While Grand Theft Auto 6 has been reported to be in early development, Rockstar's next monumental release could still be years away. The company recently revealed it plans to support the current version of GTA Online well into 2021. That could buy developers more time to mold GTA 6 into a narrative and technical masterpiece, but in order to achieve that, GTA 6 needs to be fully playable in virtual reality. Here's why.
The 2013 release of GTA 5 revolutionized the open-world game genre with its living, breathing digital rendition of Los Angeles and its dynamic storytelling through its three protagonists. GTA 6 needs to deliver an even larger sandbox experience and deranged cast of characters. Wrapping all that up in an immersive VR experience could make GTA 6 the game that makes VR truly mainstream.
Imagine wildly weaving in and out of city traffic in a sports car or getting into a massive shoot out with a rival criminal organization, all in VR.
This might all be wishful thinking right now, but a recent hint from a VR developer that's worked with Rockstar in the past and recent strides in the GTA 5 modding community suggest a fully VR-compatible GTA 6 isn't farfetched.
In July, L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files developer Video Games Deluxe announced on LinkedIn it was hiring programmers, designers, and animators for a mystery VR title for Rockstar. The post originally described the upcoming title as "a AAA open-world title in VR for Rockstar," but was edited to exclude that crucial bit after multiple news outlets reported on the tantalizing detail.
VGD has only ever done spinoff VR titles for Rockstar, so it could be putting together a GTA 5 or Red Dead Redemption 2 VR short. The description didn't specify the length of the title they're working on, so it could very well be GTA 6 in VR.
Translating Rockstar's massive environments to VR isn't outlandish, either. Modders have already made GTA 5 completely VR compatible. The R.E.A.L mod for GTA 5 on Windows transforms Rockstar's originally third-person crime adventure into a first-person VR experience, cutscenes and all. It seems a bit convoluted to get working but once running, its creator LukeRoss00 says it will work on all Oculus and SteamVR headsets. This mod answered the call of the many VR fanatics that have long been waiting for, but some gamers are still holding on hope that Rockstar rolls out an official GTA in VR.
"Far too convoluted for me personally. Needs to be an official VR patch before I'll bother," commented Facebook user Kirk Johnston in a news story about the R.E.A.L mod. "Shame it takes a random fan to do stuff like this rather than the company itself."
Those dreams could come true depending on what VGD is cooking up for Rockstar, but don't expect an exclusively VR GTA 6 release. Rockstar's nursing of GTA Online suggests it wants as many people as possible playing its signature open-world series. An only-VR GTA 6 would only limit engagement for a franchise whose popularity is truly unmatched.
GTA 6 should instead come with an optional VR mode, which might inspire more gamers to pick up VR gear and make the long-awaited sequel a must-buy for anyone who already owns the tech. Implementing something close to that could make GTA 6 equally as influential as GTA 5 has been over the last seven years by delivering a mind-bogglingly massive open-world experience in VR.
GTA 6 is reportedly in development.