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Reaching for VR Racing Perfection with Driveclub

VRFocus recently had the opportunity to get hands-on with the virtual reality (VR) edition of Evolution Studios’ Driveclub and left feeling very impressed with what the very early PlayStation VR technical demonstration had become. Following that time with the videogame however, VRFocus has had a second opportunity to get to grips with Driveclub on PlayStation VR in a wholly different, far more immersive environment.

The build experienced here was the same as that first demo, playable at PlayStation Experience, San Francisco, earlier this month: only one track to race on and no choice of vehicle. This time however, Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) had gone whole hog and offered a driving chair, steering wheel and pedal set-up. Featuring the Thrustmaster T500 RS steering wheel, one of SCE’s officially endorsed accessories for Driveclub, the VR experience reached a whole new level with precision steering, force feedback and gear shift paddles.

Thrustmaster T500 RS steering wheel

The steering wheel is an obvious enhance that brings you closer to the virtual action in a most direct fashion. The immersion is hindered by the fixed position of the hands on the in-game steering wheel, however positioning your own in roughly the same spot quickly allows for your brain to plug-in the gaps. It’s notably harder to control the given vehicle with this set-up than the DualShock 4, but in the same regard decidedly more rewarding when a skilful undertake or drift is executed.

Surprisingly, it’s actually the driving chair that aided immersion most significantly. It’s a odd sensation that will undoubtedly get overlooked by many, but VR often places users in a situation that for the majority of their body would feel very different to the real world environment they are experiencing it in. Although most racing videogames will have the player seated both in-game and in reality, the comfort of the couch or strictness of an office chair may not accurately represent the seating you are experiencing in-game. Here, leaning over your left shoulder to look at the positioning of a vehicle racing alongside you felt perfectly balanced; the movement of your body from the waist-up as you lean and reposition yourself in the seat is replicated perfectly in-game, never once causing a second thought about what you are doing and whether or not you are in the situation the videogame suggests you are. It simply feels natural: one of the most impressive sensations of ‘presence’ the PlayStation VR has yet offered.

Driveclub screenshot

Of course, it’s simply not logical to assume that every gamer who purchases a VR racing title will automatically adopt a high-end steering wheel and racing chair set-up also. This is an extremely high-end input solution that is far from practical, so it’s a good job that Driveclub remains a welcoming experience even with only DualShock 4 controller and a stool. There’s still no word on an official release of the VR edition of Driveclub either way, but of course VRFocus will keep you updated with any further details revealed.