The overwhelming success of Grand Theft Auto V practically guarantees we’ll eventually get a GTA 6, it’s not a matter of if but when. Over the years, there have been quite literally dozens of leaks and rumors about GTA 6, and the latest in that string claims that the game received a soft reboot due to certain criticisms about Red Dead Redemption 2.
The rumor comes courtesy of Moth Culture, a Twitter account that covers leaks from around the entertainment industry. According to Moth Culture, GTA 6 was roughly 70 percent completed by 2020, but Rockstar decided to overhaul the game due to the criticisms surrounding Red Dead Redemption 2. Keep in mind that we still don’t have any kind of official confirmation that Rockstar is even working on GTA 6.
While the leak itself is shaky at best, it actually highlights a design issue that continually plagues Rockstar’s games, even for as critically beloved as they always end up. Despite robust and immersive open worlds, the main mission design of Rockstar games still feels archaic, and Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the worst offenders.
Red Dead Redemption 2 features a phenomenal story with a protagonist even more memorable than John Marston, but the act of actually playing Arthur Morgan’s story can feel dreadfully dull at times. The big problem is that there’s not enough variation in the game’s main missions, and little to no freedom in how you approach them. It almost feels like Rockstar didn’t trust its players to figure out what to do, so they needed to point exactly where to go at all times.
You always have a waypoint active leading you exactly where to go, even in cases that seem like you shouldn’t have to go to a specific spot. For example, in one mission you steal a stagecoach and need to park it in a secluded spot, but instead of being able to place it in any secluded area, you have to go to the specific point highlighted on your map. At the same time, every single mission is going to end in the same exact kind of shootout, no matter what happens at the start. Stealth missions suddenly turn into shootouts, an escort mission suddenly turns into a shootout, and literally everything turns into a shootout.
It’s incredible how formulaic and by the numbers the main story of Red Dead Redemption 2 is, especially in comparison to the richly detailed open world filled with emergent events. It feels like Red Dead Redemption 2 contains two different games that are constantly at odds with one another. It’s really a pity that there’s no variation with the gameplay in missions, as it quickly starts to feel like a slog to see the story play out.
While Red Dead Redemption 2 is definitely worse, GTA 5 also suffered from the same lack of diversity in its gameplay design. Too often main missions boiled down to driving for ten minutes, only to turn around and have to drive somewhere else. The problem with things constantly devolving into shootouts is present in GTA 5 as well.
Outside of the monotonous feeling of constant shootouts, it thematically doesn’t make sense in either game. The gang in Red Dead Redemption 2 is hunted by the law and needs to lie low, but a shootout in every little town and settlement is really going to work against that. The same can be said for Michael and the others in GTA 5, as gunning down someone on every street corner certainly isn’t going to ensure you last long.
As open-world games evolve in new meaningful ways, you have to wonder what Rockstar is going to do to push its design formula forward. Games like The Witcher 3 and Breath of the Wild make their main story feel unique, and constantly provide new and interesting segments to play through. Open world games have grown in leaps and bounds since the release of GTA 5, and Red Dead Redemption 2 is evidence that Rockstar struggles to evolve in the same way. If GTA 6 truly has been delayed to reevaluate the core mission design, that may in fact be a good thing.