PSVR 2: First Gran Turismo 7 VR testers are thrilled
Gran Turismo 7 was designed for Playstation VR 2 from the start, says series creator Kazunori Yamauchi.
On February 22, Sony's new VR system will be released, along with a free update for Gran Turismo 7 that brings a VR mode for Playstation VR 2, making the entire game playable with the VR headset.
"The cars, tracks, races, and license tests are all here (with the exception of split-screen support), and playing the game again with the new headset and DualSense controller is nothing short of revelatory—even as someone who logged more than 200 hours on the track throughout 2022," says project manager James Stavrinides on the Playstation Blog.
What is new is a showroom designed specifically for VR, where you can see each of the more than 450 vehicles in the game in detail.
"The plastics, wood paneling, leather, vinyl, and plastics are now viewable at your leisure. Getting up close and personal with various stereo systems, dashboards, and dials is (weirdly) one of the things I’m most looking forward to once I have a PS VR2 at home," says Stavrinides.
The press is excited about GT7 VR
Press previews of the PSVR 2 version were released on Thursday, including three YouTube videos (see below) showing gameplay scenes.
Among those who got a hands-on was US gaming magazine IGN. Editor Ryan McCaffrey says he was "blown away" by the VR version of the game. Other media have also been positive about their experiences.
Fan site GTPlanet, which also posted a video, spoke with series creator Kazunori Yamauchi and learned new details about the PSVR 2 port.
According to Yamauchi, this version was planned from the beginning. "At the end of developing GT Sport, we started on GT7 and our intent was that we would make the entire game playable in PSVR 2," Yamauchi told GTPlanet.
"GT7 natively supports 4K/60, but when you set targets like that you naturally also end up supporting things like VR as well." Adapting to PSVR 2 was "very easy" for the studio, according to Yamauchi.
No major graphic compromises
However, there are some compromises: GT7 VR runs at 120 Hz, but only thanks to motion interpolation. This was not noticed by the testers. According to GTPlanet, the studio also turned off some visual effects, but editor Jordan Greer could not figure out what exactly was missing.
"In that respect, there hasn’t been anything done to cut anything down in any major way," Yamauchi reiterated to GTPlanet. "We obviously have a huge focus on frame rate and resolution when we make Gran Turismo, and I think it was just a matter of really good timing because the power of the PS5 and the specs of the PSVR 2 really worked well together."
Foveated rendering makes GT7 sharper in VR
To ensure a smooth and crisp gaming experience, Polyphony Digital implemented a rendering technique called foveated rendering.
The VR headset uses eye tracking to determine where the eye is focused and renders that area at a high resolution, while the peripheral areas of the image are rendered at a lower resolution to conserve processing power. Players should not notice any of this.
"It’s kind of a textbook application of that feature. Of course we didn’t actually think it would come out this natural. We thought, the technique really works, we thought maybe that if you really kind of focused, you might be able to notice the lesser resolution around the outside, but you really can’t," says Yamauchi.
VR can improve your virtual driving
Does ultra-realistic racing in virtual reality offer advantages, such as the ability to look around the game naturally?
"I do think [it can make drivers better]," says Yamauchi. "For example, finding the braking points is much easier in VR. It matches your senses – you know that if you’re going *this* fast you have to brake around *here*, at least, in order to be able to slow the car down in time. VR really allows you to sense that very well."
The three-dimensionality of the experience should also help with driving, he said.
"You can also really understand the ups and downs, the undulations on the track. When you’re driving on tracks like the Nurburgring, the hills that really look like walls to you when you’re driving, it does look like that when you’re driving VR. The drop-off at the Corkscrew at Laguna really feels like as if you’re going over a cliff."