The hype around ‘Grand Theft Auto VI,’ explained

OPINION: Rockstar Games drops the first official look at the newest"Grand Theft Auto" game in 10 years after a trailer was leaked on social media.

Scene from the "Grand Theft Auto VI" trailer (Rockstar Games via YouTube)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Christmas came early for gamers all over the world on Monday evening when Rockstar Games finally released the first official look at “Grand Theft Auto VI” after it was leaked on social media. While the trailer showed very little in the way of gameplay, it confirmed that the series would make its return to the fan-favorite locale of Vice City. Whether you’ve spent thousands in Shark Cards on “GTA Online” or are simply curious about the hype, we’re here to explain everything you need to know about “GTA VI.” 

What is “Grand Theft Auto”? 

Seriously? You don’t know? Oh wow, OK. Well! “Grand Theft Auto” is a long-running series developed and published by Rockstar Games. The first entry was released in 1997 on the original PlayStation. While the first two games were well received, it wouldn’t be until 2001’s “Grand Theft Auto III” that the series would become the cultural powerhouse it is today. The series is credited with launching the open-world game and introducing a more cinematic approach to video game storytelling. Rockstar essentially created the blueprint for the modern games industry as we know it. 

The games generally put you in the shoes of a criminal looking to get rich, get revenge or some combination of the two. One of the more notable aspects of the series was its ability to attract high-profile, Hollywood actors like Ray Liotta and Samuel L. Jackson to voice in-game characters.

How long has it been since “GTA V”?

“Grand Theft Auto V” was originally released on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on Sept. 17, 2013. 

10 years!? Why Did it take so long?

Folks just kept buying the game. “Grand Theft Auto V” has been rereleased on Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, as well as the PlayStation 4 and 5. As of last month, “GTA V” has sold around 190 million copies over its lifetime. These sales were largely bolstered by the massively popular “Grand Theft Auto Online. While rough at launch, “GTA Online” has become a self-contained world filled with a variety of activities, missions and events. Rockstar’s parent company, Take-Two Interactive, reportedly made over $500 million last year through “GTA Online’s” in-game transactions. When you’re raking in that kind of money 10 years after a game’s release, you can afford to take some time between releases.

Additionally, Rockstar released the masterful “Red Dead Redemption 2” in 2018, which was largely developed by the same team responsible for the “Grand Theft Auto” series.

Is this the first time people have seen “GTA VI”? 

Officially, yes. Unofficially, no. Last September, 90 videos leaked showing footage of the game in early development. While trolls and uninformed gamers were critical of the footage because it looked like a work in progress (which it was/is), the reception was generally positive with many excited at the prospect of the dual protagonist structure and return to Vice City. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the last time “GTA VI” was hit with a leak. The trailer was originally supposed to drop on Tuesday, but after being leaked on social media Rockstar released it officially on Monday evening. 

What is “GTA VI” about? 

That’s not entirely clear at this point. The 90-second trailer was more about establishing a vibe than going deep into the story. We do get glimpses of the game’s protagonists, Jason and Lucia, who seem to be the millennial equivalent of Bonnie and Clyde. Notably, Thai will be the first time the series will feature a female protagonist.

Given how America has gone thoroughly through the looking glass in the decade since GTA V, I was curious if GTA VI would continue the franchise’s satirical take on American Culture. Knowing that the game would take place in Vice City, I was also curious if it would take place in the present day or continue in the 80s setting of the prior Vice City games. After seeing gators in convenience stores, twerking on moving cars, and what appears to be mud pit wrestling, it appears GTA’s warped take on America remains thoroughly intact. 

Scene from the “Grand Theft Auto VI” trailer (Rockstar Games via YouTube)

Throughout the trailer, we’re shown multiple clips that appear to be live-streamed confirming the current day setting. Quite a few of the livestream clips have branded logos and showcase what could be factions and potentially fun side missions. I’m truly hoping that the dude going through a table means backyard wrestling is a side activity in GTA VI. 

What’s Vice City? 

The Grand Theft Auto series has largely taken place in three locales. Liberty City, a stand-in for New York, Los Santos, a stand-in for Los Angeles, and Vice City, a stand-in for Miami. Vice City was first introduced in 2002’s Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. GTA: Vice City has long been a fan favorite in the series with its phenomenal soundtrack, memorable characters, and neon-soaked take on the cocaine 80s. This was my first GTA game as a kiddo and it still holds a place in my heart. The setting was last seen 17 years ago in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. 

Suffice to say, fans have long been clamoring for a return to Vice City. 

When does it come out? 

The trailer didn’t give an official date, simply stating that the game will be released in 2025. Given that this is the modern games industry and release dates get delayed all the time, it’s still up in the air on whether or not it’ll make that date. 

Where should I start if I’ve never played a “GTA” game? 

Your best bet is “Grand Theft Auto V. While “GTA Online” can be daunting to get into at this point, the single-player “GTA V” is probably the best game in the series you can play on modern-day consoles. Unfortunately, you’re unable to purchase the original “GTA Vice City” on modern consoles. There is the “GTA Trilogy: Definitive Edition, but that game is so riddled with bugs and graphical shortcomings even after patches that you’re better off just finding an old PS2 copy of the game. 

Anything else I need to know? 

Not that I can think of! 

Fan reception to the initial trailer has been overwhelmingly positive, with many looking forward to a return to Vice City and the GTA series overall. While there are still potentially two years until the game’s release, that gives you plenty of time to revisit some of your favorite games in the series or experience it for the first time.

Joe Jurado is a writer, filmmaker and occasional content creator whose work has been featured in The New York Times, The Root and G4. When not writing he’s either hanging out with his dog or ruining someone’s day in “Call of Duty.”

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