Ah shit, here we go again. Fans have waited a decade for Rockstar Games‘ latest descent into the criminal underworld, Grand Theft Auto VI, and with anticipation now at a fever pitch, the studio has finally dropped the first short trailer on Monday. It came a day early, with Rockstar explaining that it had to push the clip after a premature leak. But fans, though initially thrilled, were anguished to learn that the title will not roll out until 2025 — a year later than expected.
Announced in a post back in November to celebrate Rockstar’s 25th anniversary, the teaser has been a point of rampant speculation, not least because the newest chapter of GTA features the first playable female character, a Latina woman. Watch it below for the first official look at what’s sure to be one of the biggest game launches of all time.
Set to the rollicking Tom Petty tune “Love Is a Long Road,” the GTA VI trailer dazzles with neon visions of Vice City, the game’s Miami analogue — but sharper and more sprawling than you’ve ever seen. We meet our lead, Lucia, when she’s apparently on the way out of prison, and once she’s loose, she embarks on a sequence of stickups with an as-yet unnamed male partner. Along the way, there are plenty of speeding boats, drag racing, sordid clubs, and police raids, plus a giant alligator and a woman twerking on the roof of a moving car. We’re also treated to shots that resemble TikTok snippets of seedy Floridian characters, which are surely an element added to satirize the state of omnipresent smartphone surveillance.
As enticing as the preview was, many lamented the additional release delay — with fans believing they’d be cruising the vastly improved Vice City in a few short months. A typical response on X, formerly Twitter, read, “what the FUCK do you mean GTA 6 is dropping in 2025?” Another user tweeted a clip from the movie Uncut Gems in which NBA star Kevin Garnett fumes, “Why the fuck would you show me something if I couldn’t have it?” Similar infuriated reaction videos swiftly gained thousands of likes, as did jokes about not living to see the release.
While the trailer didn’t hint at any progressive values per se, the introduction of a female protagonist has often riled male-dominated media fandoms. Still, concerns over an emergent “wokeness” in GTA probably have more to do with the game’s salacious — and revered — sense of humor. Historically, women in this virtual world have been relegated to sex work, while the player gets to live out a violent fantasy of masculine gang life that includes everything from drunk driving and drug dealing to outright torture and random murder. Every iteration has been criticized for enticing younger gamers with illicit adult themes.
Rockstar, however, has sought to change with the times, not only making efforts to reform its “frat-bro culture” and alleviate punishing work schedules, but tweaking a 2022 remaster of GTA V to remove transphobic content and harmful stereotyping of trans people. That change came after LGBTQ developers published an open letter suggesting that the game’s trans characters appear “designed specifically so that some players could relish hurting and killing them because they are trans.” Sources involved in the production of GTA VI also told Bloomberg that Rockstar no longer wanted to “punch down” at marginalized groups in their storytelling.
Of course, punching down is seen almost as a moral duty by “anti-woke” right-wingers who regard calls for inclusion and representation as a stifling effect of so-called political correctness. Evidently alarmed by early leaks and reports indicating the game would tone down the racist and sexist elements of the series, hundreds of gamers have lately inundated Rockstar with tweets predicting a “woke” GTA that forever spoils the fun of hijacking cars and running over pedestrians.
Any nascent backlash will also have to be postponed until the public knows a bit more about GTA VI. For the moment, enthusiastic reactions have dominated social media, tempered only by impatience for an all but guaranteed smash hit. At 410 million copies shipped (and counting), GTA is one of the best-selling games ever, and the long gap since the last major release seems to have most gamers incredibly eager to return to the (on-screen) criminal life. Even as a woman.