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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With the Freemode Events Week promo having concluded yesterday, we're hoping you've all had a chance to cash in on the double RP and GTA $ offer that was running with the event. We're also hoping that our compilation of tips and suggestions for owning the longest jump challenged helped you in that regard. With the absence of any new event launched immediately after the previous one ended, we're hoping Rockstar will crown the weekend with some kind of big announcement. Note: Yes, we realize there has since been an event announcement, but this was true at the time of writing.
That said, they've already dropped an announcement yesterday regarding something they have been teasing for a while now. Oh, no, unfortunately it isn't DLC. We're talking about the GTA Online Stunt Race Creator contest, which has players whip up a custom stunt track using all of the new props that were added to the Content Creator recently. The grand prize you're gunning for is 8 million in in-game currency, so there is plenty of incentive to get you crafting.
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We also published our longest "City of the Week" article a few days ago, which was examining a foreign city. The article took a good long look at how suitable the Philippine capital, Manila, would be as the setting of GTA VI, and it turned out that it would actually work really well. If you want to know why and learn more about the city, check out the full article!
But once again it is Friday, which means we once again look at one of the great cities found in the land of the free. While before this, it was usually a surprise each week what you'd be reading about, but when we looked at Cheyenne last week, we mentioned we'd hit Denver next. So, here goes!
The Mile High City (not named as such due to any relation with the mile high club. You dirty dirty person) happens to have been named the best place to live in the USA this year - we mention that so off hand as to give things a positive start. Seeing as the GTA franchise has always been about deconstructing the "American Dream", how about setting it in the city which, apparently, best reflects said dream today?
As the most populous city and capital of the state of Colorado, Denver is a pretty big and notable town. Funnily enough, not only is the city the 19th largest in the country, but the metropolitan statistical area it is part of is also the 19th largest in the country. The word "statistical" is important there, because the metropolitan area (without "statistical") that includes Denver is the 16th most populous with almost three and a half million residents. Can you imagine, they pay someone to come up with this system?
Denver is ranked as a "Beta -" world city in terms of globalization, which in layman's terms means that it benefits from international business, trade and influence while also helping the rest of the world, but is hit with less of the negative things that come with globalization, such as a proliferation of shell-companies used for illegal activity and much more. Obviously this isn't what the official definition of a Beta - city is, but effectively this is what it means for the everyday citizen.
In geographical terms, Denver may not seem like the best choice at first glance for a GTA game. Namely, there is barely any water around. No particularly large lakes or particularly wide rivers. That said, Denver has another geographical asset that allows it to dodge this bullet: Mountains. Lots of 'em. Now, Rockstar, and pretty much all game developers these days, opt for natural boundaries around their maps instead of invisible walls. While placing the player on an island is the easiest approach, Rockstar could always surround the map with mountains that cannot be scaled. Last week we already praised the other natural assets of the region when speaking about Cheyenne.
This brings us to another advantage of the area. Take Denver, a large city that has fused with surrounding settlements, make it the primary urban area on the map, use video game magic to move the Rocky Mountains northeast, and place Cheyenne as the secondary city location at the northern extreme of the map and bingo. Two cities, plenty of wilderness. What's not to like?
As far as Denver itself goes, it's not like you'll get bored and run to the mountains too soon. In between 78 official neighborhoods, Denver has a pretty damn varied cityscape. Over the course of its development, Denver has gained a kind of ring-like structure in terms of architectural distribution, though obviously there will be exceptions to this rule. What do we mean by this? Well, you have the city core, which is the modern business area downtown. Then you have a ring of older city-center featuring older buildings, a ring of post-World War II buildings with a more modern take, a ring of new-urbanist buildings which want to look like older buildings, and yet another ring of modern suburban areas. New, to old, to relatively new, to wannabe old to new again.
Add the surrounding other cities with which Denver has fused, like Aurora, Lakewood, Thornton plus others, and you have a large urban mass with different and unique areas to keep players interested and hooked.
Denver's geographical location has been a boon to its economy. Not only is it the only large city within an 800 KM radius, it also happens to be at a roughly equal distance from the major cities of the west coast and the midwest - many of which have appeared in GTA games in the past or have been examined in this article series. As such, Denver is a major regional distributor while also a transport hub for national deliveries.
Denver is also either the current or former home of a very long list of important and internationally notable companies, though we'll stick to the current ones. The Newmont Mining Company, one of the largest producers of gold, have their base in Denver, along with companies like AIMCO and Molson Coors Brewing Company.
Aside from cargo shipping and major private companies, the Federal Government is also heavily invested in Denver. As we mentioned before, it is the biggest city in an 800 KM radius, making it the obvious choice for the major offices for regional administrations. The nearby Rocky Mountains have also made Denver a hotspot for mining companies, provided they can survive next to Newmont.
While Denver obviously suffers from the typical issues you get with big cities, it has seemingly cleaned up its act better than most other American metropoli. Between January and July in 2016, a total of 27 homicides were reported - the exact same number as during the same period last year. Now, for a city of over 600,000, that's a pretty damn good rate, even if we take into account the potential amount of unreported murders.
Denver is also pretty low on most other counts as well. That said, almost 4000 cars were stolen during that same period, so it's not like a GTA game set in Denver would be entirely implausible, but still these are not the kind of numbers a typical player would rack up.
While we mentioned Denver's location as a boon earlier, every coin has two sides, and being at such a crossroads also brings some disadvantages with it. Denver is a frequent pit-stop for all forms of illegal trafficking. Be it drugs, weapons, people, animals, goods or money, if it's going from the west coast to the midwest or the other way around, chances are it will pass through Denver. Interestingly enough, though these illegal goods travel through the city, them being used or them turning up is somewhat less common than in other cities.
I find that we're saying this a lot on this article series, but truth is, Denver just isn't all that iconic. Nothing in its skyline jumps out at you that immediately screams "yeah, that's Denver". It has a whole lot of notable landmarks, just none that the average learned foreigner would recognize off-hand.
The recognition section is usually the one most frequently slammed by commenters whenever one of these articles go up, and usually the people waving the pitchforks are natives of the city - listen, I've only ever been to SanFran in the USA, and that was more than a decade ago. Maybe you know some important place in your city that isn't mentioned here, but we're looking at this with the eyes of a foreigner - meaning the majority of the game's audience.
Anyway, notable buildings and locations include the Mile High Center, Lincoln Center, the Trinity United Methodist Church, Union Station, Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the Colorado State Capitol. I bet most of our readers don't know what those look like without calling upon Google.
Rockstar could really capitalize on the whole "crossroads" factor present in Denver. The protagonist could be the member of some local smuggling ring responsible from picking up incoming shipments and transferring them to the outbound transport without catching the eye of the authorities, who happen to be cracking down on such operations. One mission goes extremely wrong, and only the protagonist survives. He is then forced into a deal wherein he helps the cops uncover other similar outfits but infiltrating them, gaining their trust by doing a few smuggling missions, then calling in the police.
Over the course of the story he would need to protect his cover from the other criminals. At the same time, it quickly becomes apparent that the cops he made his deal with are crooked themselves - hence the wanted system still being in play, as honest police don't know the protagonist is technically working for them - and the player is dragged into a dangerous game where both sides want him dead, while at the same time both want him to help them take the other down. In the end the player must choose which side he ends up helping, with the added option of attempting at bringing them both down in a display of vengeful wrath.
Pros: Geography, story potential, Cheyenne
Cons: Crime rate is low, poor recognition
Denver is in the precarious position of being notable enough within the United States while boasting good geographic characteristics and a great story potential in order to act as a great GTA map, however when looking at it as an outsider, it just isn't famous enough. Add to that the low crime rate, and we couldn't really give it an A, even if it were a minus.
Which city do you hope to see next week?