Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Paris Games Week 2015: What is GT Sport exactly? (Hint: not GT7)

Last night, in the context of the Paris Games Week, Sony made sure to drop a series of announcements to set the stage for PS4's 2016, and build up the hype: we finally had a pretty sharp release window for fans favourite No Man's Sky, a gorgeous announcement trailer for Quantic Dream's next epic Detroit, an unexpectedly solid lineup for PlayStation VR and much more. But I don't think many people expected Kazunori Yamauchi to step onstage with Jim Ryan, and reveal the next installment in the legendary Gran Turismo series: it is called GT Sport, and it comes with official backing from the FIA as a bonafide, officially recognized motorsport.

Remember that tagline, because it says a lot more about the game than Polyphony Digital and Sony actually revealed on stage: carefully avoiding any reference to Gran Turismo 7, the presentation focused on (1) the aforementioned endorsement, (2) a prominently competitive structure and (3) the presence of two online game modes that ties with real life rewards from FIA itself to the best players.

It was a very different introduction than any other Gran Turismo title so far: for the first time in the franchise history, no relevance was given to the number of vehicles, tracks and modes included in the game. The typical encyclopaedic approach of the series to the world of racing was nowhere to be found, strongly suggesting that we better not confuse GT Sport with a mainline GT entry: the scope, the objectives and in turn the contents seems much more specific.

So what does it means for fans of the franchise eagerly awaiting for a full fledged seventh installment? Well, that is a tricky question to answer, as the Gran Turismo crowd is particularly loyal to the brand and mostly willing to pick up anything that comes out of Polyphony Digital: at the same time, I wonder what their attitude is towards a product that feels especially gauged at the most competitive fans. Will the chance to root for particular manifacturers and nations be enough for the average players?  

One of the few certainties about GT Sport lies in it sharing the strict core values of the Gran Turismo experience, namely the aestethic and dynamic qualities. Vast improvements will be made to those elements thanks to the power of the PS4, Yamauchi said, included the unexpected support for PlayStation VR. However, we've got nothing on how the developer plans to create value for the less-than-Schumachers among us.

EDIT: Just in time for Jim Ryan confirming the obvious, GT Sport is neither GT7, nor its Prologue.