By this point, Rockstar Games has put it beyond any semblance of doubt as to why the GTA franchise has been important to the gaming industry. The franchise was responsible for bringing the open-world genre to the masses, which would go on to dominate the zeitgeist for decades.
In titles such as Red Dead Redemption II and GTA 5, Rockstar Games has showcased a level of expertise and craftsmanship regarding the open-world that is simply astounding.
Many studios have tried to capture the essence of Rockstar Games' open-world while none have been able to come close. That is not to say that GTA 5 or Red Dead Redemption are perfect games, but rather representative of how great open-world games can be.
With GTA 6, Rockstar will need to again set the standard for which every game will be measured against, which means a complete overhaul is in order.
5 key improvements to include in the open-world for GTA 6
#5 - More interiors
One of the biggest gripes that GTA players have often cited with regards to the otherwise fantastic open-world is the lack of more interior spaces.
Quite recently, Cyberpunk 2077 introduced a certain level of verticality in its open-world, with the map expanding on a vertical plane through the help of interiors.
Interiors provide a great way to add more life to the open-world and fill it with all sorts of details and designs that lend both to gameplay and story.
In GTA Online, Rockstar has done a fantastic job of opening up Los Santos and Blaine County with more interiors in the form of properties, businesses, residences, and more.
That means that Rockstar already has the groundwork for more interiors in a GTA title, so players can expect more interiors in the upcoming title.
#4 - Integration of the open-world with missions
Purists in the gaming community have often cited the disconnect between the open-world and the linear missions of the GTA game. Meaning, while the open world encourages players to explore and play in a non-linear fashion as well as come up with their own solutions to problems, the missions are far more linear and restrictive.
This ends up making the game almost feel like two separate games in one, with one side encouraging freedom and the other restricting it. Allowing players to have more agency with regards to missions in GTA is a prospect Rockstar should be looking into.
However, the appeal of the franchise has largely always been its accessible nature and how even non-gamers can find themselves enjoying the game. If any studio can manage to strike that balance between accessibility and innovation, it is Rockstar.
#3 - More side missions
In 2021, the case can be made that in most open-world games, such as Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin's Creed, or The Witcher, players spend most of their time completing side quests.
While containing the meat of the story, the main campaign can often fail to capture the complete essence of the game world. That is where side missions come in, as they help flesh out the game world and present different facets of it to the player.
These missions not just add more content, but they also help relay more ideas, introduce interesting gameplay elements, and so much more. Side missions are aplenty in GTA 5, but there is still a demand for more, and taking a cue from more recent titles can't hurt Rockstar.
#2 - Branching storylines and NPC interaction
GTA has often included a fair bit of player agency and choice, most famously in GTA 4 and the ending of 5. However, branching storylines hasn't been explored to its full extent in any GTA title.
What it essentially means is that the player, during the course of the game, can make certain choices or have interactions with key NPCs that could impact events later in the game.
For example, if the player chooses to save a certain NPC during a Random Event, they later play into the events of the game by becoming a key part of a mission. These kinds of branching storylines and choice systems have been explored to a great degree in Cyberpunk 2077 and even Assassin's Creed.
The GTA franchise is ripe for this kind of storytelling as the open-world lends itself to branching storylines.
#1 - Smaller, condensed map
Everyone loves a big map, and it is fun to zoom out and see the full extent of the game world and just how expansive it is. However, one also needs to consider how much of that map the average player gets to see during their time in the game.
Chances are, players, once done with the story, feel there is no further incentive to explore the corners of the map. This often leads to the map feeling a bit like a dressing instead of something that players can possibly hope to see entirely.
A smaller, denser map could mean a couple of things: more content around every corner and a chance for the player to see the map in its entirety. It allows the developer to fully utilize the available space and integrate each aspect of it with the main campaign.
A smaller map also means that the player isn't immediately overwhelmed by the amount of content that a huge one represents.