On November 8th Rockstar announced an announcement, revealing via blogpost that the trailer for Grand Theft Auto VI will be debuting in early December. Since then, fans have descended into delirium, gobbling up any sliver of hearsay, concocting theories, and speculative release dates. Symbolic of their deliriousness, fans have taken to observing the moon’s cycles to predict GTA VI’s release date (a moon at in a recent Rockstar promo image perhaps indicating a big reveal is imminent). Some are claiming that the game will be set in the 1980s. After all, Vice City was set in the 80s, and GTA VI takes place in Rockstar’s parody of Miami, right… right?’
Things have gotten out of hand. A new Rockstar game is, without doubt, a global cultural event. Top of Rockstar’s oeuvre is of course Grand Theft Auto, a game… nay – an experience – which moulds itself on society’s foibles. It’s an intense commentary funneling society through a hall of mirrors, a warbled reflection as if to illustrate just how absurd reality is. Ludicrous tech-bros, celebrity politicians, corporations villainous to cartoonish extent, these things have become ingrained in the zeitgeist in the decade since GTA V’s release. In the space race era we all currently reside, is their even elbow room for GTA’s brand of societal commentary anymore?
This is our first concern, that Grand Theft Auto VI will struggle to live up to the hype, and it’s a concern shared by now departed Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser in a 2018 interview with GQ Magazine.
Grand Theft Auto VI’s trailer needs to portray its penchant for commentary. However, the world moves a lot faster than it did ten years ago. What is relevant now is outdated in a month. Just look at Sonic the Hedgehog’s woefully out of date Fortnite floss dance, probably a spot-on manoeuvre when the animation was created but not so by the time of the film’s release. Fans expect GTA to deliver a biting criticism of society delivered with seething dark humour. Just how relevant can GTA VI’s writers be, given the huge influence cultural obsession and real-world happenstance has always had on its experience.
Anger is another thing Dan Houser touches upon in his interview. Get this expected element wrong, and the fan reaction could be cataclysmic. Fans can sometimes be not so forgiving. After all, the loudest voices are always reactionary. So, we can infer Grand Theft Auto’s sixth instalment is walking a tightrope. One minor slip, and a fall from grace beckons. The pressure on GTA VI’s narrative director must be immense. Holding that cracked mirror up to society, and it not only being relevant but also funny, is a key factor behind the GTA VI reveal trailer living up to the hype.
Elsewhere, what else are Rockstar famous for? Well, an evolving, lifelike, immersive open world exhibiting superb cutting-edge graphics is a must. Rockstar have always pushed the envelope, graphically speaking. Red Dead Redemption 2 tread new ground for world design. The beauty in its unspoiled frontiers was tantalising, beckoning even, a game rife with gorgeous vista, in a fidelity that directly services its gameplay. Everything had a place; everything was interactable, to some degree. Things weren’t just pretty for pretty’s sake. GTA VI’s Vice City will undoubtably look stunning, so this concern is something of a moot point. However, it must be said: GTA VI’s trailer must visually impress, else it’ll be beholden to the same scathing criticism should its commentary not be up to scratch.
Rockstar is a different animal nowadays. Following damaging allegations of extreme crunch, the workplace culture behind the scenes has reportedly changed. They are replaced by something more effervescent, more in tune with the needs of its workforce. As a result, there are reports GTA VI will be scaled back. It’s Vice City maybe a more refined metropolis. It is believed the game will take place principally in one city – their caricatured version of Miami and its Floridian surroundings – and hopefully this will be enough for now. We say for now as there’s always the chance more will be added. Rockstar themselves have mentioned GTA VI’s world might continue to be developed after release with new missions to complete and cities to explore, but if you haven’t heard there’s a long-standing rumour that GTA VI will take place over two timelines. One in present day Miami with the now well-known Bonnie and Clyde inspired duo as lead protagonists, with an adjacent crime style origin story complimenting its modern-day counterpart. This window to the past may take place – for example – in a 1980s rendition of Vice City, or, as the rumour goes, somewhere in South America. Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, perhaps.
This is only a rumour, of course (albeit a super-cool one), so at the very least GTA VI’s upcoming reveal trailer might want to hint at something greater in the pipeline, should the game be confined to just one city. Also, and this may sound silly, but a confirmation of the game’s map would appease many. There are numerous renditions floating around the web, most with a vibrant city to the southwest and verdant swampland elsewhere. Some feature the Florida Keys, some don’t. Point is, it’d be nice if Rockstar gave a definitive vision of the Vice City we’re going to be playing within. This might not be a strong a point of contention as others mentioned in this feature, but the lack of clarification of GTA VI’s game world might be enough to unsettle some.
Above all else, fans want to see a strong progression on the gameplay that was leaked. A tangible, definitive vision of Grand Theft Auto VI. Something fulfilling all the promise gamers now expect of Rockstar. Enveloping story, interesting characters, beautiful settings, farce, and funny commentary in equal measure – there are a lot of ingredients Grand Theft Auto VI’s reveal trailer must include to satisfy.
When exactly will the trailer drop? Well, there are two possibilities: first, during The Games Awards’ ceremony on 7th December, a night always stuffed with new game trailers. Second, on Rockstar’s 25th anniversary, with lands on December 10th. Rockstar have eschewed mainstream promotion for some time, so historical behaviour points to the latter. Either way, Grand Theft Auto VI’s reveal trailer has the potential to go down as one of the most significant cultural events of the year, should Rockstar get the core ingredients right.
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.