(Pocket-lint) - It feels like only yesterday that Rockstar Games was releasing its critically-acclaimed Red Dead Redemption 2, letting us loose into a massive frontier world of bandits and shoot-outs. It surely can't have been that long beforehand when it set loose the insanely successful Grand Theft Auto 5, can it?
Well, it very much can, actually. GTA 5 may have since been re-released to lengthen its lifespan, but it originally came out in 2013. A lot has changed since then, and with a new generation of consoles in our hands, comprised of the PS5 and Xbox Series X and S, we now know for sure that another game in Rockstar's most famous franchise is on its way.
We've gathered everything we know about Grand Theft Auto 6 right here for your delectation - let's get down to it.
GTA 6 release date
Starting with possible release dates, it's worth giving you a bit of background. While GTA 5 was released in 2013, Rockstar couldn't immediately turn its full attention to developing a sequel. It apparently did start work on GTA 6 in 2014, but meanwhile had the small matter of Red Dead Redemption 2 to make, let alone the PC, PS4 and Xbox One versions of GTA 5, and the PC and Google Stadia versions of Red Dead Redemption 2.
All of those take work but are now out of the way, and Rockstar has finally broken cover to announce that it is indeed working on GTA 6, and that while it hasn't got anything to share right now, more news will come in due course.
Many of you have been asking about a new entry in the Grand Theft Auto series.— Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames) February 4, 2022
With every new project, our goal is always to significantly move beyond what we've previously delivered. We're pleased to confirm that active development for the next entry in the series is underway.
It's great to know what we all suspected, then - there will be a sixth GTA game, and it's already in full development. Just don't get your hopes raised too high that it'll appear soon. At the end of May 2022 French journalist Chris Klippel said that Rockstar had a reveal for a mystery project planned soon, so it's possible this is pointing toward GTA 6 getting a trailer at some point.
In early July 2022, another Rockstar community update mentioned that the developer is aware of "the need to exceed players’ expectations and for this next entry to be the best it can possibly be", so we're interested to see just how ambitious the game is.
GTA 6 leak
In September 2022 we got one of the biggest gaming leaks of recent memory when a user uploaded literally heaps of footage of a clearly in-development Grand Theft Auto 6 to GTAForums, which has since scrubbed the posts.
A Message from Rockstar Games pic.twitter.com/T4Wztu8RW8— Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames) September 19, 2022
After a short while, ROckstar confirmed the leak was genuine, while its publisher Take-Two began issuing copyright strikes to remove the content from the web. The hacker in question, who was trying to sell further information to the highest bidder, is now reportedly being investigated by the FBI.
The leak showcased early gameplay footage that confirmed various details already rumoured, including at least one protagonist being a woman, and had plenty of quite granular dialogue in it.
It also showed what is fairly clearly Vice City, one of the rumoured settings for the game.
GTA 6 platforms
Probably the other key detail contained in that first big leak around GTA 6 concerned the platforms it's likely to release on. Obviously, GTA 5 came out toward the tail end of a console generation, releasing on the PS3 and Xbox 360, then being re-released with better performance and graphics on the next set of consoles.
Apparently, that pattern won't be repeated with GTA 6, though. The leak suggests that the game will be exclusive to the Playstation 5 and Microsoft's Xbox Series X and S.
Given that those consoles will have been out for at least a couple of years upon release, that's entirely credible.
However, given that Red Dead Redemption 2 took a lot less time to come to PC players than GTA 5 did years ago, it would be slightly surprising if GTA 6 doesn't also make its way to PC within a year of release.
GTA 6 gameplay
Waiting for details on a new GTA game generally involves one major area of speculation - where will it be set? While characters and storylines are just as subject to interesting details, there's something about GTA's setting that feels like the most pivotal choice Rockstar has to make. Whether it's Liberty City, Los Santos or another metropolitan area, the playground in which players will run riot is a big question mark hanging over the game.
At the moment this is where speculation is focused, with GTA Online players at one point becoming convinced that GTA 6 will take place in Vice City, GTA 3's much-loved, neon-soaked alternative version of Miami. The reasoning behind this? GTA Online's racing DLC, Open Wheels, has a race circuit that looks suspiciously like the outline of a map that would include Miami, as well as a chunk of Mexico. The outline does look fairly clear, as you can see in the image below, but obviously Rockstar is keeping its own counsel at this stage.
This idea had a little bit more detail added to it by an alleged leak, which purportedly came via the friend of a disgruntled ex-Rockstar employee. If the information is to be believed, the game will be set in Florida, and have a map bigger than GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2 combined, covering three cities including Vice City. Players would apparently be able to control four different protagonists, expanding on GTA 5's three main characters.
Another map leak appears to show more of the whole map, along with a section that fans are speculating could be based on the Kennedy Space Centre, based on its layout. However, as usual there isn't much to validate this as real information.
More intel comes from a Reddit poster that has collated various leaked images together to create a concept of what the map might look like. It's expansive and features a huge ocean - such an empty space that we're pretty sceptical that it'll end up being real, unless Rockstar is taking the series in a very new, nautical direction.
There have also been suggestions elsewhere that Liberty City (from GTA III), San Andreas (from GTA: San Andreas, natch), and the Midwest could feature, or maybe even all of the above for different sections. A rumour in March 2022 has also suggested that the game will be split across different time periods, more than just for short episodes like GTA 5's prologue.
The game has been in development since 2012 but went into full development in 2014— Gaming Updates and Countdowns I (@Onion00048) March 23, 2022
There are 3 protagonists again in the main game .
The game (single player) is split into 2 time periods.
Chapter 1-2 takes place in 1985,chapter 3-5 takes place in Modern times .
Regardless, expect the game to push the boundaries of what the new hardware from Sony and Microsoft is capable of. There's no guarantee that the game world will be bigger and more detailed than the map from GTA 5, but that's certainly how things seem to be trending.
In a big Bloomberg report in July 2022, we got the information that the game is indeed set in Rockstar's version of Miami, a simpler answer than all the sleuthing above. This was backed up by the September 2022 leak, too.
Meanwhile, rumours have also circulated that the game's character roster will include a female playable character for the first time in the series, something that's long overdue in our minds. The info comes courtesy of Tom Henderson, a longtime leaker who's made accurate claims in the past.
That detail was corroborated by Jason Schreier in that same Bloomberg report in July 2022, a long time later, along with the information that the female protagonist will be Latina, one half of a pair inspired by Bonnie and Clyde. Again, evidence from the September 2022 leak seems to confirm this.
We can expect the game to push technical boundaries, too, and it will apparently stick to the more photorealistic graphics of GTA 5 rather than going for anything more stylised, according to a recent rumour.
GTA 6 story
The main story of each GTA game so far has involved criminality, as a rule, but the exact flavour is always up for change. A crucial bit of information when it comes to GTA 6's narrative is that Rockstar's co-founder, Dan Houser, left the studio in March 2020.
That means that one of the studio's key tastemakers and writers has departed, someone who, together with his brother Sam, has shaped the franchise's tone from the very beginning.
Now, on the one hand, given the likely timing of the game, there's a good chance that Dan Houser was able to have solid input and impact on the script and story before his departure. On the other, if he was on his way out it's very possible that he wasn't nearly so involved. That means we could be in for a change of voice for GTA 6, something that was indicated by reports that the story was rebooted after Houser left, which surfaced in November 2021.
Exactly how that would manifest is hard to guess at, but it's an interesting development for Rockstar, that's for sure. Another recent rumour was started by an old patent filed by Rockstar in 2017:
Now look at this excerpt from a 2017 patent from Rockstar Games.— Big Jim Colosimo (@chi_colossimo) January 16, 2021
Looks like we‘ll be able to „improve“ neighborhood in the game, and this will change them to be gentrified.
Holy shit. pic.twitter.com/gRcT5nhCoR
It sure sounds credible that Rockstar could be looking to tell a story that involves gentrification and the creep of capitalism - fertile ground for some fairly easy satire, dare we say it? A changing city that responds to the player's actions in the story, though, is a pretty compelling idea.
One tidbit to surface about the game's story relates to its setting in time. Since people are speculating that it could return to Vice City, there have been questions over whether the game will be set in the 1980s again. According to prolific leaker Tom Henderson, though, it'll be a modern-day title like GTA 5.
It's not set in the 1980's and is modern. https://t.co/iav46Ty35V— Tom Henderson (@_Tom_Henderson_) April 12, 2021
Henderson has been proven right a fair few times in the past, so this is an interesting development for sure.
More recently, we've heard from a leaker that the game might feature GTA 4's Nico Bellic, who gets references in GTA 5 but hasn't actually appeared again since his expansions wrapped up. As with many GTA leaks, it could just be for GTA Online at some point, but it's an exciting potential tie-in between releases in the series.
So, for now, it seems you can expect a double-protagonist story, set in Miami, and Jason Schreier's major report in July 2022 also indicated that the game will go a little easier on its jokes than past titles, especially where punching down is concerned.
That hopefully means fewer jokes at the expense of minorities and the disenfranchised, and more punches upward at the systems of oppression they're subject to.
We'll keep adding more details to this round-up as and when new information comes out or actual announcements are made, so be sure to keep checking back.