The PS4 version of DriveClub had a few stalls getting out of the gate — it was delayed, it launched as basically a skeleton of a game, it had bugs. Over time though, it's evolved into one of the better racing titles on the market, even though Sony shuttered developer Evolution Studios in March.
There are more than a few laps left in it though, as proven by this gorgeous VR offshoot. We say gorgeous — the nature of virtual reality optics means it's not quite as lustrous as playing on an HDTV (and certainly below a 4K screen with good upscaling). If you're used to that, hitting the track inside Sony's new headset will seem almost hazy by comparison. Still, being almost literally in the driving seat as you tear up the world's finest race tracks is an incomparable experience, and the visuals are some of the best you'll find in VR gaming to date.
DriveClub VR makes incredible use of the in-car view. It's something that often feels frivolous in 'regular' racing games, more a concession to the hardest of hardcore car aficionados. Here, it feels natural — if it's meant to be a VR experience of racing, of course you'd be in the driver's seat. You have the actual driver's perspective, complete with rear view mirrors that work.
Along with 80 cars to unlock and a handful of VR-exclusive tracks joining many returning favourite from the regular edition, it introduces two new features. Both are aimed more at delivering the visual spectacle of VR that actual racing itself — Virtual Passenger serves up race replays from the perspective of the passenger seat, while Cruise Control lets you leisurely explore the tracks without the pressures of competition.
In terms of handling, there's no real difference to the core DriveClub, at least with a regular controller. The game does support steering wheel peripherals, which should significantly add to the sense of immersion, though we've not been able to test that particular feature out.
The downside? DriveClub VR requires starting from scratch — it's a bespoke, separate game, rather than an upgrade to the existing DriveClub. That means beginning your race career all over again, and while it suits getting people to grips with playing in VR, it is frustrating to have to rebuild social connections and race to the top of the leaderboards again. The upside to the downside though is the opportunity for a do-over means all players will be coming into the VR version with a clean slate. Time to set some new records.