Few things have the same potential to set the World Wide Webs on fire as the first trailer for the next installment of Grand Theft Auto. Surrounded with an unpleasant, unplanned and premature… premiere. Resultant of a leak, Rockstar decided to precipitate the event by as much as 15 hours. If someone caught it, and a few million people did, they saw a sudden rupture of updates across social feeds and gaming media headlines showing the exact same image at the very same instance! YouTube links or title images appeared everywhere, promoting the first trailer of GTA VI. Something to retell to our grandkids ;)
I remember two previous original trailers for GTA V and GTA IV, and both were based on the same premise – showing the city, rather than the story or gameplay. Somewhere in the background, there was, of course, some introduction to the protagonist(s) – and that was it. The rest were all scenes depicting the life of the city tissue; landmarks and the locals. So, I expected the same thing, and wasn't wrong – the trailer for GTA 6 consists mainly of snapshots of Vice City, to which we're making a huge return after a whole 19 years – if we're counting from GTA: Vice City Stories; counting from the introduction of Tommy Vercetti, it’s been a whole 23 years. All this (arguably deserved) "Rockstar-rules" hype aside, let's take a closer, cooler look at the trailer – although still fresh, because it's barely been a day since "Grand Theft Auto VI Trailer 1" dropped.
Cars be going 40mph on Series S?
My first though was that GTA 6 still looked like... an ordinary game? Just the usual scenes that have been shown in games for years, without attempted photorealism, without noticeable photogrammetry, ultra-realistic lighting and textures. The cars, in particular, looked surprisingly unremarkable, resembling the original GTA 5 on Xbox 360, rather than matching current standards. Of course, these could be placeholders that will be replaced with better models later – after all, we're still well over a year away from the release, and the game just might be upgraded for next-gen consoles. However, there's likely a different reason.
To me, it seems that Rockstar’s primarily making a game that's supposed to do one thing more than everything: run smooth like butter, as opposed to f-ing sandpaper (to paraphrase Cyberpunk 2077’s Jackie Wells) on current-gen consoles. It doesn't try to match the quality preferred by advanced PC modders nor tries to become the new Crisis (which, for memory, used to fry computers way back in ‘07).
The vastness of GTA 6’s Vice City is going to grace, and perhaps challenge, the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S first. In addition, the series seems to have regained its own style and the new installment looks similar to the classics in these terms. And don’t get me wrong – it doesn't look bad or outdated in general terms. You can see a huge improvement in the amount of detail in a single scene, the number of NPCs and what’s generally happening in the frame at the same time. The creators clearly boast about more detailed shapes of the human body and, as a result, a greater diversity of Vice City’s inhabitants.
And this diversity translates, again, to showing us a skewed image of the US of A, of course very typically for a GTA. In ninety seconds, we saw almost the full spectrum of the American everyday: police chases, gangs and subcultures, hammered party-people, the rich, the poor, the lunatics, the fat, the slim and the shady – of all walks of life; the glitz of Ocean Drive and the murkiness of Everglades swamps (which will probably be called differently); flamingos and beachgoers in various proportions: Miami, Florida, Vice City – in all its glory!
Very interestingly, in-game social media might play a big part of the GTA 6 experience. The heroes of GTA have been using mobile phones since times immortal, and now everything shows that Rockstar's version of TikTok could be pretty big.
So yeah, a functional TikTok might be coming to Grand Theft Auto – it's really gonna be interesting.
How can you not like Lucia...
Finally, we have to mention the main characters. The rumors that we would control a girl for the first time in the series have been confirmed! From a few short clips, we learned that her name is Lucia, she's a Latina and she already has a rich history, including time served. She won't be working alone either – she has a companion, whose name is TBA for now, and their joint achievements will harken back to Bonnie and Clyde, or Pulp Fiction’s Pumpkin and Honey Bunny.
In any case, the heroine seems to be a very Rockstar for now. She isn't really controversial, but like all the main thugs from GTA, she rather caused... sympathy and curiosity. These few words and frames in which we see her are actually the only traces of story in the trailer and they quite effectively make us wait impatiently for more details. Rockstar are indeed masters of characters creation, so I have no doubt that we will remember and discuss Lucia long, long after the game's release. In the trailer, there were probably a few more secondary characters, but we will find out about that later.
How about a revolution in the simulation of a bustling city?
It's no secret that practically everyone's waiting for GTA 6. Am I looking forward to it even more after watching the trailer? Am I more hyped? Well, not really. I am now convinced that it's not going to be a graphical revolution, but perhaps a new quality in the creation of a large, bustling city, where crowds of NPC passers-by will often surprise us with crazy, unexpected behavior. I know for sure that we will get a high-quality story and characters that I’ll remember for a long time. Will it be a better or worse than GTA: Vice City, San Andreas, GTA 4, etc? We will find out about this in about two years. If there are no delays... :)
Darius Matusiak | Gamepressure.com