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

American hustle.

1248 Comments

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 GSyynoandnoyyGS
GSyynoandnoyyGS

I want things that used to be on San Andreas like gym or something like that

Avatar image for freedom01
freedom01

<< LINK REMOVED >> and the appearance changes depending on stats

Moderator
Avatar image for GSyynoandnoyyGS
GSyynoandnoyyGS

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Become a fatty or a skeletor

Avatar image for GSyynoandnoyyGS
GSyynoandnoyyGS

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> and Iron Man

basically, a PC version

Avatar image for freedom01
freedom01

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> or Hulk

Moderator
Avatar image for PS4andXoneGamer
PS4andXoneGamer

Btw, I urge anyone and everyone to listen to the GTA V score by Tangerine Dream. It really is superb

Avatar image for freedom01
freedom01

add katanas, chainsaw, and machete. Also dual wielding guns like in Vice City and San Andreas

Moderator
Avatar image for PS4andXoneGamer
PS4andXoneGamer

Only 7 more years to wait

Avatar image for manutdarsenal
manutdarsenal

I'd like to play as CJ, one more time

Avatar image for delete-easycomeeasygo
delete-EasyComeEasyGo

Franklin is soo much better then CJ. No more CJ.

Avatar image for manutdarsenal
manutdarsenal

<< LINK REMOVED >> no way

Avatar image for graceful_goku
Graceful_Goku

I want more torture scenes and they have to be more gory, also some sort of martial art gameplay like in sleeping dogs would be cool, that shoot and doge from maxpayne and that enemy tagtgting from red dead redemption. I also want to see a more acrobatic character, like a ninja.

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contentxcontext

<< LINK REMOVED >> very torture, such martial art, much tagtgting, wow.

Avatar image for delete-easycomeeasygo
delete-EasyComeEasyGo

Basically you want a DBZ GTA style huh?

Avatar image for graceful_goku
Graceful_Goku

<< LINK REMOVED >> More like The Matrix.

Avatar image for contentxcontext
contentxcontext

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>yeah, as matrix games go, it's one of the best examples. It's self aware enough to be ridiculous but grounded enough to have a really good narrative.

Avatar image for graceful_goku
Graceful_Goku

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Its not as polished, you cant even cover, sleeping dogs is the closerest for to mme.

Avatar image for contentxcontext
contentxcontext

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>i'd say buy saints row iv

Avatar image for carolynmichelle
carolynmichelle

<< LINK REMOVED >> Naturally every game would be better with more doge.

Avatar image for mudbeed
mudbeed

I want less humor with my next Carolyn please since apparently you can handle humor other than crappy internet memes.

Avatar image for billzihang
Billzihang

A PC version.

Avatar image for elburnso
elburnso

Don't have a problem with a female protagonist in a future GTA, but one of the issues I had with GTA IV was they made the mistake of taking away too much satire and humor that the series is known for; which was fortunately corrected in GTA V.

Avatar image for freedom01
freedom01

character creation in story mode would be fun

Moderator
Avatar image for Terrencec06
Terrencec06

shame on me, still haven't played GTAV. still hoping it makes it's next gen leap.

Avatar image for delete-easycomeeasygo
delete-EasyComeEasyGo

Rockstar miss the opportunity to bring GTAV on next-gen and now there are rumors saying that they are working on it.

Avatar image for thekazumalord
thekazumalord

I'd like to see the next GTA do is what the amazingly fun Saints Row series has done.. allow players to make their own character with lots of customization.. the kind from Saints Row 2 and have the game take places outside of a familiar city.. or maybe heck, put it outside the US.. how about london? or Japan or Paris.. somewhere unique.

Avatar image for contentxcontext
contentxcontext

i myself think a husband and wife relationship dynamic would make for a super interesting basis for a gta. maybe even hinting at a sort of Bonnie and Clyde nod. or one where two people from different sides of the law are brought together. one in deep cover, one not. ending up married. it would be great to have rockstar play with the idea of having one person in the relationship taking part in these terrible activities and struggling with it.


and maybe keeping exactly who the cop is until the last act.

Avatar image for TomMcShea
TomMcShea

<< LINK REMOVED >> Rockstar, hire this person!

Avatar image for contentxcontext
contentxcontext

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>I am probably quite close to one of their offices. And I do need some work.


;) lol

Avatar image for digitaldame
digitaldame

<< LINK REMOVED >> Second for a Bonnie and Clyde type dynamic.

Avatar image for contentxcontext
contentxcontext

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>It would allow for some great intimate storytelling, and moments of bombasticness. trust in a relationship. are they faithful, as lovers or business partners

Avatar image for delete-easycomeeasygo
delete-EasyComeEasyGo

Interesting read, while I enjoy GTAV but it was still lacking what San Andreas. Honestly, I just think Rockstar needs to give GTA a break and just work on a new Red Dead Redemption (2) which we should be getting on next-gen and if Ground Zero look that good, then RDR is needed on next-gen.

Avatar image for manutdarsenal
manutdarsenal

"And, yes, I'd like at least one of those characters to be a woman". I literally spat out my food and laughed so hard I woke my neighbour's dog.

Avatar image for contentxcontext
contentxcontext

<< LINK REMOVED >> no you didnt.

Avatar image for manutdarsenal
manutdarsenal

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>ok. I cried too


Avatar image for PJDSouza
PJDSouza

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I farted.

Avatar image for contentxcontext
contentxcontext

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>nope, dont believe you

Avatar image for manutdarsenal
manutdarsenal

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>I shed a tear, not happy about it either

Avatar image for contentxcontext
contentxcontext

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>nope, nor that

Avatar image for speedfreak48t5p
speedfreak48t5p

I knew a female protagonist was going to be on her wistlist. I just knew it.



Avatar image for contentxcontext
contentxcontext

<< LINK REMOVED >> It would be, hopefully, on lots of peoples wish lists.

Avatar image for Leeric420
Leeric420

@contentxcontext @speedfreak48t5p not mine, if she was the main character I would never buy the game, if she was a choice, I would play the female as least as possible. I for one can't stand playing a main character as a woman, ruins the whole game for me.

Avatar image for crzysheeit
crzysheeit

<< LINK REMOVED >> You ever play Tomb Raider??

Avatar image for PJDSouza
PJDSouza

<< LINK REMOVED >> I'd still buy the game. Same reason I bought the game when they introduced the first black protagonist into the 3D era. I like being proved wrong when I think a game is going to be bad.

Avatar image for contentxcontext
contentxcontext

<< LINK REMOVED >> may I ask why?


Avatar image for Leeric420
Leeric420

@speedfreak48t5p Its almost like, we somehow knew....

Avatar image for E-i-N-e
E-i-N-e

There is going to be so many comments about misogyny, women equality and sexism in this section. Nice article however.

Avatar image for Leeric420
Leeric420

<< LINK REMOVED >> dang...beat me to it

Avatar image for E-i-N-e
E-i-N-e

<< LINK REMOVED >> Hahaha. Dude I saw your comment before. :D

Avatar image for Leeric420
Leeric420

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> i was trying to type that comment so fast before someone said it...i just failed at spelling instead...

Avatar image for graceful_goku
Graceful_Goku

I want to see like a Matrix inspired gameplay.