Driveclub had a very precarious launch when it was released for PS4 two years ago, largely due to server problems, but the game managed to turn things around after awhile to provide one of the richest racing experiences this generation. While the studio behind the game, Evolution Studios, was shut down earlier this year, Driveclub lives on with the PlayStation VR exclusive Driveclub VR.
Driveclub VR is a completely different entity from the original release in that you do not carry over your progress in any way, but the game itself will feel incredibly familiar to anyone that played the original release on PS4. After the game’s introduction that gives you a chance to experience the world of VR racing, you will then have the option to take on either the Tour, Single Challenge, or Multiplayer modes like before.
The focus of Tour mode has you participating in race after race that have three stars for you to earn, which vary from straight up races and time trials to other objective based missions, such as ones focusing on drifting. Each of these challenges have stars for you to earn just like in the regular version of the game, which once again is used as the central method of advancing forward in Driveclub VR. Even in a regular race, there will often be special challenges that have you maintaining a certain speed in a zone, or a number of other small objectives, that will reward you with additional stars beyond just the race results. This maintains a lot of replay value in Driveclub VR, though this game definitely still feels like a stripped down version overall.
While Driveclub offered a great racing experience overall once the launch issues were sorted out, what really made Driveclub special were its stunning visuals. Due to the introduction of VR to the game though, the stellar graphics have taken somewhat of a hit. There is no question that Driveclub VR still looks very good at times, with the development team finding ways to play to the advantages of the PSVR headset with special lighting and reflections. However, PSVR definitely has its limitations at this point and they can be seen in Driveclub VR without question, with a loss in visual fidelity and sometimes blurry imagery being an issue.
Also finding itself on the cutting room floor as a result of the PlayStation VR headset are the dynamic weather effects that were added into the game a few months after the original game’s release. This is something that could have looked absolutely spectacular through this first person view in the headset, but thankfully there are still plenty of aspects of this type of view that can really wow the player.
One of the most impressive moments of the entire Driveclub VR experience is when you first realize how you can really use the mirrors on the car to see behind while driving by simply turning your head. In addition, there is a little monitor in your car to your right that you can peek over to keep up with scoring and placement. Keeping your eyes on the road is obviously important, but the intensity of seeing the cars right on your tail without an in-game map really brings a level of immersion never really seen before in a driving game on consoles.
Unlike many of the launch games for PSVR, Driveclub VR forgoes the use of the PlayStation Move controllers for the DualShock 4. This was certainly a wise decision, as being able to have full control of the wheel with the analog stick is much more precise than it would have been if motion controls were involved. You can also use a racing wheel if you choose, but the DualShock 4 works just fine in Driveclub VR, even though the racing itself can still take some practice to get good at regardless.
Level of immersion never really seen before in a driving game
Driveclub VR also introduces a brand new feature known as Cruise Mode, which lets you experience the world of VR racing without actually having to worry about winning a race or completing objectives. Considering that the driving can be rather difficult at times, it is nice to have a worry free mode that lets the player just enjoy themselves across stages that are returning from the original, along with a few new ones. The new Passenger Mode also lets you enjoy the game from another perspective through action packed replays as well.
After the debacle that was the launch of the regular Driveclub, the good news is that Driveclub VR does not suffer from the same server related issues as the first. While playing through the game, everything seemed to run smoothly from that standpoint, with switching between the different game modes and everything working quite well.
Those playing Driveclub VR will be spending most of their time in the driver’s seat as they race across the various courses, but one potential issue for some gamers is that of motion sickness. Moving at fast speeds in a first person point of view can certainly be intense for some people, but I personally had zero issues while playing Driveclub. The turns and crashes seem to be handled well enough to where this will really be dependent on how sensitive each player is themselves. However, considering the style of game that Driveclub VR is and the motion sickness aspect, this is one game that everyone should try the demo out first before purchasing to see how you can handle it, because it can make the game unplayable if it affects you in that way.
Racing in first person is certainly nothing new in gaming, but the introduction of VR has given an entirely new feeling of immersion to players. While the game may not be anything near the visual showcase that the original game was for the PS4 itself, Driveclub VR is one game that gives a glimpse at the potential of VR racing and needs to at least be tried by any PSVR owner.
- Available On: PS4
- Published By: SCE
- Developed By: Evolution Studios
- Genre: Racing
- US Release Date: October 13th, 2016
- Reviewed On: PS4
- Quote: "While the game may not be anything near the visual showcase that the original game was for the PS4 itself, Driveclub VR is one game that gives a glimpse at the potential of VR racing and needs to at least be tried by any PSVR owner."
- Very immersive
- Controls are intact
- Visual downgrade
- No weather effects