E3 is rapidly approaching, however while many of the players are busy with rampant speculation as to what Rockstar may be revealing – because we now know for a fact that the company is working on something – equal amount of attention is being directed at what the immediate future of GTA Online will be like.
The community has gone a good long while without any major DLC release. So far, the drip-few lowriders and the Adversary Modes released this year were hardly enough to satiate the ravenous hunger of the player-base for new content.
Rockstar did recently announce their mid-term plans when it comes to DLC for GTA Online. They will be releasing an overhaul of the Content Creator bundled with new vehicles designed specifically for stunting. The Creator overhaul will not only add new features and props to the game, but it will also fix that bothersome issue that prevents the stacking of objects.
A follow-up to Executives and Other Criminals, titled – in a similarly long fashion – Further Adventures in Finance and Felony will also be released. This DLC will add a massive amount of new missions and whole new mission types, along with new vehicles, properties, weapons and clothing items. This will be the first truly major DLC release of 2016.
However, these DLCs might be pushed out of the spotlight by the upcoming E3 convention. While it is increasingly unlikely that we’ll see any footage of GTA IV, Rockstar might at the very least confirm its existence.
In the mean time, let’s look at another possible setting for the next GTA game. Will the city prove to be a good inspiration for a map, or will it go up in smoke?
The Big Guava, as it is otherwise known, is the most prominent city in the Greater Tampa Bay Area. The city itself has a little over 300,000 residents, however the GTB area is home to more than four million souls. Despite being neither the largest city in the state, nor its capital, Tampa is among the most widely known cities in Florida. It acts as the seat of Hillsborough County, though parts of it, due to agglomeration, reach over into other counties. It is considered to be among the most popular American cities “where people want to live” (yes, that’s the official classification) based on a research study a few years ago.
Tampa and the adjacent cities with which it has grown together sit in a smaller bay in Florida which opens up to the Gulf of Mexico, placing the city on the western coast of the peninsula. The fact that this is a bay area featuring several semi-conjoined settlements with intermittent suburb and un-urbanized areas makes the city and its surroundings absolutely perfect for a GTA game. The Hillsborough and Palm rivers both flow through the city, and what is called “Tampa Bay” actually is a collective term for a number of bays jutting inland.
In terms of economic importance, Tampa is a major player as far as Florida is concerned, but beyond that, not much. This isn’t a major logistics center like Atlanta, for example. Tampa, however is a major tobacco manufacturing center, the historical roots of which lie in the cigar factories of Ybor City – most of which don’t function anymore.
As mentioned previously, the bay area is absolutely perfect for a GTA map. There are several cities more or less grown together lining the inner and outer shores. Tampa is more or less in the middle, with St. Petersburg on the western peninsula and Brandon to the east. Tampa also happens to be on a peninsula, with three bridges connecting it to St. Petersburg. This sets the scene perfectly for locking down parts of the map until the player reaches a certain point in the story.
The western shore of St. Petersburg also features a string of islands following the coast of the mainland which are dedicated to luxurious villas. Places such as the aptly named “Treasure Island” are home to land-streets built into the sea, populated with high-end luxury houses.
Tampa has its “typical modern downtown American city” area with the skyscrapers and all, however it isn’t particularly large and makes way for a “flatter” city. This doesn’t mean that the rest of it is all suburbs and garden-city, it merely means that skyscrapers aren’t Tampa’s thing. The downtown area does tick that particular box and the large variety of neighborhoods and other cities around Tampa make the area varied enough to be more than interesting for players. There is a large park in the northeastern region, so the “outdoors” section can be ticked off as well.
Neighborhoods like Ybor City and the Westshore Business District make Tampa a city of many faces. The Spanish colonial influence cannot really be felt in Tampa despite Florida belonging to Spain until 1821. Tampa was first a Fort, then a village, then an abandoned village, then once again a Fort, then a city. Most of the older buildings have been demolished, so architecturally, the city is pretty homogeneous.
In terms of crime, Tampa sits on the higher end of the mid-range. It isn’t particularly notorious when it comes to crime rates, but it isn’t a shining example of public safety either. The murder rate is at 8 per 100,000 residents, with higher figures in other categories of violent crime. The city has some gang activity, but nothing particularly record-breaking.
Tampa itself may not be the most iconic of cities in the USA, however there is some great potential here for inspiring a game map that will stay in the public conscience for decades to come. Certain landmarks such as the Tampa Theatre or “El Centro Español de Tampa” would definitely re-appear in the game with new names.
As the city also served as the location for the second movie based on the popular Marvel Comics character, The Punisher, certain buildings such as the Rivergate Tower and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge might be familiar to foreign players.
While Tampa is mostly a clean slate in terms of story, it would be a poor choice to miss out on the potential that lies in the Tobacco industry aspect. The cigar industry of Ybor City arose due to close proximity to Cuba. As stated, tobacco production has moved out of the district. However the story could easily focus on a descendant of a former “tobacco shark” operating in Ybor, trying to revive the local cigar industry. To fund this operation, the aspiring businessman begins dealing in organised crime, which is where the player character comes into the picture. The story would focus on running missions to get cash while getting rid of rivals.
Pros: High-enough crime rate, Perfect geography, Not too obscure, Story potential.
Cons: It could be more recognizable, I guess?
Tampa is a shining example of what would make the perfect setting for a GTA game. It has everything it needs, while giving the developers enough space to let their own ideas grow.
Which city would you like to see as the setting of GTA 6?
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