GTA 6 Should Be More Dynamic & Non-Linear With Its Open World

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GTA 6 Needs To Be Less Scripted!

Story Highlights
  • Rockstar has stuck closely to a familiar game design with its open-world games.
  • The studio has struggled to balance linear and non-linear gameplay, leading to a clash in game design.
  • Rockstar needs to commit to a single type of game to make history with GTA 6.
  • Being a pioneer of open worlds, Grand Theft Auto should be about freedom and non-linear gameplay.

GTA 6 is officially the most anticipated video game in history since the reveal has broken every possible record for a gaming trailer.

In the wake of years of anticipation, Rockstar did not disappoint with the first look. GTA 6 showcases a new generation of Grand Theft Auto with realistic graphics, which, according to a developer, will not be downgraded for the game’s release.

What sold GTA 6 for me was the open world portrayed in the footage. With hundreds of NPCs flooding the beach, an abundance of cars filling the neon-lit streets of Leonida, and all manners of random events adding to the surreal atmosphere, Rockstar might be on the cusp of creating the most believable open world to date.

However, as much as I love the studio’s past works, those open worlds were not without their flaws. To succeed beyond its predecessors, I believe GTA 6 needs to embrace its open world, putting it before everything else in the game.

Why it matters: No other developer in the world has the manpower and talent like Rockstar, so I feel we should be able to expect industry-leading game design from the studio.

GTA 6 Thrillbilly Mud Club

More Freedom Than Any Other Game

The appeal of open-world games comes from the freedom that is inherently part of this genre.

While linear games take players through a hand-crafted experience, essentially showcasing the developer’s vision, open-world games allow players to engage with the content on their own terms.

With expectations high from GTA 6, the title needs to set a new bar for this genre. A new level of freedom requires minimal linearity, something that is usually abundant in all Rockstar games.

I hope to see GTA 6 evolving mechanics like NPC interactions, side quests, and player freedom in a meaningful way. While past games have been great at providing an illusion of freedom, the outcome of any single interaction is usually limited to what Rockstar intended.

This type of design works in the main story, where a set narrative is already expected, but once side quests and other content become part of this design, the immersive nature of a vast open world is limited by such decisions.

YouTube video

Linearity And Non-Linearity Existing Together 

GTA 3 showed the first glimpse of a potential open world from Rockstar that coexisted with linear and non-linear systems.

The mission Farewell Chunky Lee Chong instructs players to take out this character, and if you follow the game’s directions, it plays out in a typical chase followed by a shootout.

However, because Rockstar was more experimental with its games 22 years ago and was just coming to terms with open-world design, players could steal Chunky Lee Chong’s car and plant it with a bomb before initiating the mission.

This would result in Lee Chong dying as soon as he got into the car, providing a well-thought-out alternative. However, modern Rockstar titles are much more focused on delivering linear gameplay that leaves little room for such experiences.

Recent games are more strict with their fail conditions. Deviating ever so slightly from the precise instructions at any given moment can result in failure, making it so practically everyone in such a vast open-world game goes through a mostly similar experience.

When it comes to story missions, there is an argument to be made about consistency and sacrificing non-linearity for the overall quality. However, such limitations creep into the side quests as well.

Saint Denis Gunsmith Side Robbery?
byu/TonyExtremis inreddeadredemption

Linearity Impacts All Elements of Gameplay

One of the more famous quests in Red Dead Redemption 2 is the poker game robbery in Saint Denis.

It starts with a homeless guy tipping Arthur about a poker game. Since this encounter can happen by chance without any prior indication, it serves as the perfect example of this illusion of freedom I mentioned earlier.

While it starts like a truly dynamic event triggered by nothing other than the random chance you decided to spare some money, the game quickly goes back into its scripted nature.

With the poker game being held upstairs, it is possible to use a nearby ladder as an alternate route to the room. However, since Rockstar intended players to experience the side quest in a certain way, what could have been an encounter playing out differently for each payer turns into another sequence of scripted events.

Even if you find the NPC protecting the poker game beforehand, Red Dead Redemption 2 does not present the prompt to interact with him. Instead, players need to knock on a specific door and interrogate the gunsmith, and then this exact NPC can be questioned for information.

This is the exact type of game design I don’t want to see in GTA 6 since it ends up being detrimental to an otherwise excellent open world. While this is an isolated example, it illustrates the bigger problem with the developer’s games.

For a deeper look at how Rockstar’s games fail to do their beautiful worlds justice, you can watch Nakey Jakey’s extensive deep dive video covering even more aspects of these games.

RDR 2 Open World

Will Rockstar Commit To A Single Game Design?

I don’t know whether Rockstar will break away from the mold with GTA 6. If history is anything to go by, the studio will present a similar gameplay loop without doing much to push player freedom in its games forward.

It’s a shame because the studio always creates the most atmospheric, visually stunning, and even dynamic worlds to an extent. However, once you begin to realize that these worlds can only be engaged in the way Rockstar wants, they can lose their appeal.

Still, there is a sliver of hope that GTA 6 will finally change everything. Over the years, players have begun to criticize such restrictions, and Rockstar has likely taken notice.

If the studio can strike the right balance between the intense story moments we enjoy and an open world that doesn’t hold the player’s hand at every given opportunity, GTA 6 could easily become the most significant entry in the IP’s history.

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