With just over a month to go until its full release, Sony's latest State of Play unveiled a fresh batch of details on Polyphony Digital's PlayStation exclusive Gran Turismo 7 - including some surprising new modes, a look at the vastly improved customisation options as well as a more detailed look at its new weather system.
The 30 minute presentation reestablished the line that this is a Gran Turismo game that's returning to the series' roots, with a fresh focus on optimisation and the player's journey from starting behind the wheel of a humble starter car after the more stripped-back, multiplayer-focussed Gran Turismo Sport.
Enabling all this is the return of a world map, a hub from which you can access one of the three places to buy cars within Gran Turismo 7: Brand Central, the Used Car Dealer and the Legendary Car Dealer. Brand Central is effectively a supermarket where you can pick up one of 300 cars made from 2001 onwards.
The Used Car Dealer is, unsurprisingly, where you'll buy used cars, with their value fluctuating in accordance with their real-life value - so you might be able to pick up a bargain mk3 Supra, for example, but still expect to pay over-the-odds for its more in-demand mk4 sibling. The Legendary Car Dealer is akin to an auction house like Sothebys, where you'll find more rarified beasts such as the Porsche 917 and Aston Martin DB5 - all with price tags to match their status (and all of which, it should be noted, is using in-game currency).
The car count amounts to just over 400 at launch, with more to come post-release, while when it comes to tracks there are some 34 locations offering 97 different layouts.
Also returning for Gran Turismo 7 are the much-loved Licence Tests (or much-hated rather, if you've ever lost a weekend trying to best one of them). There will also be Mission Tests that introduce disciplines such as drag racing and drift trials, while multiplayer is supported both by two-player splitscreen as well as the returning Sport online mode.
At the heart of the new campaign is the Cafe, in which players will get to interact with the history of car culture as they're guided along by the cafe owner as well as given insight from some of the names behind famous cars such as the original Mazda MX5 and its roadster kin the Audi TT. There's an added dash of Pokémon to it all with the campaign being built around you filling out 30 different 'Menu Books', collecting cars and learning more about them as you go - and once you've filled out those 30 books you've effectively completed the campaign and unlock the final credits, but that's only intended as a starting point for your further adventures in Gran Turismo 7.
There was also an in-depth look at Gran Turismo 7's dynamic weather - which looks like it could be some of the best wet weather implementation in a driving game yet - and further detail on the game's haptics on PlayStation 5's DualSense controller, which will be able to communicate differences in surface texture, engine and drivetrain vibrations, the resonance of the car body as well as the active trigger's ability to relay tire resistance, ABS jitter and the differing weight of the brake pedal between various cars.
Perhaps most significantly, we were given our most detailed look at the new car customisation to date. Whereas a car's Performance Points were once based on a simple formula taking into account weight, power and grip, they're now based on a full simulation that takes into account the myriad attributes that can be tweaked - and by taking a look at the depth of the menus that pertain to customisation and tuning, there are a lot of attributes. Combined with the ability to add rollcages or wide-body mods to cars and it's easily the most advanced Gran Turismo game to date in this regard.
Unfortunately it doesn't seem possible to easily share set-ups with other players online, with Yamauchi somewhat amusingly saying in a separate interview for media to accompany the State of Play that instead players can take a screenshot of their own set-ups and share them that way. Still, you can share liveries, stickers, replays and photos in the Showcase mode - and it wouldn't be a Gran Turismo game without some baffling limitations.
Just as it wouldn't be a Gran Turismo game without some madcap new mode, with the new Music Rally stepping up for Gran Turismo 7. Seemingly a variation of a traditional checkpoint mode, instead of racing against the clock you're racing against a number of beats counting down - that number of beats dependent on which song you choose to drive along to - in what's designed to be a more relaxing, open-armed introduction to driving for newcomers. It's joined by Music Replays, a grandiose sounding mode that in effect simply cuts replays in time to the background music.
The most important detail of all, though? It's that Gran Turismo 7 is sticking to its March 4th release date, so there's really not much time left to wait to see how it all functions in practice.
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