Grand Theft Auto 6 – Will It Live Up to the Hype?

The sequel is officially in "active development" but can the studio really surpass its previous works? Does it even matter to fans?

Posted By | On 02nd, Mar. 2022

Grand Theft Auto 6 – Will It Live Up to the Hype?

Last week, Rockstar Games finally confirmed what so many fans have wondered for the better part of the last decade – is Grand Theft Auto 6 in development? The answer, as you may already know, is yes. The developer noted that “active development” for the “next entry in the series” was underway and its goal with every new project was to always “significantly move beyond what we’ve previously delivered.”

As for when fans could expect to play it, nothing was said other than, “We look forward to sharing more as soon as we are ready, so please stay tuned to the Rockstar Newswire for official details” yada yada. Now, obviously there was excitement and more than a little celebration. Grand Theft Auto 5 had released in September 2013 and despite still being one of the very best games ever made with over 160 million copies shipped, is still being re-released with every new generation of consoles. The time for something new is now.

gta 5

Even if Red Dead Redemption 2 is only a few years old and yet to be updated for current-gen consoles, there’s something special about a brand-new GTA. The over-the-top violence, sheer scale of the sandbox, mind-numbing attention-to-detail have always been a hallmark of the series (among many other things). It’s an altogether different vibe compared to Red Dead Redemption and if Rockstar has always gone above and beyond with its titles, then you can imagine the hype for Grand Theft Auto 6.

However, there is also a bit of trepidation. You could blame it on the sheer number of over-hyped releases over the years, from Cyberpunk 2077 and Battlefield 2042 to Anthem. It’s just natural to be wary of yet another big release that could fall short of expectations. Rockstar Games is no stranger to this either – though it wasn’t actually the team behind Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition, the collection still bore their name as publisher.

The launch was plagued with typos, performance issues, bizarre changes, and much more, resulting in backlash that prompted an official apology. Numerous fixes and patches have improved it but it’s still nowhere near deserving the “Definitive Edition” label and continues to face criticism for its overall handling.

Grand Theft Auto 3 - The Definitive Edition_02

The near-universal acclaim that Grand Theft Auto 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2 received also doesn’t help. These games aren’t perfect – nothing is perfect, after all – but for many, they’re awfully close. Can Grand Theft Auto 6 reach that level? After all, Rockstar isn’t just competing with the very best that the industry has offered over the years, be it Ghost of Tsushima, Horizon Forbidden West or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

It’s also competing with itself, to set a new standard for the genre and the industry. I personally don’t feel it needs to but the developer’s own statement seemingly indicates that this is a given, and not just a personal choice.

Initially, journalist Jason Schreier reported in April 2020 that the sequel would be a “moderately-sized” game compared to GTA 5 and RDR 2. This would still make for a large game by Rockstar’s standards but the plan was to continue expanding on it with post-launch updates. With how much support Grand Theft Auto Online had received compared to the base story in GTA 5, this was seen as somewhat of a good thing (and could possibly alleviate the crunch that the company has been known for).

Insider Tom Henderson would then report in June 2021 that the sequel would be set in modern day Vice City and feature multiple playable characters, including a woman. He also said that the world map would grow and change over time, much like how Fortnite works. However, it would be a long wait until release, perhaps even 2025.

gta online

Following co-founder Dan Houser’s exit from the company in 2020, development had apparently been restarted. But even up until that point, several narrative and gameplay elements had been undergoing changes since 2019. The entire process has been described as one of Rockstar’s most turbulent development cycles, which is saying something considering its history. Throw in everything else that’s happened in the world ever since and it’s no wonder that an official announcement has been a long time coming.

Assuming it does release after the next three years, Grand Theft Auto 6 still has a ways to go before then. The question nonetheless stands – can it live up to the hype? Given everything we’ve seen of Rockstar Games over the past decade, the current status of the industry and the rumored state of development, it may seem unlikely. However, it’s also important to acknowledge that everyone’s definition of hype is going to be an altogether different thing.

We live in an age where the sheer amount of marketing and hype, even in the absence of concrete information, can drive sales and turn something into a massive success. Look at Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition – it managed to sell over 10 million copies since release despite its multitude of problems and negative reviews. The amount of gameplay footage, details and screenshots that actually showcased the game was very limited, all the way up to release, but that still didn’t affect the hype surrounding it.

Much of this can be attributed to how beloved these titles were but the GTA name also holds plenty of sway. That’s one of the many reasons why Grand Theft Auto 5 still continues to sell and GTA Online is still a huge revenue generator.

cyberpunk 2077

You could also look at any number of super-hyped games in the past several years. Cyberpunk 2077, despite reports of crunch and troubled development at CD Projekt RED, still sold 13 million copies in less than two weeks (refunds barely made a dent in that figure). Battlefield 2042, despite an alarming beta and reports of troubled development, still had a number of fans pre-ordering and lining up to play. Dying Light 2 Stay Human, despite delays and reports of troubled development, still had three million players in its first weekend.

Halo Infinite has had over 20 million players so far despite ongoing criticism of its live-service model and reports leading up to release of mismanagement. Long story short, never underestimate the power of hype, especially in this age where the desire to experience any game that’s currently “trending” can be more paramount than simply enjoying a game.

If you’re asking me whether Grand Theft Auto 6 will live up to the same level of quality as its predecessors, then the answer is “We’ll see.” The state of development, its setting and overall narrative along with the characterization, how Rockstar is approaching sandbox design and other gameplay factors, how well it’s optimized and much, much more all play a factor in determining that. There’s simply not enough information to go off of right now (we haven’t even seen what it looks like). But if you’re asking me whether it will live up to the hype, then the answer becomes that much more complicated due to the nature of the beast.

gta online the contract

Are you looking forward to the game because everyone else is? Do you want to play it simply because it’s Grand Theft Auto, even if everything that you loved about the previous games is stripped away or replaced with something else? Is it simply a means to justify upgrading your PC or purchasing a PS5 or Xbox Series X (or whatever Pro version of either happens to be around at the time) to experience it?

Do you actually care about the narrative of the base game or simply want to hop into whatever online experience is on offer? Are you simply waiting to see how everyone else reacts and, if applicable, watch the world burn? Is this something you’re picking up to enjoy for what it is and then moving on once you’re bored or something much deeper?

All of that depends as much on what Grand Theft Auto 6 is as much as what it isn’t. Regardless, whether you love it or hate it, the cycle of hype will remain. It’s ultimately up to us to discern the information as it comes, sort out our own priorities and play.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.


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