Hey racing fans! If you‘re like me, you may be wondering – can you freely cruise around in Gran Turismo 7 like an open world game?
The short answer is: unfortunately no, Gran Turismo 7 does not have an open world free roam mode.
I‘ll explain more about why GT7 went a different direction, what open-ended options it does provide, and alternatives you can play if you‘re seeking open world racing action. Let‘s hit the virtual road!
Gran Turismo Sticks to its Simulation Roots
The team at Polyphony Digital has always taken a laser focus on delivering the most authentic and rigorous racing simulation possible with the Gran Turismo franchise. Their vision since the original Gran Turismo in 1997 has been centered around recreating the experience of competitive circuit driving.
According to Kazunori Yamauchi, producer of the series, Gran Turismo has always been about capturing the feeling and culture of car racing rather than exploring open worlds:
“It’s safe to say that Gran Turismo leads the industry in terms of the technical side of racing cars. The simulation side of the game is something that we put a lot of effort into. That’s something that separates Gran Turismo from other titles.”
That explains why 25 years later, Gran Turismo 7 remains faithful to that original formula – top-class driving physics, true-to-life handling, precision recreation of real racetracks, and extensive tuning options. Their specialized approach does not allow for resources being allocated to open world exploration.
Focus Remains on Circuits and Structured Racing
Rather than an open sandbox, the content and gameplay in GT7 centers around circuit-based events across a variety of different track configurations:
- World Circuits – Iconic point-to-point tracks modeled off real-life racetracks across the globe. These include classics like Trial Mountain, Deep Forest Raceway, and many more.
- Original Tracks – Linear circuits designed from scratch by Polyphony like Dragon Trail and Autodrome Lago Maggiore.
- City Courses – Tricky street race environments based in urban locations.
- Dirt/Off-Road – Rally-style point-to-point dirt tracks with challenging terrain.
The core single player progression involves competing in structured races and challenges using these circuits:
- GT Cup Events – Multi-race championships against AI opponents.
- Missions – Driving-focused challenges testing specific skills.
- License Tests – Time trials to obtain racing licenses by demonstrating technique.
- Custom Races – One-off events created by players.
- Multiplayer – Online racing against drivers around the world.
So rather than free cruising, Gran Turismo retains its identity as a serious racing simulation focused on wheel-to-wheel competition on closed circuits across different configurations.
No Massive Open World Environment
Games like Forza Horizon 5 and Need for Speed Heat allow players to explore every inch of their vast open worlds. But crafting such a large scale map was never in scope for Gran Turismo 7.
According to Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan, the team stayed realistic about what they could achieve on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 hardware:
“Polyphony always takes a fairly contrarian approach. They want to build the best possible racing sim they can. And if that comes at the expense of a massive open world map, then so be it.”
Given the sky-high standards Polyphony sets for physics simulation and graphics fidelity, delivering a detailed open world was likely seen as too technically challenging or prohibitively expensive.
The team at Polyphony also wanted to avoid over-scoping. Keeping the focus narrow allowed them to channel resources into the areas that mattered most for their vision like vehicle handling and customization.
Custom Routes Allow Custom Circuits
While GT7 isn’t truly an open world, the Custom Routes feature does allow players to design their own circuits using any track:
- Pick unique start/finish points to make point-to-point routes.
- Place cones as waypoints to direct the driving line.
- Focus on specific sectors of a larger circuit.
This provides an open-ended way to experience the tracks without just running plain laps. Players can create custom scenarios like technical cone courses or epic point-to-point downhill runs.
Limited Free Run Practice Mode
The game also provides a Free Run version of each circuit. In this practice mode, players can drive any car they own on any available track with no objectives, AI cars, or penalties.
Free Run is as close as GT7 gets to an unrestricted driving experience. It lets petrolheads cruise the circuits purely for enjoyment and get familiar with their dream machines. No racing, just vibing!
Still Offers Rewarding Single Player Progression
While missing the freedom of open world driving, Gran Turismo 7 provides plenty of depth and progression through its career mode centered around the Café:
- Starts players with lower tier used cars to master fundamentals.
- Unlocks faster machines through race/challenge rewards and car dealer purchases.
- Obtain higher tier licenses by passing increasingly difficult tests.
- Take on endurance races, championships, and über-tough GT Cup events.
Although structured, the Café allows flexibility to play at your own pace while guiding your growth from amateur to pro racer. With over 90 track layouts and 420 vehicles to use, there’s endless gameplay combinations!
Why No Free Roam in Gran Turismo 7?
Given the popularity of open worlds in modern racing games, Polyphony‘s decision to skip free roaming in GT7 may be puzzling for some fans. Based on their comments, here are some likely factors:
Wanted to Avoid Diluting the Core Vision
Producer Kazunori Yamauchi implied that introducing open world exploration could detract from the pure racing simulation focus that defines Gran Turismo:
“We wanted to deliver an experience that provides the purest essence of Gran Turismo – creating a perfect neutral canvas for enjoying performance cars.”
Prized Depth over Breadth
Polyphony has always favored delivering incredibly deep and detailed racing content over providing the broadest variety of racing styles. An open world could have stretched their resources too thin.
Given GT7 was also developed for PS4 and PSVR, creating a massive seamless open environment may have been too technically demanding compared to curated circuits.
Wanted to Innovate Within Their Formula
Rather than chase open world trends, Polyphony aimed to push boundaries through features like ray tracing, adaptive triggers, detailed interiors, and advanced physics.
Polyphony could be keeping the door open to eventually incorporate open world elements in GT8 or even expand GT7 via updates. But for now, circuits reign supreme.
Scratch Your Open World Racing Itch Elsewhere
I totally get the desire to have open ended driving freedom rather than just circuits. So if you‘re playing on PlayStation and find yourself craving an open world racing fix, here are some great alternatives worth looking into:
Forza Horizon 5
The latest in Microsoft‘s Horizon series delivers a vibrant and thrilling open world racing experience set across beautiful Mexican landscapes. With over 500 cars to collect, highly accessible gameplay, and tons of activities, it‘s easy to sink 100+ hours into Horizon 5. Exclusive to Xbox and PC.
Need for Speed Heat
This street racing focused entry in EA‘s Need for Speed franchise features thrilling cop chases in an open world Miami inspired setting. Available on PS4 with PS5 backwards compatibility, Heat offers arcade style racing action in a huge open map.
The Crew 2
Ubisoft‘s open world racing playground lets you dominate land, sea, and sky. Swap between cars, boats, planes, and motorcycles seamlessly in their massive recreation of a scaled down USA. Find it on PS4 and PS5.
Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown
The long awaited return of the open world Test Drive racing series arrives in 2023. Solar Crown will provide free roaming driving fun on a 1:1 recreation of Hong Kong Island. Coming to PS5 and other platforms.
The Bottom Line
While Gran Turismo 7 does not offer an open world mode, Polyphony stayed true to their signature formula that has made the series legendary among sim racing fans. With uncompromisingly realistic driving physics, gorgeous visuals, and endless tuning options, GT7 delivers a best-in-class circuit racing experience.
Racing gamers craving open ended freedom still have plenty of great options to choose from like Forza Horizon and Need for Speed. So you can enjoy Gran Turismo 7 for its unparalleled simulation pedigree while also getting your open world fix elsewhere!
At the end of the day, GT7 focuses on one style of racing and knocks it out of the park. Here‘s hoping we eventually get the best of both worlds with an open world Gran Turismo down the road! Until then, start your engines and experience Gran Turismo like never before.