What We'd Like to See in the Next Grand Theft Auto

American hustle.


The last time Grand Theft Auto made the leap from one generation to the next, Rockstar took that opportunity to shift the franchise's focus, moving away from some of the zanier aspects present in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It wasn't to everyone's liking, but I appreciated the change. I felt like the Saints Row series had the wacky open-world crime game covered, and was glad that GTA was moving into somewhat different territory. I think that the writers at Rockstar have perhaps the best ear for dialogue of anyone writing games today, and I was glad that cutscenes in Grand Theft Auto IV often took their time, focusing on developing character as much as on setting up whatever absurd excuse would carry you through the next mission. Now that Grand Theft Auto will inevitably be transitioning once again from one console generation to another, I expect that Rockstar will once again take the opportunity to reevaluate the series' direction to ensure that the GTA games of the future don't feel like they're covering the same territory as the GTA games of the past.

I have no idea where Rockstar might take the series, but I hope that it goes against the conventional wisdom in game design right now that bigger worlds are better worlds. There's a lot of attention being paid to the size of games like The Witcher 3 and The Crew, and given that Grand Theft Auto V was so much bigger than GTAIV geographically, Rockstar might feel a certain pressure to continue making its games bigger in scope. But rather than going broader, I'd much rather that the next GTA go deeper. Instead of a bigger world and more main characters than GTAV's trio of miscreants, I'd prefer a more focused game that lets me get to know a pair of characters better.

After GTA V's vast scope and glamorous view of criminal life, maybe it's time for a smaller, bleaker GTA.
After GTA V's vast scope and glamorous view of criminal life, maybe it's time for a smaller, bleaker GTA.

And, yes, I'd like at least one of those characters to be a woman. When Grand Theft Auto III debuted, the series felt daring and subversive. Now, it has started to feel safe and predictable. We know what the tone of its satire will be. We know what the gameplay will be like. I want Grand Theft Auto to find ways to feel daring again, and I think that the best way to do that is not to double down on crude humor and excessive violence but to move in a more intimate direction and really try to tell a story about people we care about in some way. And it's sad but true that, given the relative scarcity of female protagonists in AAA games, pinning a GTA game on a female character would seem like a bold move.

What would make it even bolder would be if the game really wanted us to see that character as a complex, three-dimensional person. Of course, it's Grand Theft Auto. You have to be able to engage in criminal acts. You have to be someone who does bad things. But that doesn't mean that the characters have to be detestable. Currently, I'm pretty hooked on the FX television show The Americans, about a pair of Russian spies in deep cover in the United States, posing as a normal suburban American married couple, complete with two kids. They're sometimes forced into situations where they have to kill people, but they don't relish it, and the relationship dynamic between Philip and Elizabeth, the husband and wife, is fraught with complications because they love each other but often have very different ideas about what they're doing. I don't want the next Grand Theft Auto to model itself on The Americans or anything, but I think the show demonstrates that you can place complex characters in morally compromised situations without either celebrating the violence they engage in or making us hate the characters who are engaging in it, and I'd like the next GTA game to pull this off, too.

GTA can give us characters we care about or it can give us a world filled with crude humor. It shouldn't keep trying to do both.
GTA can give us characters we care about or it can give us a world filled with crude humor. It shouldn't keep trying to do both.

Shifting up the series' approach to character would also mean shifting up its approach to world building. If GTA does try to tell a story that's more grounded in character, it needs to give those characters a grounded world to inhabit, not one in which every billboard and every radio ad sacrifices believability for crude humor. The humor of the series, which is part of what once made it feel daring and subversive, is an aspect of it that's on the verge of feeling tired and predictable. Grand Theft Auto V's attempts to lampoon contemporary American culture and social media weren't so much insightful and biting as they were just plain bitter and misanthropic. I think it's time for the series to retire this trend and let the meaning of its story emerge naturally from its characters and the society in which they exist.

It's also been quite a while since the series took us to a different time period, and after both GTAIV and GTAV presented visions of early-21st-century America, I'd like the series to once again set its sights on another era. We've already had GTA filtered through the lens of sleek, neon-lit 1980s excess in Vice City, but a bleaker 1980s GTA set in a more working-class city like Chicago or Detroit could be great, and given the vast chasm between the image of early 80s American life sold by the Reagan administration and the reality of it as experienced by so many Americans, this setting could afford the series the opportunity to continue exploring the theme of the American dream in a way that feels organic and relevant.

At the end of the day, it's not the when or the where of the next GTA that I really care about. It's the spirit of it. I want it to surprise us with its subject matter. I want it to actually say something meaningful about life in America. I want it to truly be the bold, daring, subversive game that Grand Theft Auto games now only pretend to be.

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Avatar image for roadrover

I really don't mind having a female protagonist and if the next game has 3 lead characters, at least one of them should definatley be a chick. But no to going back to other time periods. Keep going forward. I also agree with keeping the map a similar size but putting more in it. Would like to see way more interior locations.

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<< LINK REMOVED >> its working ?

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I just want 80s Vice City again. Been way to long.

Avatar image for dcaseng

GTAV is a truly great game that would be better appreciated YEARS from now. The reason people feel so attached to earlier games like San Andreas and Vice City is because of the nostalgia attached to them. There NOTHING that can match up with the feeling of NOSTALGIA, which is why so many people don't appreciate GTAV.

It's basically TODAY, not YESTERDAY, and therefore lacks that sense of nostalgia that tugs at your heartstrings. GTAV is bigger, and technically superior by a HUGE margin to either San Andreas or Vice City, and yet it cannot compete with that feeling of nostalgia.

It's a shame, but someone who plays this game for the first time in 2014 will be blown away by the feeling of nostalgia GTAV will bring.

Avatar image for andythejester

I don't know why some of you are bitchin' around because of GTA 5 . It is basically presents three types of criminals in the american 'underworld' : the retired-back-in-bussines , the afro wannabe , and the totally psycho . Ok , so let's get to the next GTA . This series is about hardcore muscle , and a change could be something possible . However , i don't really see this , because that's GTA 's main charm . So that's why a woman is fiction ... AS A PROTAGONIST . So it means that it would be perfect , if not necessary , that the top-of-the-tree main character might be a woman , instead of a 60 years old mobster , or shit like that . 'Oh look , a woman has such a power , i wanna see how she does ' . More female players , more money , better games . So the protagonist will always be covered in mistery . Ok , let's talk about the place : San Fierro ? That weird-weirdo city may be the perfect place for transsexuals , gay people ( Gay Tony cameo ? ) , hippies ... Or 1950's Las Venturas ! Vice City seems washed up to me , but R* owes us a HD Vice . But how about Anywhere City ( GTA 2 ) ? In my oppinion , it's just too early to think about the new GTA . But let's have faith in the Houser brothers and the programmers .

Avatar image for elcourierx

<< LINK REMOVED >> No. That would just make GTA a bad game. No one would want to play it. Men would be less interested as a female character would just be a forced feature of the game that would not make it appealing. Women wouldn't buy because they are just not into that kind of game. So maybe you would win a few more female gamers but you would loose a lot of male gamers (and there's a lot more of that).

Avatar image for sunny_945

<< LINK REMOVED >> Very nice idea or if not all then just VC,LS & SF will be enough.

Avatar image for scooter711

I would love to see that the next Grand Theft Auto game should take place in all 5 cities that it took place in the past (Liberty City, Vice City, Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturas) plus a few more cities like Detroit, Chicago, Seattle and Washington DC inspired cities where you play as not 1, not 3 but 6 would-be heroes 3 male protagonists and 3 female protagonists and you start out in Vice City and have to work your way up through every city u go to

Avatar image for Dredcrumb9

I'd like to see no kill indicators or at least an option to turn them off(like Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3 had). Combat in GTAV, especially during story mode, feels extremely watered down, boring, and even censored, with the bright flash and X marker popping up over every target fatally shot.

Blood Effects and the enemy no longer moving are kill indicator enough. Leave kill indicators and annoying flashes for online multi-player.

Avatar image for OuroborosChoked

Oh, I know! How about a main character who's a furry! Why not have a main character who wears a fursuit all the time! Oh Oh! And a transsexual character! And an autistic character! And a wheelchair-bound character! And a blind character! No, I've got it: a blind, autistic, wheelchair-bound transsexual furry with "headmates"... it'd be like tumblr distilled into one character!

Because having all of those things would make the game a better game, right?

Avatar image for Dredcrumb9

<< LINK REMOVED >> lol good one.

Avatar image for zedetach

"And, yes, I'd like at least one of those characters to be a woman."

" I want Grand Theft Auto to find ways to feel daring again, and I think that the best way to do that is not to double down on crude humor and excessive violence but to move in a more intimate direction and really try to tell a story about people we care about in some way."

"I want it to actually say something meaningful about life in America. I want it to truly be the bold, daring, subversive game that Grand Theft Auto games now only pretend to be."

Why not make a new game that's as the above and let GTA be GTA. When you've got a winning formula in your hands (GTA V has sold 32 million copies to date), why change it? If it ain't broken don't fix it.

Avatar image for OuroborosChoked

<< LINK REMOVED >> Yeah, it sounds like what she wants from GTA... is GTA not being GTA but Heavy Rain or something.

I can't believe shit like this passes as content these days...

Avatar image for zedetach

@OuroborosChoked @zedetach Exactly. Now I'm not against such games (I did enjoy Heavy Rain) but I think that GTA is probably the only AAA (really good) bad boy game in the industry and as such there is absolutely no reason why they should go Disney or Bioware with future GTAs.

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In my personal opinion GTA five could be better if you started the story from a new perspective from somebody who isn't killer or his rob banks and his days and has no experience in this field of criminal life I person like if you start from a kid that had nothing or nobody his whole life. I also preferred the story was much longer like 12 to 20 hours long so the campaign won't be come boring or beaten very quickly so I actually have more of a challenge in different ways to play the campaign. Also the multiplayer was one of the biggest issues with GT five actually for one their way to make glitches into the money we can really do nothing with everything so damn expensive you to put too much time and effort into it and lose it so quickly in free roam and fighting against other players. Personally I like it feels like red dead redemption because in that game for one more people played multiplayer longer into it was way more fun we get more to do rather just drive through the whole map in like 50 minutes. I personally hate if you guys made this game man character a woman because it just kill the whole story just imagin every gta game where you played as a girl the stories would just play out stupid. So plz if you do make another game make the story make you feel something all the way through and feel for the character as if they are real people.

Avatar image for OuroborosChoked

<< LINK REMOVED >> " GTA five could be better if you started the story from a new perspective from somebody who isn't killer or his rob banks and his days and has no experience in this field of criminal life I person like if you start from a kid that had nothing or nobody his whole life."

They've already done that with Vice City Stories. You play as Lance Vance's brother... an Air Force serviceman who gets sucked in to all the stuff his brother's doing. He was on the level until the start of the game.

Having a protagonist as reluctant as he was created that horrible, horrible buzzword: ludonarrative dissonance. In cutscenes, he would complain about having to do horrible things... while you, the player, were free to do said horrible things... and in fact had to in order to advance the game.

Avatar image for elcourierx

Evereything but female characters because that would just be nonsense imo. I don't really want to play as a female character specially on a GTA where that doesn't even fit. I understand that female gamers that actually buy GTA would like that but please understand that you are a really small minority and besides the game with a female character doing (bad) things that you usually only see males doing doesn't really improve GTA. Only degrades it. If you want to play something like that, there is a game for you: Saints Row. And it's actually not a bad game.

Avatar image for redhouse3

would finally like to see First person perspective!!

Avatar image for Tjompa

Am I getting old and boring? I liked much of GTA V, but mowing down cops wasn't my thing...

Avatar image for Dredcrumb9

@Tjompa than dont play GTA games. The reason GTAV fell short, was because they tried to cater to people like you(people who don't really like gta in the 1st place). Seeing a white flash and an X marker pop up over every person you kill in GTAV, makes mowing down cops and all people, boring and headache inducing anyway.

Avatar image for Senor_Kami

I honestly think these games would be a lot better if there were essentially two modes: Story and Freeroam/Side Missions. I haven't played 5 yet but every previous GTA and open world game I've played hits a point where I want to continue the main storyline but I'm locked out because I have to do a ton of unenjoyable side missions designed to pad gameplay length. Sometimes I can power through, other times I do so many of them and make no progress that I just end up calling it quits.

I would love to see some short and focused story mode with no side missions and not set up to have you constantly zigzagging across the map to pad game time. Just a 4-7 hour campaign that was tight and focused. Make the other mode the one that's all the side characters, all the zigzagging, and crazy free roam stuff.

Avatar image for OuroborosChoked

<< LINK REMOVED >> Honestly, you just described GTA5. You can also replay said story missions any time you want. If you don't want to, then you're free to roam all you want between missions.

Avatar image for madglee

I hear you, but most people don't want female characters. Well, most people who play games. I have played women in some RPGs, but for the most part, I like playing guys. As the demographic in PC games is "guys," I wouldn't hope for girl characters.

Avatar image for Senor_Kami

<< LINK REMOVED >> Eh, I don't think it's a big deal. I'm a black male so I pretty much NEVER get to play as characters that look like me. It's been like that since the first game I've played. I still love games though. You white guys should give it a shot. Not playing as someone that doesn't look like you isn't some death knell that auto-ruins a game/gaming.

Avatar image for Jacanuk

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> What are you talking about? never get to play as a black male? not only do you play as a black male in GTA V, you also do in GTA SA and in pretty much any game where you can do customization you can easy make a black lead male.

So i can only take your post as a troll.

Avatar image for OuroborosChoked

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Three, actually... out of the ten 3D games. Which is statistically higher than the population of African Americans in the US.

There have also been Hispanic and Asian leads. For whatever little it's worth, GTA is "diverse". Don't let those SJWs tell you otherwise.

Avatar image for elcourierx

@Buck80x @Jacanuk Yeah, but most people (at least in America) are white so... But if you go there I can also say that being an European myself, why don't they make more games on Europe and not always in the US? With european characters that speak other languages than English? Oh, they have done that already in one game, but that's one out of how many with american characters?

Avatar image for True4evr

Most people are white? Just look at the demographics in San Andreas, especially Los Santos. Even now in Ganton there is more Mexicans than black (I am of course referring to their real world counterparts). What I'm saying is that one of the main characters should have been Mexican, and I didn't even see that many Mexican NPCs in GTA5. I bet there is about as many Latinos in America now as white yet there is still rarely an Mexican protagonists.

Avatar image for Buck80x

<< LINK REMOVED >> hell an even when you customize it starts off with the white model.

Avatar image for Buck80x

<< LINK REMOVED >> Yeah, what two games out of how many with white characters?

Avatar image for PSYCHOV3N0M

GTA San Andreas still has the best campaign & story but GTA V's campaign was quite awesome albeit SHORT.

Avatar image for hungoverhank

If you want a gritty and bleak take on a city which is believable... It has to be 1970s London. It's about time the series made the jump back over the pond and took on the challenge of some London crime gangs.

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<< LINK REMOVED >> The Getaway.

Avatar image for chaka_

you've basically described last of us.

there's alot more wrong with this article but i'll leave it.

Avatar image for o0squishy0o

I agree with the need of a new branch for GTA and I think a female character would be good, but I'm not so sure a "serious" character is what is really needed for the game. I found ahhh forgot his name; the black dude in GTA 5 to be the most boring character.. Franklin! I think the characters should be interesting but if you are doing crazy stuff it seems more interesting if the person you are following is unhinged. Think of all the best TV series, the best characters are not the normal ones, they are off the wall ones. For example noone really watches Batman for Batman, they watch it for the villian. Game of thrones, the best characters are the ones that are kind of 2D in their madness.

GTA is at its best when it borders on cartoon characters. For those short moments of dialogue you need to be instantly hit with personality.

Avatar image for Slash_out

I am not sure I agree with this article. Those things aren't additions to what GTA already offers it's more a list on "how to change GTA" into something else.

This list would add drama, 3D characters, remove the crude humor and satire for something more serious.Why?

What's wrong with 2D characters ayways? Why do we need characters with complecity? Why do we need extra drama? This seems to be what journalist are asking every single time an AAA game is released.

Some games benefit from that, I don't see how this would really help GTA it's just not that kind of game, sometimes it's alright to have unbelievable characters...

The stuff about a woman protagonist, I personally don't care either way.

I wouldn't be for it if given the choice, I'm a dude I want to play dudes, the game main demographic is dudes as well. It will complicate things for the devs and will force us to make some sacrifice to what can be done and shown, things will be more limited in the game with a woman character we control. (Extra censure, extra outrage, feminists rising up, blablabla).

But I'm not going to say I'm against, I mean why not? As long as the game doesn't have to be more politically correct (not even a bit, which is going to be difficult) I won't mind.

The only thing GTA has to do, and I mean THE ONLY THING for me, is to release on PC simultaneously. It would be nice for Rockstar to remember the game's root and how it became so popular in the first place.

Avatar image for chaka_

<< LINK REMOVED >> i agree with this. there are a couple things i would add:

More shops i could walk into/rob.

Set up your own heists instead of only being able to do ones that are part of the main story.

A Better Garage system(Just copy saints rows)

Avatar image for timoteo2k1

GTA can give us characters we care about or it can give us a world filled with crude humor. It shouldn't keep trying to do both.


..and yet GTAV gave us Trevor, one of the most fascinating characters in recent gaming history.

Avatar image for KaptajnKnap

<< LINK REMOVED >> I wouldn't call him fascinating, I got kinda bored with the "I'm a psychopath!" stuff, Michael had a lot of that stuff too, but I definitely liked Franklin's cool. Overall It's a great trio, just wish they had toned it down a notch. :)

Avatar image for juibrand

agree with certain things of this article..

a female protagonist in a GTA if done correctly would be very,,, VERY good. somebody once pointed out that trevor could have easily been written as a woman save for you change around a few scenes here and there.

as far as setting goes. Rockstar has the hard job of walking that fine line between satirically funny and rediculous. if they get too serious it turns into LA noire. if it gets to silly it turns into saints row. it's a hard road for them in that aspect. me personally I had no issues with the humor in this installment

As far as setting goes. I think a Chicago or a Detroit would be ideal and something possibly dealing with the latino cartels or something along those lines.

Avatar image for zedetach

<< LINK REMOVED >> A female lead would not bode well with the GTA crowd. They won't buy into it. The 32 million gamers who bought GTA V clearly knew what they were getting for their money - an entertaining story with clever writing and excellent gameplay laced with excessive violence, racism, misogyny and everything else that's negative.

Avatar image for Dredcrumb9

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> GTA V is not sexist or misogynistic at all. I found it very anti-sexist in how it makes fun of feminazis(the true sexists). GTAV just tells the harsh truth about reality, and the truth is too confusing for most people. So confusing that the average sheeple automatically reacts "it's sexist!" or "it's racist!".

Avatar image for EPaul

Honestly what you describe sounds rather boring, i think Rockstar should just do what they want to over 32 millions copies sold indicates that