As stated earlier in the thread, the true roots of GTA is mindless killing and car chases, not immersive cities and compelling stories despite how well GTA does these 2 factors.
That's your personal opinion. GTA was those things you mention and notably Vice City for me and San Andreas were compelling stories and the cities we immersive from III. There was mindless killing and car chases but that was only part of it. You had hours of cutscenes with with all-star Hollywood casts. There wasn't anyone around the time of GTA III making city-based open-worlds. It was huge! I remember being told that if you beat someone up and ambulance would arrive. Then you could beat the ambulance men and steal the ambulance. Doesn't sound special now but that was crazy back then! It was unheard of. There was so much buzz and hype around it. Were you around at the time or old enough to remember? Maybe the story or the city's immersive quality didn't appeal to you back then.
Back to my point..
Doesn't take away from my main point that the 3D era gave us fresh locations and bounced between timelines, giving the look, fashion dramatic changes. Going from III to Vice City gave a stark change in styles of cars. There wasn't other open-world games to compare like there is now. So Rockstar owned those places. Now we have other open world games and Rockstar setting their own games in the same locations makes those locations not very unique.
Returning to roots, means for me, returning to a time when Rockstar gave us new cities and new timelines.
What are we going to get next? Modern day Vice City? How predictable, if so.