Good news: we might be seeing some new Rockstar projects soon, which is exciting, isn't it? Yes. But what will they be? Here's a quick rundown of the games it may have up its sleeve, and how likely it is we'll see them before earth collapses into the sun like a drunk football fan near a water fountain. They're never not falling into water fountains.
The strong favourite among the bookies (my brain), Red Dead Redemption 2 – or whatever it actually gets called – could happen, and absolutely should happen. It's been six years since Redemption launched, and it showed Rockstar could transplant its genius for open worlds from contemporary piss-taking to period melodrama with not too much bother. Apart from that allegedly tortured development.
Anyway, the real question surrounding Red Dead Redemption 2: Red Dead Redemptioner is just when it will take place. One of the key themes of the first game's story was the passing of the Old West into history and myth, to be replaced with a new future where floors were cobbled and horses now had metal boxes for bodies and wheels for legs. Striding into Blackwater at the game's end – after tens of hours of bowling around the dusty plains of California and Mexico – was like stepping into the future.
So, where next for Red Dead? It can't really be set after Redemption, because people would moan it's 'not western enough'. The American Civil War seems to be a popular choice among pundits, journalists, and other people too lazy to think of anything else. Would it be a good call? Well, the conflict angle would be fine, but what about the politics, of race and everything else?
Who knows. Just make it happen, yeah?
Chance of happening in 2017: High. Not nailed-on, like a Cantona penalty or a Cantona kung-fu kick, but still reasonably solid. October announcement/May release? Could happen.
As much as I love Red Dead Redemption, the Rockstar sequel that I want to see more than any other – even more than GTA 6 – is Bully 2. Long-rumoured, and at one time seemingly confirmed by the first game's composer (before, I assume, he was tasered and blasted off towards the moon), there is still no sign of a return to the world of Jimmy Hopkins.
Which is a damn shame, because in Bully Rockstar created quite possibly its most atmospheric title yet. Bullworth academy, its surrounding areas, and your actions within them are defined by a childlike sense of exploration and glee: finding a secret pirate ship, sneaking out after curfew, going to a fair, getting into scraps with bigger boys. By sizing down your ambition as well as your stature, Bully turns the mundanity into excitement, while at the same time layering Bullworth with just enough adventure that it all seems like some sort of idealised version of a childhood you never had but still somehow remember. For a company best known for putting out open-world games with more violent tendencies than a YouTube comment section, it's no small feat to cast players in the role of an emotionally vulnerable child, and pull it off. Oh, and the soundtrack was amazing. Shame that guy is dead now.
Anyway, where next for a sequel? Military school, obviously. Obviously. Just think of the japes. Going to university/college would be a bit too similar to the setup of the first game, where Jimmy is already an in-house student in a very preppy environment. But military school would bring a distinct flavour: different rules, different authority figures, and a whole slew of pop culture references to chew on. Here's hoping Bill Paxton turns up.
Chances of happening in 2017: Middling. Unless the composer breaks cover and announces it again, of course, but it seems unlikely, given there's no oxygen on the moon.
Chances of happening in 2017: What?
Could the next Rockstar game be a GTA sequel? Maybe. I mean, it definitely could, unless Rockstar sells it to Branson or something. But with GTA 5 still selling more copies than crack-flavoured Red Bull, there's not that much pressure on the studio to deliver a new instalment. There are also other considerations, the most pressing being where the series goes next. Rockstar has been looping through the same locales since the first GTA, and although Miami hasn't featured in the 'HD era' yet it's difficult to know if the studio would attempt it. After Los Santos, would it be seen as a step back in both size and diversity of environment? Isn't it a bit, well, flat?
Who knows. But I don't think we're likely to see a new GTA for a few years. Some expansion stuff? Perhaps. And, besides, I still want Bully 2 instead. So there you go.
Chances of happening in 2017: Low, unlike the sales for the last one. 65 million copies shipped. That is an outrage, but a good outrage, like when you celebrate sports-goals by smashing up buses and town centres and all that.
Max Payne 3 ended with Maximus L. Payne heading off into a literal sunset, so where Rockstar goes next with the man with both more Uzi's and more gall than Uziel Gal is a mystery. Just how much can one man go through? Surely his liver has packed in by now? Well, maybe. But, here's the thing: Max Payne loves shooting people. Loves it. He literally cannot stop doing it. All this shite about avenging his family and what not, it's all rubbish. Killing is what Max does, just as some people sit in cubicles, or wear hats. It comes easily. So I wouldn't be surprised to see him return.
Chances of happening in 2017: Low, like Max after a hungover shootdodge.
Absolutely not happening, but still. The first game was a smart look at video game violence and player agency, as well as being utterly suffocating in its atmosphere. It was a game where I was glad to get a gun, so I could blast people's heads off rather than jab them in the eyes with broken shards of glass. The sequel was terrible, going for shock value and missing the point of the original. It seems unlikely that we'll see a second sequel. But wait...what if Rockstar did a VR version? No. Imagine the outcry. Imagine. There'd be more wailing than a banshee-focused cover version of Master of Puppets. No.
Chances of happening in 2017: Non-existent, like the media not taking Rockstar's games at face value.
Chances of happening in 2017: See above.
Chances of happening in 2017: While personally I would love it to happen, it probably won't. Sorry about that.