The recent release of Red Dead Redemption 2 to critical acclaim and the approval of millions of fans served not only to bring us another Rockstar masterpiece, but has also helped quell the persistent and increasingly impatient hunger for details on the next Grand Theft Auto game. We’ve written extensively about the yet-to-be-confirmed upcoming Grand Theft Auto title, speculated about industry rumors and fan theories, while lauding on the quality and achievements of its predecessor, Grand Theft Auto V.
GTA V did so much for the industry; it broke records in both the video gaming industry, as well as in overall media in general, and rose above gaming as a media icon and money-making machine, which is selling and charting on a weekly basis half a decade after its initial release. Aside from this, it set a standard for open-world gameplay mechanics as well as graphical excellence; released at the end of the seventh generation console cycle, it felt like a future gen title on a current gen system. Although it was a fan favorite, it wasn’t a perfect game. There were new additions included with old staples omitted, which was not as well received by players as the majority of the rest of the game was. In this list, we are going to take a diplomatic look at the most recent installment of the series, cherry picking what we want to see return and what we don’t, while looking at other games in the series and some of Rockstar’s other sandbox adventures in order to craft a wish-list for the highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto VI.
25 We Need: A Single Protagonist
Perhaps a controversial opinion here, but here it goes. While having three interchangeable protagonists in GTA V was a cool novelty, it made it harder for the player to really connect with any of them on a deep, meaningful level.
In a game that relies heavily on story, we just didn’t get the same character development that we got with Niko Bellic in GTA IV or Arthur Morgan in Red Dead 2. So, when the new GTA game comes out, we’d love to see one fully-fleshed out main character we can forge a connection with.
24 We Need: A More Engrossing Story
This is also related to the above entry; as good as GTA V was, the story was a convoluted mess based on government conspiracies and mid-life crises, which was muddied and pulled in three directions by the three playable characters.
Say what you want about GTA IV, but the campaign was cohesive, with a compelling protagonist and supporting cast that unfolded across a simpler, but much more compelling, story. In GTA VI, we want a shift from the wild and outrageous to a more serious, but more satisfying, narrative.
23 We Don’t Want: One City
The argument that GTA V consisted of the San Andreas landscape with Los Santos in the middle is misleading, as Blaine County was just a relatively bare distraction from the city. The argument that the map is bigger than GTA: San Andreas is even more-so as it takes geographical peaks and below-sea areas into account, neither of which are of nearly as much interest to the player.
Titles like San Andreas and RDR2 set a standard for Rockstar in terms of scale and variety that GTA V simply fell short of.
22 We Need: Good Pacing And Immersion
A good story-driven sandbox game unfolds slowly over time. As the player’s progress, newer areas become available to them, along with new characters, missions, and abilities, all while the gamer becomes more immersed in the experience (this is arguably the most important element of the genre).
This is something that GTA V and, in certain places, RDR2 lacked. Conversely, titles like GTA IV and the first Red Dead fully immersed the player in the experience, making them salivate for what could be next. We hope GTA VI offers us a similar experience.
21 We Don’t Want: An Emphasis On Online Play
GTA V’s online mode set a new standard for online play, and absolutely demolished all previous online modes in Rockstar games. The free-roaming chaos, combined with ever-evolving missions and objectives, was addictive and is still as popular today as it was five years ago.
However, rumors are circulating that due to the success of GTA: Online, the next game will either have a more prominent online mode or be completely online. This would be a shame, and would alienate GTA’s die-hard faithful who fell in love with the series long before it went online.
20 We Need: Weapon Customization
Where GTA V may have lacked the same narrative cohesion as GTA IV, San Andreas, or Vice City, it absolutely blew these games out of the water with its weapon customization.
Not only did it have the best arsenal of weapons out of any game in the series, but it allowed you to fully customize them with different sights and enhancements (you could also level up your skill with the firearms). Naturally, we want this feature to return in GTA VI, and would love to see Rockstar take this element of the game even further!
19 We Need: More RPG Elements
GTA V wasn’t just scaled back from San Andreas in terms of map size, it also scaled back the character customization elements. And while it was a cut above the relatively sparse GTA IV, certain things from San Andreas, like learning fight moves and gaining/losing weight, were missing.
We’d love to be able to learn new combat moves while buffing up our physiques. We’d also love to see things from RDR2, like being able to grow your hair organically, introduced in GTA VI to really round it out.
18 We Don’t Want: Bad Radio Chit-Chat
One thing in GTA V that took a serious dive in quality was the talk radio stations. Boring, and at times nonsensical, the combination of social commentary and zany-humor was more cringeworthy than funny. All of this is a shame, because the likes of Martin Serious in the Episodes From Liberty City, NPR in Vice City Stories, and Lazlow Jones throughout the series were genuinely hilarious.
For the next game, we want to see the script writing for our in-vehicle entertainment sharpened back up to their old high standards!
17 We Need: More Varied Environments
It’s true that GTA V was split into the contrasting Blaine County and Los Santos, and while Los Santos was a beautiful thing to behold, much of Blaine Country was sparse desert land and not particularly interesting. San Andreas had three different cities with different feels to them, with plenty of countryside in-between.
Meanwhile, RDR2 is filled with a variety of different, but equally stunning, geographies. If we could get two or more cities with two different vibes, and some RDR2-esque rural scenery in the next GTA, it’d be nothing short of breathtaking.
16 We Don’t Want: More Experimental Psychedelia
GTA games are never 100% realistic, with a certain amount of cohesion in gameplay and presentation expected.
While you could light up in Vice City, slowing down time, that was about as trippy as it got before San Andreas began the subtle shift towards a less cartoon-y approach (Area 51 notwithstanding). There are moments in GTA V and RDR2 that delve into the supernatural, which isn’t a bad thing on its own, but in a sandbox game like GTA, it breaks the sense of immersion and realism in a way that doesn’t suit the series.
15 We Need: A Playable Cop
This one relies on our earlier entry on wanting a single protagonist falling through. It’s inconceivable that you’d play as a police officer (corrupt or otherwise) as the sole protagonist in a GTA game, but if there are multiple protagonists again, which there’s every chance there will be, it’d be awesome to have one of them be a cop.
It would contrast beautifully with the remaining characters as career criminals, especially if one of them had an intimate relationship with the officer, like them being brothers.
14 We Need: An Entertaining Supporting Cast
Let’s face it, GTA V didn’t exactly have the greatest cast of characters: Michael’s family are consistently vexing, while the variety of antagonists that pop up do not fall into the likable or memorable “baddie” role either. Even RDR2’s secondary characters, as good as some of them are, aren’t really that memorable.
GTA IV’s Brucie, Roman, and Packie, along with San Andreas’ OG Loc, Ryder, and Big Smoke are charismatic, funny, and unforgettable fan favorites. We need more characters like this in the next installment.
13 We Don’t Want: Too Much Satire
A big part of GTA’s appeal is the fact that it’s a commentary on life in the U.S. It is a pessimistic look at its Westerner's Dream, with rampant commercialism, dog-eat-dog capitalism, and criminality that serves as the undertone for all the games.
However, it’s only truly effective when used subtly and rationed carefully. GTA V ramped up the social commentary, over-saturating the game with it, and thus, diluting its effectiveness. It reached for low-hanging fruit and was too obvious to be clever. We hope Rockstar tones it down in GTA VI.
12 We Need: A Return To Vice City
GTA Vice City is still a true fan favorite for many GTA devotees. Its melodious soundtrack, crazy characters, and memorable missions have endeared it to many fans over a decade later.
However, it is Vice City itself, a re-imagining of 1980s Miami, that’s the game’s star attraction. As the only city not to be revisited since the sixth console generation, we’d love a return to Vice City. Back in the hedonistic 80s, in the present day, as one of multiple cities or a brief cameo, it’s been long overdue!
11 We Don’t Want: Lazlow Jones (In The Flesh)
When we spoke earlier about returning to quality talk radio in GTA games, Lazlow is a prime example of this. His work, particularly in Vice City and GTA IV, was consistently funny and entertaining, and we’d often choose to listen to him ramble instead of the many quality tunes!
However, his physical appearance in GTA V was indicative of the less subtle, low-hanging- fruit-grabbing style of the game, and a series that ran out of ideas. We want to see him back in the next game, but through the airwaves where he shines the brightest!
10 We Need: Single Player DLC
The absence of single player DLC in GTA V was a disappointing, especially considering both the first Red Dead and GTA IV had it. Episode’s from Liberty City was a particular fan favorite, with many players actually preferring the two additional episodes more than the main game, especially ‘The Ballad of Tony.”
They served as a nice contract to the main game, while expanding on, and tying up loose ends within, the already stellar story. It’d be a missed opportunity if Rockstar didn’t include it in GTA VI.
9 We Don’t Want: Current Day Setting
Ok, listen, if done correctly, then a GTA game set in the present day can be just as good as any other. The only problem is that little has changed in society since GTA V. Sure, you could pacify some people with glib government references, while appeasing others with jokes about over-sensitive pronoun policing, but chances are this’ll all denigrate into the above mentioned dumb satire.
Aside from this, games set in by-gone times like Vice City and Red Dead just have an undeniable iconicism about them that’s impossible to capture with a modern day setting.
8 We Need: Better Hand-To-Hand Combat
We’ve already alluded to our desire to be able to learn new fighting moves as part of a more broad-reaching character customization suite. That being said, if we cannot learn how to execute a single-leg or throw an ax-kick (i.e. San Andreas), we still need better hand-to-hand combat than we saw in GTA V.
It was sluggish and one-dimensional, with NPCs that were too easy to knock out, while totally getting rid of the counters and varied combat of GTA IV. In GTA VI, we want a return to the combat of San Andreas and GTA IV.
7 We Don’t Want: Slow Matchmaking
GTA Online is great, there's no doubt about it. With a huge map to free roam, a litany of match types, and ever evolving content, it's as good an online gaming service as any for players who like to compete with others.
With all that being said, matchmaking can be a slow process, which can be frustrating for the player as it also interrupts the flow of the experience. We would love to see a faster, smoother matchmaking service in the next game.
6 We Need: Destructible Environments
A totally destructible world is never going to be feasible in a GTA game; after all, contained within the sprawling metropolis’ are employers, shops, and safe houses that need to remain standing for the game to function correctly.
However, some destructible architecture, especially if GTA VI is going to be exclusively next gen, would be fitting and would add a new level of realism to the series. We saw hints of this in GTA V when Michael tore down Madrazo’s paramour's house. Now we just need that on a more macros scale!
5 We Don’t Want: A Heist Heavy Story
Ok, relax, let me explain before you get out the pitchforks. Heists have made for some of the best missions in GTA history, going back “The Job” in Vice City. The build up is almost always fantastic, the execution epic, and is usually a landmark moment in the game.
Some of the heists in GTA V were great, but there were one too many, and the fact that the story was built around them slightly weakened their impact with each job you completed. In GTA VI, we hope they scale back the volume and rack up the tension.
4 We Need: More Interiors
To be fair, when you’re an open world sandbox game set in a city with thousands of buildings, access to all of them just isn’t feasible. The only thing we would ask is that Rockstar keep building upon the increasing detail and grant player access with each new installment in the series.
Obviously, titles like Red Dead and The Witcher have a higher percentage of buildings you can enter, but that’s only because they have far fewer in total. As long as GTA VI progresses from V, we’ll be satisfied.
3 We Need: Contested Territory
One of the most unique features in San Andreas when compared to the rest of the series was contested territory. At any time during the game, one of your areas could come under attack and you would have to defend it. You could also go to neutral or enemy territory and fight to take it over.
There are similar elements in RDR2, where bounties and rival gang presence can make traversing through certain areas harder. A similar feature in GTA VI would make the game more tense, entertaining, and make the world feel more alive and reactive.
2 We Don’t Want: A Cutscene Heavy Game
Cutscene’s are some of the most powerful tools in gaming; when used correctly, they are a great way of telling or expounding a story while also showing off the games graphics and sound at their best and most cinematic moments. Some games, like Metal Gear Solid and Heavy Rain, benefit from the cutscene-heavy approach.
By the same token, too many cutscenes in sandbox titles like GTA, which occur in an open world in (relative) real time, interrupt the flow of the game. There were too many in GTA V and RDR2, with cutscenes replacing exploration during missions.
1 We Need: An Iconic Soundtrack
There are fewer games better known or more defined by its music than Grand Theft Auto, with the last two GTA titles having undeniably great soundtracks.
However, when it comes to iconic tracks that suited the games perfectly, Vice City and San Andreas are untouchable. “Out Of Touch” was a perfect representation of 1980s Vice City, and “Nuthin’ But A G-Thang” was perfect for 1990s East Santos; both enhanced the games to no end. GTA VI will no doubt have an epic soundtrack, we just hope it’s as iconic as those PS2 classics.