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What order should players play the GTA Trilogy in?

These three iconic games can be played in any order to be honest (Image via Rockstar Games)
These three iconic games can be played in any order to be honest (Image via Rockstar Games)

The GTA Trilogy has three great games, so players might wonder which one to play first.

It won't matter in the long run, but it's a fun discussion nonetheless. It would be impractical to play all three games simultaneously, so the player must prioritize one title as their first one. The three titles they have to choose from are:

  • Grand Theft Auto III
  • Grand Theft Auto Vice City
  • Grand Theft Auto San Andreas

There are several ways to categorize their order:

  • Chronological order based on lore
  • Chronological order based on release dates
  • Personal favorites

Deciding which order to play the GTA Trilogy in

Three great games, but which order to play them in? (Image via Rockstar Games)
Three great games, but which order to play them in? (Image via Rockstar Games)

Ultimately, the order in which to play the GTA Trilogy depends on a player's personal preference. If they're a stickler for the storyline, they should play the games based on when they occur in the timeline.

Nostalgic fans would likely play the games based on either their release date or play the personal favorite right away.

Chronological order based on lore

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If one wishes to play the three games in an order based on the year they're set in. It would be:

  • Grand Theft Auto Vice City (1986)
  • Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (1992)
  • Grand Theft Auto III (2001)

Certain events in one game are relevant for another. For example, playing GTA Vice City first would let players see how Phil Cassidy lost his arm. Likewise, they can see how Rosenberg was at the top of his game with Tommy Vercetti before plummeting to mediocrity in Las Venturas.

Grand Theft Auto lore isn't complex enough to force players to abide by playing it in this order, but it's something that some fans love to do regardless. It won't provide any in-game advantages, so it's strictly something one can do to understand the overarching story better.


Chronological order based on release dates

The order based on release date has the player play as Claude first and end with CJ (Image via Rockstar Games)
The order based on release date has the player play as Claude first and end with CJ (Image via Rockstar Games)

Playing the GTA Trilogy based on release dates is slightly different from the previous method:

  • Grand Theft Auto III (2001)
  • Grand Theft Auto Vice City (2002)
  • Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (2004)

One advantage of doing it in this order is that GTA San Andreas has the most features and feels the most complete as a game. Thus, the player saves it for last and proceeds to play the other two titles first.

If the player grew up playing all GTA Trilogy games as they came out, they might feel a similar feeling of nostalgia, reliving it the same way. It's a charming order for GTA 3 fans, as that's the game that will be most improved upon by the GTA Trilogy's enhancements.


Personal favorites

It's the player's game; they can play it in any order (Image via Rockstar Games)
It's the player's game; they can play it in any order (Image via Rockstar Games)

Of course, fans can play the GTA Trilogy in any order. If they wish to do:

  • Grand Theft Auto San Andreas
  • Grand Theft Auto III
  • Grand Theft Auto Vice City

Nothing is stopping them from doing so. Likewise, some players might not care about one or two of the other titles in the GTA Trilogy. In that case, they are free to prioritize playing a single game for most of their time.

They can even regularly rotate each game in and out, so they don't need to beat one game to proceed to the next.

For comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, check out SK GTA Wiki

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Edited by Yasho Amonkar
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