The release date of the next Grand Theft Auto (GTA) title is somewhat shrouded in mystery, the gaming community melancholically accepts that it will not launch for quite some time. Rockstar, in typical fashion, has been quiet on the subject, meaning most information that we have on the next instalment is mostly speculation. The commercial success of GTA V was nothing short of miraculous, not before long it became the hottest property in gaming, breaking seven world records upon its release. Even now it regularly features at the top of gaming charts for sales and online activity over six years after its launch. Furthermore, with the release of the new DLC ‘Diamond Casino and Resort’, it is clear that GTA V will be staying put for a while longer. The big question then, is where does Rockstar go from here and continue the upward trajectory of its signature franchise? It is a query that fills gamers with anticipation but also apprehension. GTA V has done many things right and has deservedly received bountiful plaudits but it has also garnered a fair share of criticisms in the process. Therefore, without further ado, here is a list of six possible additions to the new title; beginning with three that I believe would be welcome additions in GTA VI and equally three that would not be.
What We Want:
1. A New Location
One of the most popular rumours circulating internet forums and YouTube videos regarding Rockstar’s next release is the prospect of the game being set in a different geographic location, outside of the known GTA universe. This would change the entire fabric of the game and prove to be a very bold move on Rockstar’s behalf for innovation. However, this could be the calling that the series needs to start afresh. Although Vice City is touted to be the potential next destination, let us consider something further afoot. London, for example, would make for an ambitious decision, considering the inevitable scarcity of firearms, there would be significantly fewer bullet storms and senseless chaos, striving for a more story-driven experience of the bleak London criminal underground. Furthermore, given that the UK’s capital featured in the late 90’s GTA universe, the proverbial seeds have been planted for a return there at some stage. Swapping Vespucci Beach for the River Thames and the Rotterdam Tower for Big Ben would be a welcome change for the series. GTA’s major titles have all been emblematic of every outlandish facet of US culture; however, it would be a testament to the creative capacities of Rockstar if they can follow suit for a new region and culture.
2. Single-Player DLC
For those who have played GTA V (and let us face it, most people have) you may be aware of the promise that Rockstar made leading up to the game’s meteoric release, that single-player and narrative-based expansions would be released. This would allow players to continue from that penultimate heist and the climactic but rushed ending between Trevor, Franklin and Michael that followed. However, Rockstar never held up their end of the bargain. Speaking as a massive fan of GTA IV and its expansions: The Lost and Damned (2009) and The Ballad of Gay Tony (2009), I personally felt genuinely disappointed that the grand finale of GTA V was truly the end of the line, leaving you to roam around Los Santos offline with little purpose and meaning. With this in mind, for GTA VI to improve upon its successful predecessor, the inclusion of single-player DLC would be one concrete method to bring something new to the table.
3. Include Everyone at Launch
Given the extensive sales of GTA V since its launch, approximately 110,000,000 copies worldwide, it is bizarre then to consider that there were effectively three launches for the title. Initially for PS3 and Xbox 360 on September 17th 2013, then re-released for PS4 and Xbox One on November 18th 2014 and eventually becoming available to PC gamers on April 14th 2015. This was a long time for PC users to wait to finally get their hands on the game that had received so much hype and acclaim. This reparation can be made outside of the gameplay world and into the real, by granting players on all major gaming platforms the access to GTA VI on its launch would be massively beneficial to its commercial success, possibly eclipsing the stupendous sales of its precursor title. In addition to this, it would serve as recompense for those who had to wait over a year before being able to wreak havoc over Los Santos on PC. What’s more, in accordance with granting everyone access, the next title should be made available on the Nintendo Switch and enable cross-platform multiplayer. Imagine the possibilities.
What We Do Not Want:
1. Neglecting Single Player Content for Online Components
GTA has historically garnered its appraisals as being an engrossing single-player experience with maximum freedom for players to pave their way through the open worlds and missions on their own terms. However, this has all changed with GTA entering the online world and changing the nature of the industry in the process. Specifically, with GTA V, its perpetual existence in an industry where the shelf lives of products are rapidly decreasing is ultimately down to its online multiplayer. If online worlds, monetisation and regular DLC releases is a moneymaking scheme, then Rockstar has truly mastered the craft, raking in several million dollars every day just from its multiplayer. Rockstar themselves have reported that roughly 70-80% of its players have either tried the online mode or are regular users shows that Rockstar has hit the jackpot with this one. Naturally, they are likely to pay even more focus on this mode in the next release. Let us hope for fans of solo, narrative-driven gameplay, they do not adopt an all-online experience for GTA VI, but could you blame them?
2. No More Boring Missions
As previously mentioned, there is a lot to boast about with GTA V, but equally, it has a fair share of criticisms. Additionally, given that its commercial immortality is accrued mostly from its multiplayer mode, it is fair to accuse the single-player mode of having its downfalls. One such accusation is the series of filler or ‘gimmick’ missions that plague the central narrative. Cast your memories back to the mission that saw Trevor perform as a dockworker moving around shipping containers… and not much else. Alternatively, when a mission in Michael’s house temporarily turned the game into a yoga simulator (yes, you know the one) by which you were tasked to perform slow-paced yoga positions from button queues. Unquestionably, everyone who played these missions longed for them to be finished. Sure, not every moment or mission in a GTA game can be an intoxicating experience of thrills and spills, but let us hope with Rockstar’s next instalment, the more menial missions can be a little more entertaining than previous mentions.
3. The Same Old Combat
When you are not causing chaos on the roads, the remainder of your time will be spent doing so on the streets. The combat of GTA games of recent has not often been the inspiration for scathing critiques but I think it is something that Rockstar should address for their update in the series. In truth, the combat is fine, not great, but fine. While the duck and cover system was reasonably new and worked to a good cause in GTA IV, in GTA V however, it began to feel limiting. Snapping in and out of enemies feels one-dimensional and not before long, shootouts and gunfight sequences begin to lose their thrilling edge as the same mechanics are applied to every scenario. Moreover, if you opt to go un-assisted with gunplay, you will be met with clumsy aiming while trying to avoid a tirade of bullets, all of which has your name on. Even melee and unarmed combat are in desperate need of some creative re-designing, as each swing, block and punch is treated to only three different animations and button sequences. This may be a little nit-picky, but if Rockstar overhauls the combat and offers more variety, you will see a stark contrast compared to GTA’s of the past.
For GTA VI to be a success, it is essential for it to improve upon the releases that came before it, learn from any shortcomings and perfect it. Although I have talked at some length about the issues in GTA V that need to be rectified, it is still an incredible game, reflected in its phenomenal sales rates. In order to top GTA V, Rockstar will have to do something truly special; GTA VI will have to be the crown jewel of their company. It is a lot of pressure on Rockstar to meet such high expectations, probably the highest in the entire industry. Only time will tell if they succeed.