Can you hear that? I don’t want to jinx it, but it sounds an awful lot like Gran Turismo 7, just around the bend, in a white-knuckled, redline-tickling, last-lap dash for its chequered flag early next month. Of course, the granddaddy of all console racing sims has historically had a complex relationship with release dates so we’ll save the celebrations for when it’s officially doing its victory donuts. However, series creator Kazunori Yamauchi and Sony have just popped the hood for a new and lengthy deep-dive on what we can expect from GT7, so let’s take a look at some of the new things we’ve learned.
As you may already know, the Gran Turismo series is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and this important milestone really seems to be informing developer Polyphony Digital’s approach to Gran Turismo 7. After 2017’s very successful but nonetheless streamlined Gran Turismo Sport, Gran Turismo 7 is very much being positioned as a return to the traditional, pioneering GT experience.
That means the return of the world map and license tests. It means the return of classic tracks dating all the way to the 1997 original. It means the return of performance tuning. It even means the return of oil changes and all those little eccentricities that have been etched into the identity of Gran Turismo. All of this we’ve learned previously, however. But while it looks like GT7 will be a familiar experience for long-time fans, there are a lot of new features.
One of the most interesting is the Gran Turismo Café, which is appearing for the first time in GT7 and will be right in the centre of the map. The Gran Turismo Café is Polyphony Digital’s answer to one of the biggest questions that came up during development: how can new players be brought up to speed on the broad and varied world of Gran Turismo? It’s a question only complicated by the way car culture has faded to a degree since the ’90s.
Gran Turismo 7 – February 2022 Screenshots
The Gran Turismo Café is designed to deepen a player’s understanding of the enormous world of Gran Turismo, and the automotive culture to which it’s dedicated, via a series of driving challenges assigned by the café’s so-called Menu Books. Yamauchi explains that each time a Menu Book is completed we’ll be able to listen to the café owner explain the history and culture behind the cars highlighted in that Menu Book. In a respectful touch it’s noted that the original designers of some of these cars will even appear to reminisce over their memories of bringing them to life. We spotted former Mazda designer Tom Matano, known for his work on the iconic MX-5, and Freeman Thomas, designer of the Audi TT and the New Beetle.
According to Yamauchi there’ll be over 30 of these Menu Books in the café, which he likens to quests. While clearing them all will apparently bring players to the campaign mode’s ending, Yamauchi stresses this is really just the beginning of what players will be able to do in GT7.
While the Gran Turismo Café sounds very interesting, there are some slightly more idiosyncratic new features that have been extensively discussed relating to music. Music has always played a vital role in the GT series and GT7 is set to include the biggest library of music ever, with over 300 tracks from over 75 artists. Yamauchi explains that the Polyphony Digital team is embracing this music more than ever, with a new Music Replay feature – a replay mode where the cameras are generated automatically and switch in time with the music – and a new mode called Music Rally.
The Music Replay feature feels like a slightly peculiar focus (one odd piece of footage we’ve seen marries a Subaru BRZ shredding around Tskuba to a 1980s classical disco megamix of George Gershwin music, and it is bafflingly incongruous), but the Music Rally mode is Polyphony Digital’s solution for what the team believes has been a long-time dilemma that GT players have juggled in the past regarding music: balancing a desire to hear the background music with the need to hear the engine and the tyres when trying to focus on serious racing. Even Yamauchi himself concedes that he turns off the music when he wants to concentrate on pure racing.
With that in mind, the objective of the Music Rally mode is simply to enjoy the music. Players will start with a certain allocation of beats and need to pass through extension gates on the track to keep these beats topped up enough to reach the end of the song. According to Yamauchi the philosophy behind the Music Rally mode is to enjoy a relaxed drive with music and it’s geared towards beginners – particularly children – but he suspects experts will still be able to have a lot of fun with it by experimenting with how wild they can drive while still reaching the gates.
We’re yet to get our hands on GT7 but it arrives on both PS4 and PS5 on March 4.
Luke is Games Editor at IGN’s Sydney office. You can find him on Twitter every few days @MrLukeReilly.