GTA 6: improvements brought by the new version of the RAGE (a Rockstar Mag’ exclusive)

The star-spangled company’s biggest hit celebrated its 10th anniversary on September 17. Despite this longevity, we still have very little official information from Rockstar Games about the next entry of the saga, GTA 6. Except that development is « active » and that it was confirmed on February 2022.

Last year’s unfortunate leaks affair, following the hacking of a Rockstar Toronto studio developer’s Slack account by the young hacker group « Lapsus$ », shamefully revealed a certain amount of information about the most eagerly anticipated game of this decade.

After many months of work and research, and with the help of our sources, we have been able to obtain some rather interesting information on the technical improvements that should be present in GTA 6, thanks in particular to the evolution of the RAGE engine. Here’s a sneak preview.

The evolution of the RAGE

RAGE dans GTA 6

Since its creation, Rockstar Games’ proprietary Rockstar Advanced Game Engine, known by its acronym « RAGE », has continued to evolve to become one of the most powerful engine in the video game industry.

A history of engine improvements since Grand Theft Auto V:

  • RAGE 7 (GTA 5): this version brought a number of innovations, such as an improved scripting engine, DirectX 11 implementation and improved memory management. It is still one of the most effective versions today, 10 years later.
  • RAGE 8 (RDR 2): this version innovates in its artificial intelligence, weather management, volumetric effects and implementation of Vulkan and DirectX 12 APIs. Interactions with NPCs are among the most advanced in the industry today.

With regard to RAGE version 9 for GTA 6, this new version will essentially innovate on:

  • Game physics (water physically simulated in real time, better vehicle deformations, etc.).
  • More realistic time management (morning, day, evening and night)
  • Quality of rendering (textures, lighting, volumetric clouds, etc.)
  • Artificial intelligence (interactions with NPCs, police reaction, etc.)

In the video game industry, all studios have in their specifications the following main objective: « Let’s do our best! » .
For Take-Two Interactive, owner of Rockstar Games, the only watchword is: « Let’s be the best! »

The graphics gap between Red Dead Redemption 2 and GTA 6 will be greater than the one we experienced between GTA 5 and RDR 2.

If a company brings a cultural product to the market that becomes the most profitable in history, there’s no point in speculating about the intentions of the next project’s technical specifications, which have been largely revised upwards. It’s not just about doing it better, it’s about doing it differently. And that’s why Rockstar Games will be offering us something never before seen in the video game industry with its new version of the RAGE engine.

The physics of water

Water has always been a difficult element to reproduce in video games, especially since the advent of 3D. Most developers use a mesh system for their rendering. The advantage of this method is that it requires very little performance, and the rendering remains credible.

In the clip below, Grand Theft Auto V is illustrated entirely in wireframe, showing the water movement mechanism:

For GTA 6, Rockstar Games has devised a revolutionary system for obtaining physically simulated water in real time. This has been done for years in film and 3D applications, but the rendering has never been « realtime« .

Experiments have already been carried out at NVIDIA, but the balance between realism and performance has never been sufficiently interesting to be exploitable.

WaveWorks 1.0 offered an improved mesh system that was the cutting edge a few years ago, but was never really exploited:

More recently, WaveWorks 2.0 has made it possible to obtain a partially node-based system, but the result is still a long way from what Rockstar Games has developed:

Rockstar Games has therefore decided to develop a new technology concerning water physics and integrate it into their next project, GTA 6. The team in charge of this mission is called the « RAGE Technology Group« , a subdivision of the Rockstar San Diego studio that developed and released the starry firm’s proprietary engine in 2006. The team is composed of twenty-ish engineers with in-depth knowledge of programming, real-time physics simulation, understanding of memory padding considerations, linear algebra, trigonometry, matrix and quaternion mathematics.

After months of research, experimentation and optimization, engineers at the Californian studio have achieved the feat of physically simulating water in an open-world video game in real time.

Here’s a 3D animation from 2016 that best represents the physics and graphics of the water we’ll see in GTA 6:

We can therefore speculate that the ocean will play an important role in the GTA 6 universe, and that new activities such as surfing will be possible (although this has not yet been confirmed). In 2000, Rockstar Games published the video game Surfing H30, developed by Opus Studio. The game being what it is, it had the merit of daring to venture into an area where the technical capabilities of the time were not optimal for making the most of the targeted activity.

Vehicle physics

Physique des véhicules dans GTA 6

Many improvements have been made to vehicle physics, thanks to a significant increase in the number of polygons compared with GTA 5. This will enable more precise deformations and, by extension, more realistic accidents. From now on, vehicle customization will impact not only the exterior, but also the driving experience. In any case, this is what Rockstar and the San Diego teams are aiming for with the new version of the RAGE engine.

Installing a spoiler on your vehicle, for example, may prove useful for your handling during gusty storms. The balance between realism and arcade mode will be managed in such a way as to maintain a driving experience similar to that of GTA 5, so don’t worry about this key element of the game.

The light

GTA 6 will be the first title in the Grand Theft Auto saga to feature physically simulated light. This is made possible by materials called PBR (Physics-Based Rendering), which are the set of technologies that give materials physical optical properties (reflection, roughness, etc.) . These technologies have been available since 2018 thanks to RAGE 8 (Red Dead Redemption 2), which was based on PBR rendering. This enables textures to be rendered more realistically in relation to light, for a more immersive experience both day and night.

Vice City is Rockstar Games’ satirical take on Miami. As a city renowned for its nightlife, it was necessary to allow players to experience a more realistic immersion during the night.


Météorologie dans GTA 6
There will be a real weather system that will impact the game’s environment and gameplay. Gusts of wind will batter vegetation and create waves that will disturb the peace and quietness of the beach. Rain and wind will affect your driving during high-speed travel. Sunrises and sunsets will be more realistic than ever, and nights more disturbing…

So there you have it, a brief overview of the new features we can expect to see in GTA 6. Or at least, the main objectives on which the Rockstar San Diego teams have been hard at work for many months (and years). We hope you enjoyed this preview, and look forward to seeing the first official images of the starry firm’s next title.

NB: Of course, some of the information divulged in this dossier is still at the stage of development and objectives to be achieved by the teams from the starry firm. It is not yet 100% certain that all these options will be implemented with the release of GTA 6 and the new version of RAGE9.

Stay tuned to Rockstar Mag’!