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.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Join the conversation
There are 1248 comments about this story
1248 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for burnettaj

Just make a good story with tons of side quests and strong characters. I could care less if the characters are female or male.

Avatar image for homey_d_clown

I actually have had this conversation with friends in the past, weather a female lead in GTA game would work.

Most man today understand characters like Trevor, Michael and Franklin (even though they are crazy) because of the movies and TV shows we have been watching for our entire lives. But when I tried to think of female charactes that would fit this world they are limmited, not saying ther aren't killers but what is driving them to kill differs.

The top 2 movies with characters that would fit in a GTA game are:

Kill Bill - Group of female killers, main character driven by revenge.

Set it Off - Female bank robbers, that took it to the next level when things got real.

I'm sure i'm forgetting a few others, but if I had to make a list of Male characters that could be in GTA games, the list is endless.

Avatar image for nomadsalt

<< LINK REMOVED >> *whether...

Avatar image for e5115271

So you basically want the next GTA to be LA Noire but with a boobed protagonist...

Avatar image for OuroborosChoked

<< LINK REMOVED >> No, she wants Heavy Rain: no satire, more drama, female leads... She wants Titanic with cars.

Eff this.

Avatar image for Mayleene

How about a bug and glitch free game that is complete upon release?

Avatar image for mikemaj82

<< LINK REMOVED >> I never experienced any bugs in my copy.

Avatar image for FretsOfDeath

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> me neither...not a single one

Avatar image for FretsOfDeath

<< LINK REMOVED >>- "I want the next GTA protagonist to be a giant hairy, walking, talking vagina from the 80's, because I'm a man hater, and I let my own political man hating views clout my "reviews" of video games. Games should stop being fictional and fun based, and start focusing on a more politically correct feministic story"

Avatar image for dvlboi43

<< LINK REMOVED >> If GTA is trying to convey realistic characters, then why is it so unreasonable that after 17 male protagonists you could have ONE woman. She's not hating on men, she's one of the only people who is saying that as a woman, she'd like to see some more realistic representation of women in GTA. The last GTA gave us some intriguing and nuanced male characters, but not really any females, and to me it stood out as unequal and somewhat lazy character development. But hey, keep up with the "feminists are man haters" thing, it makes you sound really informed.

Avatar image for FretsOfDeath

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> If you read her review of the game upon release, you would understand it more. It is clearly coming from her own feminist stance, and views. She knocked points off of her game sreview due to how woman are portrayed in the game. That's pretty lame, since she allowed her feminist stance change the influence of how it's rated. It's unprofessional, and frankly stupid. It's ludicrous that anyone would want RockStar to convey anything like she expects of a female protagonist. If they did, it wouldn't be a GTA game. Such is the reason it hasn't been done.

Avatar image for dvlboi43

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Why are you assuming I didn't read the review? I read it and agreed with it. Sorry that it only got a 9/10 instead of a 10/10, but it is precisely because it is such a fantastic game that we can hold it to the highest standard. I think it was great of gamespot to have a female perspective on such a popular game, instead of joining the legions who were giving it flawless praise. Without criticism there is no growth, exaggerating her stance and mocking her opinions isn't making you look educated or clever, it's making you look resistant to new ideas and stubbornly content in a small-minded perspective.

Avatar image for Senior_Rosa

I couldn't give more a shit about having a female character, honestly. Forcing characters or situations (like same-sex relationships) into a story just for the sake of it and because it is politically correct is just stupid. I want great and engaging stories.

And talking about that, i would love to see the story from a different point of view: why not having a character who is a cop in a corrupted city. Perhaps have some crazy friends demanding favors from him and at the same time, laws and bosses pushing on him to fight crime. That could be really interesting imo

Avatar image for getupandboogie

I agree with Carolyn on this. I think there are a lot more possibilities with the story than what has been done before, for example the way NPCs react to you, and the story telling will be from a fresh perspective. In my head, I think it will be quite fitting. I see a female character reacting bullish and overcoming being talked down to by male characters, while someone higher up can see the potential in her. This will eventually go full circle, working her way up leading the same people who looked down on her because of her sex.

I honestly think a female protagonist will work, and is the way to go...

Avatar image for CorkeyFord

I respect Carolyn's opinion, but I personally wouldn't like a female protagonist in a GTA game. The idea of a bleaker 1980s GTA sounds very appealing though.

Avatar image for oskarkeyser

Is it just me who hope that rockstar will piss on everyone complaining about a female character and do the same again? but with 5-6 different guys? just to poke! “All publicity is good publicity

Avatar image for johnkong

I think that they should keep the world the same size but that they should make it more detailed. You should be able to go into every building. There should be more objects and you should be able to pick them up and do things with them. I feel like they might set it in Vice City for the next game but I think they should consider creating one based on Detroit or Chicago. I agree that the should start to head in a more realistic direction. And yes I definitely agree they should have a female protagonist!

Avatar image for Martyr77

Me: "Hey a new article on GTA." Click

Reads Carolyn Petit

Me: "Oh God another article somehow interjecting something about women completely unrelated to the game......"

Reads article

Me: "Yep predictable"

I need to stop clicking these.

Avatar image for hungoverhank

<< LINK REMOVED >> If a man had written the article (not inconceivable) would you have complaints about the article?

I agree with Carolyn on this, as I am sure lots of blokes would be happy to see it happen. A female character which didn't get their waps out for the game every other second would be a refreshing change.

Avatar image for johnkong

<< LINK REMOVED >> Suggesting a lead character in the game be a woman is not completely unrelated to the game.

Avatar image for timoteo2k1

*Of Course the #1 thing we want out of GTA6... is for GS not to let Clark Petit anywhere within 100 meters of the review... after he/she/ it so horribly botched the GTAV review, injecting her personal politics into it.

...but if you want something constructive, give us a fully customizable character and no grandma/ grandpa 1 crap.

Avatar image for Buck80x

<< LINK REMOVED >>.....".but if you want something constructive, give us a fully customizable character and no grandma/ grandpa 1 crap."


Avatar image for sebbysebbseb

<< LINK REMOVED >> really? its a review. of course the reviewer can put their thoughts into it. Do you honestly expect every reviewer not to be biased in some form? It wasn't anything like a propaganda piece that people made it out to be.

Avatar image for timoteo2k1

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Opinions yes... personal politics, no.

Avatar image for hungoverhank

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>Personal politics are the basis of peoples opinions. Trying to separate them is nigh on impossible.

Avatar image for 00J

If they went smaller, i'd like to see more interaction with the world. Such as the ability to go into more buildings, and interact with the individual objects... More like a GTA rpg...

Avatar image for nayce54

Please no more N-WORD usage in the game!!! Oh My God!!

Avatar image for ---Cipher---

<< LINK REMOVED >> It's kinda part of their "gangstah" settings they've had...

Avatar image for wa128

a pc version

Avatar image for theslovakian38

how about we just let rockstar do their thing

Avatar image for nomadsalt

<< LINK REMOVED >> I bet they will regardless of what this group of luddites post.

Avatar image for timeformime

This article is clearly too well-thought-out for most commenters on this site, because the luddite, don't change our GTA, we're fine with what we have, head in the sand attitude is palpable. I'm not saying Carolyn is 100% right here, but good lord, put some nuance into your rebuttals.

Also nice shout out for The Americans. Best show no one's watching.

Avatar image for nomadsalt

<< LINK REMOVED >> I had to look up the meaning of "luddite"..... +1 for The Americans, great show.

Avatar image for Treehousebob

Please don't say we,.. this is what you want. I don't think it should matter what sex the characters are,.. male or female, and I certainly don't want GTA 6 to be like a movie. If you don't like GTA's violence, crudity, and aren't secure enough to deal with it poking fun at women, then play something else. I would suggest sleeping dogs, or saints row 2, but please, ( I mean this sincerely ) please stop trying to influence Rockstar to contort to your standards of what video games should be for women. They are artist, let them create and do what they have always done, (with a few exceptions ) make really really good video games, that most can appreciate for what they are,.. terrific digital art. If all games went through a politically correct filter the industry would die,.. we get enough political correctness and boredom at the office, our entertainment needs to be something totally different.

Avatar image for N1K0LA191

<< LINK REMOVED >> This isn't really an article arguing political-correctness, it's simply about maybe toning back some of the pointless crude humor (doing away with it is not even an option at this point) and making the game dive deeper into the game, and get more emotionally involved in the story and the characters that the story builds. I don't see where political-correctness comes into this picture at all. And a simple article isn't going to influence Rockstar in the slightest, but it is our freedom to be able to talk about what we do and don't want in a game. Unfortunately, educated and well thought out articles are ridiculed by the likes of folks such as you who have a typical American mindset "It is as it is." Or in other words, nothing is going to change, why try. Maybe put a little more thought into bashing an article next time. Just a heads up. Or you could pointlessly bash me as well.



Avatar image for OuroborosChoked

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Bash you? Sure!

"Unfortunately, educated and well thought out articles are ridiculed by the likes of folks such as you who have a typical American mindset "It is as it is.""

1. In what way is the article "educated"? It is an opinion: neither educated nor mundane.

2. People are engaging in criticism. So it's okay for Carolyn to criticize GTA, but not for us to criticize her opinion? Seems... hypocritical.

3. "typical American" - you lose. Any points you were hoping to gain with your comment you just lost with stereotyping.

I would go on, but Treehousebob covers the PC thing. I'm done with you.

Avatar image for Treehousebob

<< LINK REMOVED >> PC covers an abundance of issues one of them is general crudity. I agree with you that is her right to write what she pleases, I support this right, just not what she says. I disagreed with her politely, I did not "bash" the article, and I stand by my comment. My mindset isn't one of it isn't going to change why try, I don't want them to change. (beyond the normal growth a studio would go through to remain relevant) I'm not sure why you seem offended by someone not liking the article, if you would like to be very offended scroll down and read some other comments. I find it odd that you picked my post to "bash", no hard feelings though.

Be well and prosper

Avatar image for nomadsalt

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Sadly, your comment is full of contradictions.

Avatar image for hi-buzz

Still would like to see a remastered GTA5 for the newer systems

Avatar image for hippiesanta

what if after Rockstar read this article and inspire them to make a GTA5 story DLC which include bashing trannys and Femen group.....

Avatar image for nomadsalt

What it meant to say was "What I'd like to see in the next GTA is less GTA."

Avatar image for nomadsalt

Typical luddite comment.

Avatar image for roganth

You know what we'd like to see in a Big Mac? Take out those beef patties and replace them with a spicy chicken fillet, and that special sauce is sweet and savoury - I don't like that shit, so change it to mayonnaise. I realise I can already buy a chicken fillet burger, but I think my idea still stands. Btw if anyone likes Big Mac how it is, deal with it.

Avatar image for spartanx169x

<< LINK REMOVED >> Good comparison. Seriously.

Avatar image for dvlboi43

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> You know what? You're right! Why can't GTA games go back to the good old days. I want that top-down perspective again, and who says the PS1 doesn't still have some life left in it?

The GTA Games have changed in very significant ways over the years to reflect the changing expectations of gamers and to further the artistic vision of Rockstar. Is asking for a female character really so earth shattering?

Avatar image for True4evr

I know your being sarcastic but in all reality looking backwards is not such a bad idea. Release to PC first, missions focus on causing mass mayhem, SPLITSCREEN, give the player godly cheats to turn up the fun. It wasn't until gta 4 that rockstar chose to switch focus from these things that made their titles fun to throwing us some bs story with a character I'm supposed to feel compassionate towards and women who are more than just whores. By five the pacing was so slow that half the gameplay was dialogue. In all honesty I wouldn't mind a female character so long as she was a murderous, remorseless, power hungry psychopath like the other characters, otherwise it wouldn't work. In MY OPINION I think the series should take some steps backwards.

On a side note the ps1 is the immediate parent to the best console ever created, the ps2. I'll be playing San Andreas until five gives me a decent reason to go back.

Avatar image for youre_a_sheep

The last thing on earth I want to spend my time or money on is an even more serious GTA game laden with some real world political agenda. I play games to have fun, not to be lectured at under the guise of fun. I sure hope no one in the industry gets it in their head that these suggestions should be realized.

"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 mean, are you serious? Maybe next we can get a COD game where they put down the guns and use their words to resolve disputes.