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Preview

Hands On With The Outstanding Driveclub VR

Join the club.

To say I was disappointed not to get to try out Driveclub VR at Gamescom is a bit of an understatement. This game is still my favourite racing game on the PS4, striking an excellent balance between realism and arcade racing, featuring all manner of ludicrously fast cars, and simply sublime graphics that have yet to be matched by its peers. So when I got another chance, I was just a little bit excited.

Almost everything that made Driveclub as good as it is has made the jump. With a racing wheel gripped in my hands, something I’m familiar with from racing with a TV, I can get stuck in to some tough racing with barely a pause for thought. It’s just natural and intuitive to glance and check wing mirrors to keep tabs on other cars, and while I was ultimately not all that fast, hurdling a few too many high curbs around the Scottish Black Hills Race circuit, bumping into the side of AI cars, I was definitely getting into the spirit of things.

DriveclubVR-IL1

This race was on the slower end of the scale, as I was popped into one of the hot hatches in the game – I think it was a Golf GTI, but forgot to write it down. The emphasis on the demo was on accessibility as well, with automatic braking slowing me down for corners, but turning that off and maybe switching to the hardcore handling will be a more rewarding experience. I’m a little apprehensive of trying out cars like the Huayra or the Venom GT around some of the faster flowing tracks…

Racing games and space dogfighting are perhaps two of the best fit genres for this first generation of VR technology. Though I was impressed by Farpoint’s first person shooting and feel that The Assembly really cracked one particular set of first person controls, they’re not quite as natural or easy for the brain to digest as when you have an in-game layer of abstraction.

Having a cockpit or a car interior to sit in and look around, acting as a frame of reference for you while the world whizzes past you. Simply sitting in this virtual car is a fantastic experience, and it’s really here that Evolution Studios’ initial obsession with imitating all of the materials and exact layout of the car’s internals counts. I got so distracted just looking around in the car while driving down the pit straight at one point, that I nearly smashed into a wall. That wouldn’t have been my finest moment.

There’s one key difference between Driveclub VR and the original, and that’s with a little screen being mounted in the middle of the car next to the twiddly knobs for the fans and radio. It points towards you and displays things like the experience points earned in that race, your lap time and so on. It’s such a simple little twist, but it means that your view of the road and of the car isn’t cluttered with numbers and UI floating in mid air. Those do appear at times once the race is over or with the main menu, but once you’re in the car, there’s very little between you and the virtual vehicle.

However, getting Driveclub VR to run on the base PlayStation 4 hardware has meant that some sacrifices have had to be made. There’s fewer cars on track – eight instead of twelve – and, the detail around the track feels reduced, and there’s no inclement weather effects. Culling some of the gorgeous graphics has let them hit 60 frames per second though, which was essential for VR.

The game doesn’t look quite as good or as sharp in the PlayStation VR headset. 1080p is all well and good when on a TV screen a few feet away, but when it’s an inch away, it’s easier to focus on the pixels and the imperfections. As soon as you’re racing, those concerns fade into the background, you’re simply absorbed in the action on track and competing with the cars around you.

DriveclubVR-IL2

This might be a two year old game, its cycle of updates and DLC have come to an end, its original developer has even been shut down, but Driveclub is going to be one of the key tentpole releases for PlayStation VR, and it’s looking fantastic.

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12 Comments
  1. Tomhlord
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Apr 2009

    The one game that is tempting me to invest in VR. Looks ace.

    Comment posted on 06/09/2016 at 12:18.
    • camdaz
      Member
      Since: May 2009

      It’s one of the games that had me pre-ordering the PSVR as soon as I could.
      Can’t wait to give it a go.

      Comment posted on 06/09/2016 at 13:42.
    • tonyyeb
      Member
      Since: Aug 2010

      Exactly the same. Just know I would love this!

      Comment posted on 06/09/2016 at 14:33.
  2. ron_mcphatty
    Member
    Since: Sep 2008

    Nice preview, sounds like you had an awesome time Tef! I got quite excited after watching that PlayStation Access promo, great to know that the game is as immersive and mind blowing as I though. Oh and if that first screenshot is from your session then yep it’s a GTI, I’d recognise that mirror twiddler anywhere :)

    Comment posted on 06/09/2016 at 13:08.
  3. Foxhound_Solid
    Is a smart cookie.
    Since: Dec 2009

    I simply cannot wait, I am so glad I preordered PSVR.

    Comment posted on 06/09/2016 at 14:11.
  4. Andrewww
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    Will be trying out PSVR finally tomorrow for the first time, am getting seriously excited now… :o)

    Comment posted on 06/09/2016 at 17:53.
    • Tuffcub
      On the naughty step.
      Since: Dec 2008

      Let us know how you got on!

      Comment posted on 07/09/2016 at 10:08.
      • Andrewww
        Member
        Since: Jan 2010

        Ok, I had my first PSVR experience yesterday, and had some time to digest it.

        What I don’t understand is that Sony is not really making an effort to sell it. They hardly had any games there. No Driveclub, nothing I ever heard of or that would be of any interest to me.

        The experience was still pretty impressive. They showed me an underwater video in which I was diving in a cage. Looking up like 20m, 30m to the surface really reminded me a lot of doing my PADI advanced back then in a previous life, I really felt being in or let’s say down there. And the 7m big white appearing and circling my cage and ripping it to shreds was very very cool. Wow.

        Then I could play some football game in which I had to get the ball hit targets, using my head. It was funny, but not overwhelming.

        Overall, the immersion is pretty spectacular, and the screen resolution looked okay to me. The Thing on your head is not something I would want to wear all the time I am gaming, and it is rather something for the winter months. The cables are slightly annoying, but you probably get used to them, or sort them in a way that would be ok.
        I clearly see the added value, and playing an intense horror game with that on must be extremely fun.

        Overall verdict: I currently feel very tempted to order one, but rather in spite of Sony than because of them.

        Comment posted on 08/09/2016 at 15:42.
  5. blast71
    Member
    Since: May 2012

    I wasn’t interested in PSVR in the slightest until I watched that video, I thought “just another gimmick like Move”. But now I may have to splash-out for one. Love Driveclub and it looks the most fun ever with a helmet.(that’ll be 2 helmets I can have fun with. Fnar Fnar!

    Comment posted on 06/09/2016 at 18:22.
    • Tuffcub
      On the naughty step.
      Since: Dec 2008

      To the Naughty Step with you.

      Comment posted on 07/09/2016 at 10:09.
  6. paul
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    Took the dip and pre ordered VRheadset earlier in the year – GtSport surely will now be VR ready when it gets released

    Comment posted on 06/09/2016 at 18:35.
  7. RudeAwakening
    Member
    Since: Jan 2011

    Any idea on the pricing for DriveClub VR will be?

    Comment posted on 07/09/2016 at 13:23.