GTA 5 makes its debut on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One today, and that means only one thing: the Grand Theft Auto 6 hype train starts now!
Don't groan too much. It is years away from even debuting, but rest assured it will happen and after GTA 5 made $1 billion in three days, how could it not?
Grand Theft Auto 5 has been a monumental success and one of the biggest video games of all time, but beyond even trying to match that success developers Rockstar Games have to contend with the re-mastered beast they've just released on the current crop of next gen consoles.
The leap between GTA: San Andreas and GTA 4 was substantial, the leap between 4 and 5 was sizeable and now only a year on from 5 Rockstar have made a bigger leap still in bringing the game to PS4 and Xbox One – so what comes next?
Graphically there's little to worry about. It is still early days in this console cycle and full potential of these machines has yet to be realised – just think of the difference between a previous gen launch title like Perfect Dark Zero and then a tail-end game like Bioshock Infinite.
GTA 4 was set in Liberty City (the series' New York equivalent), GTA 5 in Los Santos and San Andreas (Los Angeles and California) which makes Vice City the next logical step. Of the trifecta of locations the series went during the PlayStation 2/Xbox trilogy that's the one left untouched.
Vice City is a fictional Miami, but doesn't fall in a fictional state like Los Santos does. Florida is a mental place as anyone who follows US news will know, so it's ripe for Rockstar's satirical gaze. Other locations untouched since that era include San Fiero (San Francisco) and Las Ventura (Las Vegas) which both featured in GTA San Andreas and could be expanded upon.
Another location Rockstar once took their crime sim to was London, but the series now is much more about ridiculing the United States and the American Dream, so it would be a big move for the franchise.
Which leaves the potential for a new locale within the US. Washington DC and Dallas being big, obvious examples.
The biggest addition to GTA 5 next gen is a first person mode, and it has proven quite popular. Players are now able to go from driving to shooting to texting on the fly and all in the first person perspective, without the loss of any detail.
It appears to be set-up for future applications at Rockstar, possibly in an FPS they're working on. Its success could mean a return in Grand Theft Auto 6, but of course there's no guarantee.
Rockstar have had difficulty applying role-playing elements to the GTA series. San Andreas had lots of it, and it went deep enough that your character could become severely obese (not much use in a police chase). While GTA 4 toned that down, 5 brought some of it back, allowing players to increase their stamina, driving, shooting and flying skills to name just a few.
In 5 these elements worked more naturally however, not directly affecting gameplay in any negative way, and that's probably the best use of them. GTA 6 would do well to include more of the same, but with additional methods to improve your attributes, such as sport.
Stamina in 5 could be built by playing sports like tennis and participating in triathlons. The mini-games included in the game were a big step up from GTA 4's bowling and darts, so an expansion there would be welcome.
The focus of Rockstar's future development for GTA 5 will be the online component introduced with 5 to much fan-fare. Upon release, however, huge server problems killed a lot of interest and GTA Online hasn't quite recovered. The next gen re-release will be seen as a do-over, and Rockstar will have high hopes.
Clearly Online is the start of something big for Rockstar, and their end-game could involve the entire series. Could GTA be heading into MMO territory?
As GTA Online has proven, these huge worlds of Rockstar's creation can be populated with multiple players (in the next gen version up to 30) while not losing much in terms of visuals - there is reduced traffic and wildlife, but little else.
If Rockstar could find a way to blend together its single player and multiplayer games, that could be huge. Throwing everyone in together would be chaos, but the measured use of online components – using elements of classic MMOs and recent console games like Destiny – could result in something special.
Imagine pulling off major heists with friends within GTA's story, or taking time out from your solo game to seamlessly enter a race or deathmatch against other players. There's potential in the idea, but it would take a lot of nuance and a lot of talent to get right.
Good thing we're talking about Rockstar then.
What would you like to see in Grand Theft Auto 6? Would a more cohesive single player and multiplayer world work? Where would you like the game to be set? Let us know in the comments below...