Strengthening long-standing rumours for years that the next Grand Theft Auto would be set in Los Angeles or a fictional version thereof, a source familiar with the game told Kotaku today that those rumours are true.
GTA V will be set in some version of LA, bringing the famous franchise to a place that last got the GTA treatment in the series' top-selling Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. (So much for our other dream GTA V cities.)
We're also hearing from multiple sources that the game will feature more than just one playable character. That would seem to be a natural evolution for the series. Following the release of the PlayStation 2's Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto Vice City, PSP games set in the same cities as those console games, let player control a single new character apiece, establishing the idea that there's more than one life worth living in a Rockstar-made GTA city.
Then, following the release of Grand Theft Auto IV the series' creators at Rockstar Games allowed gamers to play as a second and then a third character in the exact same high-definition version of Liberty City. Those who bought the base game and the two downloadable episodes could choose from the GTA IV's menu whether to play as Niko Bellic, Johnny Klebitz or Luis Lopez. Each had their own lengthy, interesting and distinct playable story. A GTA V that features more than one playable hero would extend this concept further.
Back when GTA IV was being shown to press, Rockstar representatives would stress the importance of the number in the title. As successful as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas were, they noted, it was the game that preceded them, GTA III that was a paradigm shift. They hoped and believed that GTA IV, by being a numbered game would have and merit some outsized influence of its own. If that is still the company's philosophy, then after Grand Theft Auto IV's un-numbered episodes, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, a numbered GTA V should again merit special attention. Shifting cities was not sufficient cause for a new numbered GTA before. A change to the series' formula, however, one that gives players more than one controllable character, would.
Rockstar has had a lot of experience with LA, working with Team Bondi to create a mid-20th-century version of it for this year's L.A. Noire, presenting a drive-able version in Midnight Club and, most famously of all, turning it into the amazing Los Santos as one of three featured cities in GTA: San Andreas.
Rockstar Games did not respond to requests for comment about GTA V today. Should we hear them, we'll update this piece. Otherwise, look for the official trailer for the new game on November 2.