If I had to identify the most important thing we learned from that massive GTA 6 leak, it would have to be the fact that the game will seemingly take place in a modern version of Vice City. Not only does that detail confirm one of the biggest rumors about the game, but it’s also one of the only substantial details included in the leak that I feel comfortable suggesting represents the final product. GTA 6 may eventually allow us to explore other cities, but it will certainly feature one of the GTA universe’s most famous locations in some way.
Actually, it really looks like GTA 6 will allow us to explore a reportedly cut part of Vice City that GTA fans have been clamoring to see for about 20 years now.
See, the original version of Vice City (the one featured in 2002’s GTA: Vice City) was clearly based on Miami and its surrounding areas. While many fans immediately fell in love with Vice City’s neon lights and Scarface vibes, even gamers at that time knew that Vice City couldn’t offer anything close to a proper recreation of the Miami area. After all, the game was still based on the GTA 3 engine. It wasn’t until GTA 4 and GTA 5 that Rockstar was finally able to offer more substantial digital reinterpretations of famous locations.
Even at the time of Vice City‘s release, though, I remember players asking about the Florida Keys. For those who don’t know, the Flordia Keys is the name of a string of islands located south of Miami (and the southernmost tip of Florida). Actually, the most famous part of the Florida Keys (Key West) is technically closer to Cuba than it is to Miami. However, the Florida Keys are still accessible from Miami via the Seven Mile Bridge and other connecting transportation structures. You’ll probably recognize that bridge the moment you see a photo of it. After all, nearly every movie and TV show set in Miami has featured that bridge (and the areas it connects to) in some way despite the fact that the Florida Keys are about 60 miles away from the Miami area.
That’s what makes the Keys’ exclusion from GTA: Vice City so fascinating. Sure, there was no way the 2002 game could completely recreate that area, but it was always a little strange that Vice City didn’t include at least include a reference to the Flordia Keys or those famous bridges. However, some fans believe that an early version of Vice City may have included more than just a reference to the Florida Keys.
See, Vice City dataminers claim that they previously discovered a cut in-game dialog exchange between real estate mogul Avery Carrington and Vice City protagonist Tommy Vercetti. In that cut dialog sequence, Carrington asks Vercetti to drive a friend of his out to the “Gator Keys.” Carrington says that he’s interested in some land out in that area and wants his friend to go out there to help “sweeten the deal.”
Not only does “Gator Keys” sound like a pretty obvious GTA parody of the Florida Keys, but that general area may actually be referenced in the retail version of Vice City in another way. During an in-game radio ad for the Shady Acres development complex, Carrington says that the complex is located “a short drive out of town on some pristine wetlands.” For that matter, it’s worth noting that the Shady Acres area is referenced quite a few times in Vice City but can’t be found anywhere on the game’s official map. Maybe that’s because it’s actually located in the reportedly cut Gator Keys area?
To be clear, I can’t find any definitive proof that any version of the Florida Keys ever actually existed in GTA: Vice City. Most of the mockups I’ve seen of that location in the game appear to be homebrewed creations. However, quite a bit of circumstantial evidence suggests that Rockstar at least considered adding the area to the game at some point during its very early development. If that was the case, it’s easy enough to assume that they ultimately ran into too many signficant logistical hurdles that prevented them from expanding the game’s map in such a way.
However, one of the gameplay videos included in the GTA 6 leaks clearly showcases one of the game’s protagonists swimming near a massive bridge that structurally resembles the bridges that lead out to the Florida Keys. While it’s possible that’s an entirely different bridge that was simply designed to look like the Seven Mile Bridge (GTA: Vice City featured a somewhat similar copycat structure), it’s worth noting that the in-game bridge stretches over a large body of water and seems to eventually connect to some kind of land mass. Obviously, those details really make it sounds like GTA 6 will allow players to leave Vice City and explore that game’s version of the Florida Keys.
For what it’s worth, a ton of circumstantial evidence in the GTA 6 leaks also suggests that the Florida Everglades will be included in the game in some way. That not only means that GTA 6 will seemingly let us explore the area around Vice City but that the game’s map will include a significant chunk of land located to the south of Vice City. That would again support the idea that some version of the Florida Keys will finally be featured in a Vice City-set GTA title.
Again, all of this information should be considered speculation until it is confirmed. For that matter, it’s possible that Rockstar will still decide to cut that area from GTA 6 (if they ever really intended for it to be featured in the game at all). If there’s one thing to take away from the GTA 6 leaks in regards to the game’s map, though, it would have to be the idea that GTA 6‘s map is shaping up to include much more than the Vice City metro area. Given how GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2‘s maps were designed to feature a variety of ecosystems, that shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.