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Notes: Addition of more content. (there are many more differences than these listed)

Perhaps here...things will be different.
Niko Bellic in GTA IV's first trailer, "Things Will Be Different".

The HD Universe is the official name given by Rockstar North via the Rockstar Games Newswire[1][2][3] to the third and current canonical universe of Grand Theft Auto series, after the 2D Universe and the 3D Universe. It is named for the high-definition 3D graphics introduced in it. The generation comprising the games set in HD Universe is the HD era, previously known as GTA IV era.

To date, the HD Universe consists of a canonical universe shared between six game titles, including a two-part standalone episodic game pack, a handheld-exclusive title and the series' long-running dedicated multiplayer title.

In 2025, Grand Theft Auto VI is expected to follow and expand the HD Universe's continuity.

Reboot[]

Reveal[]

Quotation Segments of "Pruitt Igoe" by Philip Glass (1983) QuotationReverse
HDUniverse-GTAIV-RebootReveal

The HD Universe introduced in GTA IV's "Things Will Be Different" trailer, revealing the new Liberty City.

The Grand Theft Auto III timeline is not necessarily over - but it is a different world to Grand Theft Auto IV - only the branding and certain radio personalities exist across both worlds. The reason for this was that we felt Grand Theft Auto IV was a high-definition experience and required different kinds of characters. That - and the fact that most people from the previous world are dead.
— Rockstar Games

The HD Universe was revealed during the announcement trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV on March 29, 2007, entitled Things Will Be Different - emphasising how this new world is different from the previous world.

The trailer showcases a fully rebooted Liberty City, completely different from its previous world version with completely different boroughs, including shots of several landmarks inspired by real-life New York City as well as revealing the neighboring State of Alderney, inspired by the Hudson County side of the State of New Jersey.

Koyaanisqatsi's 1983 original soundtrack "Pruitt Igoe" composed by Philip Glass is used to introduce the brand new established universe of the GTA series. The song is later included in the Grand Theft Auto IV official soundtrack as part of the story finale and on The Journey radio station.

The HD Universe officially started out in April 2008 with the release of Grand Theft Auto IV. The game was followed by Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, featuring two episodic content packs – The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony – both of which occur at the same time as GTA IV.

In 2009, Rockstar Games released Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, a Nintendo DS handheld title set one year after GTA IV, set in a full 3D cel-shaded 2009's Liberty City in isometric 3D perspective and featuring comic-style cutscenes.

The generation was known as the GTA IV era until the announcement of Grand Theft Auto V in 2011, which officially revealed that games within the series are set in different universes based on their graphics (2D, 3D and HD), contrary to the previous belief that each numbered title started a new era.[1] Grand Theft Auto Online was released two weeks after Grand Theft Auto V and it is currently the latest entry in the series.

New Lore and Canonical Changes[]

With the HD Universe reboot of the series, previous in-game branding (e.g. Sprunk, Majestic Hotel, 24/7, etc.) and media celebrities (e.g. OG Loc, Lazlow, other radio DJs, etc.) are kept in the new lore as complete different characters with complete different backstories (Lazlow born in the Midwest and Lazlow born in Upstate Liberty, for example), and major characters from the previous world are simply wiped out from existence, only referenced via story-unrelated Easter Eggs.

The three major settings (Liberty City, San Andreas and Vice City) are once again recreated as part of the series' tradition, now completely rebooted with different historical events, making previous 3D Universe events impossible to have happened in the current canon (e.g. the Harwood Incident, as Harwood has never existed in Liberty City's history).

Similar events referencing the previous world are mentioned to have happened, such as the Los Santos Riots, a factory explosion by the Triads and a weed farm burning in Flint County – all inspired by the events of the previous world but completely unrelated.

Setting[]

The HD Universe storyline is mainly set in the city of Liberty City (and the neighboring State of Alderney), the southern part of the state of San Andreas, and the southern part of the state of Leonida, all of which are located in the United States of America.

This universe also includes the island of Cayo Perico in the Caribbean region of Colombia and, briefly, the town of Ludendorff in the state of North Yankton, located south from the Canadian border region of the United States of America.

HD Universe counterparts of San Fierro, Las Venturas, Red County (including Montgomery) and Flint County are also mentioned to exist. However, these locations are yet to physically appear in the HD Universe titles.

Widely detailed, its locations are much more similar to their real-life counterparts than those of the previous universes. Its protagonists are Niko Bellic, Johnny Klebitz, Huang Lee, Luis Fernando Lopez, Michael De Santa, Trevor Philips, Franklin Clinton, the GTA Online Protagonist, Lucia and her unnamed accomplice.

Most of the games are set in their respective years of release, with exception of Episodes from Liberty City which crosses over with GTA IV's story in 2008, and the early GTA Online DLCs which were set shortly before the events of GTA V in 2013, until the release of GTA Online: Gunrunning.

Chronological Release List[]

Chronological Plot List[]

Note: Some of the GTA Online updates are simply focused on the multiplayer aspects of the game (i.e. Races, Adversary Modes, Deathmatches) and story-unrelated Holiday cosmetic upgrades (i.e. standalone yearly Festive Surprise/Halloween Surprise content updates) and are not listed above, as they don't relate to the narrative of GTA Online. Only the GTA Online Story DLCs are listed above, including Businesses, Contact Missions, Heists, and other story-related missions.

The only exception are the character-commented "Arena War" Adversary Modes introduced in GTA Online: Arena War, depicting an in-universe destruction derby-like internet show.

Games in the HD Universe[]

Grand Theft Auto IV[]

Grand Theft Auto IV (released in 2008) is set in Liberty City in 2008. It was the first GTA game to be released simultaneously for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles, and was released on 29 April 2008. In August 2008, Rockstar announced that a PC version of GTA IV would be released later in the year, and the PC version was released on 3 December 2008. The game engine in GTA IV is the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (also known as RAGE) used in Rockstar Games presents Table Tennis and the Euphoria physics engine. The game takes place in a redesigned Liberty City, which bears a much closer resemblance to New York City than its 3D counterparts. The protagonist is Niko Bellic, a 30-year-old Yugoslavian war veteran.

Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City[]

Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned[]

The Lost and Damned (released in 2009) is the first of the two episodes for GTA IV. The DLC version of TLAD requires the original GTA IV to play and is also available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. It is included in Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, which does not require GTA IV. TLAD's storyline runs alongside the main GTA IV storyline and ties in with the main story on a number of occasions. The protagonist is Johnny Klebitz, the 34-year-old Vice President of the Alderney Chapter of The Lost Motorcycle Club.

Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony[]

The Ballad of Gay Tony (released in 2009) is the second episode released for GTA IV. Like TLAD, the DLC version requires the original GTA IV to play, but it is also included in the standalone Episodes From Liberty City. TBoGT's storyline also ties in with both the main GTA IV storyline and TLaD's storyline. The protagonist is Luis Fernando Lopez, the 25-year-old personal bodyguard of nightclub impresario Tony Prince.

This is the final game of the GTA IV trilogy.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars[]

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (released in 2009) is set in Liberty City in the year 2009. It is the first Grand Theft Auto game to be released on the Nintendo DS, and was announced at the E3 Nintendo Press Conference on July 15, 2008. This game has several new features, such as touch screen mini-games. It is also available on the PSP and Apple iPhone/iPod Touch. The PSP version features drastically improved graphics.

The game focuses on the Liberty City Triads, and protagonist Huang Lee, the 26-year-old nephew of Lee Family head Wu "Kenny" Lee. The State of Alderney is absent from the game due to lack of Triad presence in the state, making it irrelevant to the storyline.[4]

The game is set one year after all of the events seen in GTA IV and Episodes from Liberty City.

Grand Theft Auto V[]

Grand Theft Auto V (released in 2013) is set in southern San Andreas. It is the first game in the HD Universe not to be set in Liberty City. For the first time in a single Grand Theft Auto game, Grand Theft Auto V features three protagonists: Michael De Santa, Franklin Clinton, and Trevor Philips. GTA V was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on 17 September 2013. An enhanced version was released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on 18 November 2014, and for the PC on 14 April 2015. An expanded and enhanced version was released for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S on 15 March 2022.

Grand Theft Auto Online[]

Grand Theft Auto Online (released in 2013) is set in southern San Andreas in the United States and the island of Cayo Perico in Colombia. The game's storyline originally took place several months before the Grand Theft Auto V storyline. However, as the game released updates, the game's setting advanced in real-life timing, with characters later mentioning past events that took place in GTA V.

The game is included on the original retail versions of GTA V and was released on 1 October 2013, two weeks after GTA V however, it can purchased separately as of 2022. For the first time in the series, GTA Online allows the player to create their own playable protagonist. Unlike GTA IV's multiplayer, Grand Theft Auto Online is considered a standalone title by Rockstar Games and is treated as such.

Grand Theft Auto VI[]

Expected to be part of the HD Universe, Grand Theft Auto VI is set in several counties in the State of Leonida, including Vice-Dale County (home to the neon-soaked streets of Vice City). The game features two protagonists: Lucia and an unnamed male accomplice. GTA VI is scheduled to release in 2025 for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.

Locations in the HD Universe[]

State of Liberty[]

State of Alderney[]

State of San Andreas[]

State of Leonida[]

Colombia[]

State of North Yankton[]

Unidentified States[]

Rust Belt Region[]

Unnamed Western U.S. State[]

Differences to the 3D Universe[]

Lore Changes[]

  • Liberty City's establishment date and history once again changed. This time, Liberty was originally founded as New Rotterdam in 1625, before changing the name in 1664.
  • Mount Chiliad is not a monolith mountain and is located in a different San Andreas county. It is also located north from Los Santos in this canon.
  • Francis International Airport is located in a different borough of Liberty City.
  • New Jersey's counterpart (Alderney) was once again renamed, and was also established in the same period as Liberty City from this universe.
  • The HD Universe counterpart of the Grove Street Families disbanded at some point before 2013; the Ballas took control of Grove Street claiming it as Balla turf.
  • The Yakuza and the Colombian Cartel have never operated in Liberty City.
  • As seen in Investigation: Davis, the Families and Aztecas were never allies and are enemies instead.
  • Some things do appear in multiple universes, including company brands, vehicles, placenames, weapons, and in-series celebrities, with minor lore changes.
    • Vice City stuntman Jock Cranley from the 3D Universe appears as a former San Andreas stuntman and a politician in the HD Universe.
    • Lazlow's 3D Universe roles as the DJ on V-Rock, presenter of Entertaining America on WCTR, and host of "long defunct" Chatterbox FM are also canon in the HD Universe, as they are mentioned on radio station Integrity 2.0 in Grand Theft Auto IV.
    • Fernando Martinez is a "real Latin" in the HD Universe.
    • OG Loc is referenced as being a hip-hop singer in this universe.
    • According to some in-game dialogue and mentions in the media inside Grand Theft Auto V, the Los Santos Riots also occured in the HD rendition of Los Santos in 1992, though it is unknown what started this incarnation of the riots.
  • Unlike Vice City of the 2D and 3D Universes, the HD rendition of the city is set within the State of Leonida rather than Florida. This retcons mentions to Florida in GTA IV, notably by Niko Bellic, Hossan Ramzy, and Weazel News.

Trivia[]

  • Stock footage of Red Dead Redemption, Bully, L.A. Noire and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is used in TV shows as Easter eggs.
  • The HD Universe makes a few non-canon crossovers with both the Max Payne and Red Dead series through Social Club features and promotions.
  • The GTA Online Protagonist is the first female protagonist in the HD Universe of the Grand Theft Auto series (as both genders are treated as canon storywise), and the first one overall to have some kind of personality applied to her character. She is also the seventh female protagonist to appear in the entire Grand Theft Auto series.
  • All of the protagonists can swim.
  • Unlike the 3D Universe, all of the HD Universe protagonists are featured on their respective game box art.
  • In all HD Universe games, the car engine sounds seems to be derived from the Midnight Club series, another Rockstar game.
  • Cars no longer explode after being rolled over, except in GTA Chinatown Wars as that game has similar elements to the 3D Universe.
  • The HD Universe is the best-selling era of the GTA series, with over 225 million copies of its installments sold, with GTA V alone selling over 160 million copies as of 2022.
  • In the HD Universe, particularly GTA IV and GTA V, firing rockets, especially from armed helicopters, will make the screen-edge flash slightly, as an extra special-effect.

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1
    ...the “universes” are the worlds interpreted at different definitions, 2d, 3d and high definition, so we felt brands and radio / back ground characters would exist in both, but 3 dimensional characters would not. This is the logic (as far as it could be considered logical) behind it – so no, we don’t believe any GTA3 characters could exist in the GTA4 universe.
  2. The Grand Theft Auto III timeline is not necessarily over - but it is a different world to Grand Theft Auto IV - only the branding and certain radio personalities exist across both worlds. The reason for this was that we felt Grand Theft Auto IV was a high-definition experience and required different kinds of characters. That - and the fact that most people from the previous world are dead.
  3. "Exploring Grand Theft Auto: Vice City’s lasting impact on society with Rockstar’s Leslie Benzies" - Adam Rosenberg, Digital Trends (December 13, 2012)
  4. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars pre-release review with Alex Simmons and Martin Robinson - IGN, January 20, 2009
  5. Mentioned in all HD Universe titles, except Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.
  6. "Multiplayer Crews Revealed on IGN - Play from Max Payne 3 to Grand Theft Auto V" - Rockstar Newswire, March 22, 2012

See Also[]

Navigation[]

[ ve ]Grand Theft Auto series
Grand Theft AutoProtagonists | Liberty City (and New Guernsey) | San Andreas | Vice City | Characters | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: London
London 1969Protagonists | London | Characters | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
London 1961Protagonists | London | Manchester | Characters | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto 2Claude Speed/GBC Protagonists | Anywhere City (Downtown | Residential | Industrial) | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto IIIClaude | Liberty City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: Vice CityTommy Vercetti | Vice City | Characters | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: San AndreasCarl Johnson | State of San Andreas (Los SantosSan FierroLas VenturasRed CountyFlint CountyWhetstoneBone CountyTierra Robada) | Characters | Missions | Gangs | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto AdvanceMike | Liberty City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Soundtrack | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City StoriesToni Cipriani | Liberty City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City StoriesVictor Vance | Vice City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto IVNiko Bellic | Liberty City | Alderney | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Episodes from Liberty City
The Lost and DamnedJohnny Klebitz | Liberty City | Alderney | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
The Ballad of Gay TonyLuis Fernando Lopez | Liberty City | Alderney | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown WarsHuang Lee | Liberty City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto VMichael De Santa | Trevor Philips | Franklin Clinton | Southern San Andreas (Los Santos (County) | Blaine County) | State of North Yankton (Ludendorff) | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Weapons | Vehicles | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto OnlineGTA Online Protagonist (Crews | Organizations | Motorcycle Clubs) | Southern San Andreas (Los Santos (County) | Blaine County) | The Caribbean (Cayo Perico) | Missions | Jobs | Gangs | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Reputation (Arena Points | LS Car Meet) | Content Updates | Events | Achievements/Trophies | Awards
Grand Theft Auto VILucia | Unnamed male accomplice | State of Leonida (Vice-Dale County | Kelly County | Leonard County) | Characters | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Collectibles | Multiplayer | Modifications | Controversy
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