Gaming writer Gerard Thornton shares his thoughts on what the GTA series’ next steps should be.
Grand Theft Auto V has been out long enough now that I feel we should all be turning our attention to what the next GTA focus should be. I’m not saying I want it to be out tomorrow, or next month, or even next year, I just want to see people start talking about it and throwing ideas around. More than likely, Rockstar Games won’t listen to fan ideas and will just make the games they want to make, which is fair enough because they’re great- but I’d like to think they take some things into account.
Grand Theft Auto has explored multiple eras so far: We’ve seen the 60’s in the expansion packs that came with the very first GTA, the 80’s with Vice City, the 90’s with San Andreas and the 00’s/10’s thanks to GTA IV & V. Anyone notice a massive gap in there? The 70’s! How there hasn’t been a GTA game in the 70’s is insane to me. Think of the films of the time, the music, the fashion, just American culture in general. There is a plethora of ideas in my mind regarding this time but I’ve settled on one solid idea which I’ll get to.
San Francisco or in GTA canon- SAN FIERRO. Rockstar made an awesome version of San Fran in San Andreas called San Fierro where you could speed up and down those city slopes feeling like Steve McQueen in the 1968 classic ‘Bullitt’. San Fierro was one of three areas in that game though so they couldn’t really go into detail with a lot of things. They’ve already remade Los Santos in V and Liberty City in IV so I think the next ideal step would be to make a fleshed-out, fully realized San Fierro. The city would be full of colorful gangsters, hippies, musicians and porn stars, which was pretty much 70’s San Francisco anyway.
I want it to be set in 1970’s San Fierro. Films like ‘Serpico’, ‘Dirty Harry’ and the aforementioned ‘Bullitt’ have given me ideas to the kind of story and game play such a setting would thrive on. I’d want it to be a gritty game, full of hard choices and twists. That may sound more RPG like than GTA is geared towards but bear with me. You play as a cop- let’s call you Donnie Diamanti- and you grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in San Fierro. You rise from the slums and become a detective in the San Fierro Police Department. A gang of cops get gunned down in your old stomping ground and it’s up to you to find out who the culprits are and who really runs San Fierro. You would go undercover and get deep into the underbelly of San Fierro, joining the shady cliques and finding out which mob boss likes his pigs filled with holes.
The hard choices I referred to should be presented at the start or ending of every story point. I want the city and its people to change towards you, depending on what you do. I want these choices to mix together and give a satisfying ending where you can’t just look up and follow a game guide in order to get a specific ending. They should be hard-hitting and fair depending on how you play.
One of the big choices I think a game like this would benefit from would be to ask some serious loyalty questions of the player. The player’s mind should always be thinking about staying loyal to the cops or staying loyal to the thugs he grew up with. There should be quite a few breaking points in the story where your cover could get blown and it’s up to you to figure a way out. Putting the added pressure on like that would ensure we feel like Al Pacino in ‘Serpico’ and not just some geezer playing at cops and robbers.
Personally I’ve always wanted to be like a Dirty Harry, chasing after perps in rainy San Fran in my muscle car with my magnum while asking them if they felt lucky; I want this game to let players do that.Be that good, honest cop who gets the dirty jobs done or be the dirty cop out for yourself. There’s never been a lot of choice in GTA games- I can only think of the endings of GTA IV and GTA V really, so I think this is the perfect time to go full on into it. Rockstar has always taken risks and it’s time they do it again.
Grand Theft Auto is of course an open-world game and I want this one to be full of side activities and game world distractions; street races down the gnarly slopes of the city, gambling in Chinatown, gang wars, and a multiplayer mode similar to the magnitude of GTA V would ensure fans like me could play it for a long time. I also want them to give us great reasons to explore. An area rich in detail, littered with easter eggs and references would get the blood flowing for a film buff like myself. The ball’s well and firmly in your court, Rockstar, so give us something good once the Red Dead Redemption 2 press run is over.
As a footnote, I’d like to add that if they did decide to go 1970’s, think of the soundtrack! Zeppelin, Bowie, Queen, CCR, Sabbath, an incredible amount of great stuff came out then and Rockstar is wealthy enough to put at least a few of those fine artists into the game. I think I would die of happiness. Let’s hope the next GTA is a winner.
Words by Gerard Thornton