Another day, another instance of GTA 6 trending on social media. So strong is the hype for the next installment of Rockstar's long-standing crime simulator series, that it seems to be among the most discussed topics on my feeds at least once a week at this stage. Officially, we know it's in active development – and, as you might have spied back in July, developer Rockstar is reportedly prioritizing GTA 6 over shelved Red Dead Redemption and GTA 4 remasters, but could revisit them.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of chatting to the GTA 4 community keeping Liberty City alive – an increasingly popular group of avid hobbyists, whose prospective recruits are actively purchasing PS3 consoles in 2022, simply to join in the fun. It's abundantly clear that people want Grand Theft Auto 6 at this point, but how does the most active contingent of Niko Belic supporters feel about an official GTA 4 remaster today? "I believe Rockstar owes it to their fans," says El Fuga, a long-serving Grand Theft Auto 4 player and the still-active PS3 community's primary organizer. "We've also felt a little bit let down over the last few years."
If I can make it here
The fact that players are still flocking to a game now over 14 years old, picking up obsolete hardware in order to do so, and finding new ways to connect in-game and out tells you everything you need to know about the enduring appeal of GTA 4. But with the release of Red Dead Redemption in 2010, LA Noire in 2011, Max Payne 3 in 2012, GTA 5 in 2013, Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018, and the seemingly perpetual allure of GTA Online – it being responsible for Grand Theft Auto 5's presence across three whole console generations – it's also fair to say Rockstar has been otherwise engaged over the last decade and-a-half, with more pressing priorities than revisiting Liberty City.
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition may have applied a fresh lick of paint to old school GTA 3, GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas in late 2021, but its divisive reception (outsourced to third-party studio Grove Street Games) has cast a long shadow, meaning anything coming directly from Rockstar in remaster terms would, surley, only receive the go-ahead if as close to perfect as possible. For El Fuga, the GTA Trilogy was a slap in the face to GTA 4 – made worse by the fact number four's 10-year anniversary passed without an inordinate amount of fanfare in 2018.
He says: "I feel the game deserves the effort of a remaster considering how popular it is. They remastered GTA: San Andreas after its 10th anniversary in 2014, yet on the GTA 4 tenth anniversary in 2018, it didn't even get a mention. I believe Rockstar owe it to their fans so that they can experience the game on a newer console to give them a more up to date experience. After all, not everyone still owns their PS3 or is on the Xbox side."
"In addition to this, some of the old players were discussing the remaster coming out on our Telegram group chat. We talked about the possibility of it being a downgrade – this would essentially be a remastered single player, but with worse mechanics and more importantly, no multiplayer. I don't feel the game should be changed too much. It’s important not to overdo it with the changes otherwise the game will lose its original elements which made it so good, and players will feel like it's a different game altogether. I would keep the same physics and atmospheric effects and just enhance the visuals to make them look more modern and updated."
The city never sleeps
With game preservation in mind, the thought of Rockstar shuttering GTA 4's online servers can't be far from the minds of El Fuga and the active PS3 community he coordinates. Rockstar has already discontinued GTA 4's servers on PC, and while there are still ways to play online in an unofficial capacity, applying similar restrictions to consoles would all but kill the multiplayer scene.
This fact isn't lost on El Fuga, and while he's pleased with what he describes as a "thriving" community at present, he has a contingency plan lined up should the lights go out on his hardware of choice. "I'm on the PS3 side which is alive and kicking, and I've not heard of any plans for it to be discontinued so far", El Fuga says. "From what I've read in several forums, the reason it's still accessible online is supposedly because GTA 4's servers on PS3 are peer-to-peer based, meaning there aren't any dedicated or dependant servers. GTA 5 had a dedicated server for PS3 which was shut down last year."
"To this end, I'd have to assume there will continue to be GTA 4 multiplayer servers for PS3 as long as the PlayStation Network is working for the console. But, if it does close for our platform, there is always the Xbox side. Xbox players are lucky in that GTA 4 works cross-platform across their newer generation consoles. They can play GTA 4 in 60FPS too – the original was, of course, 30FPS. That would be a cool alternative, provided they don't shut it down there as well."
A perfect solution to avoid all of this, of course, would be a fully-fledged GTA 4 remaster on modern hardware. For El Fuga, while delighted to be able to play his favorite game 14 years on from release on a console that was discontinued in Europe and the US in 2016, it's the ambiguity that surrounds a possible GTA 4 remaster that frustrates him, and the wider active community, most. He adds: "It's the endless rumors about a potential remaster, and then seeing articles about Rockstar putting the plans on standby – all of that is confusing fans to no end. Some clarity would be nice. And as fans, I reckon we deserve that much."
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