Rockstar Games has yet to publicly confirm development on Grand Theft Auto VI, but there’s a growing body of evidence to suggests it could be the largest-scale entry in the franchise’s history. A recently discovered image added more credence to an allegedly leaked GTA 6 world map from back in 2018 that showed the title would take place in Vice City, South America, and the Caribbean, confirming the unverified “Project Americas” rumors.
All of that is speculation for now, but we do know that GTA 6 is in “early development” based on reporting by Bloomberg‘s Jason Schreier. So it might be released anytime between 2021 and 2024, for all we know.
While there aren’t any official details about the title’s setting or story yet, if rumors about rival drug kingpins turn out to be true, Rockstar could adopt a defining feature from Middle-earth: Shadow of War:
The Nemesis system.
In the Lord of the Rings prequel game, the hordes of Orc enemies you take on have their own power hierarchy that changes when players kill notable enemies or when an Orc manages to slay the player.
Powerful Orc captains have unique, procedurally generated abilities that set them apart from the more common grunts, but each of these brutes is able to work their way up the infernal ladder if they manage to kill the game’s protagonist.
If a player is struck down by a grunt that lackey becomes a “Nemesis” and is promoted to a captain. Players must then go wreak revenge on the orc to halt their reign of terror. No matter the outcome, any encounter with an Orc within the Nemesis System will result in shifting changes to all of the enemies within it. A newly killed captain might be replaced by someone totally new if enough time passes.
GTA 6 could use this concept but use rival gangsters and drug dealers instead of Sauron’s Army. The end result would be a dynamic, procedurally generated experience unlike any other. It could even be adapted into next-gen GTA Online, in theory.
Based on the Project Americas rumors, GTA 6 is expected to put players in the shoes of an up-and-coming drug kingpin that needs to expand their narcotics operations throughout Vice City and overseas.
Players might need to build relationships, establish contacts, and take out rival criminals to lock down their turf, all in the effort to become a Pablo Escobar-like figure. That gameplay loop creates plenty of room for Rockstar to take the Nemesis System to the next level.
If you’re killed in a firefight by a competing criminal, they could take away some of your existing contacts and make you lose influence in a way that makes them even more powerful. Perhaps your loyal drug-runners will jump ship when they hear you’ve been sent to the hospital by your nemesis, and you have to work to gain back their respect.
It would be an interesting way to personalize the kinds of turf wars we expect to see in the game.
Not only will this make the world of GTA 6 feel more alive, but it would give player deaths more consequences compared to GTA 5. In that game, you only lose a bit of money when you get the “Wasted” screen. The Shadow of War Nemesis system could be what makes the next GTA installment truly next-gen, by raising the stakes for a more dynamic and personalized experience.
GTA 6 is reportedly in early development.