Gran Turismo 7 launched more than six months ago, and we loved it. We loved the single-player depth, the dynamic weather, the car collection and the attention to detail. It really did seem to be the game we had desperately hoped for after all these years.
I even made a video listing everything about the game that I believed made it so special.
Jump ahead to late 2022 however, and it’s fair to say this game wasn’t everything that we thought. As progression was made, the game’s flaws began to surface, and whilst some of those initial opinions remain fully intact, others have significantly changed. Gran Turismo 7 is still an amazing experience, but it could be better.
GOTTA DRIVE ‘EM ALL
The whole game revolves around the idea of collecting cars (basically Pokemon in racing form). There is a car collection index (essentially a Pokedex) with information about every vehicle you have acquired and greyed out sections for the cars you are still to obtain.
You also have a collector level, which is the only tangible progress meter throughout the game. The collector level doesn’t really have any connection to the collection page, so some form of integration between the two would make a lot of sense.
The bigger issue is that you reach the maximum collector level (50) too early in the gameplay experience. You continue earning collector points, but your level remains stagnant.
In the early stages, levelling up is met with rewards such as roulette tickets and suit or helmet designs. Extending this process in conjunction with the number of obtainable cars would therefore make a lot of sense. I would far rather reach the ceiling after collecting 400 cars than what felt like about four.
MORE RAIN PLEASE!
The dynamic weather is quite simply sensational. I would argue it’s the best we have ever seen in a racing game… So wouldn’t it be great to have this system available on more circuits? As it stands, dynamic weather only occurs on certain tracks (maybe because the system is so detailed?) so the chance of rain on any circuit at any time would be a welcome addition.
On the tracks where this is already present, you don’t always know about it until you are midway through a race and the heavens open… Not ideal when you are out on slick tyres and haven’t yet purchased a set of wets. Nice to meet you barrier! My name is John.
Some form of indication that dynamic weather may play a factor in the upcoming race would help prevent these situations and give you a chance to make sure you either have suitable road tyres or full-blown intermediates and wets.
Speaking of tyres, they don’t come cheap. When you only those extra treads for a one-off event, it can be painful spending nearly 30,000 Credits on them. How about adding in the option of used tyres in the future? Maybe a one-use set for 5,000 Credits, or just a half-price set that has slightly reduced performance and wear rates.
THE BIGGEST OVERARCHING ISSUE
The following points are a combination of factors that all work in harmony to cause one, big, overarching problem. Gran Turismo 7 has impressive longevity potential baked into its single-player experience, but to maximise this, the game is in desperate need of improved replayability.
At the moment, GT7 has some special long-term goals for the players to strive towards, such as the car collection element, and this could be a perfect hook to keep you playing. However, the gameplay itself simply isn’t engaging enough to make it feel worthwhile trying to reach them, especially given that these goals are simply unachievable for casual players.
SINGLE PLAYER FORMAT
GT7 sees the player choose a race primarily based on a choice of circuit, rather than a series or championship. There are of course exceptions that are unlocked through Café progression, but the majority of the time, it’s location-based racing.
I, like many others, am not the biggest fan of this format. It works well early doors, but once you reach the later stages of the café experience and move onto more general gameplay, it feels monotonous.
I prefer the system used in older Gran Turismo titles, where you work your way through a series or championship with unpredictable progression ahead. I like not knowing which circuit I will be tackling, and having to think carefully about picking a car suited to various different layouts.
I also enjoy scoring points and working towards an end goal of a championship title rather than focusing solely on win or bust trophy collection. The idea of a prize pool of sorts at the end of a hard fought season is also more appealing than simply collecting a wad of cash for a one-off race. This leads me nicely on to my next point…
BETTER INCENTIVES = MORE ENJOYMENT
Please don’t take this sub heading too literally. I always say I love Gran Turismo’s slow early progression. I love that you don’t receive a race car until hours and hours of gameplay, and that you have to work your way through the ranking in… let’s just go with ‘boxes’…. in order to progress.
In this sense, GT7 nails it. Things change a little once you get further into the game however.
The natural pacing comes to an abrupt halt once you reach the final original café menu. At this stage, the game relaxes its muscles and the rigid structure melts away. Now, it’s all about collecting cars, and one thing I used to love about Gran Turismo games was that rush of adrenaline that comes with the mystery car you’ve acquired by completing a certain series.
Racing would be more enjoyable if instead of simply winning the one-off cash boosts for race results, you knew you were working towards a championship prize fund and a mystery car.
I know that the game does incentivise you with roulette spins for daily mileage and such, but this doesn’t give me nearly as much of a thrill as seeing that rotating silhouette burst into life.
Café menus also occasionally provide you with cars for following menus, but as this is so linear and you see exactly what you could win beforehand, again the excitement just isn’t there.
These changes might well make the grind less…. grindy.
But it still doesn’t fix the main issue at hand as you still need to raise huge amounts of Credits to get anywhere near collecting them all.
BALANCE THE BOOKS
Everybody has spoken at length about the cost of Credits in GT7. Either you earn Credits through gameplay or you can purchase them with real money. In some cases, the value of the legendary cars would empty your purse or wallet were you to attempt to buy them.
These high prices, however, aren’t necessarily the big issue. If you have the real money and it’s worth it to you, then go ahead! There is something quite enticing about an expensive, desirable classic.
The real issue lies with the lack of opportunity to earn the big bucks through gameplay. Some subtle, money-oriented changes would go a long way. We have already covered the idea of having more championships with prize pools upon completion, but what about allowing users to sell their cars?
This is something we expected to be part of the game soon after launch. Yet here we are, more than half a year later, and all our duplicates remained parked in the garage… and worthless.
Polyphony Digital have attempted to address the credit crisis by making circuit experiences pay out handsomely upon completion. However, this is more a case of treatment than a cure. These are one-time payments that give you a quick sugar rush before you inevitably crash back down to earth.
Much like giving a child a pick’n’mix to last a year, it’s inevitably going to run out within the first week, and the rest of the year will be filled with tears. The amount of money you make and the time it takes to do so is a stark contrast with the regular world circuits gameplay, meaning the perceived value of the regular races decreases dramatically.
Why earn 147,000 Credits for ten laps of Monza, when I can make a million doing two good laps in Circuit Experience mode?
On a separate note, it’s strange that some circuits (such as Tokyo Expressway) have more than five different layouts to choose from in Circuit Experience, while others – like Brands Hatch, which has GP and Indy layouts – only have one. Maybe this is something that will be added in future, for that second sugar rush.
GRAN TURISMO FoMO
We have all been there. We fire up the game and immediately jump into the Legend Cars dealership to discover your favourite all-time car is available to buy. At the same time, there are two others you have been patiently waiting for. The problem is, you just spent your money on that Group 1 Audi you didn’t need…
And you have already perfected every circuit experience. Suddenly you find yourself in an impossible position, as you can’t earn the money required in time before the cars disappear, not to be seen again for months.
Here’s an idea… How about a system where you can spend some money to ‘secure’ or ‘freeze’ a legendary or used car? Sort of like a deposit you don’t get back.
This would ensure players don’t get frustrated every time a dream car of theirs appears unexpectedly, and they can’t physically earn the Credits in time. Get it secured, pop it in that warehouse (that’s what I am calling this genius new feature) and enjoy the grind to earn that money.
MULTIPLAYER LOBBY STABILITY
While Sport Mode democratises ranked online racing, the lifeblood of a game is often its community. For a racing game, that community requires lobbies or servers to run friendly or competitive racing events.
In Polyphony Digital’s 2017 GT Sport, they were smooth, stable and packed with features.
In Gran Turismo 7, erm, not so much.
While the game was updated post-launch to support changing crucial lobby settings and version 1.23 in September promised ‘improved network connectivity’, the behaviour of your network connected rivals still isn’t quite up to snuff.
There’s a tendency for vehicles to jitter around in a more sporadic fashion than someone suffering from extreme caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
Small, extra movements make it harder to know exactly where your competitors are, which is exacerbated if there are track elevation changes or banking. Sure, it varies from person to person and their specific internet connection – but take those same players and place them within a GT Sport lobby and it’s smooth as silk.
The key ingredient required for close, clean and competitive racing is a stable representation of the cars on track, and there’s work to do still for Gran Turismo 7 to become a must-play in lobbies.