Ever since the release of Grand Theft Auto III in 2001, the series has been an absolute juggernaut in the video game space — leading to over 345 million copies sold across all entries.
The most recent entry, GTA V, is the most popular, surpassing 150 million copies sold. Because of this, the unannounced GTA 6 has some mighty shoes to fill if it even wants to come close to the success of its predecessor.
There are many ways it could reach a wide audience, but one strategy we’d love to see is for GTA 6 to lean into nostalgia, bringing together some of the series’ most beloved characters from previous games.
While many newcomers started with GTA V, a lot of us have been around since the GTA III days, falling in love with the likes of Claude, Tommy Vercetti, Carl Johnson (AKA CJ), and Niko Bellic. The return of these characters in GTA 6 would give Rockstar its Avengers Endgame moment, bringing together an ensemble cast for the ages.
Could Claude, Tommy, and CJ make their return in GTA 6?
One of the most interesting aspects of GTA V was its implementation of three protagonists, Michael, Trevor, and Franklin. It was neat because you were able to switch between the three characters at any time, often giving you wildly varied perspectives that caused tension while keeping things fresh.
This was the first time Rockstar allowed you to play as multiple protagonists, as the other installments all followed the story of one sole character. Considering how well this aspect of GTA V was received, it’s tough to imagine GTA 6 featuring a single protagonist.
To lean into nostalgia, Rockstar could implement the three protagonists from the mainline PS2 games — Claude, Tommy, and CJ — into GTA 6, allowing you to swap freely between them on the fly. All of these characters are alive, as far as we know, and it would be fascinating to see where they all ended up after the events of GTA III, Vice City, and San Andreas, assuming GTA 6 takes place after those games.
This idea isn’t even that outlandish. A report from Kotaku revealed that the aforementioned trilogy will be released in the fall of 2021 as a remastered package. This could be to refresh the community’s memory of the most popular protagonists from the older era, ahead of their possible inclusion in GTA 6. Of course, this hasn’t been confirmed, and at this point, Rockstar has yet to even reveal GTA 6, but surely it’s in the cards, right?
Plus, Rockstar is known to add character cameos from other games, such as Claude’s inclusion in San Andreas. Why not push that a step further and let us play as these characters?
What about Niko?
Grand Theft Auto IV is sort of the black sheep of the series — or at least, it’s often forgotten about when compared to the others. It still sold respectably, surpassing 25 million copies sold as of 2013. One of the best things about GTA IV is its lovable cast of characters, including protagonist Niko Bellic.
GTA 6 could double down on having multiple playable characters by adding a fourth to the mix: Niko Bellic. This is far less likely because the previous protagonists from the trilogy are practically caricatures of people from their respective time periods, while Bellic is more grounded and believable. So, it would be an odd mixture if all four of them interacted with one another.
That isn’t to say it’s not possible, but it seems far less feasible than adding the members of the trilogy to GTA 6. Whatever happens, we’d love for some popular characters to at least make cameos. After all, we fell in love with them years ago and the familiar faces would make longtime fans of the series more eager to jump into GTA 6.