Gran Turismo Sport: PlayStation VR Versus 4K

Gran Turismo Sport: PlayStation VR Versus 4K

I think we all thought racing games would be perfect for VR. We almost took that for granted.

Actually, anything that involved sitting seemed perfect for VR.

Sitting in a mech, shooting people. Perfect for VR.

Sitting in a spaceship, shooting other spaceships. Perfect for VR.

Sitting in a racecar, racing other racecars. Perfect for VR.

It makes sense. There’s perceived issues with virtual reality as a concept. We’re all agreed that, while VR has made spectacular leaps and bounds over the last couple of years, there are still problems to be solved.

Prime among them: player movement.

How does one run in VR? How does one jump? How do we climb and how do we shoot? So many of the classic video game verbs don’t really work in VR.

Driving though. We can handle that one, right? Yes. Probably.

But a strange sensation. I’m currently playing Gran Turismo Sport. I’m playing using the PlayStation VR headset. Literally five minutes ago I was playing Gran Turismo Sport like a relatively normal person: a normal person who somehow has a PlayStation 4 Pro and a really great 4K television.

I’m still trying to work out which one I prefer.

Which is weird. As a massive supporter of virtual reality as a concept; as someone absolutely rooting for VR to take over the world, I thought this would be a no brainer.

VR should be perfect for racing games.

It certainly is functional. With my head wedged in a headset, the immersion factor is real. ‘Immersion’ is often thought of a dead word when it comes to describing video game experiences, but it’s relevant here. VR is immersive. That’s a real thing. It allows you to detach your eyeballs and wedge them into the sockets of a brand new reality. Is there a better word to describe that experience as ‘immersive’?

But the more I play racing games in VR, the more I start to question its ‘suitability’.

I think about driving a car. I think about what my head does when I’m driving a car. I think about what my head would do if it was driving a high performance race-car at ludicrous speeds in life/death situations. I’m guessing my head stays mostly still, rigid even. Because I don’t want to die.

Which definitely removes much of the pleasure that comes from being in a virtual reality.

Whilst playing Gran Turismo Sport in VR I find that my favourite moments come, not when taking tight turns perfectly, or barrelling at high speed towards the finish line.

No, I am happiest when the driving is placid enough for me to quickly check my mirrors.

At one moment I spin out and crash into a barrier. It feels nice, I feel relief. I can turn around, look over my shoulder. I can remind myself that this is 2016 and I’m using a virtual reality headset for God’s sake! What a wonderful world.

Image: Kotaku

Five minutes ago I was playing Gran Turismo Sport at maximum fidelity.

4K. Upscaled. Checkerboards. Whatever. Who cares? It looked sharper than any driving game I’d ever played. It looked glorious.

Sitting in a chair, fancy steering wheel attached, expensive TV sitting 1.5 metres from my eyeballs, I still considered myself ‘immersed’.

I’m not as immersed as I was when my eyeballs were wedged in a PlayStation VR headset, but is the difference enough to sacrifice all this additional detail? These glorious visuals, textures… the resolution.

It’s hard to deny: immediately jumping from ‘peak’ Gran Turismo Sport in 4k to the PlayStation VR version did highlight the visual sacrifices required for virtual reality. It was immediately apparent.

It got me wondering where the line was.

Gran Turismo Sport. To VR or not VR – I thought that decision would be an easy one. I love virtual reality. I love that experience. But with PlayStation VR that experience comes at a cost and I’m not sure it’s worth it for a game like Gran Turismo Sport.

It’s strange, wondering about the value of virtual reality for racing games. Once upon a time I’d argue VR was perfect for games like Gran Turismo Sport, but now I’m unsure.

My favourite VR experiences so far have been exploratory. They’ve struggled with issues of movement, but succeeded wildly in those moments of quiet, when you have a second to simply look around. The type of experience where it’s difficult to forget you’re experiencing something new.

When playing racing games, I consistently forget I’m wearing a VR headset.

Is that a good thing? I haven’t decided yet.

Do I prefer Gran Turismo Sport on a normal television versus PlayStation VR? 4K and the PlayStation 4 Pro might just represent a tipping point.

Again, I haven’t decided yet. But if you’d asked me three or four months ago which would work better, it wouldn’t have been a discussion.



  • Are you really going to want to spend more than 30 minutes at the end of your day with a screen strapped to your face?

    No. No you’re not.

    That’s the end of the story for me. VR might be awesome, but it’s a long way away from being an uncompromised alternative to an enjoyable long-term gaming experience.

    Do I want to sit on my lounge playing GT in 4K? Yep!

    • Hey, That is a good point but I think you really need to try it as it seems to vary from person to person. I sat down on the weekend and played Driveclub VR for about 4 and a bit hours with no discomfort and had a blast. It really is not as bad as you might think. Then again, if its not for you, its not for you. 🙂

      • I can see it being a hobby more like paintball for lots of people.

        You put aside a few hours on a weekend and play until you get your fill, then it goes back in the box until the weekend afterwards.

        Even if it’s fun, the technology is still too cumbersome to be a form of casual relaxation for most (not all) people. It also drags you out of the real world in a way that’s going to make it infeasible as a lazy-hours entertainment for people with other commitments (kids, partners, roommates, jobs ect).

        People playing a few hours within a month of launch don’t disprove that theory, it’s to be expected. These people are gamers! It’s entrily expected that whenever a big title or new hardware comes out there’ll be people who spend 60 of the first 72 hours playing the thing!

        • Hahah you hater you
          I’m married with 2 kids under 3

          Some nights I find a good few hours to strap in
          Mrs can watch the tele and I can play in vr right next to her. I no longer have to hide in my gaming room – she loves that!

          I’m not sure what you’re referring to as it’s a lot easier to pause a game and take the headset off than it is to be in the middle of an on-line Game when your kids need you!? There really is little to no difference to normal gaming. Plug the headset in and away you go

          You gotta try it mate – it’s not nearly as cumbersome as you suggest!

        • I really think you need to actually try it out in your own environment before passing judgement on it.

          My experience, had a Vive for quite a while and still use it multiple times a week, but I do admit that it’s not really something you can use casually after work, it requires effort.

          Got a PSVR yesterday and I’m amazed at how much easier it is to go from powered off to playing, it’s actually no more difficult than switching on your PS4 and your TV.

          While I think the Vive is an expensive purchase and too cumbersome to be used day to day casually, the PSVR really is set up to allow for more casual playing, and because of the way they’re marketing PSVR, it actually can be a more social experience.

          I honestly encourage you to give it a try yourself before passing judgement.

        • Funny. My dad (I am an old dad myself, so we are talking grey haired grandparent here) strapped on the PS VR the other day when he dropped in for a cup of tea. He was so impressed that he wants to come back with my mum and spend a night playing it.

          With the amazing feeling of space you get with games like Valkyrie, Battlezone and Rigs I just can’t see this being something that goes away. The PS VR is the first console ready VR set and already does so many things right. The only reason I get off it during my game time at all to play older games is to catch up with friends, but even they are moving to VR. Not every game is suited to VR and not every game is better in VR, but those games that are? Damd, they are special and like nothing else.

        • There are a lot of people just like you, and you’re opinions arent the only thing that binds you together. You’ve all formed your opinion without ever trying it. I respect your right to choose, but you really are doing yourself a disservice by putting far too much importance on something casual consumers only want to use to play games. If someone wants to take a trip to a foreign country, he isnt going to call Russia’s Space Agency to book a flight on the next Soyuz rocket. All a VR device needs to do to be worth 100% of its asking price, is to make its “buyers” feel 100% satisfied that they’ve been given the expected bang for their buck. If you really want to make an educated account of the validity of this “Entertainment” device, you need to get an “UNBIASED” tally of opinions of people who spent their hard earned cash on the product. Right now, all you are doing is giving a movie review on a movie you’ve never seen yet.

    • Are you? maybe not but many of us are enjoying hours on end with a screen strapped to their face, i love zoning out after work playing valkeryie or driveclub

    • Yes, I do. I don’t know if you have used VR but it’s pretty comfortable and so far I have had some long sessions without discomfort.

      • My thoughts exactly – I’ve been completely dumbfounded by how comfortable I have been in the VR realm!!
        Playing Game after Game of rigs and then switching up to untill dawn for a few levels of that is just great fun!

    • I agree with you – if the aim is to kick back for a bit and relax. I don’t really want a screen strapped to my face.

      But racing sims are the exception to VR in my opinion. Not because you sit down when driving (as mark mentions) – but because you can properly simulate the controls of actual driving with a proper steering wheel and pedals. The only thing that is missing when playing a racing sim in VR is the force felt due to acceleration.

      That being said, I usually don’t play ultra realistic racing sims when I want to unwind and relax at the end of the day either. Unless I just want to muck around and do skids.

      Although I reckon it’s pointless to play a racing game with a controller in VR though – defeats the purpose.

      Mark, you should try a proper steering wheel setup with a racing sim like Assetto Corsa or Project Cars – and then tell us what you think!

    • I had the same feeling trying out my Oculus Rift CV1. It’s a bit tight on the face and the lenses weren’t exactly clear because of the Fresnel shape. But I’m glad I gave VR another chance with PSVR, it is brilliantly clear for me, and I can actually play games until something else interrupts me.

      It’s also way easier to move away from your face, while keeping the nice focus you maintained within the game.

      Such a great design!

  • These are questions for todays gaming. If the graphics were like for like and the only question was “Do I prefer this game on a TV or in VR?”, I think the answer would be VR. To be fair, by the time we get to a point where the graphics differences between the two are negligible, the VR hardware would also be much less cumbersome to wear (which also helps a lot).

  • If you’re susceptible to car sickness, the disconnect between what’s happening in your ears and your eyes in VR racing games is likely to be a game ender.

    We won’t get over that until VR plugs directly into our brains.

    • Yep, this is the big issue for why “sit down” VR experiences just don’t work for me.

      The disconnect between what my eyes are seeing and what my inner-ear is *not* feeling is instant chunder-fest for me. I’m not susceptible to car sickness, either. I just know what driving is supposed to feel like and VR does not feel like driving.

  • I wish I was in a position where I had to agonize over whether I wanted to play my games on my shiny new VR headset or my awesome 4K TV.

    • lol yeah same.

      I don’t have a TV, or a VR Headset, or even a PS4. 😐
      Though I do have a new vid card (in my old PC) at least.

  • Mark – how does gt Sport go with resolution? Is it better than driveclub or is that a good indication of what to experience from racers in vr in future?

  • Old fart with two kids.
    I have the PS VR strapped to my head for about 1 – 2 hours a night. I then spend 1 – 2 hours playing traditional games where I have friends, but many of them are also moving to VR.
    Some games like Valkyrie are visually intense and not my first pick when trying to relax and chill, but the immersion is awesome and I always put in some time in my space dog fighting chair (I have waited my whole life for a game like this).
    I think there are many people out there that need to stop judging VR unless they have tried it. Even then it is like most things, you will have an opinion about if it worked for you.

    • I’m disappointed with Valkyrie – I would like to play more multiplayer against actual players because the bots are atrocious!
      But I’m much like you – I don’t want to play that kind of Game all the time to unwind but it is fantastic for a couple of hours switching between rigs and Valkyrie!!

      The other night I wanted to unwind a bit but Mrs was watching the main tele and I couldn’t be bothered to move the ps4 to the gaming room again so I just played Mafia 3 for a few hours on the headset! I’ve been so pleased at how the theatre mode works as it’s just as relaxing to play a regular game on a big screen in the headset as it is to play it on the tele imo

      • Might try a bit of infinite warfare online on the headset tonight – the pace will be interesting to see how it feels!

  • I definitely think there’s room in your life for both. I’ve been switching between battlefield 1 and onward on the vive depending on my mood. Onward and other vr games are great for that intense experience. But if you’ve been working all day and are physically drained and just want that brain escape, vr isn’t really the best option. Also I lean towards vr when I’m planning on gaming for a longer session, and tend to go ps4/pc on the 4ktv for the shorter sessions, so that whole argument for not wanting to be in a headset for hours on end doesn’t seem to be true for me

  • I have played a fair bit of Project Cars and Asseto Corsa on the Vive with a wheel and while the game definitely looks sharper on the TV (and if you have your wheel real close to the TV, that makes it better), I feel like I am willing to make that visual sacrifice just to be playing the game in the headset.

    My favorite parts are when taking corners, when I naturally lean into corners and then adjust myself as I accelerate out of a corner, even though my body is not feeling that force. Another difference I find is the sheer sense of speed while wearing the headset.

    Then again, I have not played this games on 4K resolutions.

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