Previews Preview: Does DriveClub dazzle in VR?

Previews

Martin Bigg

Writer

Posted on

Game: Drive Club

Platform: PS4

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Release Date: 07/10/2014

The obvious advantage to attending public game conventions like EGX is that you get to play the latest games ahead of release. The downside? Absurdly long queues mean that your play time will likely be limited to a few minutes.  

Case in point: this year if you wanted to play Gran Turismo Sport (which clearly a lot of people did since it’s now been delayed until 2017), you had to stand in a 45-minute-long queue only to get a two minute go on the game. Ouch.

It was a similar story for DriveClub VR. This year, Sony implemented a new booking system which at least eliminated having to wait in line, but this meant that many people eager to get their hands on PlayStation VR who didn’t know you had to book had to be turned away. Again, play time was very limited so you didn’t get enough time to acclamytise to the VR technology.

DriveClub VR cockpit

From my very limited hands-on session barely lasting five minutes, the best I can say about DriveClub VR is that, in terms of immersing you into the cockpit of a supercar, it works. Being able to freely look around the immaculate interior of a Pagani Hyara was awe inspiring. Interiors benefit from the added depth of VR, allowing you to marvel at Evolution’s meticulously detailed dashboards up-close.

Five minutes was nowhere near enough time to fully acclimatise to the VR technology, but in motion DriveClub’s retains its glorious sense of speed thanks to its upscaled frame rate. DriveClub’s sumptuous visuals have been downgraded quite significantly, however: environments lack the pristine detail which was one of DriveClub’s main selling points. Put simply, DriveClub VR isn’t the visual showcase that the original game was. The limitations of the PS4 hardware are probably to blame, so it will be interesting to see if the PS4 Pro can provide any visual upgrades to DriveClub VR.  

VR technology has raised concerns about motion sickness, and early reports suggest that first person games such as RIGS make you feel very ill indeed because your brain simply can’t cope with the on-screen movement when you’re sat still.

In theory, racing games are the perfect platform for VR. In-car views now have more purpose than ever: you’re sat in a car in-game which mirrors your sitting position in reality so your brain isn’t being duped. DriveClub VR needs to be a perfect proof of concept for racing games on PlayStation VR since, well, there aren’t any other VR racing games currently available on the platform now that Gran Turismo Sport has been delayed.

Worryingly however, this may not be the case, as some publications are reporting experiencing severe motion sickness after playing DriveClub VR – something a certain Sony-endorsed outlet of course didn't mention. It's not exactly the best advert for PSVR Sony could have wished for. 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=wIDe-EmOCPw%3Frel%3D0

To be fair, different people will have different reactions to VR. Some may experience motion sickness, but others may not, although game optimisation can help prevent it. At this stage, I can’t give an informed opinion because I haven’t been able to spend enough time with DriveClub VR yet. But at the time I didn’t feel any discomfort whatsoever during my demo. Of course, the demo most likely represented the most optimised track and car for VR, but as Kylotonn’s WRC 6 Game Director recently told us, VR is very complex technology to work with when you have lots of variables such as cars, tracks and weather conditions. It could be the case, then, that DriveClub VR works better in some conditions more than others, but again this could vary for different players.

Expectations were high for DriveClub VR because, unlike many of the PlayStation VR’s launch titles, it isn’t merely a throwaway tech demo – it’s a fully-fledged game with a price to match. There’s still less content than the original game, but DriveClub VR will launch with over 80 cars and 114 tracks along with a slew of game modes unique to DriveClub VR. However, also unlike many of PlayStation VR’s launch games, DriveClub wasn’t natively designed to run in VR which could be what’s causing issues. 

After making so much progress with the core game, it’s a shame to see DriveClub VR’s initial reception bring back memories of DriveClub’s notorious launch issues. DriveClub deserves a decent send-off, so here’s hoping the kinks can be ironed out once again. 

Don't forget every PlayStation VR headset is bundled with a demo disc which includes a playable demo of DriveClub VR, so it's probably wise to try before you buy in this case. 

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