The Grand Theft Auto series prides itself on repetition more than innovation. It’s not known for bringing us new worlds and concepts, but brilliantly mimicking and skewering the ones we already live in. It’s no secret that I adore the series, but I also consider it to be flawed in lamentable ways. What would I like to see in Grand Theft Auto VI?
Character: I would love for the GTA series to buck the trend and provide us with a female lead. Have we seen an epic amount of grousing when someone floats the possibility? Yes! However, reactionary fans also heavily protested the introduction of the series’ first black lead as well—a move that did not harm the success of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in the least. Given the rise of women in criminal organizations as madams, scammers, and drug mules it is only reasonable that a female character would eventually take point in a story arc. Moreover, we’ve already seen aggressive and powerful women such Elizabeta and Catalina as supporting characters.
And yet the truth is that the lead character of GTA VI will more than likely be male. Again, the series loves repetition, not only in its settings but its lead characters as well. Both Claude and Niko illustrate the plight of the bewildered transplant to the big city. CJ and Franklin are both young black men from West Coast ghettos on the fringes of gang life. With Michael we see the coda to Tommy Vercetti’s life—a career-criminal living comfortably off of his ill-gotten gains in a new world of excess and celebrity. Luis and Victor are family-oriented Dominican men trying their best to remain legitimate while their associates drag them further into the muck. And Johnny and Trevor are poorly adjusted individuals cast aside as “white trash” by mainstream society.
Which leaves us with Toni Cipriani. He is the only lead character of the Grand Theft Auto series that is without a counterpart. And I believe he will be given one in Grand Theft Auto VI. I predict the lead of the new series will be a man in his early thirties who—like Toni—is firmly entrenched as a low-ranking member in a criminal organization. However, I do not believe the mafia will be at play here, but a powerful cartel instead. Given what I expect the location of Grand Theft Auto VI to be, the lead will more than likely be a Caribbean Latino instead of white like Cipriani. But unlike Luis and Victor, the character will be able to pass for Mediterranean or southern European.
Location: And what of the location? I would prefer that the game be set in the American south in an ethnically and racially diverse city with extreme wealth disparity, gang activity, a thriving and lucrative entertainment industry, and both rural and urban architecture. I am personally biased towards Atlanta and would love to see a city that apes it called Meleager, but given Rockstar’s predictable habits the game will likely be set in the fictional Miami of Vice City. It’s a choice I certainly can’t find fault with. Miami has all the attributes and flaws of Atlanta with the addition of a beautiful beach landscape. It’s Atlanta with the added benefit of boat missions!
And yet given Rockstar’s penchant for repeating itself, we might get something even more wondrous than a return to Vice City—three cities in one. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas gave us Los Santos (Los Angeles), San Fierro (San Francisco), and Las Venturas (Las Vegas). Since that game gave us three western cities, would Rockstar be ambitious enough to provide us with three southern ones—Vice City (Miami), Meleager (Atlanta), and New Bougival (New Orleans)? Rockstar has never been content to rest on its laurels, which it would be doing by merely providing players with a chance to return to Liberty City and Los Santos. Graphics have not advanced enough for a return to those cities to seem fresh and exciting. And while tossing three cities that differ so wildly into one state requires too far a suspension of one’s belief, placing three cities in different states and using a fade-to-black cut scene while driving along the interstate or running through the woods is certainly feasible.
Oh, and more interiors, please! Safe houses! Nightclubs! Trap houses! Restaurants! Give players places to spend (or launder) all of that virtual money. And more importantly, give them places to rob to get more of it.
Theme: A satirical look at American culture, crime, and capitalism has always been the main focus of the Grand Theft Auto series. However, in 2017 the aggressively juvenile humor and “ironic” bigotry championed in Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto V is dull and dated. A more mature approach akin to Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City is required. Female characters and characters from marginalized groups weren’t reduced to one-note jokes but were carefully fleshed out. Ethnic subcultures were not lampooned but had their positive and negative aspects highlighted.
“Ironic” bigotry is useless when in the real world young American men glorify Nazis and protest the existence of feminism. It neither shocks one into realization nor pushes the envelope, but reinforces the hate already in existence. And depictions of sexuality in the series have been so repressed and mean-spirited one would think the jokes had been written by and for thirteen-year-old boys. Given that the series is at heart a crime drama, healthy depictions are not expected—but accurate ones are. For far too long Rockstar has leaned on stereotypes and dick jokes. I’d love to see a more sophisticated level of humor. And I’d love to once again see women as powerful and shrewd criminals instead of shrill idiots—especially if the criminal elements of the sex industry are to be highlighted (and they should be). When series such as The Witcher and Mass Effect—as far from “edgy” as one could possibly get—are more open about sexuality, there is clearly a problem. I also think Rockstar should give players the option of making the lead character straight, gay, bisexual, or asexual depending on which romanceable characters they decide to approach. It would not take much to add back the dating system from earlier incarnations.
Allies and Enemies: I want a dog. And yes, it is important enough to deserve its own section! Jokes aside, I would love to see a return of notable characters from Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Or if not a return, Easter eggs would be nice (for example, a brief mention of President Donald Love on the evening news).