As expected, GTA 6 has a solid first trailer. It showcases the aesthetic and general motivation of the central characters – a duo this time, and first playable female character since the original GTA – as well as showing off the setting as we return to the iconic locales of Vice City. However, it also seems to be branching out a little wider this time, with the technology to make bigger and more immersive worlds than our first trip to the Miami-like in 2002. Could a trip to the Everglades be on the cards?
Typically for first Rockstar trailers, establishing setting and tone is key. Though we do meet protagonist Lucia and learn she’s an inmate at the penitentiary, neither she nor the other protagonist (Jason) feature much here. Instead, it’s the setting that’s the main character. Being Vice City alone is obviously a selling point, but with this story set in the modern day rather than the ‘80s period piece of our first time in the flawed paradise, it also has to sell us on the new look.
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It’s a surprise then that it takes us away from Ocean Drive and the built up areas of the city, and even away from the beach, to hit the Everglades. We see one of those fan boats careening through the peaceful waters, and a still shot of the flamingos as the sun shimmers off the lake. GTA is an urban game at heart, and not in that awkward white person trying to say something is ‘very hip and street’ – it’s literally urban, taking place in bustling cityscapes. But a visit to the marshlands sounds promising.
Going back to Vice City might be a huge selling point for players, but it offers a major challenge to developers. How do you go back to a map you made in 2002, but make it work in 2025? Games definitely have a problem with bloating into huge emptiness, but 2002’s map size would feel restrictive for a boundary pushing series like Grand Theft Auto. The obvious solution? Make it bigger. But with the Everglades, it’s not only growing in size, but in variety and complexity.
It was the substantial changes offered that made Red Dead Redemption 2’s map so impressive. Sure, it was big and that helped slot everything in, but you could be trudging through the snow one minute, baking in the desert the next, and strolling through the first signs of metropolis the minute after. You made your base camp in icy tundras, in peaceful bays, by mountain creeks, and on the edge of murky swamps. You climbed mountains and explored deep caves.
GTA is better at the intensity of crushing everything together in a sprawling, unrelenting cacophony of city screeches, and so it should remain, but the option to head out to the swamp once in a while would give the game the depth and realism it needs to deliver to feel like a ‘next gen’ step up from GTA 5, while keeping the core principles of the series.
Riding out to the marshlands in Red Dead Redemption 2 means hunting specific creatures, or occasionally dealing in moonshine. GTA could give it a far more modern flair, like trading illegal firearms, stashing loot in a bog, or dealing with the various shack dwelling hillbillies out there. GTA always finds a way to turn the dial up to eleven, swinging for the fences far more often and with more vigour than Red Dead, so seeing what Rockstar might do with this setting in more eccentric hands is an exciting prospect.
GTA 6 has instantly become the most anticipated game on the calendar, and will stay there until its release in 2025 (or, possibly, its delay into 2026). We’ll hear a lot more about it, but for all the heists and explosions and narrative developments, I’m mostly interested in what they’re doing in the swamp.
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As a Floridian, I know there are just some things Rockstar has to include in a GTA game set in the so-called Sunshine State.