This week was a pretty momentous one for GTA Online. Various events such as random players receiving bonus cash (unrelated to Shark Card rebates) and free Cargobobs were leading up to the Tuesday release of Cunning Stunts, the latest major DLC update for the game.
Cunning Stunts added a ton of new content to GTA Online, including 13 vehicles, 16 official Stunt Races, the all new Premium Races system allowing pro racers to earn big and a host of new customization items. While the main intent of the DLC was supposed to be an overhaul of the Content Creator, that part of it all will only come out on the 2nd of August.
The Stunt Race Creator, which will add the ability to create maps for the titular new jobs will also bring new features to the Creator across the board. Countless new props will be added, allowing players to create even more nuanced and unique maps for GTA Online, while prop-stacking is going to make a triumphant return.
In the weeks leading up to the 2nd of August, there will be further content updates to tide players over. As if the 13 new vehicles added in the DLC weren’t enough, GTA Online will be getting even more rides in small batches. Five of these have already been uncovered by the PC community, as the models are already present in the game files that comprised the update and loading them up wasn’t much of a challenge.
The vehicles will be accompanied by additional Stunt Race maps created by the team over at Rockstar Games to keep you occupied while the Creator is still under construction. Based on the overwhelmingly positive public response, when the Stunt Race Creator hits, it is going to revolutionize GTA Online.
However, DLC updates like this will only extend the life-cycle of GTA Online for so long. In about a year or two, you can expect the next chapter in Rockstar’s open world crime mayhem simulator to be confirmed with a release date in the early 2020’s. While we wait on that, accompany us on yet another trip into speculationia where we take a look at a potential setting for the upcoming GTA 6.
The Valley of the Sun is the capital and largest city of the US State of Arizona. Having been an agricultural center throughout history, Phoenix swiftly recovered from the Great Depression between the two wars, leading to rapid development. This resulted in the city becoming a general template for suburban development across the country following World War II. The persona of being the fruit-basket of the south has stuck with the city in spite of real-estate, insurance and health care becoming the three leading industries – in fact, agriculture fell off the top five list.
Phoenix and the surrounding metropolitan area serves as the financial and economic center of the entire state. Said metropolitan area also carries the nickname “Valley of The Sun”, though the city itself is also referred to as such on occasion. The Valley is home to over 4 million souls, ranking 12th on the list of the country’s largest metro areas.
While not a border city (Tucson lies between Mexico and Phoenix, however even it isn’t on the border), the proximity to it is palpable. Of the ~1.6 million residents of the city proper, over 40% are of Hispanic or Latino descent. The city also happens to be the sixth largest city in the whole country, and it is the largest county capital (plus, the only county capital with more than a million residents).
The presence of the Luke Air Force base means that there is a large military presence in the city, though nothing as significant as in San Diego. Various tech-companies have set up show in recent decades, and a handful of Fortune 500 companies are headquartered here, including Avnet.
Phoenix is situated in a region far from any large bodies of water. Lake Pleasant is nearby and two streams (Agua Fria and Salt) run through it, however these aren’t nearly large enough to justify surrounding the city with water completely like what was done in GTA V. On the flipside, the close proximity of other cities and settlements, primarily Tucson (as well as a small town called Surprise. Really), as well as unpopulated and suburban areas around the city such as various national parks and reservations would make Phoenix fit the bill geographically. Rockstar would be forced to use other means of bordering their map, however.
Lacking large bodies of water does pose an altogether different issue – it would make water vehicles pointless entirely.
Historically, Phoenix has had a bit of an issue with crime, however things have been looking up lately. Even so, there is plenty of it to satisfy a GTA game. The worst year for violent crime was 1993, when 1146 such crimes occurred per 100,000 residents, on average.
As of 2012, the violent crime rate has dropped to 637, which is still pretty high compared to some of the cities we’ve looked at in this series. Around the turn of the century, Phoenix ranked first in the USA for car theft, which would fit GTA perfectly (I mean, it’s in the damn name!). However, since then, the rate has decreased sharply, now putting the city in place 70 on the same rankings.
The proximity of Mexico has made drug and human trafficking serious issues in Phoenix. The city is a major gateway for Mexican-manufactured drugs as they are spread through the country, and the same goes for people being smuggled by the Cartels. The human trafficking goes both ways though – Phoenix is known as the “Kidnapping capital of the USA” and many of these cases are thought to be related to the Cartels.
Interestingly enough, the two criminal cases that occurred in Phoenix which had national implications were completely unrelated to the Cartels. In 1966 an odd legal situation arose when one Ernesto Arturo Miranda confessed to a number of crimes during police interrogation. Thing is, he “didn’t know” that he had the right to remain silent, and the right to attorney. The written confessions were present on sheets of paper prefixed with legal statements declaring that the confessions were made in full knowledge of one’s rights – since this wasn’t the case, they were inadmissible. The guy was put away nonetheless, however this case is the reason why police are obligated to read arrested suspects their rights during the arrest.
The other notable case was related to land fraud. A journalist investigating the situation on behalf of the Arizona Republic, a major newspaper, was assassinated with a car bomb prior to concluding his research. Many land fraud cases were thought to be connected to organised crime, and the journalist – Don Bolles – remains the only US journalist working for a major newspaper to be killed on US soil due to a story he was covering (that we know of…).
We’re going to have to dock some points here. Phoenix isn’t really heavy on internationally-known landmarks. A few locations might be known to Americans living in other cities, but chances are you wouldn’t recognize Phoenix off photos unless you live there or travel there much.
That being said, there are a few locations of note. The oldest house in the city is thought to have belonged to one of the founders – meaning the first house ever built on the land that is now Phoenix still exists. The Phillip Darrell Duppa adobe house – nothing more than a mud-hut, really – dates back to 1870 and can still be seen and visited.
The Arizona Science Center is pretty iconic, as is St.Mary’s Basilica. The latter is home to the largest stained-glass window collection in Arizona (a mission where the player destroys said collection would be kinda cool, no?).
Pretty much the same as in any other city on the Mexican border. The story could revolve around drug cartels, drug trafficking and the like. Phoenix is also pretty heavy on gangs, so GTA 6 could fill in a similar role as GTA San Andreas. While GTA SA focused on Afro-American gangs, GTA 6 could focus on Latino and Hispanic gangs. This is a pretty good “blank slate” city with plenty of good characteristics for a GTA setting.
Pros: High crime rate, Decent Story Potential, Pretty good geography
Cons: Poor recognition, Lack of large bodies of water
Phoenix shapes up pretty good as a potential setting, however it isn’t quite as good as some of the other cities we’ve looked at. Being landlocked without so much as a big ass lake nearby is a significant downside, plus the city isn’t too iconic. Barring the lack of water though, the geography is pretty beneficial, and the nature of the crime present in the city also fits GTA pretty well.
Which city would you like us to evaluate next week?
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