Gran Turismo 7: What’s new that really stands out
Polyphony Digital will strive to attract all gamers this time around, here’s how it wants to do it
The wait is finally over: Gran Turismo 7 — the first full, proper new member of the iconic PlayStation driving game series in a very long time — is now less than a month away from release on PlayStation5 and PlayStation4. Sony dedicated a State of Play video presentation to this highly anticipated Polyphony Digital production and it appears to be exactly what most GT fans around the world were hoping for. It certainly looks like it will be the most expansive entry yet, offering more gameplay modes and things to do than any other GT to date… which is no small feat.
What makes this Gran Turismo different from GT Sport (which opted to lean on the e-sports side of things a little too hard for its own good) and GT6 (which focused so much on content that forgot to bring anything new to the table) is that the series’ producer, Kazunori Yamauchi, appears to really mean it when he claims that “this is a GT he wants all players to enjoy”. Gran Turismo 7 will excite every old-school fan of the series that fell in love with it all the way back during the PS1 or PS2 era, sure, but Polyphony Digital understands that there are now millions of gamers out there (a lot of PS4/PS5 owners among them) that have never played a modern Gran Turismo.
So how does Yamauchi intend to attract those people? By offering gameplay options and activities that will appeal to the more casual crowd, automotive fans and advanced gaming tech enthusiasts. Yes, the 400+ cars and the 90+ track layouts are all important and greatly appreciated by all, the return of the Career Mode and Licence Center will satisfy hardcore GT fans, but mainstream consumers may want to focus on other things, like car history or the vehicles themselves or the graphics, the sound, the presentation and the novelty of PS5’s control feedback. Many of them may want to drive supercars in beautiful tracks and just enjoy the ride.
For all those people, Polyphony made several noteworthy additions to Gran Turismo 7. Here are five that immediately stand out.
Gran Turismo Cafe
An original cross between a game mode and a car museum, GT Cafe is a place where players are served “menu books” consisting of collections of specific famous vehicles they should try to earn. Completing each book grants gamers with a reward, while the owner of GT Cafe will tell them all about the history and significance of those vehicles (car designers are said to be part of the presentation too).
There are more than 30 of these “menu books” to be completed in GT7. Needless to say, car culture enthusiasts are sure to get a kick out of this very interesting “companion” mode — even the rest of us are curious to see the iconic vehicles Polyphony Digital chose to highlight.
This is one for the casuals and truly one we never expected to find in “the real driving simulator”. In Music Rally gamers race against… well, music: they’ll be driving as fast as they can to get to the next checkpoint before the music played runs out of beats, which is as crazy as it sounds as beats do not run out at the same rate seconds do.
The new Gran Turismo offers a wide range of different music styles, so more downtempo tunes will be easier while more uplifting ones will be harder. It certainly seems to be a fun way for gamers who don’t happen to be Gran Turismo veterans to familiarize themselves with GT7’s driving model. If Yamauchi-san has found a way for players to play their own music (e.g. from a USB stick) and customize the checkpoints of the tracks to it, this will truly be one for the ages.
This was probably conceived alongside Music Rally and for good reason: as players try to get into the rhythm of the tunes of that mode in order to not run out of beats, they will probably be driving in a circuit in a way that follows the music to some extent. So what Music Replay does is follow the car around the track as it always did, but “cut” to different angles and camera positions in order to match the rhythm each tune is setting.
A few examples Polyphony has shown look phenomenal. It’s not clear yet whether players can export those replays as video files (they would make for an amazing way to show off GT7 on the Web if it was possible) but they can share the replays themselves through the Showcase mode so… maybe? In 4K too? Cross fingers!
Sorely missed from GT5/GT6, this is the place where casual gamers can play with different car parts in order to change the appearance of their favorite vehicles. This is not the same thing as tuning a car’s e.g. engine or suspension: this players can also do in GT7, of course, but it requires a solid understanding of vehicle mechanics in order to be done in an effective way.
GT Auto is more about the visual side of things than pure performance — although these upgrades can affect how a vehicle “feels” when driven to its limits — such as paint jobs, wheels, widebody kits, aerodynamic parts and other elements that can be mixed and matched to customize the look of a car. The array of such cosmetics on offer is impressive, so expect quite a few crazy-looking vehicles to appear in your rear-view mirror come March.
3D Audio/Haptic Feedback
It’s a given that people who managed to get their hands on a PlayStation5 will be looking forward to enjoying more than just better graphics in the PS5 version of Gran Turismo 7 — compared to the PS4 version — and it looks like Polyphony Digital delivered on that front too. The technical aspects of GT7, in fact, will almost certainly be of interest to all PS5 owners regardless of their experience with past Gran Turismo titles, as Sony will be promoting it as an example of what the new PlayStation can do to mainstream gamers too.
The DualSense’s advanced haptic feedback will strive to give a much better feeling of the different surfaces a car’s tires run on (for people recalling that it was the very first example of this function that Sony mentioned when it unveiled the PS5 controller back in 2019). The adaptive triggers can also better convey the resistance of brakes and the gradual acceleration of a sports car under different circumstances. On the audio front, GT7 will make use of the PS5’s Tempest engine in order to add directionality, reactive properties and depth to all kinds of sound effects, in a way that the PS4 version cannot replicate.
…and a lot more for, you know, the fans
The new Gran Turismo will also offer an impressive number of features that every loyal fan of the series is looking forward to, such as weather conditions that change in real-time, used car dealerships and a hugely improved Scapes mode. But the five specific additions mentioned earlier do stand out in the game’s expansive list as potential attention-grabbers for consumers who could otherwise feel intimidated by “the real driving simulator’s” character.
Previous versions of Gran Turismo had largely failed to ease amateurs into the world of virtual automotive competition. Here’s hope that, this time around, many more people will come to GT7 out of curiosity and stay for the pure joy it can deliver.