the other. The idea is to benefit from the real world source material and history of trafficking drugs from South America through Miami for distribution in the US.
GTA 6 Primarily A Multiplayer Title?
Is GTA 6 set to be more of a GTA Online than a single player GTA V experience? There’s speculation around whether Rockstar will provide a barebones single player campaign that links in with a wider multiplayer world or sticks to the tried and tested formula. The meteoric financial success of GTA Online ($1 billion in revenue and counting) may provide answers, but this would surely irk purest fans and detract from the franchise’s roots as a single player title.
The Final Word
Whether set in the seedy underbelly of London or as a grand return to the glitz and bravado of Vice City, GTA 6 is on its way. As with any unannounced, all but confirmed game, time will reveal all. Here’s to the wait not being too long.
The UK-based journalist and gamer, Thomas, describes himself as a man of few words with an unhealthy obsession for everything wonderful about the world of gaming. Thanks to his experience in the gaming industry, he brings a wealth of talent into GamingScan.