GTA 6 trailer launches, causing joy and existential angst among fans

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Rockstar launched the trailer for GTA 6 early, and the response among fans has been a mix of tears, excitement, and philosophical musings on death.

After making us all wait over a decade for a sequel to Grand Theft Auto 5, Rockstar did the unexpected overnight (on the 4th December, if you’re reading this in the future) and launched the trailer for GTA 6 early. You can see it below if you scroll down a few paragraphs.

Given that, at the time of writing, it’s now a full ten hours since someone at Rockstar Games hit the ‘make public’ button on YouTube, there’s already been enough time to get a feel for the response to the studio’s much-anticipated crime sim. Or at any rate, the promo for the much-anticipated crime sim – the game itself isn’t due out until the distant space year 2025.

Unsurprisingly, the online response so far has been a mix of joy (“We’ve waited 10 years for this moment and it’s finally here!”), excitement at the finer details (“dogs are confirmed for GTA 6!”) and the downright weird (“I would play GTA 6 even if it required me to rub my balls in shattered glass and hook my nipples up to a car battery”).

On YouTube, the trailer has already clocked up well over 52m views – which is surely some sort of record – and beneath it, you’ll find some half a million comments and counting. What becomes noticeable, scrolling through those responses, some typed in all-caps, others sprinkled with emojis, is an air of existential dread seeping through.

“It’s crazy that even as adults these trailers still make us feel like kids again,” reads one. “I grew up with GTA Vice City,” reads another. “I’m hype to revisit it as an adult 20+ years later.”

These comments and others like them speak volumes about the age of the GTA franchise itself. Players who were teenagers, or maybe students in their early 20s, when the original titles came out – particularly the pivotal GTA III in 2001 – are now in their 30s and 40s.

Back then, those players probably identified with the anarchic glee and youthful abandon running through the games – the fantasy of being a gangster, getting rich, and outsmarting (or outgunning) the law.

Years later, those players still feel the same thrill of hedonism, but it’s now joined by a recognition of their own mortality.

“I’m 47 years old and these guys still get me excited,” one fan writes. “I’m a grown man and I shed a tear… I’m so thankful I lived to see this.”

The existential angst is such that some commenters even take a moment to reflect on all the fellow fans who passed away before Rockstar could launch its promo:

“Rest in peace to every loyal fan that didn’t live to see this moment.”

“We made it, boys! And for those who didn’t, I hope they can play it in the gamer heaven.”

“RIP to all GTA fans who waited all these years to see the sequel, but died in unexpected or unfortunate ways.”
“10 seconds of silence for the friends who had a Dream to witness this greatness, but couldn’t who left us a long way ago. R.I.P”

Glancing through GTA 6’s glossy trailer, and there’s a sense that Rockstar itself is moving with the times. For the first time in the franchise, its protagonist is a woman of colour. Brief scenes hint that this will be a crime sim for the era of Insta, TikTok and police bodycams – none of which existed when the last GTA came out (which is a strange thought in itself).

While plenty of the old Rockstar crassness is in evidence – strippers, crocs, a woman twerking on the roof of a moving car – there’s a sense that GTA 6 will offer a less cartoonish parody of late–capitalist America. Plus there’ll probably be lots of shooting and car theft as well.

This is, at any rate, how we’ve interpreted a trailer that lasts all of 90 seconds. The finished game won’t be out for at least 13 months, or almost certainly longer – assuming Rockstar doesn’t delay it for some reason between now and 2025. And it’s here that the cloying sense of time running out again rears its head among GTA fans.

“At this rate I’ve got about three GTAs left in my lifetime,” muses one. “Hopefully every single one of us that witnessed this beauty gets to play it too.”

Then, perhaps most hauntingly of all: “For many, this could be the last GTA they will ever play!”

It’s food for thought. We’re mere mortals living in a world of theoretically eternal franchises.

GTA 6 is due for release in 2025 for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

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