Before you call us out on this, seeing as Red Dead Redemption was pretty much Grand Theft Horse and seeing as the future of that franchise has more than a little impact on the future of GTA, we thought it to be prudent to cover it.
It seems that Rockstar artists showing a little more in their portfolios than they should is slowly becoming something of a trend. Maybe this is some new coordinate-leak-based marketing strategy to get the community speaking about stuff which has yet to be announced in order to build hype?
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Either way, with the buzz around E3 reaching new heights and it being pretty much guaranteed that Rockstar won't be showing off any GTA related stuff, Red Dead seems to be the next most likely candidate, so this might be plausible.
Recently, a different artist still in the employ of Rockstar published a screenshot of a graphically overhauled location in Liberty City. This kicked off a venue of speculation as to the city being added to GTA Online as a larger expansion, which sounds possible, but is unlikely. Another idea this spawned was that GTA IV might get a remastered version for the current gen consoles, which seems like a much likelier scenario.
However now a different artist, one Matt Clyne has accidentally revealed what looks like a screenshot of a never-before seen area from Red Dead Redemption with upgraded graphics. The image was quickly put under a password lock once the publisher seemingly realized this, but not before it was saved by excited fans.
The fact that image was restricted gives this leak much more credibility. The screenshot shows a wooden house standing in what looks like a swamp, or possibly in a bay lining the coast. A similar area was indeed present in Red Dead Redemption, however it lacked such a house.
Some players suggested that maybe the image is just an work-in-progress screenshot of Red Dead Redemption, since during production most games are visually more advanced than the optimized, final release.
However, a few very attentive fans spotted something easy to miss - a specific graphical effect called chromatic aberration, which is present in GTA 5, can be seen in this screenshot as well - thing is, that option wasn't present in RDR's engine. In fact, this effect didn't exist back then.
This means one of two things: Either we're looking at a remastered version of Red Dead Redemption which also has had its map changed/updated, or we're looking at another Red Dead game.
Now, players have pointed out the "Red Dead Redemption" logo in the corner, however that version of the logo wasn't ever actually used in official material - meaning that it was probably just tacked on to the image either to denote being part of the Red Dead franchise, or to cover up something else under it. Maybe the actual logo of the next game?
A third Red Dead game (don't forget Revolver) has been a long time coming. Redemption never made it to PC, however PS3 and Xbox 360 (plus Xbox One players, albeit by accident and only briefly) enjoyed the game immensely.
Players have been asking for another installment practically since Redemption was launched - in fact, the lack of one was surprising to everyone seeing how successful RDR turned out to be. Requests for a PC port have been just as frequent and back when the PC version of GTA 5 was announced, players hoped one for RDR would follow.
Earlier this year, a mock-up map for what could be the next Red Dead game was leaked. Despite many players being skeptical, after rigorous analysis, many fans found it to be quite likely legitimate. This map has been making the rounds since in Red Dead fan communities. While it doesn't mean much, based on the map, there are a few locations which could fit the leaked screenshot, at least geographically.
Take-Two Interactive Software, the parent company of Rockstar Games, has a policy of not milking franchises to the point of fatigue. Even so, they have a line-up of "permanent" franchises, to which they always return. They listed GTA and Red Dead among these permanent franchises, even though Red Dead has only had two games in total, of which only one was successful.
This proves further that the company plans on creating more Red Dead content. Seeing as Agent is probably canned, it's almost guaranteed that we'll be seeing the announcement of the next Red Dead game at E3 less than two weeks from now.
Following the success of GTA Online, chances are Rockstar will also create an Online component for their next main project. Seeing as Red Dead has much in common with GTA, creating Red Dead Online shouldn't be too difficult.
What do you think/hope this screenshot shows? A Red Dead Remaster or a Red Dead Revival?