Everything you need to know about Gran Turismo 7
The next mainline GT title lands March 4 2022 on PS4 and PS5
Gran Turismo is PlayStation's oldest active IP and staple racing franchise with a fanbase of millions around the globe. Developed by Sony first-party studio Polyphony Digital under the vision of Kazunori Yamauchi, GT is a franchise that has found a home on every PlayStation console, from the 1997 PS1 to the handheld PSP to the modern PS4, spanning 12 games across 4 generations of hardware and enticing millions of fans along the way. Dubbed 'The Real Driving Simulator', Gran Turismo has sold over 80 million units to date since its debut 24 years ago which makes it the highest-selling PlayStation IP. And now, Polyphony is all set to add to that magnanimous figure with the next numbered entry in the series - Gran Turismo 7.
Following hot on the heels of 2017's esports-focussed Gran Turismo Sport, GT7 is touted by Polyphony to be a return to form for the franchise. Revealed in June 2020 as a PS5 exclusive, GT7's main selling point is a full and proper single-player campaign in the same vein as previous numbered titles, something which was sorely missed in GT Sport's tacked-on single-player mode. Naturally this was an instant hit with fans of the franchise with the reveal trailer racking up 10 million views. In addition to the campaign, GT7 also boasted an all-new dynamic weather system, a beefed-up car list, proper tuning and customisation, the return of the used cars store, enhanced graphics, 4K60fps with shiny ray traced reflections, full DualSense support, and best of all, brand-new iterations of iconic GT circuits such as Trial Mountain and High Speed Ring! All of this was revealed in a stunning trailer with gameplay of a Mazda RX-Vision GT3 speeding around Trial Mountain, presented by Kazunori Yamauchi himself at PlayStation's 'Future of Gaming' online showcase. After that, Polyphony went silent on GT7 for more than a year with only occasional mentions of the game in PlayStation marketing attached with a vague 2021 release window.
Used car dealership
On 23 Feb 2021, Sony Interactive Entertainment head Jim Ryan finally broke the silence on GT7 in an interview with GQ UK where he announced that the game has been delayed to 2022 due to COVID-related development challenges. Fans were mostly unsurprised since Polyphony has faced delays prior to the release of every GT title, to the point that it's satirically considered a tradition in the fanbase. However, the real reason for the delay would be revealed a few months later.
On 2 June 2021, Sony released a Q&A with PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst discussing the future of PlayStation Studios and the general direction they're heading in. Amongst a lot of new information about upcoming projects, Hermen revealed that keeping PS4's 110 million+ userbase and PS5's stock issues in mind, it was decided to release GT7 on both PS4 and PS5 as opposed to releasing it solely on PS5. This created a ripple in the community and divided the fanbase. On one side, PS4 users felt relieved that they wouldn't have to spend time and money to buy a brand-new console for just one game and on the other, PS5 users were upset at Sony for misleading them with "PS5 exclusive" marketing and believed that the game would be "held back" due to the limited technical potential of the PS4 compared to the PS5. This decision was also speculated to be the reason for the delay to 2022, with VGC reporting that it was made fairly recently.
Personally, I agree with the PS5 users on this even though I don't have a PS5 (yet). There's a reason why we must cut the cord with older hardware when transitioning into a new console generation. No matter what the marketing says, cross-generation games can never fully utilise the technological advancements of the newer machine due to some unchangeable concessions that must be made for the older machine. In the case of GT7, there are 2 core aspects of the game that will have to be changed in order to make it run on PS4. The first is physics and AI. Polyphony will have to rework their entire physics engine that was designed for the advanced Zen 2 CPU in the PS5 and downgrade it to be able to run on the ancient Jaguar CPU in the PS4 which was notorious for being rather weak, and since physics cannot be scaled up or down between CPU architectures, the PS5 version would be stuck with toned-down physics that don't push the hardware to its fullest. Basically, we get slightly better physics and AI complexity compared to GT Sport and while that's not a terrible thing, it stings to know that we could've had something much better. The second aspect that must be changed is core game design which is shared between PS4 and PS5. The framework Polyphony built on the PS5's ultra fast SSD will have to be scrapped and rewritten to work on the PS4's sluggish HDD with limited asset streaming capabilities. How does that translate to the actual gameplay experience? The sensation of speed in high speed racing will be unrealistically slow due to the PS4's HDD not being able to load assets any quicker. All of this means that GT7 will feel more or less exactly the same as GT Sport during gameplay, just with better graphics and DualSense features on PS5. It's disappointing, but I'm open to Polyphony changing my mind with any surprises they may have in store.
Polyphony Digital and Kazunori Yamauchi both continued to remain silent until the 2021 PlayStation Showcase aired on 9 September and GT7 received a brand-new trailer that revealed a redesigned main menu and snippets of gameplay in between (which predictably looked extremely similar to GT Sport). It was a fantastic trailer that paid homage to the trailers for older GT games. Polyphony also revealed an official release date of 4 March 2022 for GT7 as well as a 420-strong car list at launch. Shortly after the showcase, Kaz Yamauchi sat down for an interview with Eurogamer and revealed many more details about the game. Namely, he confirmed real-time weather and time progression, improved rain physics on tracks, the same damage system as GT Sport, and a constant internet connection requirement even for the single-player campaign. That last point did not go down well with the community and rightfully so. Requiring a constant connection to the servers means that you won't be able to play the game in any capacity should your internet behave wonky. This also poses a problem with the longevity of the game. It would be entirely unplayable the day the servers go offline permanently. To put it simply, Polyphony aren't selling you a game, they're selling you a license that will eventually expire. Kaz says that the reasons for this requirement are to prevent players from using modded save files to create havoc in online sessions and for storing livery data in the cloud. I can understand their stance with the first point, but I don't get why this rule has to be imposed for the campaign mode. Why can't they just run a quick game file integrity test before playing online? Anyone with iffy save files can be instantly booted from playing online. And even if I did have a modded save file, I wouldn't be ruining anyone else's experience when playing the campaign. It's truly a mystery why Polyphony of all studios would sacrifice the longevity of their game.
Preorders for GT7 finally opened up last week on 21 September. Initially, only the digital editions were available but physical copies went up a couple days later and both are available as of now on the PS Store and at most major retailers. Pricing details are as follows: $60 for the PS4 version ($10 fee if you wish to upgrade to the PS5 digital version), $70 for the PS5 version. Polyphony also revealed an amazing looking 25th anniversary limited-run collector's edition that's going for $90 (both physical and digital) and grants you access to both the PS4 and PS5 versions of the game (digital PS4 version if you buy the disc). In-game preorder bonuses for standard editions include 100,000 credits, Toyota Castrol Tom's Supra, Mazda RX-VISION GT3 Stealth Concept, and Porsche 917K Living Legend. For the collector's edition, you get a steelbook case for the disc, 1.1 million credits (1.6 mil for the digital version), Toyota GR Yaris with a country-specific livery in addition to all the cars listed previously, 30 PSN avatars, and an official soundtrack. Personally, I love the steelbook edition and would preorder it instantly the day it becomes available in my country.
I know I may come off as critical and harsh regarding GT7, but it's only because GT is my favourite racing franchise of all time and it's one of the main contributors to my love for cars. I've been hooked since GT3 A-spec on the PS2 and I've grown up playing every single GT there is. I have close to 200 hours logged in GT Sport. I was squealing with excitement when I first saw GT7 in the PlayStation showcase last year, and even though my hopes have been somewhat diminished by the decisions Polyphony have made, I'm still looking forward to logging hundreds of hours again when it finally releases next year, hopefully with no more delays!