Gran Turismo 7 is one of the most hotly-anticipated PS5 titles, but it also comes on the heels of a reinvention for Sony’s Real Driving Simulator. With Gran Turismo Sport, developer Polyphony Digital focused on cultivating an environment for competitive sim racing to flourish, which was quite a departure from the heavily single-player “car-PG” experience that got the franchise noticed in the first place.
However, series director Kazunori Yamauchi has confirmed Gran Turismo 7 will represent a return to form, in some ways, for the sim racing staple. The new game looks to meld GT Sport’s comprehensive suite of multiplayer and esports features with the deep and rewarding gameplay loop of earlier titles, which longtime fans have come to expect.
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That’s already enough information to pique our interest for the next Gran Turismo. Rumors and leaks once suggested GT7 may drop sooner than many anticipated — perhaps before year's end. However, with the PS5's launch right around the corner, on November 12, GT7 is looking more like a 2021 prospect.
Add it all up, and there is a lot of attention on GT7, for a lot of reasons. Here’s everything we know so far about the next Gran Turismo.
Gran Turismo 7 release date
Gran Turismo 7 was officially announced with a trailer during Sony's PS5 games reveal event on June 11. No release date was given, though at least the game's existence was officially recognized.
It’s important to note two things in any Gran Turismo release date discussion. First, this series has never launched a new game alongside a new PlayStation platform before. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec missed the PS2’s launch by nearly a year in North America, whereas Gran Turismo 5 and Gran Turismo Sport dropped in the middle of the PS3 and PS4’s lifecycles, respectively.
The other fact to be mindful of is that Polyphony Digital is a studio that likes to take its time. GT5 slipped through the entirety of 2009, all the way until November 2010. Even then, it was further delayed from the beginning to the end of November, because the game missed its production date by mere days.
With the PS5's launch merely days away, it's clear GT7 will not be a part of the festivities. Not even a vague release date for the game has been provided, indicating it won't even be a "launch window" release. That's enough to convince us we won't be able to play the game until spring 2021 at the earliest, though next summer or fall could be a likelier bet based on how little we've heard.
Earlier in the year, however, there were many rumblings that GT7 was going to be a pillar of the PS5's early campaign. A little over a year ago, in April 2019, we received our first indication that GT7 could be a candidate for a PS5 launch title, alongside remasters of The Last Of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima, from an anonymous post on Pastebin.com (via GTPlanet), which has since been removed.
It's possible, then, that plans changed. Perhaps GT7 was on target to accompany the PS5’s launch at the time, but hit delays along the way, forcing release to slip into 2021.
Next Level Racing, a manufacturer of sim racing cockpits that also happens to be an official PlayStation licensee, posed a question to followers on its Instagram page on May 20, asking which racing game they were most looking forward to playing in 2020. The image Next Level shared showed logos for four games at the bottom: Automobilista 2, F1 2020, Dirt 5 and GT7. However, GT7 hadn't been officially announced at that time, nor had its logo, lending an impression that Next Level knew something fans didn’t.
Next Level later deleted the post (which, fortunately, is still preserved thanks to TheSixthAxis), then offered an explanation on its own website, stressing that the post was “misinterpreted by media,” and “[did] not reflect any information” about the game or its launch.
Interestingly, Next Level’s excuse for the controversial post was that the company’s “graphic design department used the mock logo that is circulated [sic] on the internet.” The only problem with that suggestion was that neither fans nor journalists were able to locate that logo online, anywhere — indicating that it was either the real deal, or that Next Level whipped the logo up itself. Since the official GT7 logo was revealed as part of the first trailer, we know that Next Level's logo was fabricated.
Technically, there's still an outside chance GT7 is being prepared for the latter stages of the PS5's launch window. An Instagram post of the very same trailer we saw over the summer, accompanied by the caption of a ticking timer emoji, seemed to renew fans' faith the title would emerge sooner, rather than later.
However, you have to imagine that if Polyphony Digital was preparing this game to land in vague proximity to the PS5's launch, it would have alluded as much in the trailer. Alas, no rough time frame, let alone a mention of "2021," has been provided then or since — telling us that GT7's ETA is still in flux. Though, given this studio's history of shifting release dates and delays, none of this is very surprising.
Gran Turismo 7 gameplay
Aside from GT7’s release date, the biggest question surrounding the next Gran Turismo is a fairly straightforward one: What kind of game will it be?
Polyphony rewrote the script with GT Sport, concentrating on building a schedule of events and a global competition sanctioned by the FIA: the body that governs international motorsport. It also trimmed down the number of cars in game, omitted tuning and customization (aside from a robust livery editor), and only added a more traditional catalog of single-player events in a post-release update. Additionally, no classic Gran Turismo circuits, like Trial Mountain or Seattle Circuit, ever made their way to GT Sport.
That certainly doesn't look to be true of GT7. Before the start of the reveal trailer showcased as part of June's PS5 games-focused event, Yamauchi confirmed that longtime fans of the franchise can expect a traditional campaign mode in the new title, complete with a world map-style interface that hasn't been seen since GT4.
Looking closely, we can see icons for a tuning shop, GT Auto maintenance shop and a used car dealership, cementing the classic Gran Turismo structure. Interestingly, these early screenshots tip us off to a new advisor, named Sarah, whose job it will presumably be to show you the ropes.
Even before GT7's announcement, we were slowly gaining a clearer and clearer picture of what the future of Gran Turismo could look like, courtesy of Yamauchi himself. In an interview with GTPlanet, Yamauchi stated that he believed “the next title that [Polyphony is] going to create will be a combination of the past, present and future — a complete form of Gran Turismo.
“I don’t normally play the past editions of Gran Turismo,” Yamauchi continued in the interview. “But since I started doing the world tours, the players, they’re all young guys but they all bring GT2 or GT3 with them — like, how old were you when this game came out!? So I’ve had more opportunity to play them recently, and it’s surprising how much I’ve forgotten!”
Yamauchi finally added that in conducting GT Sport’s World Tour events — competitions where the finest Gran Turismo players in the world convene — he’s learned “pointers and hints of the things we should make sure that we do in the future of the series.”
Judging from GT7's teaser trailer, the new entry looks to reward longtime players who have nostalgic memories of those early titles. Trial Mountain is featured prominently in the first footage we've seen of the game, with an onboard lap showing off all-new scenery reminiscent of El Capitan, another well-liked original circuit, alongside a reprofiled layout.
It's clear to see that Trial Mountain's tight second sector has been widened in the jump to PS5, and the back and front straight appear to be longer judging by the track map. Most notably, the course's legendary final corner, where ambitious players would often launch themselves into the heavens for a shot at a last-second overtake, has been completely remade into a tighter, slower chicane.
Trial Mountain's surprise appearance in the GT7 trailer wasn't entirely without warning. Back in December 2017, merely weeks following GT Sport’s release, Yamauchi told GTPlanet that the studio had been hard at work converting fan-favorite fictional circuit Deep Forest into the GT Sport environment.
“We are already working on Deep Forest,” Yamauchi told GTPlanet. “We actually have the data for Deep Forest that runs on Gran Turismo Sport, but it does have some problems. The problem that we had with some of the older tracks from previous Gran Turismo games was the scale being off in certain places. The size of the trees are very large, or the width of the curbstones, etc. There were curbstones that were wider than cars! If we want to bring that into the quality of GT Sport now, there is a lot that we have to redesign, and it is not that easy.”
Yet glimmers of Gran Turismo’s history can still be felt around GT Sport, particularly in the GT League mode, where a memorable tune from Gran Turismo 2 appears.
Gran Turismo 7 performance
Gran Turismo has long been regarded as a technical showcase for Sony’s hardware, dating back to the original PlayStation. If history is any guide, critics will likely look to GT7 to determine what Sony’s next home console is truly capable of when fully optimized and pushed to the max.
While it may be more of an ultimate goal than an immediately achievable one, Yamauchi expressed interest in raising the frame rate of gameplay all the way up to 240 frames per second back in February while speaking with Australian media, according to GTPlanet.
That’s four times the 60 fps standard that modern console titles strive for, and GT Sport currently runs at. Perhaps GT7 will land somewhere in the neighborhood of 120 fps, but even so, that would still be far smoother than any other console title to date, and in line with expectations from gamers who prefer playing on high-end PCs.
Polyphony has experimented with ultra-high frame rates and resolutions in the past, demoing an 8K 120 fps version of GT Sport running on a 440-inch Sony display at the International Broadcast Equipment Exhibition back in November 2018.
While frame rates and resolutions are ultimately unconfirmed, the GT7 trailer we saw during Sony's June event tipped us off to ways in which ray tracing would be incorporated in the game.
A clip of a Porsche 917 sitting inside a transport trailer with a mirrored interior demonstrated light reflecting off other reflective surfaces, while a scene of a driver inside a Porsche 911 GT1 Strassenversion showed the driver's helmet reflected in the rear-view mirror. Both of these are telltale signs of ray tracing at work.
Gran Turismo 7 outlook
The start of the upcoming console generation will be a pivotal time for Gran Turismo. Despite being a rather niche racing simulator, this is a series that has been a massive breadwinner for Sony. GT1 and GT2 were the first- and third-best selling original PlayStation games globally, while GT3 and GT4 stand as the second- and third-best selling on the PS2.
Racing games don’t quite command the same mainstream appeal as they perhaps once did, but Gran Turismo remains one of PlayStation’s most prestigious brands, and one that could help drive a large number of PS5 sales — if Sony can strike while the iron is hot, that is.
It may be a while until we hear more on GT7, however. Polyphony isn't known for being the most communicative studio in the world, after all. With the PS5's launch merely days out, the hardware itself and flagship games like Spider Man: Miles Morales will likely command the most attention; after that, perhaps we'll hear what Kaz and company really have in store for us.