The PlayStation VR2 — Sony’s second virtual reality peripheral and its first one for the PS5 — is finally out tomorrow and Gran Turismo 7 will be there to support it via a timely software update. It happens to be one of the most impressive ones, too: not only does the v1.29 GT7 update allow PS5 owners to play almost everything in Gran Turismo 7 in virtual reality, but it also marks the advent of GT Sophy, Sony’s artificial intelligence experiment, on the company’s latest home entertainment system. This is potentially huge and one of the reasons why this particular update — combining VR and AI — may go down as one of the most important in the history of the Gran Turismo franchise.
First things first: as promised, this update brings practically the whole of GT7 in the virtual reality environment afforded by the PS VR2. The only thing that players cannot enjoy in VR is the two-player split-screen mode (which is perfectly understandable). Other than that, everything can be played in VR, including online multiplayer, plus there’s an exclusive “VR Showroom” function available in the Garage area and the car dealerships where “players can admire all the stunning details of the ultra-high-definition car models in a variety of locations and lighting settings”, as per this official PlayStation blog post. Nice!
Then there’s GT Sophy. Sony’s much-discussed artificial intelligence-based driver is made available to the general public for the very first time with this GT7 update in the form of a special, time-limited (until the end of March) event called “Gran Turismo Sophy Race Together”. Gamers can go head to head with GT Sophy either one-on-one (with identical cars and settings) or against four GT Sophy-controlled drivers in four successive races with different performance level cars. This event is meant to “showcase the superhuman driving skills of GT Sophy”, as Sony puts it, and players are required to have reached Collector Level 6 in order to participate in this event. Not a problem to whoever decides to take on GT Sophy, that!
It’s worth noting that this is not the actual full, proper implementation of GT Sophy in GT7 that’s coming at some point down the line — it’s just a preview of it and a great way for Polyphony Digital to gather more training data for the AI agent behind it, obviously. It’s also worth noting that this special event is only available for the PS5 version of the game, despite this AI experiment having been originally built on the PS4. Here’s hope that Sony did not decide to just ditch the PS4 version of GT Sophy and that it’s still planning on making it available to PS4 owners in the future, as it’s the kind of extra functionality capable of seriously extending the longevity of GT7 (especially for veteran players of the game).
Since these two headline features, based on VR and AI, are PS5-exclusive, Polyphony Digital has also included additional content that PS4 owners can enjoy too. There are five new cars on offer — the Citroen DS21 Pallas 1970, the Honda RA272 1965 and the Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 plus Offroad and Street versions of the exotic Italdesign Exeneo Vision GT — a new racing course (the classic Grand Valley track in four different layouts) as well as six new races, two new Extra Menu Books and some new functionality in Scapes. The v1.27 GT7 update comes in at around 8GB for the PS4 and PS5 versions of the game and it’s available right now. Go get it!