GTA 6 City of the Week is a weekly article series here on GTA BOOM. Every week, we will evaluate a different city in the United States, gauging how well it would fit GTA 6 as a setting.
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This week wasn't particularly explosive when it comes to news around GTA. Many expected the big Sony press conference, which revealed the new PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro along with footage from a number of highly anticipated games such as Mass Effect Andromeda would also yield announcements from Rockstar. It wasn't entirely unreasonable to expect something, seeing that the mysterious game titled "Agent", which may or may not be under development, was slated as a Sony exclusive.
Alas, the lips of Rockstar Games remained sealed, leaving us with the same speculation as before. However, seeing as we should make the best of what we have, we've put together a poll here on GTA BOOM surveying which of the three most likely new projects the community wants the most. With GTA 6, Red Dead 3 and, though tentatively, GTA 5 Story DLC seem like the most likely candidates for being in production ,those were the options we offered.
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The poll will be open until the 21st of September, though we've already collected over 400 votes! Currently it seems that GTA 6 is the most anticipated potential project, though that might still change in the days to come. We'll be posting a summary article about the survey and its results when the voting has closed.
In other news, a glitch discovered over a week ago has, in the time since, wreaked havoc in GTA Online's racing scene causing the balance to be completely whacked. The glitch is tied to frame rates, though it results in a massive boost of speed for the Annis RE-7B in a certain config in all cases. There has been no word on a patch or fix yet from Rockstar, though based on how quickly they fixed the Banshee 900R back in the day, we won't have to wait too long.
We will have to wait a few years until a new GTA game rears its head, though. The community may (so far) seemingly favor the next main installment in the flagship franchise of Rockstar, but chances are they'll leave the series some time to rest. Naturally, that doesn't stop speculation, so let's check out yet another possible location for the next big GTA game stateside.
Somehow we keep coming back to the east coast, don't we? Of course, it might have something to do with the high concentration of major cities in the region which would make for some pretty swell GTA locations. Then again, it's not like the franchise is any stranger to the coast either, what with Liberty City being based on New York and all.
Baltimore is not only the largest city in the state of Maryland, but the largest independent city in the United States, meaning that it does not form a part of any county within the state. It is known for being deeply rooted in history, having some of the most historic landmarks in the country as well as the highest rate of buildings present on the National Register of Historic Places.
The City of Neighborhoods, as it is sometimes referred to, features over 200 separate official designated neighborhoods. With such a large amount, massive deviation can be expected, making the city visually and architecturally varied. Downtown Baltimore is a modern, high-rise business district one come to expect from major American cities, featuring a particularly scenic bay area, which is most prominently featured in promotional images.
Obviously, as is the case with all major cities, Baltimore has many faces. While the idyllic, modern, clean and stylish Inner Bay area is also a real side of the city, so are the quieter, roomier suburbs and poorer, run-down blocks. The city also features quite a few large parks and green areas to break up the otherwise urban monotony.
From a geographic standpoint, Baltimore is pretty good, but not quite good enough to be overtly praised. The bay is a major feature of the city, yes, but it is just a smaller inlet coming from a bigger inlet, meaning that technically the city isn't even coastal, depending on how you look at it (people who know this sort of thing, sorry if I'm wrong here). Point is, while there is a lot of water, it isn't quite enough to justify turning the city into an island off-hand.
That said, the other geographical markers are looking good. Other, smaller settlements right next to, or nearby, the city? Check. Areas free of urbanization nearby? Check (with some liberty taken, though). Baltimore's prominent bay is something that cannot be ignored, but unfortunately, it isn't as much of a boon as such formations were in the case of other cities.
In terms of industry, Baltimore has been forced to go through some major career changes, so to say. Early in its existence, the city established itself as a major port and industrial producer. This was later augmented with distribution and mercantile responsibilities with the completion of a major railway linking the city to Ohio. Over time, the city's persona as being a major industrial powerhouse solidified with numerous manufacturing plants springing up to live off the busy port. Said port also resulted in Baltimore being a main gateway for immigrants.
However recently this role shifted following a sudden bout of deindustrialization. The city has been repurposed to be more of a service provider and tourist destination rather than an industrial giant, though signs of its past remain. The Johns Hopkins University and Hospital have become some of the biggest employers in the city, while since 2013 a massive rise in science and tech related companies has made the city a start-up hot-spot.
Recently a major and culturally significant tragedy occurred in Baltimore which must be mentioned. After an african-american man was arrested under questionable pretenses by six police officers who allegedly used greater force than necessary. Possibly as a result of said force, Freddie Carlos Gray, Jr. died due to injuries sustained to his spine. The six officers were suspended with trials pending, however after a string of incidents involving police-on-african-american violence across the country, several protests followed. Some of these turned violent, resulting in the declaration of a state of emergency and the summoning of the National Guard.
On a more positive note, the poem " The Star-Spangled Banner", which is today the official national anthem of the USA, was written in Baltimore during the War of 1812.
Baltimore has always has issues with crime. While there are many benefits of having so many and so varied neighborhoods, it also means that some of them will be rife with gang activity, drug use and violence. Due to crime in these areas, Baltimore has always soared above the national averages in terms of crime.
In fact, 2015 saw the second most homicides in the history of the city with 344 murders having been reported. This spike was associated with the increase in violence following the protests and riots spawned by the unjustified and unprovoked potential-murder of Freddie Gray, which we described above.
Almost 90% of these murders were a result of shootings, and if you include non-fatal shootings, more than 900 illegal shots sounded in Baltimore over the course of the year. Most of the crime is centered around areas with major gang activity, however a significant amount occurred in otherwise "safe" areas.
While unfortunate for the city, these statistics make it good material for a GTA setting.
With its high concentration of historic buildings and general historic significance, Baltimore is pretty iconic and easy to recognise, even for international players. Landmarks include the Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower, the train station, the city hall, Washington Monument, Baltimore City College and the National Aquarium.
Now, you might be raising an eyebrow at why we only mentioned one truly "historic" building in that lineup. Simply put, most of the historic buildings in the city are just regular houses that happen to be really old. Other than that, a massive fire ravaged the city in 1904, resulting in many older buildings having been destroyed in the inner city. Even so, the city has the most historic buildings in the country, an achievement made even more impressive due to the fire.
Baltimore adds to the ever growing list of blank slate cities. There isn't much about the city that would immediately scream a given storyline, though the proliferation of gang violence does make the typical gangster-protagonist seem like the obvious route to take, though in the wake of the recent protests, Rockstar might wish to tread lightly - or not, considering their amusing penchant for stirring up controversy.
Pros: High crime rate, good geography, good recognition
Cons: No unique story potential
Baltimore actually shapes up as a pretty damn good potential setting for a GTA game. Most of the assets it needs are there, but it doesn't quite reach the same level as a few other cities we've looked at. It would certainly make for a good setting, but is unlikely to be actually chose simply because there are so many better choices out there.
Which city would you like to see next week?