This is how the general public will be introduced to virtual reality in racing games. The folks at Digital Spy have gotten their hands on the Virtual Reality-only re-release of DriveClub for the PlayStation 4 – taking advantage of the brand new PSVR headset – and dear God has the entire thing blown up in the face of Sony Entertainment and the group formerly known as Evolution Studios. It’s one thing to enable virtual reality support in a niche PC racing simulator, to be used only by hardcore sim racers who have adequately prepared their systems for the massive performance requirements, yet it’s a completely different ballgame to try and make this peripheral compatible with a console whose performance specifications simply aren’t quite there yet.
DriveClub VR, at least according to Digital Spy, is a mammoth disappointment. Not only does the game suffer from numerous technical issues, playing the game for any length of time physically makes you sick. Oops.
The story behind DriveClub doesn’t exactly establish this casual-oriented racing game as a system-seller to begin with. Originally created by Evolution Studios (of Motorstorm fame), the arcade racer was a re-imagining of the Project Gotham Racing series, with Evolution actually welcoming aboard a handful of former Bizarre Creations employees for the PlayStation 4 launch title. DriveClub suffered numerous delays before eventually being pushed on the public in an unfinished state, resulting in rather justified atrocious initial reception. To their credit, Evolution indeed busted their asses to continuously update the game after release and bring it in line with their initial vision, but despite genuinely improving the product in the eyes of dedicated DriveClub fans, Evolution Studios were closed within the past year; the team absolved by rival racing game developer Codemasters.
So before PlayStation VR was even on the horizon, DriveClub had basically been written off as a completely average driving game with no captivating elements by the masses – unlike it’s older step brother Project Gotham Racing. Sony Entertainment believed this was the perfect candidate for a Virtual Reality launch title.
The Digital Spy review draws attention to two key problems plaguing DriveClub VR, and it’s almost hilarious to see how many poor decisions were made when creating this game for the VR sub-platform.
First, the game looks like garbage, and runs poorly. Satisfactory performance is a huge factor in determining how long you can keep the headset on without needing a break, and instead Digital Spy notes that several staff members who were involved with evaluating the game threw the fuck up during their trials. I mentioned when I tried the Oculus Rift DK2 that your head feels a bit funny at first – yet you can eventually get used to it after warming up to the sensations – but DriveClub VR was actually making people sick. That’s not cool. Nobody is going to buy a game that makes them run to the washroom after a few laps.
Second, the vanilla DriveClub release, and DriveClub VR, are not associated with one other. They are two separate games, though owners of the DriveClub Season pass DLC can purchase the VR title at a discount. Not only is this a ridiculous rip-off, there is allegedly no way to transfer your progress from the original game into the VR re-release. You’re forced to start from scratch – a major problem considering how big of a game DriveClub has turned out to be after all the post-release additions.
These two factors add up to a game that is simply not worth your time, and that’s a pretty big problem when trying to push a revolutionary piece of new hardware on potential customers. When I got the chance to try the Oculus Rift DK2 many moons ago, I noted that the experience itself wasn’t bad, but there are an abundance of hurdles for developers to overcome. Unfortunately, Sony Entertainment have simply not managed to prepare the hardware for large-scale consumption upon release.