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Gran Turismo 7 - title

Back in June, I had posted a video and blog blasting Gran Turismo 7's campaign mode and progression systems. I said that Gran Turismo 7 represents an extreme example of all the things that made me stop playing Gran Turismo years ago.

None of that has changed. Polyphony finally added the ability to sell unwanted or duplicate cars, and there's a handful of extra bonus menu collections for the players to pursue after completing the main campaign. The actual campaign, however, and its underlying reward and progression systems remain unchanged from when I complained about them in the summer.

But I had also mentioned in my review and critique, that the actual racing in Gran Turismo 7 is amazing. I thought that I would quickly lose interest in Gran Turismo 7 after I published my review and that critique video back in June, and that I would never pick up the game after that unless there was some massive update or campaign DLC.

This entire essay was released early to my Patrons in the form of a YouTube video.

Much to my surprise, that ended up not being the case. I actually kept coming back to Gran Turismo 7 for months, and am still playing it off and on. I finished the main campaign, started doing some of the special events and track experience trials, and have even done some of the bonus menus and new events that have been added to the game since its launch. Even now, I still occasionally start jonesing to get behind the wheel for another race, even though I'm way out of practice, and often need a few practice races to refresh my motor memory. And there's still a piece of me that wants to try the online multiplayer...

So if you are one of the many who is disappointed by Gran Turismo 7, and the lackluster effort that Polyphony has made to update and maintain the game, I would say that you have every right to be disappointed. 7 is a far cry from the glory days of Gran Turismo 3. But before you give up on the game entirely, I urge you to try the this one little thing before you drop the game entirely: try steering with the motion controls!

Motion steering works very well on the PS5's Dual Sense controller!

I initially scoffed at the idea of motion steering when I first booted up the game. Motion controls have a poor track record, especially outside of the Wii. I've never felt like they are precise enough to be a primary input method. But I had just bought a PS5, and I was still in the honeymoon period of trying out all the hardware's capabilities. So I said "why not?" and chose the motion steering option with the full expectation that I would race a few races, the motion steering would suck, and I would switch back to using the good ol' thumbstick.

But that didn't happen. Yes, there was an adjustment period. It took time to get used to this radically different input method. But even when I was still figuring it out, the PS5 DualSense's motion controls proved surprisingly precise and responsive. The larger shape of the PS5 controller also makes it more comfortable to hold, and more closely maps to the typical 9 and 3 o'clock positions of the hands on a steering wheel. Yeah, my index and middle fingers can get a bit crampy from holding down the gas and brake triggers. The controller is also a bit heavier than older Play Station controllers, so my arms get a little stiff from holding it out in front of me, and I have to shake them out after a longer race or session. Nevertheless I felt like I had much better control of the cars when using the entire controller as the steering input, rather than just the thumb stick.

With the motion steering, I can make much smoother motions while steering the cars, which combined with the pressure-sensitive triggers for throttle and brake, allow me to perform maneuvers and techniques that I would never dream of trying with an analog stick. My turns are much smoother. Passing is a lot more graceful. I can hold the car steadier while drafting in a rival's slipstream. And the extra sense of control gives me the confidence to keep my car stable in crowded positions.

Heck, even my straight-line performance is improved with the motion steering! It's a lot easier to keep myself centered on the racing line, while avoiding over-compensating, or having to jerk the car back and forth to keep it on the line.

My control of the car is much smoother and more precise since using motion steering.

Hard, jerky movements were always a problem for me on the old games, even when using an analog stick. Even with analog controls on the stick, it's still hard to make small, precise movements with the stick, like tilting it by just a few degrees and holding it. But when I'm rotating the controller with both hands, I can make (and hold) those small changes of a few degrees, and the game registers them perfectly fine.

Further, with the PS5 Dual Sense's haptic feedback, the throttle and/or brake triggers will stiffen and/or rumble if the car starts to slip or lose traction. I can actually feel myself losing control of the car and can ease off the throttle or the brake in order to prevent a skid or spin. In fact, feeling the stiffening of the throttle was key to me learning how to manage my speed for the handful of rally events in the game. It's a shame that there aren't more events in rain and on wet roads to take advantage of this feature of the controller.

Motion steering just gives me so much more control over the vehicle, and the haptic feedback of the controller puts me more in-touch with the car itself.

The greater control makes sense from a body mechanics perspective. We generally have much more control in our wrists and whole arm than we do in just our thumb or any other single finger, because the wrist and arm have so many more muscles than a single finger. This is why mouse and keyboard are near universally preferred by competitive shooter players; why fighter enthusiasts generally prefer an arcade-style joystick; why flight sim players prefer a flight stick; and of course, it's also why racing enthusiasts prefer a racing wheel. It isn't just an aesthetic or immersion thing, nor is it a gate-keeping symbol of dedication to the genre. You genuinely have more control with these input methods, and that is something that has been verified by scientific studies. For me, going from the thumbstick to the PS5 motion steering for Gran Turismo 7 was analogous to going from a gamepad to a mouse and keyboard for a first-person-shooter. It's a genuine revelation and paradigm shift! I'm honestly not sure if I can ever go back to playing a racing or driving game on a console with a thumbstick again.

You have more control with your wrist or arm than in just a finger,
which is why players prefer mouse for shooters and arcade joysticks for fighters.

Some disclaimers

Of course, if you already have an actual steering wheel controller (especially a good one), then switching to the regular gamepad's motion controls is going to be a downgrade. But racing wheels are really friggin' expensive, and I'm not paying that much just for one racing game that I'm only going to be playing casually anyway. So for me, and those like me, who don't have a racing wheel, the PS5 DualSense motion controls is the next best thing.

Also, I want to emphasize that I play on PS5 with Sony's Dual Sense controller. There is a PS4 version of Gran Turismo 7 that plays with the old PS4 gamepads and wheels. I have not played the PS4 version of the game, nor have I tried using any steering wheels or 3rd party controllers. Thus, I cannot vouch for how well the motion sensor steering works on the PS4 version, or with any 3rd party controllers for the PS5. If you play the game on PS4, I invite you to share your experience with the motion controls in the comments below (or in the video).

Furthermore, I have so far only played single player offline races. I have not played any online multiplayer at all. As such, I also cannot vouch for how well the motion sensor steering works in online matches. Maybe it introduces additional input latency, or maybe it works exactly the same as in offline single player? Again, if any of my readers have experience with the motion steering in online mutiplayer, I also invite you to share your experiences in the comments.

I will also admit that the default button layout for the motion steering was a bit uncomfortable for me at first. But luckily, Gran Turismo 7 has fully-configurable controller mappings! So when I realized that I wanted to stick with motion steering, I did some experimenting with custom button mappings, and I would feel remiss if I didn't share my eventual preferred configuration with all of you.

The default motion controls weren't comfortable to me, so I re-mapped several functions.

The most notable change from the default is that I moved gear shifting to the right stick, and I moved the free camera movement to the left stick. This gives me a full range of motion for the camera if I ever need to turn to look at a blind spot, or check a mirror, or check a particular gauge on the car's dash. Or if I just want to admire the interior of the vehicle -- if Polyphony even bothered to model the interior of the vehicle.

The only other changes from default were minor. I mapped the windshield wipers, horn, and flashing high beams -- all of which are actually supported in the game, but which are not mapped to any buttons by default.

So yeah. That's how I've been playing Gran Turismo 7, and I encourage you to give it a try as well -- unless you already have an actual racing wheel. In which case, you know, just keep using that.

It's such a shame that the actual campaign is as limited and lackluster as it is, because Gran Turismo 7 is such a great racing game whenever you're behind the wheel. And it's so much better with the motion steering than with the default thumb stick. This driving simulation, and this input method deserves to be in a better game. I really hope that Sony and Polyphany are able to eventually bring this game up to the standards of the classics. And if not, hopefully Gran Turismo 8 will learn some valuable lessons from 7's failures. And hopefully, it will also have an equally responsive and comfortable motion steering method.

COMING SOON: I also created a lengthy rant video, in which I rant about my other complaints, frustrations, nags, and nitpicks, with the game, as well as some suggestions for how Gran Turismo 7 could be improved. Most of it involves the late-game, post-campaign content. It will be available exclusively to Patrons for a few weeks, then it will be made available to the general public and posted here.

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Jeremy
Jeremy
04/03/2024 23:49:04 #

"It's a genuine revelation and paradigm shift! I'm honestly not sure if I can ever go back to playing a racing or driving game on a console with a thumbstick again."

I agree with this 100%. But I would add to it also playing in VR. With the cockpit view that is required for VR, you have the visual reference of your steering inputs. If you rotate too far your input could reset to zero. If you are not in cockpit view you won't necessarily see the moment it resets and you will only know it did from the car not responding or steering as it should. At least while learning how far and fast you should be rotating, I recommend sticking to the cockpit view.

Using R2 and L2 for acceleration and braking as you have in your settings image is a must-use option in my opinion. The adaptive triggers on the DualSense controller are essential to driving on the controller. So much of GT7 depends on your inputs with gas and brake and the feedback the game provides you. But I differ in preference by having up-shift mapped to X and downshift mapped to []. Also, I moved Nitrous/Overtake to R1. If you are already driving with a manual transmission with different mappings, you can ignore that recommendation. This is only recommended for someone struggling to move away from auto transmission. That mapping worked for me to finally make the switch.

My other recommendation for someone trying this out would be Controller Steering Sensitivity set to 2. Force Feedback Max Torque set to 8. Force Feedback Sensitivity set to 3. TC1 and ABS weak as the only assist settings. I know most longtime players recommend no TC, but there is a video out there where a long-term player tested and was surprised to see that TC1 does not slow you down as it did in GT Sport.

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