Update: GTA V has been officially announced by Rockstar, with a trailer set to debut on November 2. Earlier in the year we thought about what we want to see in the game. Will our wishes come true?
It's been a little over three years since the release of Grand Theft Auto 4, and with an official announcement for the next game rumoured for this summer, it surely won't be long before hard details surface. Here are our thoughts on what we want from the new game.
A new kind of playground
"We'll think of a city first, then the characters," said Rockstar vice president Sam Houser, speaking during a rare interview with the Times, back in 2009. Wherever a GTA game happens to be set, the city itself always feels like a principal character. This being the case, where do we want GTA 5 to unfold?
For us, the simple answer is "a new flavour of open world". Initial rumours, spurred on by imagery in the manual to Episodes from Liberty City, suggested that the next Grand Theft Auto might take us to Europe. At the time that was a hugely exciting proposition, but more recent evidence points towards a return to Los Angeles. It seems strange to think that Rockstar would go back to the city so soon after LA Noire, but bear in mind that it takes a while to make these games, and Team Bondi was originally due to finish its work in 2008. In any case, that casting call story looks pretty solid.
As it goes, a return to San Andreas would probably be welcomed by a lot of gamers, as it's clearly the most popular of the last-gen trilogy. Besides, there's an argument that GTA might suffer in a non-US setting, since satirical jabs at US culture have long been the backbone of the game's tone. Is there really enough to take the piss out of in Europe? Perhaps for other Europeans there is, but what this game needs is jokes that translate worldwide. Even if you've never been to the States, you're likely to be familiar with the people and things lampooned by GTA 4 - and that's why the satire works so well.
Regardless of where the game is ultimately set, what we want is something new in terms of the sandbox experience. GTA 3 set the model for 3D entries in the series, Vice City added empire building and a better story, and San Andreas... well, it went a bit mental with all the things you could do.
Rockstar doesn't have to reinvent the wheel with GTA 5, but it needs something to make it stand out as a subtly different experience to its predecessors. Ezio's villa and the restoration of Rome allowed the last two Assassin's Creeds to build a direct link between player input and the world you inhabit. Could GTA 5 do something similar?