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12 things we want in GTA 6

If you've seen everything that Los Santos has to offer and are jonesing for more, we've got some bad news: Grand Theft Auto 6 is still a long ways away. Rumors suggest that the next entry in Rockstar Games' open-world crime simulator won't hit until sometime in the early 2020s. That makes sense. With Grand Theft Auto 5 still selling like hotcakes, Red Dead Redemption 2 fresh on the market, and Grand Theft Auto Online making a figurative killing, Rockstar doesn't need to release Grand Theft Auto 6 any time soon.

But maybe that's a good thing. Grand Theft Auto is great, but at a fundamental level, every 3D entry in the series has been more or less the same. With Grand Theft Auto 6, Rockstar has the chance to reinvent up its flagship franchise. The following features could breath new life into the two-decade-old series, and now Rockstar has the time to make them a reality. It would take a lot of work, but Grand Theft Auto 6 could be the biggest and best game in GTA history. Here's how.

The future is female

What do Tommy Vercetti, Carl Johnson, Niko Bellic, and Trevor Phillips all have in common? They're all stars of various Grand Theft Auto games, and they're all dudes. While Grand Theft Auto has blessed fans with some of the most depraved and memorable antiheroes in gaming history, the series hasn't featured a female main character since Grand Theft Auto 2 came out on the Game Boy Color (you can make female characters in GTA Online, but that's not part of the story-based campaign). Even worse, Candy and Gretchen aren't actually any different from the other members of the Grand Theft Auto 2 roster.

In other words, a female Grand Theft Auto hero — a real one, with her own backstory, personality, and wants and needs — is well past due. Not that we're surprised that it's taken this long. It's been 20 years since GTA's Game Boy outing, and yet Grand Theft Auto still treats women like sex objects, obstacles, and punchlines.

A female protagonist could go a long way towards righting those wrongs, and besides, Grand Theft Auto takes place in a macho, testosterone-soaked world. A woman hero wouldn't just be a nice change of pace. It'd give Rockstar the opportunity to tap into a whole new vein of satire, too. C'mon, Rockstar. It's been long enough. Give the people what they want.

Please, no more trips around the old block

When Grand Theft Auto 4 ushered the series into the HD-era, it made sense to return to Liberty City to show off how much had changed. Similarly, many fans have many fond memories of cruising around San Andreas in the game of the same name, and Hollywood culture is one of Grand Theft Auto's oldest and most beloved satirical targets, so it's hard to blame Rockstar for bringing Los Santos back for an encore outing.

You know what, though? As stunning and immersive as both of those locations are, we've seen them before. It's hard not to feel like Grand Theft Auto is starting to spin its wheels. That's why, while rumors suggest that GTA 6 might be heading back to Vice City, we'd prefer that the upcoming sequel take us somewhere new.

Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser has ruled out a non-US-based location like a city based on London. "GTA is America," he tells The Guardian. But America is a big place, and it has plenty of cities to choose from. Chicago, with its history of organized crime and corruption, seems like it'd be a perfect fit for GTA. Washington, DC would let Rockstar really dig its teeth into politics' seedy underbelly. Boston, San Francisco, and many others would also make excellent playgrounds. Honestly, as long as we haven't seen it all before, we'll be very happy indeed.

Single players deserve love, too

You've probably heard the story: before Grand Theft Auto 5 came out, Rockstar promised that it'd receive some story-based single-player expansions that would bring more mayhem and more plot to Los Santos' topsy-turvy world. Then, life got in the way. Between preparing Grand Theft Auto 5's next-gen ports, dealing with Red Dead Redemption 2's ever-increasing scope, and maintaining the juggernaut that Grand Theft Auto Online became, Rockstar's staff simply didn't have the time to check back in with Trevor, Michael, Franklin, and the rest.

Now, Grand Theft Auto Online did receive a few story-heavy updates, like 2017's big Doomsday Heist event, which is great for people who don't mind playing with others. Those of us who prefer Grand Theft Auto as a solo experience, however, are just plain out of luck. Grand Theft Auto 4's two expansions, The Lost and Damned and (especially) The Ballad of Gay Tony, were arguably even better than GTA 4's main campaign. Missing out on more adventures like those still stings.

Given just how much money Grand Theft Auto Online makes — spoiler: it's a lot — we'd expect Rockstar to put GTA 6's online mode first when it comes to updates, but that doesn't mean that the studio can't throw more anti-social fans a bone. Online may be where the money is at, but it's single players who made Grand Theft Auto what it is today.

Make mods, not war

Look, mods are great. You want to fly around Los Santos in an Iron Man suit? You can. Dream of channelling your inner Khaleesi and taking to the sky on top of a dragon? Go right ahead. With mods, you can turn planes into mechanical monsters, turn Los Santos into Atlantis 2.0, transform the game into a Dragonball Z simulator, and much more.

Rockstar has a weird relationship with the members of the mod community, however. And by "weird," we mean openly hostile. Now, we understand why Rockstar would want to keep Grand Theft Auto Online mod-free. Not only does GTA Online bring in tons of cash via microtransactions, but it's got a substantial competitive element. Cheating and griefing other players is a big no-no. Single-player mods, on the other hand, aren't hurting anyone. In fact, since Rockstar isn't producing any more single-player content on its own, mods are the only way to keep Grand Theft Auto 5's offline mode fresh and relevant once the campaign is over.

With GTA 6, we'd prefer it if Rockstar gave the modding community its due with official support. Access to game assets would give fans plenty of ways to make the Grand Theft Auto bigger and crazier than ever, while a dedicated modding channel would make regulating things a whole lot easier on Rockstar's end. Will this actually happen? Given Rockstar's history, probably not, but it sure would be nice to see.

Let's make a deal

As far as Grand Theft Auto goes, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is an anomaly, and no, not because it's an M-rated game on a console that has very, very few of them. Despite the Grand Theft Auto branding, Chinatown Wars flopped, and it flopped hard. That's a huge bummer. Not only was Chinatown Wars a compelling throwback to Grand Theft Auto's top-down 2D roots, but its controversial drug-dealing minigame was an absolute blast (not to mention an easy and fun way to score a bunch of in-game cash).

In Chinatown Wars, different sections of Liberty City have different drug supplies, with prices that match accordingly. Narcotics that are easy to find sell for cheap. Rare ones are expensive, and once you've got the lay of the land, you can use that to your advantage. By picking up product in neighborhoods where it's plentiful and unloading it in places where it's high in demand, you can build a one-man drug empire.

It's a system that'd translate well to a mainstream Grand Theft Auto game. After all, the drug-dealing minigame combines open-world exploration, driving, and characters with colorful personalities. That's Grand Theft Auto in a nutshell, and if Rockstar wants to use GTA 6 to introduce the sadly overlooked minigame to a wider audience, we certainly won't complain.

Gunplay that's a hit, not a miss

Grand Theft Auto games have all sorts of side activities, but when it comes down to it, you're going to spend most of your time driving cars and shooting things. Thankfully, GTA's driving system is solid. Its guns, on the other hand? They could be better. A whole lot better.

Use the lock-on targeting and gunfights quickly start to feel like Whack-a-Mole with all of the fun sucked out. Turn it off and you'll quickly find yourself riddled with bullets as you struggle to cope with the sluggish controls and odd aiming quirks. It's baffling: Rockstar makes games about shooting stuff, but after two decades still can't manage to make shooting things fun (Red Dead Redemption 2 has the same problem, although at least that game has the Dead Eye system to keep things tolerable). C'mon, guys. You made Max Payne 3. You should know better.

Grand Theft Auto's gunplay isn't just quirky, it's antiquated; and given how far the rest of the series has come, it stands out like a sore thumb. Grand Theft Auto 6 should bring a complete combat overhaul along with it. At this point, anything less simply won't do.

Two's company, three's a crowd, and 32 just isn't enough

Los Santos is huge. Grand Theft Auto Online's max player count is not. If you have an original Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 version of Grand Theft Auto 5, your multiplayer sessions are limited to a paltry 16 players. The enhanced editions double that number, but make two players into mere spectators. As a result, you can play entire Grand Theft Auto Online sessions without ever actually running into another player, which defeats the whole purpose of playing online.

Now, there are two ways to solve that problem. Rockstar could make the Grand Theft Auto 6 map smaller, or it could let more players join multiplayer matches. Given that the former probably won't happen, the latter seems like the way to go. The technology is there. Battlefield 5 lets 64 players fight it out a time. In Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, 100-player battles are the norm, and those are two of the biggest games on the planet. They must be doing something right.

Now, in many games, small and intimate match-ups are probably better than large-scale free-for-alls — but Grand Theft Auto isn't "many games." GTA thrives on chaos. You want to make things really crazy? Open the floodgates and let dozens and dozens of people play at once. Trust us, madness will ensue — and it will be glorious.

See how the other half lives

Technically, Grand Theft Auto 6 doesn't need to let fans play as police officers. Whether they're supposed to or not, they've already been doing so for years. While Grand Theft Auto 5's main campaign keeps players strictly on the wrong side of the law, Grand Theft Auto Online has become a haven for anyone who wants to put on a uniform, hop behind a police cruiser, and roleplay, make COPS-like reality shows, and even mod the game to support their law-and-order fantasies.

On the other hand, there's clearly a willing and passionate audience out there, so Rockstar might as well go ahead and include cop play as an actual feature. Besides, Grand Theft Auto has been making us criminals for over 20 years. Getting to see how the other half lives wouldn't just be a nice change of pace, it could drastically shake up GTA's reliable but increasingly familiar formula, and offer all kinds of new ways to enjoy Rockstar's detailed open worlds.

Oh, and if you're worried that focusing on the men and women in blue might dull Grand Theft Auto's unsavory edge, don't be: American police departments have a long history of corruption and violence. If commiting crimes is your jam, you'll still do just fine.

A payoff worthy of all the mystery

For years, a subset of Grand Theft Auto 5 players obsessed over the Mount Chiliad mystery. A mural adorned with a UFO, an egg, and a jetpack started the trend, and online communities devoted to unraveling the mountain's secrets quickly popped up. Tech-savvy sleuths started digging through Grand Theft Auto 5's code, discovering new clues, hidden secrets, and even special missions.

Eventually, they found the UFOs. They dug up the alien eggs. The jetpack, however, remained elusive. Then, the Doomsday Heist update appeared. The series of Grand Theft Auto Online missions seemed poised to answer all of players' questions. It didn't. Many dangling plot threads remained unresolved. Oh, the jetpack appeared, but it wasn't all that fun to use, and it wasn't a reward for uncovering Mount Chiliad's secrets, like many had assumed. You could just head to the shop and buy one — for $3 million of in-game cash.

By this point, it's become clear that Rockstar didn't have any kind of grand plan in place, and that any clues it doled out to its audience didn't add up to anything. It didn't have to be that way. The Mount Chiliad conspiracy proves that secrets are a great way to keep players engaged (see also: Fortnite and it's ongoing plotlines), and we'd love to see Rockstar embrace that with a Grand Theft Auto 6 mystery that pays off in a satisfying way. If players are going to work hard, reward them. They've earned it.

Make GTA virtually real

Is virtual reality still a niche market? Absolutely. Would a fully-featured Grand Theft Auto game be incredibly difficult to implement in VR? For sure. Would it make a certain subset of the audience vomit like crazy? Get your apron and galoshes ready.

But there's no denying that a completely realized virtual reality-friendly Grand Theft Auto game would be extremely cool for anyone lucky enough to have the hardware to run it. After all, Grand Theft Auto 5's first-person mode already proved how much more immersive GTA can be after a simple shift in perspective. Actually surrounding yourself with a digital city to wreak havoc in would push things even further.

In fact, if Rockstar isn't sure that a VR-enabled Grand Theft Auto 6 is a viable idea, it needs to look no further than the modding community. There are already a few fan-made add-ons out there that bring virtual reality to Los Santos, and you know what? It works surprisingly well. Now, GTA 5 wasn't built for VR, and some parts of the game don't quite hold up, but remember: these are amateur efforts. If Rockstar devotes its considerable resources towards making the next Grand Theft Auto VR-friendly, we're sure that they can come up with something even better — and we can't wait to try it.

Missions that are fun, not torture, to play

Grand Theft Auto has always pushed boundaries. Usually, however, GTA couches its most unsavory elements in satire or humor. For the most part, characters act and behave like cartoons, so it's fine to treat them as such. Missions like "Friend Request" end in extreme violence, but that usually follows something more nuanced — in this case, a pitch-perfect parody of Silicon Valley culture. Franklin's paparazzo missions, which have you snapping photos of celebrities doing drugs and bumping uglies, aren't in particularly good taste, but at least they have something to say about fame and tabloid culture.

But believe it or not, there is a line. Sometimes, Grand Theft Auto crosses it. GTA 5's "By the Book" obliterates it entirely. In the mission, Trevor Phillips tortures an FIB source in an interactive minigame. The better you are at torture, the higher your end score. "By the Book" is gruesomely violent, uncharacteristically realistic, and worst of all, doesn't add anything to the game's narrative or themes.

Satire makes a point. "By the Book" doesn't. It's just gross for the sake of being gross, and it's unpleasant enough that many players try to skip it. Some give up on the campaign entirely. Look, we're not squeamish. When we play Grand Theft Auto, we know what we're getting into. We're just asking Rockstar to stick to what it does best — ridiculous, over-the-top chaos — instead of sacrificing fun for cheap shocks. In the long run, the game will be better for it.

Play how you want, where you want, with who you want, on what you want

Grand Theft Auto is one of the biggest franchises in gaming. That means that millions and millions of people want to play it, and with Grand Theft Auto 6, we think that Rockstar should let them. All of them, no matter which platform they happen to play on.

That means releasing GTA 6 on the Nintendo Switch. That means letting PC users join in the fun on launch day, and not over a year later. It means embracing cross-platform multiplayer, so that Grand Theft Auto Online players can team up with friends no matter where their brand loyalty lies. And yes, that means going where the players are and releasing a mobile edition of GTA 6 that's on par with its console and PC siblings.

We're not advocating for a stripped-down version of Grand Theft Auto made specifically for phones and tablets, a la Diablo Immortal or Command and Conquer: Rivals. Nothing less than a fully-featured port will do, a la Fortnite and PUBG. Worried that your phone can't handle GTA 6's technical demands? Well, not only is the next Grand Theft Auto adventure still years away, but streaming services like Google's Project Stream have tons of potential, especially with 5G networks lurking just around the corner. By the time that GTA 6 rolls around, the tech should be ready. The big question is, will Rockstar be, too?