Last week’s big Gran Turismo 7 trailer gave fans lots to be excited about, save for one easy-to-miss detail: the requirement of an online connection for the game’s extensive single-player Campaign Mode. Part of GT7's appeal is the return of the old-school Gran Turismo career that was largely absent from the last game, GT Sport, but the always-online stipulation has frustrated and confused fans because campaigns tend to be solitary experiences.
Sony and developer Polyphony Digital were pretty clear about this fact in various marketing materials following the trailer’s reveal. Nevertheless, for those holding out hope that perhaps something was lost in translation, I’m afraid the news isn’t good. Kazunori Yamauchi, the franchise’s creator and producer, confirmed in an interview with Eurogamer that an online connection will be necessary for everything except Arcade Mode.
Why not Arcade Mode? Because Arcade Mode doesn’t impact the game’s save file. Eurogamer’s Martin Robinson initially posed a question about the need for an internet connection for the new GT Cafe mode, but Yamauchi corrected him, explaining that the requirement broadly applies to most of the game. From Eurogamer, in Yamauchi’s own words:
The requirement for the online connection isn’t specific to the Cafe per se — it’s just to prevent cheating overall from people trying to modify the save data, so that’s the reason for the online connection.
A bit later, the producer delves deeper:
The online connection is required for the campaign mode. The only part of the game that doesn’t require an online connection is the arcade mode, because that has no effect on the save data, so that’s possible. But anything that has to do with the save data requires a connection. For example things like the livery data as well — that’s something that is downloaded from the online server.
Sure, the always-online demand is annoying, though I can’t say I’m surprised by it. GT Sport launched in exactly the same fashion. In the months following that game’s release, Polyphony eased things back a bit, allowing players to enjoy single-player modes like GT League without an internet connection. However, to this day you cannot save your progress in GT Sport until your system reconnects to the server.
It’s never been made clear why Polyphony is so strict on this matter, while other racing games permit offline play despite checks in place to ward off cheaters. Some have theorized that the developer’s esports agreement with the FIA — which has been in place since GT Sport’s development — may have something to do with it. The Gran Turismo Championships are FIA-sanctioned, and winners receive trophies alongside the likes of Formula 1 and World Rally Championship drivers at the sanctioning body’s annual prize-giving gala. We’ve reached out to a PlayStation representative to inquire about the rationale.
While that news isn’t likely what most fans want to hear, Yamauchi answered other burning questions about GT7 in a more encouraging manner. The game’s dynamic time-of-day and weather cycles do, in fact, play out over real time during gameplay. However, Yamauchi says that the studio has not yet decided whether players will be able to experience full 24-hour cycles in races or not. Perhaps that’ll be reserved for certain tracks that could use it, like the Circuit de la Sarthe and Nürburgring. Yamauchi also touched upon improvements in handling precision due to the PS5's DualSense controller, and declined to answer a question about PlayStation VR support with a tease, saying the team “cannot talk about it yet.”