GTA 6 looks to be set in the modern day, but where is it exactly on Rockstar Games’ elaborate Grand Theft Auto timeline?

Longtime GTA fans will know that, despite recent history, the franchise isn’t always one to adhere to a modern-day setting.

In fact, we’ve had only a handful of Grand Theft Auto games actually set in this millennium, with the majority of titles taking place before the year 2000.

Where Is GTA 6 on the Timeline?

GTA 6 looks to be set in 2025 in Rockstar Games’ HD timeline, making it by far the most modern Grand Theft Auto title yet.

The game will take place twelve years after GTA 5, which was set in 2013.

Interestingly, while GTA Online was initially set shortly before the events of GTA 5, it has since received additional story content that pushes the multiplayer title forward in time.

GTA Protagonists Over the Years

Nowadays, GTA Online takes place in the present day, which means it’ll likely more or less sync up with GTA 6 on the timeline when the new game is released.

It’s worth noting that Rockstar Games hasn’t actually confirmed the year that its next game takes place in – but there’s strong evidence to suggest that GTA 6 is set in 2025.

If so, Grand Theft Auto 6 will be the most modern game on the timeline in all three GTA universes. And if you don’t know what that means, let’s get into it:

All GTA Timelines Explained

Rockstar Games has officially confirmed that there are three unique timelines in the Grand Theft Auto series:

  • The 2D Universe Timeline
  • The 3D Universe Timeline
  • The HD Universe Timeline

Each of these timelines takes place in a separate universe, meaning that characters and events from one timeline won’t affect the others. However, cities such as Liberty City, San Andreas, and Vice City feature in every universe.

We’ve already put together a list of how to play all GTA games in timeline order, but here’s a quick breakdown of which games belong to which universe:

The 2D Universe

The 2D universe was the timeline that kicked off the GTA franchise.

It consists of the following games:

  • Grand Theft Auto
    • Grand Theft Auto London 1969 (Mission Pack)
    • Grand Theft Auto London 1961 (Mission Pack)
  • Grand Theft Auto 2

Interestingly, Rockstar Games chose to go back to the ’60s for the first and only time in GTA 1’s Mission Pack expansions.

GTA 1 and 2 2D Timeline

Then, in GTA 2, the developer left the game’s setting ambiguous, with references to both an upcoming Y2K crisis as well as futuristic weapons present in-game.

The actual 2D universe timeline looks like this:

GameSetting
Grand Theft Auto London 19611961
Grand Theft Auto London 19691969
Grand Theft Auto1997
Grand Theft Auto 21999-2013 (Unclear)

The 3D Universe

The aptly named 3D universe was where the GTA games began to expand, not only into three dimensions but also in terms of worlds, gameplay, and more.

Rockstar Games began to introduce voice acting to the game alongside a controllable camera and an open world to explore.

The 3D universe timeline features the following games:

  • Grand Theft Auto 3
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
  • Grand Theft Auto Advance
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  • Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

In its 3D universe, Rockstar Games preferred to step into the past, prioritizing the ’80s and ’90s over a modern-day setting.

GTA 3, Vice City, San Andreas Key Art

In fact, only GTA 3 was set in the same year that it released, 2001, with all subsequent releases taking place before it on the timeline.

Ordered chronologically, the 3D universe timeline looks like this:

GameSetting
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories1984
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City1986
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas1992
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories1998
Grand Theft Auto: Advance2000
Grand Theft Auto 32001

The HD Universe

Finally, the HD universe kicked off with GTA 4 and has been the active timeline we’ve been playing in ever since.

The HD universe consists of the following games so far:

  • Grand Theft Auto 4
    • The Lost and the Damned (DLC)
    • The Ballad of Gay Tony (DLC)
  • Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
  • Grand Theft Auto 5
  • Grand Theft Auto Online
  • Grand Theft Auto 6

Interestingly, all Grand Theft Auto games in the HD timeline (with the exception of GTA 4’s DLC) were set in the same year they were released, which is one of the main reasons that GTA 6 is almost certainly set in 2025.

GTA Chinatown Wars, Niko Bellic, Franklin

Furthermore, as mentioned above, GTA Online was initially set in 2013, but has since moved to present day via live service story updates.

The HD universe timeline looks like this:

GameSetting
Grand Theft Auto 42008
Grand Theft Auto 4: The Lost and the Damned2008
Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony2008
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars2009
Grand Theft Auto Online2013-2024
Grand Theft Auto 52013
Grand Theft Auto 62025 (Unconfirmed)

The Full GTA Timeline

But if all these separate universes didn’t exist, and all Grand Theft Auto games took place on the same timeline, what would that look like?

Don’t worry, we’ve got the answer:

GameSetting
GTA: London 19611961
GTA: London 19691969
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories1984
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City1986
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas1992
Grand Theft Auto1997
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories1998
Grand Theft Auto 21999-2013 (Unclear)
Grand Theft Auto: Advance2000
Grand Theft Auto 32001
Grand Theft Auto 42008
Grand Theft Auto 4: The Lost and the Damned2008
Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony2008
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars2009
Grand Theft Auto: Online2013-2024
Grand Theft Auto 52013
Grand Theft Auto 62025 (Unconfirmed)

What’s interesting about the split universes is that it means that GTA 6 will be the first time we’ve actually set foot in this version of Vice City.

Despite the iconic Miami-inspired location appearing in several other games already, we’ve never actually seen it in the HD universe. And though we suspect we’ll see nods to Vice City protagonist Tommy Vercetti along the way, it’s actually impossible for him to turn up in-game.

That’s assuming that Rockstar Games continues to play by its own rules.

author
Managing Editor
With almost a decade of experience in video game journalism, Max is a well-versed writer from Manchester, United Kingdom. His expertise shines in his comprehensive coverage of GTA 6, providing fans with the latest news and developments regarding the highly-anticipated sequel.
Est. GTA 6 Launch
468d : 14h : 29m : 7s