Ten years ago, Grand Theft Auto V launched. Ten years, and all we know at the time of writing about a sequel comes from leaks and a trailer announcement for next month. That’s a lot of time to go off on. Since then, children have been born, degrees earned, careers built. And yet the dream of a new Grand Theft Auto has been kept alive all this time.
This time the hype may be too much for even Rockstar to handle. There were great expectations leading up to the launch of Grand Theft Auto V, but we had only waited five years by then, even shorter considering we got expansions for Grand Theft Auto IV in The Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and the Damned. Since the launch of Grand Theft Auto V, we’ve only had online updates, and even if they contain a lot of content, it’s not the same as Rockstar’s consistently clever satire of the American dream.
We’ve seen dangerous hype before, as gamers expect the Second Coming of Christ with every title that takes a while to release. Cyberpunk 2077, Starfield and more are all great games that look worse thanks to their own marketing and fans’ belief that this game will be something transcendent. The same goes for Grand Theft Auto VI. Even if Rockstar tries to suppress this hype, it’s just been too long, and Grand Theft Auto is just too big of a deal for people not to believe that this game will be the game, making the developers the almost impossible task of living up to that hype.
I say almost impossible because I believe it can be done. There is a reason why Grand Theft Auto V continues to sell millions of copies, why Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the tightest stories in gaming of all time, and that reason is Rockstar’s quality. The open worlds we’ve explored, the characters we’ve come to know and the gameplay that never fails to feel boring, even when most of the main missions consist of going to the place and shooting men, all form a winning formula that will keep fans happy. Add in some improved graphics, fun cars and more and that’s all Grand Theft Auto VI needs to do to present itself as a successor to the game that has dominated the industry for the past decade.
Whatever happens, there will be people who want something more, believe that the game can offer something more. It is important to remember that for our own good, we cannot let hype affect us too much. We have all been guilty of it, but Grand Theft Auto VI will be another Grand Theft Auto game. Don’t expect to see the face of god when the setup is complete. We get a fun story, plenty of explosions and chases alongside a world that feels lived-in. If you expect much more than that, be prepared to feel a little disappointed. It’s hard to weigh expectations before even seeing a trailer, but to avoid ending up like a toxic Twitter bot, it’s best to keep the hype under control.
We also get our first female protagonist in a mainline Grand Theft Auto game in Grand Theft Auto VI, which has set off alarm bells for some. Rockstar has created incredibly solid female characters before (Sadie Adler stands out as a prime example), but there are concerns from a few different groups about how this will be handled. The insane people of the Internet believe we are “waking up” to this decision, while the more legitimate concerns wonder if this will be a fair representation of a woman. Regardless, Rockstar has a reputation for writing its stories and characters better than most, and so if we are stuck with a female protagonist similar to those in the Assassin’s Creed games, it would feel like more could have been done.
So, can Grand Theft Auto VI live up to the hype? It has ten years of work to do, and fans will expect nothing less than real improvements in many mechanics. Fortunately, Grand Theft Auto V has left a great foundation, but even if Rockstar succeeds in every way, some will complain that the game doesn’t bring their beloved childhood pet back to life. Hopefully the game can show us more of what we will actually see sooner rather than later, as the leaks have led some to believe that it will not be able to live up to expectations, while the final product will almost certainly do much better.