E3 2017: Hands On: Gran Turismo Sport VR (PSVR, 2017)

I was able to play Gran Turismo Sport during my visit to the PlayStation E3 booth this morning. Both were conducted from within the confines of a pretend car body, outfitted with a top-of-the-line racing wheel and pedals. As you read this hands on piece, please bear that in mind. I can’t comment on how the game plays with a controller in either 2D or VR as I simply haven’t been able to try it that way yet.

What surprised me most about playing this way, however, was how much sense Gran Turismo Sport actually made to me as a VR title, particularly with the over-the-top setup Sony had sprung for in the media booth.

Playing the game in 2D on a large flatscreen from the confines of my little plastic racecar body was, I actually felt, the less ideal way to play the game. While everything looked lovely and felt lovely and performed admirably on the hardware, I wasn’t drawn into the game as I have been in previous Gran Turismo entries. Its possible the insane level of craftsmanship that goes into competitor series Forza Motorsport is beginning to show. After Xbox’s eyepopping showing on Sunday, Gran Turismo Sport feels much the way the series always has — much more Japanese, staid and focused in its design. It has no time for the rock-and-roll, HDR antics of its American counterpart (at least not yet anyway, maybe later in development those changes will begin to appear).

The moment I switched over to the VR version, however, something changed. From my cockpit view, suddenly everything felt far more granular and interesting than it had a moment ago. The way the car reacted to my inputs, the way the mirrors were perfectly positioned to show me what’s behind me, the way the HUD is placed within your line of sight but not directly in front of the instrument cluster … I actually loved it. Again, its startling the difference the addition of VR made to playing the exact same game. To me at least, it makes total sense. Everything about it fits neatly into place. There isn’t anything gimmicky about the VR component either, it literally just sits you behind the wheel and turns you loose. No muss, no fuss. Gran Turismo Sport VR would, at this early stage, be my personally preferred way to play the game, especially if you have access to a wheel and pedals at home.

For long time fans, the wait for Gran Turismo Sport is surely interminable. Let me assure those poor, hungry souls that GT Sport is already more or less everything you’ve been hoping and praying for (but consider picking a PSVR now so you can try it out).

Gran Turismo Sport releases later in 2017, exclusively on PlayStation 4.

The author is reporting from E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Centre. Accommodation in Los Angeles provided by Hotel Indigo Downtown Los Angeles. For rates and booking, click here.