Let me get something straight: I think DriveClub is a brilliant game, one of the best racers of this generation, and drop dead gorgeous. DriveClub VR is that same brilliant racer, with a ton of content and excellent online functionality, but it’s sadly far from gorgeous. Playing DriveClub in VR was a bit of a shock.
DriveClub VR is a great example of how VR adds to an experience. You simply don’t feel as immersed into the game when playing on a standard TV as you do when you’re wearing the PlayStation VR headset. When you’re waiting on the starting grid you can adjust your seating height and distance from the wheel to make sure you feel as though you’re in the car, and look around at the dashboard. Right from the off the sense of being there is great.
Aside from a wish that the field of view was wider (something that you might notice more and more once you’ve made your brain aware that you can’t simply move your eyes to the side to look), being inside the driver’s seat of whichever high-end car you’ve chosen feels amazing. Considering the game wasn’t designed from the ground up for VR the dev team has done a great job.
DriveClub never had a particularly charismatic career mode, but it more than made up for this with its thrilling handling model. There’s certainly a lot to do alone, but to get the most from DriveClub and this VR edition you really need to be taking part in online challenges and competing against friends. While the game floundered on its launch, these days it has realised its ambition.
But DriveClub in VR, and it hurts me to say this, is a bit ugly when put up against its older brother. If you’ve played or seen DriveClub on PS4 that might be a hard concept to accept. But trust me when I say that DriveClub VR is not the DriveClub you have seen before. Now, this might sound harsh, but it’s the best way I can think of to describe how DriveClub VR looks: it’s as if the dev team took the gorgeous visuals and ran them through a filter to make the game look like it’s running on the PlayStation 2.
It’s hard to explain why, but playing in VR I was taken back to when I played Ridge Racer V for the first time. It was awesome, but boy was it pixelated. There’s clearly things going on here that aren’t possible on the PS2 hardware, but the shift in quality between standard PS4 game and VR version is stark.
Detail in the environments has been severely cutback, weather effects are completely gone (a massive shame), and you can now see detail pop in in the near distance. There’s still some lovely lighting, but the new low resolution gives the entire game a distinctly underwhelming and disappointing appearance.
New to the VR edition are some modes that let you cruise around and take in the sights or sit in the passenger seat during a replay (look to your side and be shocked at a virtual driver suddenly sat beside you!), but how I wish these were in the breathtaking virtual world found in the standard PS4 edition of DriveClub.
DriveClub VR is a brilliant racing experience, but be warned that you might think you’re going on a beautiful holiday to the south of France yet end up touring the sites of Hull. That’s a metaphor, by the way, you don’t get to drive in either location. I’m saying Hull isn’t very nice to look at. Like DriveClub VR.