Polyphony Digital has released the first update of the year for Gran Turismo 7, and following the November update, inside Version 1.29 lies significant additions that have been anticipated since launch but never expected to come this soon.
One big surprise is the new virtual reality compatibility for PlayStation VR2. Gran Turismo Sport first introduced a separate VR mode with the original PSVR set, only limited to a single race with one opponent, time trial, and showroom.
This time, VR can be used in all modes, whether on the offline career, online races, or simply walking around and inside any vehicle. With the amount of processing power needed, virtual reality is only available in the PlayStation 5 version of the game.
Polyphony also finally debuted Gran Turismo Sophy, an experimental artificial intelligence system in collaboration with Sony AI. Unlike the existing AI in the game, Sophy uses reinforcement machine learning to tackle any circuit and react with its opponents, either through clean or hard driving. The AI has been described as so difficult and human-like that even the top GT eSports players found the racing agents to be a challenge.
Currently, Sophy is still under development as racing against these colorful agents could only be done through the “Race Together” online event until late March. Much like PSVR2, Sophy is only a PS5-exclusive.
With both PS5-exclusive content out of the way, the new roster of cars has arrived on the PS4 as well. Renowned Italian design house Italdesign unveiled its Exeneo Vision Gran Turismo concepts, made for street and off-road use.
The championship-winning 1965 Honda RA272 makes an appearance as the second licensed Formula 1 car in the game. Other vintage additions include the legendary 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS and the quirky 1970 Citroen DS 21 Pallas.
Another surprise on the update is the return and reimagining of a legendary fantasy circuit in the franchise: Grand Valley. Introduced since the first GT game, Grand Valley Speedway used to appear as a full grassy and mountainous location with the iconic blue arch bridge near the end of the track.
Now named Grand Valley Highway, it has been heavily redesigned to resemble California’s Pacific Coast Highway with its tall seaside cliffs and slender bridges and tunnels. However, the important element is that the track layout is more or less similar to how fans fondly remember from the earlier games.
For the Scapes enthusiasts, two new features have been included that subtly enhance your photos. Drift photography is now made easier by setting the turning direction through visual arrows, and moving up and down the frame is now possible, which is already impressive considering the base images are two-dimensional.
After criticisms of sparse features at launch, updates leading to Version 1.29 has been a massive step-up for the franchise, despite mostly catering to the next-gen-console crowd. Could virtual reality and challenging AI bring the spark back which GT7 sorely needs, at least for the PS5 player base?