Gran Turismo Sport’s PSVR Support Is Frustratingly Brilliant

by Jamie Feltham • October 18th, 2017

We all knew this was coming. It’s a story we’ve heard time and again in VR, but despite everything we still had our fingers crossed this might be the exception to an increasingly unfortunate rule. Sadly, Gran Turismo Sport doesn’t buck the trend; it’s an amazing VR experience without anywhere near enough content.

When Sport was announced two years ago, we dared dream Polyphony Digital would go the distance with PlayStation VR (PSVR). Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the series, known for its pinpoint precision driving, stunning visuals and exhaustive options, played a big part in making PlayStation — and arguably all of 3D gaming — what it is today. How fitting it would be if Polyphony had managed to do the same for the early days of VR.

But, as we knew well before release, Sport’s VR mode offers just a slither of what you’d expect from a full Gran Turismo experience. What you get here is a VR Tour mode, allowing you to drive the game’s wide array of cars around a variety of tracks in one-on-one races against AI opponents. There’s also a gallery mode to view some faultless 3D car models because, y’know, VR.

Before we get into the obvious pitfalls of the lack of options, let’s first address just how fantastic it is to play Gran Turismo in VR, because it really is an expectedly transformative experience. Take everything you love about the series’ gameplay, which is finely tuned to the point of near perfection, and combine that with a genuine sense of actually sitting in the driver’s seat. Can you imagine something better suited to VR in its current form?

Picture it: the world fades into view, a stunning locale stretches out in front of you. The driver’s cockpit has been virtually recreated with lavish detail all the way down to the window adjusters on the doors. The sirens beep and you’re off, stealing quick glances at your rearview mirror as you battle your analog stick for control of every corner, your finger jumping up and down on the accelerator to apply just the right amount of speed. As you’re overtaken you shift your head to the side to see your competitor speed past and resist the urge to curse him like he’s a real human.

You don’t need me to tell you that the controls are razor sharp, with the slightest differences in statistics between cars making a world of difference on the track. You’ll be pleased to know, though, that there is a touch more accessibility to it all; players are asked to select a mode suited to their skill level before they touch the track, with beginner modes offering all the visual feedback you’ll need to eventually master each and every course and perhaps graduate to the more advanced settings. Gran Turismo has always been a wide-selling series without compromising its strict adherence to inaccessible detail, so it’s good to see that potential new VR players will find an easy starting point.

Basically, then, it’s just like real driving, only if you got to choose a new car every time you went to your garage. You’ll have to forgive the hyperbole, but it’s very close to being the culmination of a decades-long journey to make gaming as immersive and convincing as possible. It’s a strand of play Gran Turismo in particular has been striving towards since its inception, and the advent of new hardware has brought it incrementally closer until this point.

But it’s still not enough. For starters, Sport takes an inevitable big hit in the visuals department to get up and running in VR. It’s about on-par with Dirt Rally and a little better than Driveclub VR. That is to say textures are muddier and environmental details appear stripped back, though this may be more down to the extra focus VR affords.

It’s off the track that Sport really lets its VR support down, though. Though you can drive around all of the game’s tracks at various times in the day there simply aren’t anywhere near enough options included here to warrant a purchase for the VR support alone. Why the Tour mode lacks even a basic Time Trial option is beyond me, and the absence of any multiplayer support puts it far behind Driveclub VR. The game features a leveling system that unlocks more tracks as you rank up, but you’ll only earn a measly amount of experience points through the VR Tour mode, so you’ll have to play the standard game if you want to unlock everything in VR.

And so the circle remains incomplete. Gran Turismo Sport’s VR mode offers just a taste of what the series can do with PSVR that’s oh so tantalizing but leaves you wanting much, much more. It’s frustratingly close to realizing the dreams of so many motorheads to the point that it seems cruel to have released something so close and yet so far. Judging by comments from series creator and director Kazunori Yamauchi, though, we probably aren’t going to get the Gran Turismo VR experience we deserved on PS4. The full GT VR game we deserve is likely still many years away.

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  • polysix

    What did you expect. The hardware is nowhere near capable enough to really do it justice. Things are dumbed down to keep performance up… Ps5 and psvr2 will stand a much better chance

    • Sean Moran

      Dumbed down is fine though. Dirt rally is fantastic in vr and the whole game is playable in vr. The lower quality in graphics fade into the background when you get racing.

    • J.C.

      VR games will never, ever catch up to flat panel games visually. The gap may get smaller, but VR games require obscenely more muscle to run the same visuals. Where most top-end graphics console games run at 30 FPS, VR asks for 90, rendered twice. And that’s assuming each eye only renders at 1080p, with no SS.

      But people are stupid, and apparently think their device will magically ramp up to 6x its performance capacity just because they put on a headset.

      • Sven

        They will catch up and even surpass flat panel games visually. Pupil tracking is already here and with a few refinements in foveated rendering, which NVidea is currently working on, it can ease the render load immensely compared to full screen rendering. The human eye only sees full detail in 2 degrees of your vision, dropping off to only detecting shapes and movement beyond 10 degrees.

        Atm headsets are still so low res that foveated rendering won’t save all that much, when 4K and 8K headsets become the norm you will still be looking at the render load of a single 4K screen. VR with eye tracking has the potential to surpass the detail of flat panel games within the next decade. (Of course PC displays with eye tracking are not out of the question either)

        It’s all about rendering smarter instead of applying more force. PSVR already has support for multi res rendering on the pro, plus the 60 to 120fps reprojection was a smart move. However with the limited user base, games won’t really be optimized for the pro, and with pupil tracking multi res rendering can only do so much as to accommodate the distortion of the lenses (perceived pixel density in the center is higher than on the edges, rendering higher res for the center than the edges better fits the panel and can raise the perceived resolution with supersampling)

  • Steve

    I can understand the graphics and car count limitations but what is unbelievable is the omission of any ‘sport’ why could they not put in a time trial and more than 1 or 2 laps for a bit of competition is beyond me?

    • Crys Jahnke

      What do you understand from these limitations? There shouldn’t be any. I wouldn’t buy a console to play only half the game, cause it’s too weak. That’s why I don’t even buy one anyway.

      • KLEEBAN KLIBAN

        He understands the power limitation. Not sure why you think there shouldn’t be any limitations. There is no such thing as a limitless device. Unless you are saying you don’t game at all, you game on a limited device.

      • Multiplataformgamerz

        go to Walmart and buy some sense, and add it to your comment

      • Crys Jahnke

        Why should VR be only half the game? either you get full support or none. what shit is this half ass limited cars and lesser graphics.

  • Jean-Sebastien Perron

    GT is not a simulator it is a videogame : magical physics, vacume cleaner engine sounds and you have to grind like an rpg to unlock the cars. Because paying for cars is not enough, you have to pay for them in the game.

    • Comedykev

      “Only PC??”, sorry but 2 out of your 4 are on console

      • Jean-Sebastien Perron

        Not in VR

    • KLEEBAN KLIBAN

      (Not sure if my other post that had the link will get accepted by the moderator so sorry if this comes twice). I’m no GT fan.. don’t care for racers and only bought if because my friend loves it and I have PSVR so figured I would let him play it.. but apparently it’s actually considered a simulator as well as a game. Sounds a bit arrogant but from what I have heard and read it has earned the description. It has all the grinding and other stuff a game has, but its mechanics are realistic. My buddy likes it because he says (hearsay) that they go to all the tracks and find the actual bumps in the tracks and put them in their games. Crazy attention to detail!

      You should check out a very recent article about cops in England improving real-life lap times by playing Gran Turismo Sport in VR. Tried linking myself but comment hasn’t show up. The purpose was to improve their driving for real life car chases and it was so realistic a simulation that they improved their driving skills on a real track. Apparently Gran Torismo has been used to coach world class racing drivers for over a decade. Hard to believe, but if that doesn’t count as a simulation, nothing does.

      • Jean-Sebastien Perron

        What I hate with all my hart is that you pay 60$ for this trash and you load the game and you get 2 cars and 2 tracks and you have to RPG the shit to get what you paid in the first place. So they market it as Simulator with 200+ cars and 20 tracks, but after 40 hours of driving shit cars you will end up with 20 cars max. You will never be able to get the F1 or the cool cars. While a simulator you buy it, you get everything. I am an amateur racer, do you really think I like doing the forced racing schools and permits? So you pay full price for this shit and get 10% of the game content. Japanese dev apply the same stupid logic as their anime in their game and that is why they are not relevant in the modern world.

        • KLEEBAN KLIBAN

          I like a bit of grind for reward. I’m old school like that. Though I haven’t really played this much yet so I’m not sure if they strike a good balance or not. Everyone has their grind limit and it varies based on how much you enjoy playing the game, but I feel you.. once you hit your limit it is so frustrating. I always enjoyed unlocking characters in Smash Bros and Mario Kart on my Game Cube, and I like leveling up in shooters and RPG’s. Progression makes the game more replayable and rewarding in my opinion, even though it’s all just digital and useless in reality. I wouldn’t like a game with all cars just unlocked but to each their own. Just saying, what makes the game suck for you is what other people enjoy about it.

          Though I bet when they train cops and professional racers, they don’t make them grind haha.. God that would be a bitch! I’m sure they just set up the drivers in the car they need to be on and in the track that would best challenge the skills they need to improve. When you play at home you are more playing a video game. You have to pay mad money for all the wheels, pedals, seats, VR, etc to get the simulation. The high end stuff is like 1.5 to 2 thousand dollars I think.. crazy! Some people really like driving though and will pay that kind of money, and hey if they enjoy it enough to get their money’s worth then more power to em.

      • Candy Cab

        If you have any interest in the history of the GT series and what Kazunori Yamauchi has been chasing all these years, checkout the videos located in the “Gran Turismo” location on the world map. The series has come a long way.

    • ReddChief78

      Only PC has proper racing sims LUL!! nice bait mate, those games doesn’t comes close to GT.

  • Rothgarr

    If the Forza series ever comes to Xbox One X I’m sold.

    • Crys Jahnke

      It will 1000000%

      Microsoft WILL sell its own games on its own console

      • Rothgarr

        Sorry, I meant in VR form.

        • KLEEBAN KLIBAN

          It’s too good a fit not to have it. If XB gets VR device they will do Forza but it will take time. I think Halo could be pretty cool too.. the VR screen could be made to look like Master Chief’s visor haha.

      • MaeseDude

        You mean like “Age of Empires 4”?

  • Konchu

    it looks really nice but does make me sad.biggest dislike was it didnt seem to earn me credits in game. So there is no VR progression on contribution meaning you have to play out of VR to go anywhere. At least let my time unlock special cars(the same path could be availible non VR).

  • Sven

    I love PSVR yet GT Sport’s VR mode is a big disappointment. PD puts 2 lovely detailed cars on the track yet forgets about the environment. The lighting GT has always been known for is completely absent in VR, it all looks very bland, no shadows, no sun interacting with track side detail. Dirt Rally looks far better while racing, and even DC outshines it when it comes to lighting.

    The other AI car only seems to be there so you can look at the car you picked. The AI doesn’t put up any competition, nor are there any settings to change the difficulty. 2 laps and you’re done, unless you turn around, the only way to keep on driving.

    The cars are very detailed, however you can’t move your head more than 1 foot before the screen blacks out. All that detail, cannot examine. You can’t adjust your position either like in DC, nor adjust the mirrors.

    Why can’t we do the license tests in VR? Why no time trial? Why no difficulty options, lap settings? Why is the pit closed off? Why are there no leaderboards? Why is there no gameplay? I guess that’s why it’s called VR Tour mode…

    Luckily the rest of the game is very good, so far I’m enjoying my ‘grind’ to lvl 20 so I can drive on the Nurburgring in VR. At least 2 laps will last a decent amount of time on that circuit. Hopefully PD will flesh out the VR mode. I’ll be happy racing against ps2 model cars, or rectangles, anything.

    One thing that is very cool about the VR mode is seeing how cramped race cars are on the inside. The Peugeot 908 Hdi FAP made me feel a bit claustrophobic, jammed inside. Surprisingly bad overview of the surroundings as well.

  • Jurgen Hierck

    Won’t meddle to much with the discussions on this thread (although there seems to be a lot of misinformation about what GTsports actually delivers)
    But one word on graphics Jamie; on PlayStation Pro they are pinsharp. In- and outside the car. I presume you play on standard ps4 (based on earlier reviews).
    On pro however, there is a marked difference in between GT and Dirt rally and DC

  • Gary Moran

    The VR implementation is an insult. Technically they could provide a compelling VR experience, even if that didn’t include more than 2 cars and no online, instead they chose to offer a borked “experience”: disrespectful on PD and Sony’s part.

  • GrangerFX

    Let’s face it, the PSVR is just an experiment. It is there to whet our appetite for VR on game consoles. Sony wanted to test the reception of VR in the wider market. What it found was somewhere between success and failure. Hopefully it will be enough to convince the company that the PS 5 should at least have VR as a major component if not be completely dedicated to it.

  • sasian

    While I’m sure GT Sport is a great track based racing game in 2D, this article makes it sound as if VR GT Sport could have been some sim racing revolution had the VR implementation been complete, and now we’re all just left empty handed with only dreams of what it could have been. However, this article fails to acknowledge the amazing PC racing sims with complete VR support that will give you more than this writer hoped for in GTS VR. By comparison, Project Cars 2 lets you play every single aspect of the game in VR, from the opening cut scene to the in-game replays. Not to mention, you can race with up to 31 other players online while in VR, and race with a complete range of fully simulated weather effects, from clear and hot summer days to racing around the Nurburgring at night during a blizzard. None of it’s scripted, you can have any weather effect on any track at any time. On top of that, most reviewers feel that PC2 has better physics and force feedback than GT Sport (and waayyy better sound). GT Sport is no VR pioneer, and PC racing sims have been offering better VR experiences than GT Sport for years now.
    Honestly, I feel that Jamie (the writer) should have at least mentioned that as of now, if you want a racing sim that you can play fully in VR, PC is the place to go, and it has some amazing options, like Project Cars 2. Also, it’s kinda a cop-out to review a racing sim in VR without a wheel…. I totally understand that many people can’t afford a gaming PC and sim wheels, but to be reviewing the realism of the experience and driving characteristics, you really owe it to your audience to use a wheel, or even better, give your perspective of both control types.

  • Kevin Loosveld

    It’s an awesome game. Gameplaywise it’s phenomenal. I would have liked more vr content, but something tells me that they will release dlc to flesh out the vr, as Steve said, why not a time trial mode.
    I think this game is an experiment for Polyphony digital, Vr is is a new medium and game devs don’t do charity. In the end it has to be profitable. Maybe they did what they could with the time they got? Bethesda is experimenting with 2 vr business models. They will release vr remakes of existing games (Skyrim and Fallout) and they are going to release DoomVfr, made from the ground up for Vr. Pioneering is never easy.
    So, I gladly forgive Polyphony Digital the lack of content.
    The graphics take a hit on vr, true, but graphics will ALWAYS take a hit in comparison to normal 2d games. Vr games are a lot more demanding. Not only does your system needs to render 2 images, it also has to do that on 90fps and has to keep up with the tracking.
    Bitching about vr graphics and comparing them to 2d graphics is the same as prefering a pornmovie to real sex, because a porn movie looks better.
    That can be true, but you’re missing a whole lot of immersion, and that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? 😉

  • djkoz78

    I’m so sick of this shit. It makes me never wanna support anything Sony does again.

    Guess I won’t be buying another game that basically lies to get you to purchase it. So far only Capcom and Bethesda gets my money and some indie developers. The rest don’t get a single red cent until they start making the game fully playable in VR.