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Top 5 things Rockstar can do to improve GTA 6 story mode

Rockstar has never been one to shy away from experimenting with its GTA offerings (Image via Rockstar Games)
Rockstar has never been one to shy away from experimenting with its GTA offerings (Image via Rockstar Games)
Rahul Bhushan

Single-player games have been at the forefront of pushing the medium forward in terms of ambitious storytelling, and GTA seems to have always led the charge. Very few games have been as successful while being as creatively risky and ambitious as the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

Rockstar Games has, time and time again, displayed a complete lack of complacency regarding quality in the franchise. Instead, the company chooses to proactively rattle the cage and reinvent core mechanics and pillars of game design to put out titles that feel fresh.

Whether it is adopting a darker tone for GTA 4 or introducing multiple protagonists for GTA 5, Rockstar has never been one to shy away from experimenting. Here's a look at some ambitious elements that the publisher can include in the highly anticipated sequel, GTA 6, to improve story mode.


How can Rockstar improve the story mode in a future GTA sequel?

#1 - Branching narratives

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Branching narratives are all the rage, not just in RPGs but also in other more casual action-adventure titles. Essentially, this refers to the game's story having multiple narratives and "branches" that a player might get started on depending on their choices.

This allows them to have a far more visceral experience instead of being spectators to a fairly linear experience with no choice. GTA 5, for example, included some semblance of a branching narrative with there being three possible endings available at the end.

This creates an opportunity for multiple replays, as each time, players could have a vastly different experience than the last one.


#2 - Player choice

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In tandem with the previous point, the player choice always seems to be an issue that Rockstar struggles with. In most of its open-world titles, including GTA, player choice is restricted to a binary decision that will ultimately only affect the ending somehow.

GTA 4 and 5 included some of these with regards to character deaths and the ending, but not much more. Players to be active participants in the game's story and make vital calls during the game.

The increased player agency comes with its own set of challenges, but if anyone can figure it out, it's probably Rockstar.


#3 - Freedom to experiment during missions

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GTA always seems to be a game of two halves, with one being a fairly linear experience (during story missions), while the other is a chaotic, fully explorable open-world. The two never seem to overlap as there is a specific path to be followed during the story mission.

Any deviation instantly leads to a mission failure, which can be frustrating and often feel at odds with the core game design. During the story, the restrictions placed on players feel both jarring and unbecoming of what GTA should ideally represent.


#4 - Fully customizable protagonist

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As with most things that deal with player agency, a fully customizable protagonist comes with its own set of challenges. While some feel that this reduces the amount of characterization or backstory to the protagonist, it is still a solvable issue.

Games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Mass Effect have showcased that fully customizable protagonists can still have plenty of personality. Allowing players to craft their protagonist increases the level of immersion several times over.


#5 - Consequences to the player's actions

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While this certainly has the chance to be detrimental to the experience, it could also add a level of fun and challenge to it. For the most part, the player's actions outside of the missions seem to have no consequence on the story or their personality.

For instance, Michael, a character trying to lay low and avoid the scrutiny of the law, could gain a 5-Star Wanted Level and lead the entire state on a chase. This feels at odds with the character and the story, and there needs to be some sort of consequences.

Whether that means the character's personality and options changing over time or warding off certain activities is a possibility that Rockstar should explore. For instance, getting a Wanted Level right before a heist should put a cooldown timer on the latter.

Note: This article reflects the author's views.


Edited by Ravi Iyer

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