GTA 6 Graphics

19 December 2023

The first trailer for Grand Theft Auto VI has led us to believe that GTA 6 will be a pinnacle of innovation in the world of video games. But may Rockstar Games succeed in impressing us in terms of graphics, world richness, and visual effects? By its release time in 2025, Grand Theft Auto 6 will be in development for at least ten years. Regardless of the graphics the developers envisioned in 2015, such an extended period cannot but affect the final visuals. Or can it? Let's dive into it!

Our First Impressions

What the GTA 6 does well with is the game world in its macro form. Vice City, like its real-life counterpart Miami, is truly vast. Business and banking centers, skyscrapers with apartments and hotels, commercial and entertainment complexes, villa-filled neighborhoods with access to the sea, a massive port, low-rise buildings, and the Haitian-Cuban ghetto — everything is here!

Rockstar Games didn't skimp on the buildings. Since the frame fits a hundred of buildings with different geometries and designs, there's no noticeable difficulty for the engine in rendering such a quantity. This indicates that the RAGE has significant improvements. The new GTA creates a perception of a more vibrant and realistic urban space than GTA 5, with many buildings boasting unique details, adding a semblance of real Miami to the world.

Examining the game world from a bird's-eye view, it becomes clear that Rockstar still pays meticulous attention to surface detailing. Every free place in the game world is busy with something. Similar places in GTA 5 contained one nondescript model, a tree, or even a waste space, while GTA 6 has many more such filler objects. Moreover, they come in various forms and types, not just for quantity, but with diverse variations. Nature has made its breakthrough into urban development with diverse vegetation — from short and tall grass to shrubs, trees, and palms — creating a sense of a lively and authentic world.

Another significant similarity between Vice City and Miami, reflected in the trailer, is the abundance of water in various forms. From private pools, large water bodies, civilized navigable canals, and the ocean coastline to quiet backwaters and wild lagoons where alligators lurk and flamingos inhabit.

Rumors about the sixth GTA paying more attention to the quality of the water environment and its physics are confirmed. These changes are also noticeable when looking at the water surface from above. The waves now have a more voluminous appearance, naturally oscillating along the extensive length of the city beach. It's not just the wave shape that impresses—characteristic foam and bubbles enliven the water's surface. Together, they splendidly reflect in the rays of lightю. We conclude that Rockstar has enhanced this since the times of GTA 5.

Another contributing factor to the updated water environment is the depth of its levels and the array of diverse shades. The water thickness in Grand Theft Auto VI is visualized with darker shades, making the bottom almost indistinguishable, while thin surface areas remain light, clearly indicating shallow depth. The water's hue also distinguishes oceanic water (blue-green) from seawater (green) and flowing water (light blue), making the environment more convincing.

Speaking of water physics, it's noticeable how motorboats and other light transport bounce more intensively off their surface, signaling a higher density of water compared to GTA 5. Perhaps Rockstar will further refine the game physics to achieve a more accurate and natural interaction between game objects and the water surface. How detailed is the seabed? We don't know and avoid speculating for now.

In GTA 6, the sky is filled with voluminous clouds of various shapes and sizes, creating amazing compositions that change their appearance like real clouds. Unlike GTA 5, the new game's sky is not limited to shades of blue but is colored in a greater variety, indicating that Rockstar has worked on sunsets (and sunrises too). The color shifts above the horizon reveal a reworked and improved global illumination model of the RAGE engine.

With just a couple of shots, Rockstar hinted at the natural world of GTA 6, but even so, it became clear that it evolved much more diverse than GTA 5, aiming to be the successor to Red Dead Redemption 2. Fortunately, due to the similarity of the two biomes, assets and models from one game can migrate to another. Impressive detailing creates a sense that nature will become even more vibrant and diverse in the context of GTA 6, embodying the Florida biome with its swaying swamps and dense forests. The trailer promises encounters with diverse fauna, including flamingos, crocodiles, and other wildlife species.

Density of the Environment

Moving from the macro-level to the first-person perspective — examining what each player will see for most of the playthrough — allows for several interesting observations.

The crowd density of NPCs has significantly increased, and the bots now exhibit much higher detailing in their models and looks. Variations in the shapes and styles of human models, as well as options for their clothing and appearance, are striking. There are muscular guys with bandanas and bare torsos, bearded and bald individuals, and those with body vegetation and tattoos. Women in ordinary clothes and trendy swimsuits, with short or voluminous hair. In the latter case, there seems to be a certain hair physics — though it is still unclear whether they respond to the wind or follow a pre-recorded script.

The dances performed by NPCs in the trailer clearly indicate an improvement in the animation of individual parts of models in GTA 6. In simpler terms, the bots — their limbs — move much more actively. Rockstar has evidently worked on this aspect in Grand Theft Auto VI, but it's a more common enhancement rather than a complete overhaul. The NPCs do not move as flawlessly as in Red Dead Redemption 2, but better than in GTA 5. That's logical, considering the scale of GTA and the complexity of the animation system from RDR 2, which is challenging to adapt to the extensive crowds in GTA 6.

Visual effects seen in the first trailer are wet surfaces from rain, mud splashes, more tire smoke, and surface tessellation (footsteps on sand and mud). The increased detailing of cars and the dense traffic on the streets also seem evident.

The graphics of GTA 6 rival other similar open-world projects — high-quality and diverse textures, a precise play of light and shadow, a new particle system, even more advanced mocap for actors, intricately filled interiors with small objects. More dynamic weather effects, including storms, fog, and possibly natural disasters. Will ray tracing be used? In our opinion, it might be excessive for a game of this scale.

Grandiose Legacy of Grand Theft Auto

Likely, the visual difference between the sixth installment and GTA 5 won't be as significant as between GTA V and GTA IV, and we will inevitably encounter technical limitations of the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Causing a slight downgrade for some visual elements to the release. However, the PC version will bring back all of the cut techs.

One thing is evident: each new GTA version has made a significant leap forward in graphics overall and in the level of detail for every part of the game world. GTA 6's Vice City will raise the bar even higher, recreating the atmosphere of Miami in every neighborhood and emphasizing its unique features.

Moreover, Rockstar has a tendency to enhance the graphics and detailing relative to earlier trailers and screenshots. GTA 6 will become even more stunning and refined as its release date approaches.


The anticipation for the release of the next GTA is the most thrilling adventure for fans of the series. The history of Rockstar Games leaves no doubt that the anticipation will be more than justified. The first trailer clearly indicated that GTA 6 will not be "just a game" — but a monument to how we perceive virtual worlds.

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