Gran Turismo Sport: 4K, HDR, and PSVR hands-on impressions

No surprise here–Gran Turismo Sport will be a visual stunner. Following a PSX 2016 trailer released during yesterday’s showcase, we have a better idea of just phenomenal the game will look.

The trailer highlights some of the visual tech that will bring Polyphony Digital’s simulation racer to living-room life next year. For starters, the game will be rendered in 4K on PS4 Pro. The trailer didn’t clarify whether that’s native 3840 x 2160 or Sony’s resource-saving checkerboard solution, but regardless, enhanced clarity will remove virtually any jaggies from car surfaces and add an eye-popping crispness.

High Dynamic Range lighting is also supported, pushing parts of the picture even closer to lifelike brightness. With a TV that supports HDR, you can expect headlights with a photorealistic blinding, yet soft, illumination. The sun will poke through clouds with brilliant light, and you’ll retain picture detail even in dark, dreary weather.

A “Wide Color Gamut” is also supported. Details are slim, but we can expect Polyphony to leverage more shades of color typically not used in game rendering. The subtlest shades of paint, and the softest transitions between color, should be visible, pushing ever closer to photorealism.

In the trailer, it shows. GT Sport is flat-out gorgeous, the best-looking driving game ever made. In VR, it’s a bit less stunning, but still boasts heightened clarity and detail over something like Driveclub VR. I had the chance to slide into a GT Sport cockpit for some hands-on time at PSX, and I walked away fascinated by how well it controls with the official racing wheel and pedals.

As I flew through a few time trials out in the desert, I was taken aback by how I could tap into real-world driving instincts to get a grip on Gran Turismo’s trademark simulation racing. With a controller and third-person view, I’ve always found the experience somewhat unwieldy. It’s hard to get a grip on how fast I should be able to take a turn, comparing my inertia to an actual car from a birds-eye view, and I feel I’m either too slow or wildly out of control. In VR, there’s a tactile sense of driving an actual car, and I know instinctively how early I should be slowing. In the cockpit, there’s little doubt about whether I’m taking a turn as fast as I could be. At the fringes, you can see and feel your car’s limit being pushed.

Visually, GT Sport in VR is certainly less detailed, but I could clearly see all the fine details of my car’s dashboard and the suited-up racer body beneath my head. The side mirrors were also fully functional, which heightened my immersion. Perhaps most importantly, I didn’t notice any of the peripheral-fading that’s somewhat standard with PS VR titles. Go back and play Batman VR or Until Dawn: Rush of Blood–turn quickly enough, and you’ll notice a poor resolution scale up dynamically whenever you’re looking directly at something. Maybe the thrill of the race was just distracting enough, but the only peripheral vision effect I felt was my own.

As polished as GT Sport in VR already is, I’ve no doubt Polyphony will make improvements on the road to release, shaping up the latest Gran Turismo into an immersive sim racer like no other. Whether you’re up for 4K, eye-searing color or a trip behind the wheel, we’ve got a worthy successor on our hands.