Grand Theft Auto 6’s Open-World Map Stands at a Crossroads

Grand Theft Auto 6’s Open-World Map Stands at a Crossroads

Highlights Grand Theft Auto has been known for its fast cars, satirical writing, and cutting-edge


  • Grand Theft Auto has been known for its fast cars, satirical writing, and cutting-edge environmental design, but the open-world genre has evolved since the release of GTA 5.
  • The open worlds of GTA have been praised for their believability and character, but they lack depth in exploration and rewarding secrets compared to recent open-world games.
  • Rockstar faces a choice with GTA 6: either expand the established formula of the series’ open-world design or take inspiration from games like Breath of the Wild and Elden Ring to emphasize rewarding exploration and add new gameplay features. Innovation is crucial for the success of GTA 6.

For many gamers, the Grand Theft Auto franchise epitomizes open-world gaming. With the ever-elusive Grand Theft Auto 6, Rockstar will most likely reprise its typical sandbox formula. However, with the innovations made in the open-world genre since the release of Grand Theft Auto 5, it’s worth wondering just how much Grand Theft Auto 6 will deviate from expectations.

GTA is known for fast cars, satirical writing, and cutting-edge environmental design. Indeed, at the time of their respective releases, games like Grand Theft Auto 4 and Grand Theft Auto 5 presented players with levels of detail and visual fidelity that were arguably unmatched. Delivering a strong sense of believability and character has been a top priority for Rockstar, as the cities of the GTA franchise are teeming with personality and charm. Rockstar’s video game worlds are unforgettable for a lot of fans, but they aren’t without their issues, and innovative open-world games from the last decade highlight these shortcomings.

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Rockstar Can Embrace GTA’s Open-World Potential with Grand Theft Auto 6

Grand Theft Auto 6’s Open-World Map Stands at a Crossroads

GTA features small details like radio stations, cheeky advertisements, passive NPC dialog, and mini-games that all contribute to a sense of realism and tangibility in its open worlds. While these details are beloved by fans and typify the character of these games, the open worlds of Grand Theft Auto don’t go too much deeper; most in-game buildings are inaccessible, there is a general lack of worthwhile secrets outside of Easter eggs, and exploration is greatly de-emphasized, with the games instead putting the player on a strict path and not substantially rewarding those who venture outside it.

In recent years, gamers have been reminded of the sprawling potential of the open-world genre. Games like Elden Ring have set a new standard for open-world games, offering not just sheer scale but also depth in their exploration elements, as players are actively encouraged to look around every corner and inspect every small detail. The same can be said for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and its sequel. Put simply, if a player sees a mountaintop in the distance in one of these games, they will likely find something worthwhile at the top, whereas a mountaintop in Grand Theft Auto will only reward a player with a pretty view. Essentially, the open worlds of GTA are more like set dressing, serving mostly to create a strong sense of immersion and presence.

Whenever Grand Theft Auto 6 comes out, it will likely be compared to titans like BotW and Elden Ring. Broadly speaking, Rockstar is faced with two choices: it can take inspiration from the aforementioned seminal open-world games and place a higher emphasis on rewarding exploration, or it can further expand the already established formula of the series’ open-world design. The latter path runs the risk of making the game feel dated and shallow, while the former could pose challenges to the franchise’s identity.

Both choices present a lot of potential, though. Rockstar could continue to iterate upon the Grand Theft Auto open-world design, leveraging modern hardware to make it more immersive than ever before without reinventing the formula altogether. Alternatively, GTA 6 could add new gameplay features that turn the series’ open-world staples on their heads, encouraging organic exploration and mystery, perhaps taking a few notes from developers like Nintendo and FromSoftware in the process. Regardless of which path Rockstar decides to take, it will be important that Grand Theft Auto 6 innovates on the series’ formula, rather than just giving players GTA 5 with a fresh coat of paint.

Grand Theft Auto 6 is in development.

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