By Thomas Harrison-Lord and Justin Melillo
Sony and developer Polyphony Digital have just revealed an SUV-sized load of new details for their upcoming racing game Gran Turismo 7 via a State of Play presentation – and it’s the game’s scope that is the defining takeaway. This game will be massive.
Following on from GT Sport in 2017 and the last numbered title, Gran Turismo 6, in 2013, Gran Turismo 7 is being billed as ‘the return of Gran Turismo’. Based upon today’s (2nd February) presentation, the single-player components of collecting, tuning and yearning after cars seem to be present and correct.
Following an initial reveal at the PlayStation 5 reveal in 2020, followed by a more in-depth look in September 2021, and a series of teasers, with just over a month out until its launch, we now have more detailed information.
In the words of series producer Kazunori Yamauchi, in a typically portentous style: “Gran Turismo 7 will represent the pinnacle of the GT journey, we think of it as our most complete GT to date.”
New daily workout mechanic
A popular feature in GT Sport, after driving more than 26.2 miles or 42.195 kilometres – the exact length of a marathon – you were presented with a roulette wheel with four cars placed upon it.
After it spun for a few moments, one car was randomly selected and became yours for free.
In Gran Turismo 7, however, after completing the same mileage length you receive a roulette ticket with a star rating out of six – indicating the quality of your potential prize.
Presumably, this can then be redeemed at a later date or even perhaps on a set date, indicated as ’11th February’ in the screenshot above.
This mechanic is a key factor we’re awaiting further information on.
Gran Turismo Café and Collector Levels
The Gran Turismo Café is used in GT7 to point you in the direction of the next cars to purchase or unlock.
Here you will be presented with menus, featuring a category or motorcar theme. After completing events and championships, you will earn cars and in turn complete parts of each menu.
To tie in with this, events such as the Porsche Cup will deliver categorised race events.
Think of it like quests within an RPG, but with cars.
You also earn XP in the form of Collector Points for accruing new vehicles, helping to level up your Collector Level. What this level does for you remains to be seen, but at the very least, this is an additional experience point endorphin rush.
One element of the Café is learning about each car’s background. There will be the ‘Museum’ history facts, analogous to those in GT Sport, but built upon with curated descriptions that will sometimes include stories from the vehicle’s real-world designer.
Car purchasing is now in three separate areas
Brand Central is now a shopping mall
There are over 400 cars in Gran Turismo 7 – but it’s how you acquire them that is the main differential and gameplay hook.
Brand Central has been transformed from a characterless menu in GT Sport to a virtual incarnation of a car supermarket.
Except, of course, once you move past the pretty escalators and well-lit showrooms, a similar menu to select car brands seems to still appear.
Here there will be circa 300 models to purchase, but crucially only from 2001 or more recent. Anything older shall not be found, and there’s where things become intriguing…
Used car dealership return
It had already been revealed that the Used Car Dealership seen in older Gran Turismo titles shall be making a triumphant return. Now we know more about how it will function.
Here, most cars will be available for a “more affordable price [than the Brand Central]”, with most vehicles being either older than 11-years-old or entry-level hatchbacks.
In addition, not all cars are available permanently. This area will update each day with a different stock list, meaning you must keep checking back to find specific vehicles and of course, have the requisite funds at the time they appear.
For those trying to compile a ‘complete car list’, this is your worst nightmare.
In addition, cars that have reached a ‘cult’ status, with appreciating values in the real world, will see heftier fees charged. The examples given were the Subaru Impreza 22B, Nissan R32 Skyline GT-R and Ferrari Testarossa.
Brighton Antiques is featured once again in a Gran Turismo 7 preview. Auto Trader this is not, but think along the lines of a high-end car collecting concierge service and you’ll be close.
The Aston Martin DB5 made famous by Sean Connery’s depiction of James Bond is one of the valuable cars available here.
These are described as ‘Legend Cars’, a hand-picked selection of notable 20th-century automobiles.
Updated physics, but still accessible to ‘all’
Gran Turismo is not the last word in driving dynamics, nor a hardcore simulation. But, it is authentic and not the ‘easy arcade’ racer that some elitists will have you wrongly believe.
“The automotive physics simulation of Gran Turismo has 25 years of history. Our team gathers feedback from many expert advisors including Lewis Hamilton, top drivers of the FIA GT Championships, and our technical partners at Michelin,” explained the game’s director.
“This feedback fuels our automotive simulation, which means that track laps times are consistent to their real-life counterparts and that the driving experience accurately reflects fine sensations.”
Sounds good, but the proof is in the feedback when we hopefully get hands-on with the game in March 2022. What we can see in this portion of the State of Play video presentation are cars seemingly reacting in a more subtle way to small track imperfections. Again though, let’s wait and see.
There is visibly more nuance to the car’s braking behaviour when it comes to locking brakes, with the ABS switched off, and close-up shots reveal tyre flex not previously seen in a Gran Turismo title. Smoke effects are now significantly more cough-inducing too.
Despite its prior dynamics edging towards the serious scale, Yamauchi is also at pains to explain the game’s accessibility.
“Our aim was to create a driving simulator that all players can enjoy, whether you’re a hardcore Gran Turismo fan or brand new to the series, I think Gran Turismo 7 will be enjoyable for everyone.”
One element that will hopefully ease newcomers in is the use of the PS5 DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback.
“I’m really impressed with how Polyphony has used the DualSense controller. We all know that Kazunori [Yamauchi] is fanatical about recreating that driving experience for players. In that context, the DualSense is just perfect.” said Head of PlayStation Studios, Hermen Hulst, on a separate PlayStation Blog post.
Mission drag races and licence tests
The licence test returns, as seen in earlier footage. Some of you, like me, will rejoice. Others will be disinterested. Either way, they are part of Gran Turismo lore at this point.
Mission races also make a return, but this time there appears to be more variety in the event types.
There is now the inclusion of drag races, or in GT7 parlance ‘Acceleration Battles’. These see you pull up alongside one AI-controlled rival in a straight-line race.
On the face of it, the appeal could be ephemeral, but it could also be a fun way of trying out new car modifications.
Circa 60 tuning parts per car
Speaking of which, GT Auto is present – an area where you can clean your car and replace its engine oil, for example.
This is where you’ll also find 650 aero parts, 130 wheels and 1,200 different paint shades to modify vehicles. It’s said that in total there are “several thousand customisation parts” including the ability to add roll cages and wide-body kits.
In a rather charming animation, when widening a car’s parts, a stretching sound and animation are played. Oh, Polyphony…
We are treated to the view of a heavily modified Honda Civic Type R with a larger exhaust, wider wheel, slammed ride-height and a rear-wing delete.
There’s also a side-by-side comparison of Volkswagen Beetle upgrades, showcasing just how much quicker you can make a vehicle by fitting performance-enhancing elements too.
Here, it seems as if the displacement has been increased in the engine, or an engine has been swapped, either of which will add a new dimension to fettling.
What’s not clear at this juncture is the scope of visual modifications for all vehicles. We suspect that the majority will have parts available, but something like neon under-lights for a timeless Jaguar XJ13 will not be possible.
Dynamic time, clouds, weather and stars
A significant partition of this recent Gran Turismo 7 information update was focused on the sky. Or, more specifically clouds that will move in a motion that matches the real-world locations as time progresses.
The stars at night have also been enhanced, reminiscent of the big push in Gran Turismo 6 for realistic night skies.
Time, light, clouds, sky and weather are all dynamic. We see Goodwood under heavy cloud for the first time and a wet Nürburgring Nordschleife.
“It rains and the surface becomes wet” is highlighted, as we are treated to Tsukuba changing from light to dark, from dry to wet, and back to dry again.
There are puddles too, that are said to form in ‘known’ locations and similarly, the track surface dries in a logical, realistic, fashion.
However, we’ve noticed that a lot of the really heavy rain footage is of the diminutive Japanese track – which now includes more detail in the rubber laid on the surface – but not a lot of puddle-action elsewhere.
That’s because, according to Yamauchi in an interview with Famitsu, “The change from sunny to cloudy can be experienced on all courses, but it is limited on the course where it rains. The biggest challenge with time and weather changes this time is not just visual changes, but digital physics simulations.”
We’ll hopefully know which circuits feature the dynamic weather when the game releases.
Music Rally and Music Replay
On the face of it, this is just a cool little feature that really isn’t worthy of a dedicated mention for many. However, it’s also exactly the type of off-the-wall wacky we come to expect from creators Polyphony Digital.
The Music Replay alters camera angles dynamically to the beat of the music. Of course, this was demonstrated with a modern-day remix of Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee. Standard.
The game’s full music soundtrack – and whether you could connect your Spotify account to this mode (unlikely, but we can dream) – are yet to be confirmed.
Taking things a step further is Music Rally. We’re going to say that again. Music. Rally.
Take Sega Rally or Daytona’s checkpoint system, and place the timing markers around the length of a song. Why? No idea. Intrigued? Sure.
More cars, tracks and scapes post-launch
It was made very clear that more cars and tracks will follow after the initial release on 4th March 2022.
We must say that at this point, a lack of Grand Valley Speedway or notable real-world venue additions outside of Daytona is a little deflating.
One scene depicts Yamauchi in front of a Ferrari F8 Tributo with his Sony A7 camera in hand. At the bottom, it’s noted that the ‘Jasper National Park scape available with a future update (release date TBA)’.
Take this as our first form of DLC confirmation. More Scapes, yay.
Those are what we feel are the most significant features revealed so far for Gran Turismo 7, but there are plenty more, such as online meeting places, new cars and the use of ray tracing when the cars are stationary and a more powerful photo mode.
Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below and check back for further analysis ahead of Gran Turismo 7’s launch soon.