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The HD Universe is 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.

The HD universe started out in 2008 with the release of Grand Theft Auto IV. The game was followed by two DLC packs called The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, both of which occur at the same time as GTA IV. In 2009, Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, a game for mobile platforms set one year after GTA IV with a stand-alone story. The generation was known as the GTA IV era until the announcement of Grand Theft Auto V in 2011, which 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]

The HD Universe is mainly set in the city of Liberty City and the southern part of the state of San Andreas, both located in the United States of America. 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 and the GTA Online Protagonist.

Chronological release list

Chronological plot list

Games in the HD Universe

Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto IV (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: The Lost and Damned

The Lost and Damned (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 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 (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 Anthony Prince.

This is the final game of the GTA IV trilogy.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (2009) is set in Liberty City based on the GTA IV rendition, 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 Sony 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 Lee. The State of Alderney does not appear in the game, and the game's storyline does not intertwine with those of GTA IV or its episodes and is not part of the connecting trilogy.

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V (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.

Grand Theft Auto Online

Grand Theft Auto Online, like Grand Theft Auto V, is set in San Andreas, and 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 character later mentioning past events that took place in GTA V.

The game is the multiplayer version of GTA V and was released on 1 October 2013, 14 days after the main game. For the first time in the series, GTA Online allows the player to create their own playable protagonist. Although it is only playable through Grand Theft Auto V and is the multiplayer version of the game, Grand Theft Auto Online is considered a standalone title by Rockstar Games and is treated as such, and the storyline does not intertwine with the Grand Theft Auto V storyline, other than as mentioned above.

Locations in the HD Universe

State of Liberty

State of Alderney

State of San Andreas

State of Florida

State of North Yankton


Differences to the 3D Universe


  • All of the protagonists can swim.
  • 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 95 million copies.
  • 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. 


See also

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