Grand Theft Auto is an iconic series with tons of great (and some not-so-great) games under its belt. If you are new to the series or want to know it better, we will show you all the GTA games in order of release so that you can experience them yourself.
There have been many mainline games as well as spin-offs. We will list down all GTA games regardless if they are mainline or not. With that said, let’s get started.
Grand Theft Auto
Release Date: November 28, 1997
It all started with the release of Grand Theft Auto back in 1997. The game looked different than what fans are used to now and the gameplay was vastly different as well.
This was a top-down 2D game where you had to complete missions, commit crimes, and run around. However, due to the hardware limitations, you could only do so much.
This game had an impact on the community thanks to how fun it was to play back then. While it hasn’t aged well at all, GTA laid the foundation for what’s to come next.
Grand Theft Auto: London, 1969
Release Date: April 30, 1999
This is an expansion pack for the first game and has all the same gameplay mechanics as well. This is the first time Rockstar went out of America (or at least their fictionalized version of it).
Like the first game, it was fine for its time but it hasn’t aged well at all.
Grand Theft Auto: London, 1961 (1999)
Release Date: March 31, 1999
The second expansion for GTA was London again but this time in 1961. Just like the previous games, it has all the same mechanics and uses the same engine as well.
The only thing added were new vehicles and missions. There isn’t much to talk about this expansion as you’ve already learned everything about GTA 1 from the previous two entries.
Grand Theft Auto 2
Release Date: September 30, 1999
After the success of the first game and the London ones, Rockstar released GTA 2. It had the same top-down view but improved the visuals a bit as the technology evolved.
Overall, the gameplay was quite similar and you could play the entire game without even knowing what’s going on in the story. Unfortunately, it hasn’t aged well since there is nothing to do aside from the story.
GTA 2 did not revolutionize the industry like the next games would but it was a nice step in the right direction.
Grand Theft Auto 3
Release Date: October 22, 2001
Moving on to GTA 3, the game that introduced players to the 3D universe. For the first time, GTA featured an open world in a 3D environment. This was a massive deal since very few games were doing this back then.
It wasn’t just an empty open world either, you could explore, race, commit crimes, and complete missions. The game has a proper narrative that is fun to follow.
While the main character is silent, he still was better than the top-down version of the characters players had become accustomed to previously.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Release Date: October 29, 2002
GTA: Vice City is one of my favorite games in the series thanks to how nostalgic it is. I used to play it for hours back in the day and had a lot of fun.
It took everything from the previous game and made it better. Tommy Verciti – the main character – had proper voice lines that immersed players further into the story.
Plus, the map was quite fun to explore since it featured a neon-lit 1980s Miami. You could find all sorts of iconic references to pop culture such as Scarface. Little did anyone know, Vice City itself is just as iconic as those references now.
Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack
Release Date: October 30, 2003
There isn’t much to talk about this as it included GTA 3 and Vice City on a single disk. No changes were made to either game but they were made more accessible thanks to this.
However, I wouldn’t suggest getting this as you can get the Trilogy Edition and experience San Andreas as well.
Grand Theft Auto Advance
Release Date: October 26, 2004
After being successful in the 3D universe, GTA went back to its roots with GTA Advance. This Gameboy Advance title featured a top-down perspective and was set in Liberty City with a brand-new protagonist.
In terms of gameplay, the game was quite basic and wasn’t really needed in the franchise. However, you could partake in a few new activities that were good – such as street racing and rescue missions.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Release Date: October 26, 2004
If you used to play games in the 2000s, chances are that San Andreas was your favorite GTA. Like Vice City, San Andreas took everything from the previous games and made it ten times better.
The main character had proper voice lines and could interact with the world which felt extremely pleasing. Plus, the game also introduced a stat system where your character could get skinny or fat depending on how you play the game.
San Andreas also allowed players to swim for the first time in the 3D universe of GTA, and this resonated extremely well with all players.
The map was absolutely massive with tons of things to do in every corner. This game changed the landscape of open world games and all GTA games in the future as well.
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy
Release Date: October 17, 2005
After the massive success of all three games in the 3D universe, Rockstar decided to release them all in one. The Trilogy edition had all three games (GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas) on one disk and you could play whichever you wanted.
This edition was the definitive way to play these games back in the day as it made things a lot easier instead of buying each game separately.
This edition is beloved by the fans as all three games were left untouched and easily accessible. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when the same thing was done in 2021. More on that later, though.
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
Release Date: October 24, 2005
Liberty City Stories was the first 3D title to be released for handheld devices like PSP. In fact, it is the best-selling PSP game to date. The overall gameplay is similar to GTA 3 but it expands upon the game a lot.
Fans were delighted to see that they can play this game online on the PSP with up to six players in different game modes. While the multiplayer isn’t anything to write home about, it was a fun addition.
Other than that, the narrative was quite nice as it expands the lore of GTA 3 and Liberty City.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
Release Date: October 31, 2006
Like Liberty City Stories, Vice City Stories looked to expand the lore of Vice City with the introduction of new characters and narrative. The gameplay was quite similar to the previous games but it is a good expansion due to multiple reasons.
The main character is likable and keeps things interesting throughout the game. What makes this game unique is the empire-building system. This allows you to build your criminal empire and defend it.
You had to take over businesses from rival organizations and complete missions specific for each of them to increase their income and unlock additional rewards.
Grand Theft Auto IV
Release Date: April 29, 2008
Moving on to my favorite game in the GTA series, GTA IV. This game set a darker and grittier tone than what most players were used to. Follow the journey of Niko Bellic as he tries to live the “American Dream” with his cousin, Roman.
This game took the series in the HD universe and looked stunning when it first came out. Even now, GTA IV looks great if you install a few mods to tweak a few things.
While GTA IV wasn’t as beloved as San Andreas, the game was extremely successful. It featured new mechanics that changed the way you would play the entire game.
Plus, the physics engine in GTA IV is the best Rockstar has ever implemented in a GTA game, in my opinion.
Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned
Release Date: February 17, 2009
GTA: The Lost and Damned was the first expansion for GTA IV as it expanded the lore of the game. You follow the story of Johnny, the VP of a motorcycle club.
The game focuses on the issues faced by the MC and how Johnny wants to keep his charter alive and well. There are many twists and turns which keep things interesting.
From a gameplay perspective, there wasn’t any difference from GTA IV. The overall game felt the same (even though you could play this standalone without GTA IV).
I miss the time when Rockstar used to release singleplayer DLCs for their games.
Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony
Release Date: October 29, 2009
The second and final expansion of GTA IV, The Ballad of Gay Tony gave players even more story of Liberty City and its characters. It is set concurrently with the events of The Lost and Damned as you follow the story of Luis.
You will have to help Tony overcome various problems in his life like drugs, debts, and issues with the mafia. The game perfectly ties up any loose ends from the main game or the first DLC.
It is a nice addition that is loved by many players. Again, it didn’t feel different in terms of gameplay but that’s because it didn’t need to.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Release Date: March 17, 2009
Chinatown Wars again went to the top-down view but this time, the game was extremely fun. It is underrated since the game doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as it should.
This time, you could finally rotate the camera despite it being top-down which made things so much better. Plus, the cell-shaded graphics gave the game a unique look.
GTA Stories Double Pack
Release Date: June 23, 2009
Similar to how the original Double Pack included GTA 3 and Vice City, this one had Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories. It’s fitting that this game got a double pack as they are prequels to the aforementioned games.
The game was only released on PS2 due to the popularity of the system. Like most double packs, there were no changes to the games.
Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City
Release Date: 17 February 2010
Like the Trilogy Edition, the Episodes from Liberty City include all three games (GTA IV, LaD, and BoGT). This is a great way to experience all three games in order without having to buy them individually.
Just like the trilogy, the games are left untouched but made more accessible thanks to being on a single disk. If you want to play the full Liberty City story from that time, this is the best way to do it.
The best part is that there is a lot of content to go through as the game has tons of missions and side activities. I highly suggest checking it out.
GTA 3 Mobile
Release Date: December 15, 2011
GTA 3 was released on iOS and Android. The game performed surprisingly well and was fun to play on handhelds. Apart from porting it to mobile devices, there were no major changes made to the game.
The thing that changed was the textures since they had been improved. This made the game look better than its original release.
GTA Vice City Mobile
Release Date: 6 December, 2012
Like GTA 3, Vice City was also released on mobile devices and performed really well. The game played identically to the original but the textures were improved significantly.
Apart from this, there isn’t much to talk about since no other changes were made to the game.
GTA San Andreas Mobile
Release Date: 2013
San Andreas was also released on mobiles to complete the 3D universe on handheld devices. The major differences from the original were enhanced draw distances, a checkpoint system, a new menu interface, and achievements.
This made the game more fun than it already was which is always a welcomed addition.
Grand Theft Auto V
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Ah GTA V, how much I love you. I was in high school when I got my hands on GTA V, and now I’ve graduated from university and still waiting for the next entry in the series.
When the game came out, though, it broke all kinds of records. For the first time, you could swap between three protagonists in a GTA game which made things fresh and interesting.
While the story is predictable and somewhat lacking, the overall gameplay is the best the series has seen to date. There are tons of side activities you can do to keep yourself busy as well.
GTA V has had a major impact on the gaming landscape and it shows since it still breaks records 10 years after its release date.
Grand Theft Auto Online
Release Date: October 1, 2013
I’ll be honest, I haven’t played GTA Online that much despite wanting to multiple times. However, I cannot deny how successful it has been for Rockstar Games. Unfortunately, this success is the reason the next game is getting delayed so much.
GTA Online does exactly as the name suggests, it is a Grand Theft Auto experience but online. You can join lobbies and reign chaos or perform heists with other players.
The best part about online is role-playing which makes you play the game completely differently, and I love it. Apart from my gripes with the game, there is no denying it has brought a lot of money in for Rockstar as it still is one of the most played games right now.
Grand Theft Auto: The Definitive Edition
Release Date: November 11, 2021
Finally, the latest GTA game to be released at the time of writing is GTA: The Definitive Edition. Released in 2021, this edition includes the GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas trilogy.
The difference is that all three games have been remastered to look better on modern systems. However, the overall graphics and visuals are far from what you would expect from a Rockstar game.
While this edition had fans all over the world excited, everyone was soon disappointed due to how unpolished the game was. All three games featured visual issues and a plethora of bugs all around.
While you could make an argument that Rockstar wasn’t involved, they outsourced it; that doesn’t deny how terrible all three games were.
Fans have been waiting for a new GTA game for ages and this would have been a good way to keep them happy for a bit. However, this backfired and people still prefer the original trilogy instead.
Grand Theft Auto VI
Release Date: 2024 – 2025 (Fingers crossed)
While the game hasn’t even been properly announced, I still couldn’t help but mention GTA VI. Hopefully, the predicted release date of 2024 comes true because everyone has been waiting for this game for a long time.
It has been over 10 years since a GTA game was released, which is crazy to even think about. When the game finally comes out, though, everyone will rush to get it.
The hype for a game that hasn’t been properly announced is unreal. Players witnessed a few details from the game due to the leaks that happened some time ago.
However, rumors suggest that players might see a teaser or trailer in 2023 (which seems doubtful) or in 2024 (which would push the release to 2025).