Grand Theft Auto 6 seems likely to return to Vice City, if rumors are to be believed. Though the game hasn’t even been officially confirmed yet, speculation is pointing in that direction – and despite GTA: Vice City being a fan favorite, Rockstar hasn’t gone back to the location since 2006’s Vice City Stories. Further rumors suggest GTA 6‘s version of Vice City will be in the modern day. While that might upset some fans, there’s probably more for Rockstar to win from it than from revisiting the 1980s.

The original Vice City was modeled after not just Miami but the fictional versions of it seen in Scarface and Miami Vice. That meant plenty of cocaine trafficking and touchstones of traditional “cool,” ranging from speedboats and superbikes to ’80s pop and neon signs. The real Miami did have these things, of course, but GTA‘s version was dialed up to 11 and deliberately cartoonish at times. Rockstar seemed more interested in providing fun atmosphere and activities than (much) cultural commentary.

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On a game design level, updating Vice City to the 2020s would free Rockstar to create new characters, storylines, and map designs. Society and technology have evolved in a way that could enable new mechanics; drones, hacking, and the internet didn’t exist in any substantial way in the ’80s. Vice City itself would feel fresher, not just in terms of design but in having a different societal and cultural makeup. Miami’s has changed, as has its crime world. A modern game might feature Miami’s illegal street racing scene, for example.

How A Modern Vice City Could Benefit GTA 6

Rockstar would also get to indulge in the kind of satire and commentary recent GTA games are known for. Aside from easy targets like hedonistic club-goers and spring breakers, a modern-day GTA 6 could tackle xenophobia and the hard-right political shift much of the U.S. has taken. It’s worth remembering that GTA 5 dates back to the Obama presidency, so the series has only ever dealt with Donald Trump as a fictional businessman, Donald Love, not as a political figure. Rockstar would now no doubt have a field day with Love and his supporters.

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There wouldn’t be anything fundamentally wrong with Grand Theft Auto 6 returning to the ’80s. The setting is still interesting, and it would even be nice to see how Rockstar would treat it with updated graphics and gameplay. But there’s simply more potential in a modern Vice City.

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