Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is one of the biggest game series in the world. The original creator was DMA Design, which later became Rockstar North, part of Rockstar Games.
The action-adventure series follows a different criminal on each title as he grows in power and fame within a fictional city. The protagonist is often the anti-hero, a commentary against the State, capitalism, and the dangers power poses on personal relationships.
There’re eight main GTA entries. On top of that, we’re listing the eight available expansions, four spin-offs, and four bundles / remasters. The total is 20 GTA entries in our all GTA games in order list.
All GTA Games in Order
The series has evolved greatly since its 1997 debut. However, since the first game, players have enjoyed similar core elements. It’s a chaotic, free-roam experience in open-world cities.
Each protagonist follows a unique story within the city. It accounts for main missions, side missions, tasks, and activities.
Activities are varied and grow with each title, and the idea is making the city feel alive and real. These include criminal hobbies like street racing, robbing, dating, and running away from the police. Additionally, there’re interior spaces like stores, garages, bars, and personal homes.
Each subsequent title has made the city more immersive, realistic, and larger. Moreover, each game improves the two core gameplay mechanics the game has: driving (cars, bikes, planes, choppers, boats,…) and third-person shooting.
Lastly, GTA titles are subdivided into “Generations.” These refer to the graphical prowess and technological advancements each numbered game introduced.
The original GTA debuted in 1997 for MS-DOS systems and Windows PCs. It also became available for PlayStation and GameBoy Color.
GTA has three cities and eight playable characters. The cities are San Andreas, Vice City, and Liberty City. Each one is inspired by a real-life city.
Then, the playable characters are Travis, Nikki, Katy, Divine, Bubba, Troy, Ulrika, and Kivlo.
The player chooses a protagonist and plays through the game’s story in one of the available cities. The game is fully open, though, and players can follow the quest or pursue other criminal activities like stealing cars.
The game introduced every element in the series. It had open-world exploration, driving, weapons, violence, and emergency systems reacting towards player actions.
London 1969 is GTA’s first expansion. It debuted in 1999 for MS-DOS systems, Windows, and PlayStation. The content takes players to 1969 London to play as a criminal rising as an underworld leader.
London 1961 is the second GTA expansion. It takes players eight years before the London 1969 events as a prequel story.
GTA 2 debuted in 1999 for Windows. It later became available for PlayStation, Dreamcast, and GameBoy Color.
The setting is a retrofuturist city known as Anywhere City in the year 2013. It has three areas, and Claude Speed has to get enough money to go from one area to the next.
Still, players get the same amount of liberty as before. The game allows many activities to earn money and have fun (most of which are chaotic). However, the best way to make money is by going through missions.
As you go through the missions, you raise your respect level with a particular criminal band and create enemies within another. At the same time, the game added the “Star” system that increases police reactions according to player actions.
GTA 3 greatly improved the series when it came out in 2001. Notably, it changed the birds-eye view for a third-person perspective. Therefore, the title improved driving, third-person exploration, and shooting.
The game premiered for PS2 and Xbox. It later became available for macOS, Windows, iOS, Android, and PS3.
The plot follows Claude Speed after Miguel and Catalina betray him during a bank robbery. Abandoned in Liberty City, Claude Speed must climb up the criminal ladder and get revenge.
Lastly, GTA 3 is the first game in the series with 3D graphics, which also started the third generation of GTA games. It used the RenderWare game engine for its visuals.
GTA: Vice City came out in 2002 for PlayStation 2. It later debuted for Windows, Xbox, macOS, Android, and Fire OS.
The plot happens in Vice City, 1986. Tommy Vercetti, a lowly goon trying to recuperate stolen money from his boss, Sonny Fiorelli.
Vice city features real-life gangs and 1980s events. These include Cubans, Haitians, and biker gangs. It happens because Vice City takes its inspiration from Miami, and the game takes inspiration from the Miami Vice show.
The novelty is how the game allows players to assault drugstores, jewelry stores, gun stores, and other places for money.
Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack – 2003 (Bundle)
Double Pack was a special edition that bundles GTA III and GTA Vice City. It debuted in 2003 for PS2, and it reached the Xbox in 2003. It’s not available anymore.
GTA: San Andreas debuted in 2004 for PlayStation 2, Windows, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS3, and macOS. Later on, it premiered for PS4, Xbox One, iOS, Android, and Windows 10.
The plot happens in San Andreas, a fictional state with three metropolitan areas: Los Santos, San Fierro, and Las Venturas. Combined, it’s the second biggest map in the saga, after GTA V.
It follows Carl “CJ” Johnson in 1992, craving revenge after his old band members betrayed him. The game centers around a gang rivalry between the Bloods and the Crisp. As the plot moves on, CJ grows in power in one gang and controls neighborhoods. Still, the other gang will actively pursue the protagonist in communities he doesn’t control.
San Andreas follows a similar structure as before while improving the core mechanics. Also, it adds several new activities like exercising, buying outfits, more weapons, swimming, driving a train, climbing walls, and more.
Lastly, the game had more emphasis on the storytelling and the character’s personality. It allowed the game to add a character progression system that improves driving, firearms, and physical attributes as “CJ” performs different activities in the world.
GTA Advance debuted in October 2004 for Gameboy Advance. It has a similar style as GTA and GTA II, as it delivers its gameplay with a birds-eye view.
The adventure happens in Liberty City, where lowly criminal Mike wants to avenge his fallen friend Vinnie.
Its gameplay was the barebones the series has to offer. However, it added street racing, taxi missions, fire department missions, ambulance missions, and similar activities.
Liberty City Stories is a GTA III spin-off featuring mafia member Tony Cipriani as the protagonist. It came out in 2005 for the PSP. However, it later premiered for the PlayStation 2, iOS, Android, and Fire OS.
The story happens in Liberty City, where Cipriani (a GTA III character) aims to rise as a crime boss of the Leone family.
Liberty City Stories is quite similar to GTA 3, but it has some new features. For example, it has more interior places, outfits, bikes, and camera movements.
GTA Trilogy – 2005 (Bundle)
The Grand Theft Auto Trilogy was a bundle that included GTA III, San Andreas, and Vice City. Rockstar released the collection in 2005 for PS2, Xbox, and PC. It’s currently not available.
Vice City Stories premiered in 2006 for PS2, PS3, and PSP. It’s the last GTA game in the “3D Universe,” those using the RenderWare game engine.
The story takes players to 1984, in Vice City. Victor Vance is the new playable character, a former military officer involved in criminal activities.
As a novelty, the game added a construction mode. The player can use the money to buy a store and then use the construction mode to develop the place.
The fourth game in the saga debuted in 2008 for PS3, Xbox 360, and Windows. Liberty City is the main location, once again. However, it runs on a new proprietary game engine, Rockstar Advanced Game Engine.
Eastern European war veteran Niko Bellic is the protagonist. He’s an immigrant looking for the American dream. However, the harsh reality takes him down towards a criminal path he can’t escape.
GTA IV has a strong focus on narrative and enhances the story with cinematic cuts, strong personalities, and clear character journeys. Niko Bellio even has choices to make, ultimately leading to three different endings.
Gameplay-wise, it greatly improved driving and third-person shooting. It also enhanced enemy AI, police AI, and the number of weapons available. And as a side quirk, Niko can restore his health by paying the services of a…male entertainer.
GTA IV: The Lost and Damned – 2009 (GTA IV Expansion)
The Lost and Damned is the first DLC episode for GTA IV. It debuted in 2009 for Windows and then became available for PS3.
Jhonny Klebitz is the protagonist. He’s a member of Liberty City biker gang The Lost. As such, the episode includes a new story, vehicles, outfits, and missions. Still, the adventure has a relationship with Niko Bellic’s story.
GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony – 2009 (GTA IV Expansion)
The Ballad of Gay Tony debuted in 2009 for Xbox 360, PS3, and Windows. It’s both an expansion to GTA IV and a standalone game because it doesn’t require a GTA IV copy to run.
Luis Fernando Lopez, a retired Dominican militia officer, is the main character. He works as a goon for mafia boss Tony Prince. Lopez must earn Gay Tony’s trust on a story that intertwines with Niko Bellic’s path.
Contrary to other GTA games, the entire content happens at night. That means the whole story revolves around bars, adult entertainment places, and similar. Also, the game has new vehicles and new multiplayer options.
Episodes from Liberty City is a bundle with The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. It debuted in 2009 for Xbox 360 as a standalone experience.
A year later, Rockstar released it for Windows and PS3 as well.
GTA: Chinatown Wars – 2009 (Spin-off)
Chinatown Wars debuted for Nintendo DS, PSP, Android, iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch in 2009. It’s the only GTA game that’s only available for handheld consoles.
The protagonist is Huang Lee, and the story revolves around a stolen family sword in Liberty City.
The gameplay has a unique perspective. It comes with an aerial camera, players can move and rotate freely. The game also uses cel-shaded graphics to deliver a comic-like graphical style.
And although it’s a handheld game, it wasn’t simple. It’s a complex game with over 100 missions and the amount of content you’d expect from any GTA title.
GTA V is one of the most successful games in history. It debuted for PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2013 and remains relevant almost a decade after its debut. Currently, the game is available for PS4, Xbox One, and Windows, and there’s a new-gen console version coming for PS4 and Xbox Series in 2022.
It’s also the most expensive game in history. The budget was 265 million USD, the budget for a AAA Disney Marvel Movie. However, the box office only goes above 800 million dollars during the first day, a total record-breaker.
The game presents three protagonists: Michael Townley, Trevor Philips, and Franklin Clinton. These are former bank thieves living in Los Santos, a San Andreas metropolitan area. Soon enough, they found themselves involved in the criminal world and increasingly difficult heists to rise up in the criminal world.
The plot is rather intricate, though, and there’s a great focus on storytelling and cinematography. In the end, it’s a story deeply rooted in corruption but also friendship and loyalty.
So, GTA V became iconic because of how the story comes through the three characters, even though you can swap them at any time. Moreover, it has a new graphical engine that grants vast interactivity with the world, improved driving systems, and a good-enough third-person shooter.
Moreover, the amount of freedom and chaos you can create in the city has no equal. Add the sweetness of driving the car to understand the extent of prowess the 2013 game introduced. Even its graphics still hold up.
GTA Online is the ever-evolving live-service multiplayer game set in the GTA universe. It debuted in 2013 for PS3, Xbox One, and PC. There’s also a new-gen version coming for PS5 and Xbox Series.
It uses GTA V’s game engine, the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine, and similar graphics and settings. However, it doesn’t have a storyline.
Instead, you play as a criminal and engage in many expanding criminal activities, either solo or co-op. These include heists, bank robberies, car robberies, street racing, bike racing, and more. There’re also missions in the game.
The game options and modes are vast, as Rockstar has released many updates and DLCs for GTA Online.- In essence, though, players earn Reputation Points for their activities. RP points advance the character stats and ranking within the game.
The Definitive Edition is a bundle that packs GTA III, GTA: Vice City, and GTA; San Andreas.
These games have updated graphics, better lighting, high-res textures, enhanced draw distances, and modern control schemes.
It’s available for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
All GTA Games in Chronological Order
- Grand Theft Auto- 1997
- Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 – 1999
- Grand Theft Auto: London 1961 – 1999
- Grand Theft Auto II – 1999
- Grand Theft Auto III – 2001
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – 2002
- Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack – 2003
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – 2004
- Grand Theft Auto Advance – 2004
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories – 2005
- Grand Theft Auto Trilogy – 2005
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories – 2006
- Grand Theft Auto IV – 2008
- Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and the Damned- 2009
- Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars – 2009
- Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony – 2009
- Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City – 2009
- Grand Theft Auto V – 2013
- Grand Theft Auto Online – 2013
- Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition – 2021