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The Mystery Of GTA V's Six-Star Wanted Level

Grand Theft Auto players are convinced a higher difficulty is hiding in Rockstar's open-world game

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Two characters from GTA stand behind six stars of wanted levels.
Illustration: Rockstar Games / Kotaku

If you have a one-star “wanted” level in GTA V, the police will chase you. At two stars, they’ll shoot to kill.

At three stars, a helicopter follows you and the police use more advanced strategies to try to stop you. At four stars, the game’s equivalent of a SWAT team comes after you. At five stars, the streets of Los Santos are overrun with a murderous cops, all of whom are determined to stop you, no matter the cost.


And at six stars? Well, there is no six-star wanted level—not in GTA V, at least. Previous games had a system that went up to six stars, but the system was reduced into five stars for the newest GTA game. This has never been a secret; since the release of GTA V, players have known that there’s only five stars’ worth of wanted level.


Most players accepted this. But around late 2014, some hardcore players dove into the code of GTA V and found what they say is evidence of a hidden wanted level. Inside the code, Reddit user GlassGoose45 claimed to see dozens of instances where a level six wanted level was referenced. Stuff like “PLAYER::SET_MAX_WANTED_LEVEL(6);” and such.


The question then became: what did this mean? Was it just unused code? Were people misunderstanding what the code was saying? Was it possible to trigger six stars somehow, but players just hadn’t found out how to do it? Was this something that was going to be implemented in the current-gen versions of the game? Was it related to the big ongoing mystery that players swear is hiding inside of GTA V?

That may sound ridiculous, but consider what’s at play: People knew that previous games had six stars, and suddenly the new game doesn’t have it—that was kind of suspicious, in their eyes. A lack of six stars means that GTA V doesn’t throw things like tanks at you, which seemed like a weird omission to some players. There are tanks in GTA V, after all. Why not throw some of them at the player, like older games did?


It wasn’t until 2015 that someone brought the hidden wanted levels back up again, which is around the time that the PC version of GTA V came out. The release allowed players to mess around with the game’s inner workings to a degree they couldn’t on consoles. Prime opportunity to see what GTA V might be hiding, yeah?

So that’s exactly what ClicheUsername, a member of r/chiliadmystery, did. He booted up something called “Cheat Engine,” and used it to set the wanted level to 6 in the game. And it actually worked. The game gave him six stars. You can see what happens here, in this video:

Immediately after triggering it, a bunch of police cars started blasting toward him from a distance, and a helicopter starts chasing him. This wasn’t new to ClicheUsername, though. Enabling six stars was something he claims he tried shortly after the release of the PC version. This was just the first time he was documenting the chaos. “I was mostly just surprised that it didn’t crash the game,” ClicheUsername told me via email.


Unfortunately, the six-star wanted level didn’t seem to make things more intense. “I don’t think any law enforcement spawns and comes after you,” ClicheUsername wrote on Reddit. “The cops that attacked me in that video were already there.” Funnily enough though, setting the wanted level to seven crashed the game altogether.

ClicheUsername seems convinced that the sixth wanted level isn’t just some unused code that never made it into the actual game. He believes, or perhaps hopes, that there is more to the wanted levels than people have found so far.


“I can’t be sure about this yet, and the only way to be certain may be if we can get a look at the code for wanted levels and how they work,” ClicheUsername said. The hunch ties back to the big mystery at the heart of GTA V.

“If you’ve seen the blueprint map that came with the Collector’s Edition of the game, there’s a few interesting messages that you can see if held under a UV light,” ClicheUsername said. Specifically, he’s referring to this:

Image for article titled The Mystery Of GTA V's Six-Star Wanted Level
Image: shartedmypants

The words appear on a part of the map known as Fort Zancudo, a military base in GTA V. Remember how people found it suspicious that GTA V’s wanted levels don’t include military weaponry, like tanks? Yeah. That’s where this theory is going.

“I think if the sixth star is obtainable, Zancudo very likely has something to do with it, considering that’s where the military is and that’s who I’d expect to be after you if you had six stars,” ClicheUsername said. The assumption now is that maybe, just maybe, players haven’t found the specific way to trigger the six stars in-game yet. That they haven’t “taken control” yet, if you will. Years later, the folks on r/chiliadmystery haven’t been able to crack it, even after testing things out at Zancudo. Nor have newer versions of the game incorporated more wanted levels. But the hope remains alive for some, if only as a curiosity.


Theories about secrets hidden inside of GTA are a dime a dozen, and any gamer who’s spent long enough playing the game probably has a story or two to tell you about such-and-such rumor. Usually, those hunches don’t pan out. Most “evidence” leads to dead ends.

This mystery, the mystery of the six-star wanted level stands apart from most others. There is another wanted level in the game. It may just be unused code, and it may not do much (yet?), but still, it’s in there.


This post originally ran in 2015.