Sun. Sep 26th, 2021

The three main characters from the classic PS2-era GTA games.

Image: Rockstar Games / Kotaku

After months of rumors and speculation, Kotaku has learned from sources that Rockstar Games may be remastering three classic Grand Theft Auto games. Currently, it appears these games will be released later this fall for a multitude of platforms, including the portable Nintendo Switch.

For the past year, rumors have swirled on Twitter, Reddit, and various message boards that Rockstar is working on remakes or remasters of classic, PS2-era Grand Theft Auto titles. These rumors only grew in popularity as Rockstar’s parent company, Take-Two Interactive, used DMCA takedowns to remove classic GTA mods from the internet while announcing that the publisher had three remastered games in development. While Kotaku can’t confirm what all of those teased remastered titles specifically are, we can confirm via corroborating details from three sources that GTA remasters are currently in the final stages of development.

Kotaku has reached out to Rockstar about these remastered games and future GTA re-releases. But our sources have, so far, had reliable track records that have alerted us to updates in GTA Online and Red Dead Online weeks if not months in advance.

According to these sources, Rockstar is actively developing remastered versions of Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. All three of these games are being remastered using Unreal Engine and will be a mix of “new and old graphics.” One source who claims to have seen a snippet of the games in action said that the visuals reminded them of a heavily-modded version of a classic GTA title. The UI for the games are being updated too, but will retain the same classic style. No details were shared about gameplay, but Kotaku has been told these remastered titles are trying to stay true to the PS2-era GTA games as much as possible.

Sources confirmed that Rockstar Dundee, a Scottish outpost and one of the newest studios at the company, is leading the charge on developing the remastered games. Another source explained that the studio is heavily involved in not just the remasters, but is even helping Rockstar on developing the next-gen GTA V ports that are due out later this year. This lines up with information I had heard last year, after the studio was purchased by Rockstar Games. Before becoming Rockstar Dundee, the studio was Ruffian games and had previously worked on Crackdown 2, Crackdown 3 and assisted with development on the Master Chief Collection.

The classic covers of GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas.

Image: Rockstar Games / Kotaku

Plans around these remastered GTA titles have shifted quite a bit over the last year as a result of the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, and they might continue to do so until things are officially announced. Originally, it seemed that these re-releases were going to be packaged together and given to players who purchased the upcoming next-gen ports of GTA V and GTA Online as a sort of bonus or “thank you gift” from Rockstar. Then plans changed, and the remastered trilogy was scheduled to be released earlier this year. However, plans have changed again, and now the remastered titles are planned to launch around late October or early November for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, PC, Stadia, and mobile phones.

It appears the PC and mobile ports might slip to next year as Rockstar focuses on developing the console ports first. While some might have expected Rockstar to space these releases out, if not releasing them on each games’ respective 20 year anniversary, sources told me that this isn’t the current plan. Instead, it seems all three games are to be released in one collected package that may only be sold digitally.

For fans who are more interested in other classic Rockstar games getting remastered and rereleased, sources tell me that Rockstar has plans to develop new ports of games like Red Dead Redemption. But the future of these remastered games depends on how well these initial re-releases sell.

However, for now, Rockstar is focused on getting these three remastered Grand Theft Auto games out the door alongside the GTA V next-gen ports. Dundee is leading development, and many other studios across Rockstar’s vast network of teams are also pitching in on both projects. According to one source, everyone shifting to support these titles is one major reason why Red Dead Online has seen fewer and smaller updates. But if all of this pans out it might be a very exciting year for fans of classic GTA games.

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