After 10 years, it finally happened. Rockstar gave gamers their first look at Grand Theft Auto 6, the follow-up to a wildly popular series that has not seen a new entry since 2013. Despite being just 90 seconds long (and released about 15 hours ahead of schedule thanks to a pesky Monday night leak on X), there’s a lot to unravel about the upcoming sequel to the most profitable entertainment product of all time. From its impressive new graphics to its setting and plotline, let’s dissect all that we now know about one of the most anticipated games on the scenic, brightly-colored horizon.
Welcome To The State of Leonida
As was suggested by a now infamous 2021 leak, Grand Theft Auto 6 will bring the franchise back to the streets of Vice City. Last featured in 2002’s Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, this fan favorite setting is heavily inspired by real life Miami. Instead of transporting players to the year 1986 like last time, we’re being placed in a contemporary take on the city, with extravagant high rises, clear blue waters and plenty of excess.
The trailer also shows us that the glamorous metropolitan area that is Vice City will be just a portion of Rockstar’s newest sprawling open world. Grand Theft Auto 6 takes place across the state of Leonida, a recreation of the Sunshine State of Florida. The trailer shows plenty of rural areas, trailer parks, swamps, alligators and more, all of which will add unprecedented variety to out crime-riddled journey.
Lucia Shatters The Criminal Glass Ceiling
There are two stars at the center of Grand Theft Auto 6’s trailer: The aforementioned state of Leonida, and one of the game’s two protagonists, Lucia. Lucia will be the first female protagonist in the series since it went 3D in 2001 (the original Grand Theft Auto from 1998 featured a handful of playable women, but the game was much less focused on telling character stories at the time). It’s a welcome departure for a franchise that hasn’t exactly portrayed women in the strongest light. She is also the series’ first Hispanic protagonist since Luis Lopez, the protagonist of the Grand Theft Auto 4 expansion, The Ballad of Gay Tony.
While we don’t know Lucia’s backstory, what we do know is that her past exploits have landed her in prison. She’s seen wearing an orange jumpsuit and speaking to a prison counselor right at the trailer’s start. She exclaims in the trailer that “bad luck” is the reason for her incarceration. If the trailer is any indication, that string of bad luck is nowhere near over.
A Toxic Love Story For The Ages
Like Grand Theft Auto 5, which featured three playable characters, Grand Theft Auto 6 will focus on multiple characters. Lucia is joined by a presumed love interest in Jason. In between sweeping shots of Leonida and Vice City, the couple is seen teaming up in their criminal acts, robbing stores, evading the cops and doing sick drifts around corners, surely violating dozens of traffic laws in the process.
The trailer suggests the relationship between Lucia and Jason will be at the center of this story. The trailer’s closing shot features the two entering a convenience store with masks and guns drawn, a strangely sweet action set piece that gives off strong Bonnie and Clyde vibes.
Rockstar’s Tech Looks Great
Rockstar’s proprietary tech, called the “RAGE Engine,” has been powering the worlds and simulations of all its games since 2006. The last time gamers saw the technology in action was in 2018’s Red Dead Redemption 2, which still stands as one of the best looking games on the market more than five years after release.
With the extra power provided by the Xbox Series consoles and PlayStation 5 (Rockstar’s website suggests PC players won’t be getting the game at launch), the RAGE Engine has been upgraded significantly. Shots from the trailer show beaches, night clubs and city streets packed with dozens of unique pedestrians on screen all doing their own thing. There’s also dense traffic, advanced lighting, lush swamps and varied wildlife such as alligators and flamingos. We may be two years out from Grand Theft Auto 6’s release, but it’s already an impressive technical marvel.
Social Media is Front and Center
When Grand Theft Auto 5 came out in 2013, modern social media was still in its infancy. There were fun nods to and spoofs of Silicon Valley’s cultural shift and the popularity of Facebook. But that was a decade ago, before Instagram, TikTok and the billions of Twitter clones we’re all switching between.
Nearly a third of the trailer is made up of faux-cable news clips and social media posts captured by the denizens of Leonida. Influencers are twerking on top of moving cars, friends can be seen slinging mud at each other and the rich are partying on yachts. Past entries in the series have introduced much of our real world technology, such as an internet browser, fully-functioning cell phones and the stock market. The newest entry is ready to lampoon the world of social media, an exciting evolution of how Rockstar makes its worlds feel true to life.
… As Is Florida Man
Arguably the most fun aspect of the Grand Theft Auto 6 trailer is its willingness to lean into the weird phenomenon that is the “Florida man.” The real life, online trope that Florida is filled with the weird and downright bizarre (the result of Florida’s Sunshine Law, which grants the general public access to government documents related to arrests, barring some exceptions) has become as much a part of the state’s mystique as Disney World and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Leonida is straight up embracing the outlandish (at times sidesplitting) news stories associated with the Sunshine State. There’s a whole lot of “Florida Man”-like shenanigans to take in during the reveal trailer: An alligator entering a gas station convenience store. A threatening grandma dual-wielding axes. A thong-clad Leonidan (Leonidian?) running from a single, frustrated cop.
“I usually gotta hit the strip club to see jiggle like that fr,” a caption from the appropriately named in-game social media user “PlanetLeonidaMan” writes about the ludicrous police encounter. Rockstar is going to have fun with this trope, and we can’t wait to see more “Leonida Man” stories on our in-game timeline.