DriveClub VR preview: A Virtual Car Wreck in the Best Possible Way

DriveClub VR isn't just a good demonstration of the PlayStation VR headset, it's a sign of how a combination of peripherals can lead to a more immersive racing experience.

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PlayStation Experience saw the debut of several intriguing virtual reality efforts. There's the game with giant robots playing golf, there's the game about working a day-to-day job, and even the stuff that didn't look so polished at least had a purpose. (Hello, VR multiplayer!) But one game was conspicuously absent from the VR proceedings and that was Evolution's DriveClub VR. Shacknews was curious about what it would mean to get behind the wheel with this take on last year's racer, so we got behind the wheel during our time at the event.

It's important to note that DriveClub VR feels more like a tech demo than anything else. The menus, HUD, and general structure of the game have been thrown out the window. The idea here is a basic eight-car race, simply to show whether driving in Evolution's virtual reality world could work. But work it does and it does so marvelously.

The virtual reality element itself is as one would expect from a racing game. It's full 360-degree line of sight from inside the driver's seat, taking the first-person view option and taking it to its logical extension. There's a full forest/national park environment surrounding me as I turn my head before the start of the race.

But the immersion doesn't so much come with the addition of the headset, but with the total sum of all the parts. Combining the headset with the steering wheel and the responsive driving mechanics, there was a real sense that I was repeatedly crashing a car into a tree or into a wall. There was vibration coming from the steering wheel controller to help feed the illusion, so basically all that was missing was a vibrating chair to get the sense that I was in an actual car wreck.

The experience is also helped by DriveClub's precision driving mechanics, making it easier to turn corners (provided you don't go at full speed, like this writer did at first) and pass other racers. Handling feels simple to grasp, with the wheel responding accordingly to gentle and harder movements.

There's nothing overtly complicated about DriveClub VR and that's where this demo succeeds. It felt like the kind of arcade driving experience I had always hoped for in my younger days, but it'll be interesting to see how Evolution can flesh it out to feel more like a simulation racer. Regardless, DriveClub VR is a fine demonstration of PlayStation VR's potential and the idea of a finished DriveClub and even a Gran Turismo in virtual reality is one that should get any racing fan excited.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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