On Tuesday, October 17, the long-awaited Gran Turismo Sport arrives for the Playstation 4. This seventh installment of one of the world’s best-selling games franchises introduces a number of updates designed for high-end TVs, virtual reality, and e-sports enthusiasts. Although we’ve had a copy for a few days now, you’ll have to wait a few more days to read a proper review.
In large part, that’s because Sony’s Gran Turismo Sport servers were down for the past few days. Since being connected to those servers is such an integral part of the game, there’s very little left to do if you’re offline.
But let’s not pretend like we weren’t warned. In a blog post last month, Sony revealed that “[i]n order to ensure fair racing for all, GT Sport will require an Internet connection for the majority of functionality. This connectivity requirement is to ensure that progress, car availability, and driver ratings are properly maintained at all times.”
Now we know what “the majority of functionality” means: everything other than “Arcade” mode. This means you can take part in one-off races against the AI, time trials, “drift trials,” split-screen two-player battles, and the limited VR mode. And you’ll only have access to cars and racetracks you unlocked while you were online.
If the servers are down or your PS4 is not connected to the Internet, no other parts of the game are available and no progress can be saved. (This means you’ll lose any in-game credits or level progression earned in Arcade mode.) Obviously, online matches depend on the servers. But so, too, do the rest of the game, stuff that’s always been available offline in the past. Campaign mode (the career mode which includes the notorious Gran Turismo driving school) is off limits while offline. Also offline: buying new cars, viewing your garage, editing car liveries, and even the “taking photos of fancy cars in exotic scenery” mode.
The reasoning behind the move is to do with the linkup between Gran Turismo and the FIA, the international organization that runs world motorsport. FIA-recognized e-sports are an integral part of the game, so keeping everyone’s saves in the cloud is meant to keep everyone honest and above board. But the move raised eyebrows in the Ars office as offline single-player content in console games is rarely restricted in this manner.
When asked why Polyphony Digital chose to restrict so much usual Gran Turismo content to online-only use, a Sony representative referred us to the September blog post announcing the change. “The local save only contains hardware settings such as monitor resolution/HDR calibration, etc.,” the rep added.