If in 2013 someone told you that in ten years’ time, Grand Theft Auto 5 would still be the last new GTA game, dismissing that suggestion with the utmost skepticism may very well have been your likeliest response, but here we are. GTA 5 has been nothing short of a juggernaut for Rockstar, and driven by the enduring and unprecedented success of GTA Online, the company has not only been able to afford (to say the very least) putting off releasing a new game in the series, but any new GTA content whatsoever.
Even so, we’re at a point where we’re beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Rockstar confirmed in early 2022 that the next mainline Grand Theft Auto game was officially in development, and though that’s about as much as we know about GTA 6 in an official capacity, some potential details on the game have nonetheless emerged through a number of leaks and rumours. Here, we’re going to look through some such details.
MODERN DAY VICE CITY
Fans of fictional GTA settings like Liberty City and Los Santos have enjoyed exploring those locations on more than occasion in new GTA games, though the same can’t be said for those whose tastes lean more in favour of the Miami-inspired locales of Vice City. That, however, will allegedly be changing with GTA 6, which is supposedly set in Vice City. That particular detail first emerged in 2021 courtesy of prominent leaker Tom Henderson, before Rockstar had officially confirmed that the game was in development, and has since then been mentioned in several subsequent leaks. Interestingly enough, where GTA: Vice City was set in the ‘80s, GTA 6 will allegedly feature a modern-day version of the location.
Rockstar swung for the fences in more ways than one with GTA 5, with its three playable protagonists that players could freely switch between being one of its bigger innovations, and as many would have predicted, it looks like the series isn’t ready to go back to having just a single protagonist per game. Last year, a report published by Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier claimed that the game would have two playable protagonists, with one of them being a Latina woman (and notably the first female protagonist in the series since 2000’s Game Boy version of GTA 2). The pair are reportedly inspired by the notorious crime couple Bonnie and Clyde.
Over the last couple of decades, each new major Rockstar game has been increasingly larger than the last, though the developer seems to be taking a different approach with GTA 6. As per a report published by the aforementioned Schreier on Kotaku back in 2020, with Rockstar looking to avoid crunch during the course of GTA 6’s development (something the developer has previously failed to do with multiple projects), the developer has decided to release GTA 6 as a “medium-sized game”. It is, of course, still going to be a sizeable open world experience, but it seems wat Rockstar had originally envisioned for it was going to be much more ambitious, with initial plans having been to make a game world comprised of large swathes of territories across North and South America.
MORE INDOOR ENVIRONMENTS
If there’s one thing that GTA games have consistently drawn criticism for over the years, it’s that in spite of how reactive, detailed, and expertly crafted their open world settings are, they usually don’t have too many indoor environments. Of course, we started to see the series beginning to address that all the way back in 2008 with GTA 4, with GTA 5 continuing that trajectory upon its launch a few years later. GTA 6 will allegedly also follow suit, with leaks having claimed that its map will place greater emphasis on having indoor locations and areas for players to explore.
SINGLE PLAYER DLC
Remember when Rockstar used to release single player expansions for its games that were as sizeable as they were excellent? In this era of constant GTA Online updates, that seems like a distant memory, though if leaks are to be believed, the developer is looking to circle back to that approach. Though we doubt the GTA Online train will be slowing down anytime soon, back in 2022, prominent Rockstar insider Tez2 claimed that GTA 6 would also be getting single player post-launch content.
So exactly what kind of single player content can we expect GTA 6 to add after it has launched (assuming, of course, that that is indeed an accurate leak)? Well, back in his aforementioned 2020 report, Jason Schreier claimed that Rockstar was planning on adding more cities and locations to the game with regular post-launch updates, rather than just adding new story content and missions, which is what you’d ordinarily expect. Of course, plans can always change in the games industry, but if they don’t, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of a balance Rockstar strikes between single player and online support- because we doubt the latter will be slowing down anytime soon.
NEW ANIMATION SYSTEM
Rockstar has always prided itself on pushing the technological envelope with each of its new releases, so what should we expect from GTA 6 on that front? Well, according to a recently discovered patent published by former Rockstar developer Tobias Kleanthous, a new animation system, at the very least. The patent describes a new locomotion method that features a vast pool of animations that the game will automatically and contextually pick for character and objects based on what situation they’re in, so the way a character animates will hypothetically vary based on a number of different factors, from injuries and exhaustion to even weather, among other things. Of course, a patent doesn’t necessarily have to materialize as something, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see Rockstar tackling such an improvement.
The Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (or RAGE) has been the developer’s primary development engine ever since its introduction in the days of GTA 4 (and Rockstar’s 2006 table tennis title), and has obviously seen numerous significant updates over the years. To no one’s surprise, it looks like it’s being updated once again for GTA 6, as per a recent report published by French outlet Rockstar Magazine. And what advancements can we expect to go along with that engine upgrade?
With Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar developed what’s still probably the best-looking game we’ve played to date, even five years on from its launch, so expectations are naturally going to be high from GTA 6’s visual prowess. And according to the aforementioned Rockstar Magazine report, the game is looking to deliver on the expectations big-time, with the publication claiming that Grand Theft Auto 6 is going to be an even bigger graphical leap over Red Dead Redemption 2 than the latter itself was over Grand Theft Auto 5.
MORE VISUAL IMPROVEMENTS
Precise details on exactly what kind of visual improvements GTA 6 is making will obviously not be arriving in the near future, given Rockstar’s aversion to talking about the game just yet, but the Rockstar Magazine report does mention a couple of them. For instance, physics-based rendering is allegedly going to be implemented for lighting, while vehicles will also apparently look much more detailed and feature better damage and deformation.
PHYSICALLY SIMULATED WATER
Along with its improved visuals, Rockstar Magazine has claimed that GTA 6’s updated engine will also bring with it a “revolutionary” new water system. To be more precise, the game will allegedly implement a new system of real-time physical simulation for all water, which means water should not only look more realistic, but will also move and behave in more authentic fashion. On top of that, those improvements will apparently also go hand-in-hand with the addition of new in-game activities like surfing.
MORE REALISTIC WEATHER
Another technical upgrade that has been mentioned in the Rockstar Magazine report is the implementation of a new real-time weather system, which will reportedly have a much more tangible impact not only on the environments, but on gameplay mechanics as well- like strong winds affecting your ability to drive fast, for instance. Meanwhile, time of day is also going to be injected with more realism, it’s been claimed.
COULD LAUNCH BY APRIL 2025
This last point isn’t a rumour so much as it is speculation and connecting the dots, and curiously enough, it’s based on Take-Two Interactive’s own revenue projections. Earlier this year, CEO Strauss Zelnick said that fiscal year 2025 (which runs from April 2024 to March 2025) will be “a significant inflection point” for the company, and will “include new record levels of operating performance”. Obviously, GTA 6 wasn’t explicitly mentioned, but one would think that only GTA 6 would be a big enough release to allow for something like that. Does this mean that the game could launch before April 2025? We’ve got our fingers crossed on that one.