GTA 6 trailer analysis: Vice City expands to Leonida State with a female protagonist and teases unprecedented levels of detail

Grand Theft Auto 6 screenshot and logo
(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

What you need to know

  • The first trailer for Grand Theft Auto VI was released early due to Internet leaks and confirmed its location as Vice City, a fictional area inspired by real-world Miami.
  • Lucia is the first playable female protagonist in the series and is shown alongside a yet unnamed male accomplice in Trailer 1.
  • GTA 6 is coming in 2025 for Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, but no information regarding a PC version has been announced.

Well, that was unexpected. The first trailer for Grand Theft Auto VI was set to release today at 9 AM ET, but an unfortunate leak forced Rockstar Games to upload Trailer 1 for GTA 6 early. It's precisely the right length at 1m 31s, as we expected, and there's plenty to see in this sun-soaked tease at a reimagined version of Vice City.

A press release from Rockstar Games (via Business Wire) officially confirms the Roman numeral titling with VI rather than 6, and its planned platforms are Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, but nothing yet for PC. Not too surprising, given the PC port of 2013's Grand Theft Auto V was delayed by several months until it was finally released in 2015.

It's easy to get lost in the luscious visuals as Tom Petty sings 'Love is a Long Road' during this first trailer. However, I noticed a few interesting tidbits that align with my predictions alongside some eye-opening details, so let me break down what you might have missed and explain some hidden information about GTA 6.

Vice City is now Leonida State

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

I was confident that Grand Theft Auto VI would not only take place in Vice City, a fictional take on Miami but also expand further into whatever name would be given to Florida in my GTA 6 trailer predictions. A few shots of Trailer 1 confirm the existence of a swampy marshland around an interpretation of the Florida Keys, itself an intended area for the original Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in 2002 under the name 'Gator Keys' but was cut before release.

Airboats, alligators, and flamingos populate the brief glimpses at areas beyond the neon-soaked streets of Vice City's beachfront, as the press release confirms the name of 'Leonida' for this new state.

Whether this implies the existence of a second or even third city or simply a stretch of countryside and swamps isn't clear, but Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas expanded its playable area to an entire state containing the fictional cities of Los Santos, San Fierro, and Las Venturas in 2004, so we'll have to wait for more trailers to know for sure.

Lucia is (essentially) the first female protagonist

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

The original Grand Theft Auto had eight playable protagonists for its PC version, four male and four female. Realistically, they were little more than placeholders for players to enter their names and track a high score. In-game sprites were altered by a tiny amount depending on your chosen character, but only with a palette swap that switched up clothing and hair colors.

This makes Lucia, named in the opening dialog of Trailer 1, the first official female protagonist in Grand Theft Auto. Players can create custom characters in GTA Online with their chosen gender, but their appearance in cutscenes comes without dialog, appearing more as a novelty as the story unfolds around them.

It's a refreshing change of pace for the series and a much-needed form of representation that hopefully comes with the same level of customization as male protagonists enjoyed in previous entries. This first trailer shows Lucia in prison during its opening, though the timeline for this incarceration isn't clear. Nevertheless, her thrill-seeking life of crime is teased with robberies and naturally implied by taking the helm as a GTA protagonist.

But who's the guy in the GTA 6 trailer?

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

Lucia isn't alone in her criminal antics in Trailer 1, as an apparent male love interest is implied to be an accomplice or perhaps a second playable protagonist. Plenty of characters relevant to the story bite the dust in Grand Theft Auto games, but dialog hinting they 'stick together' implies this unnamed half of a Bonnie and Clyde-inspired duo is in it for the long run.

Unfortunately, leaks continue to plague Rockstar Games throughout Grand Theft Auto VI, and an almost identical male character has been rumored in the past as some sketchy details appeared online. Still, nothing can be considered reliable from leaked content around works in progress, so, for now, he remains nameless.

This all plays into my prediction that GTA 6 will feature at least two active protagonists that the player can switch between at any time, as GTA V included three in the same manner. Whenever it happens, I'd wager that Trailer 2 will be focused on this mysterious man who travels with Lucia on their crime spree through Vice City. A third trailer might reveal a yet-hidden playable character, but there's nothing concrete to go on yet.

Ambitious hair physics and visual fidelity

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

A few close-up shots focus on the ultra-high-quality people of Vice City, with some demonstrating some impressive strand physics for flowing long hair. The fidelity of pedestrians in GTA 6 is more in line with those in Red Dead Redemption 2 than GTA V, which makes sense, given the production time of each game. Either way, the levels of realism are pushed even higher for this latest entry.

Motion blur, depth of field, and more visual luxuries are displayed throughout Trailer 1, with dynamic lighting making an awe-inspiring presentation as car headlights illuminate the highways, and the neon-lit hotels glow across the faux-Miami strip at nighttime.

Sprawling cityscapes are immediately shown in the opening scenes, promising several skyscrapers disappearing into the horizon and a winding freeway, which will likely act as a racetrack for players to speed around this gigantic reimagination of Vice City upon release. It's come a long way since the cramped avenues of the original game, and Rockstar Games has set the bar higher than ever before regarding its visuals.

Pedestrian density and vibrant wildlife

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

Perhaps the most striking takeaway from Trailer 1, besides the obvious bump in visual quality for the people, vehicles, and surroundings, is the sheer density of pedestrians and animals roaming the land. Many fans of the series expect the playable area to grow larger in Grand Theft Auto games, but that can come with a caveat of sprawling empty spaces with nothing much happening.

In the first GTA 6 trailer, we see several scenes of crowded areas featuring an impressive lack of repetition among pedestrians. Glancing across the foreground and beyond into the horizon, no two civilians appear to be dressed the same or even look exactly alike. Given how sophisticated the non-player characters (NPC) become with each sequel, it's equal parts astonishing and concerning that each person on screen appears so unique.

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

Can the current generation of consoles and PC hardware handle so much happening on screen, or has Rockstar Games developed a revolutionary system to randomly generate NPCs without significantly affecting performance? Player-made characters in GTA Online within GTA V tend to struggle with unique faces, all looking similarly bland, but that seems to be a thing of the past with GTA 6.

Of course, this is our first official glimpse at Grand Theft Auto VI, and the official release is still over a year away. Still, if things only get better from here, I can only imagine how infinitely varied the NPCs might become in the final release, sporting unique tattoo combinations underneath climate-appropriate clothing.

It'll undoubtedly be another agonizing wait before we see Trailer 2, but there's plenty to dig through in this first 90-second tease for what promises to be the next biggest game in the world. Whether Grand Theft Auto can successfully knock Minecraft off its top spot as the best-selling game of all time remains to be seen, but Jez Corden explains how Microsoft has a huge and unexpected Xbox opportunity with GTA 6 that could help push its user base up significantly.

Did you notice anything particularly interesting in GTA 6 Trailer 1? Let me know in the comments, and let's theorize.

Ben Wilson
Channel Editor

Ben is the channel editor for all things tech-related at Windows Central. That includes PCs, the components inside, and any accessory you can connect to a Windows desktop or Xbox console. Not restricted to one platform, he also has a keen interest in Valve's Steam Deck handheld and the Linux-based operating system inside. Fueling this career with coffee since 2021, you can usually find him behind one screen or another. Find him on Mastodon to ask questions or share opinions.