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Is Gran Turismo Free Roam? An In-Depth Look

If you‘re new to the world of Gran Turismo, one of the first questions you‘ll likely ask is: can you freely roam around its environments like in other open world racing games?

The answer is no – all racing in Gran Turismo happens on closed circuits. But there are good reasons for this approach.

As a fellow racing game fan, let me guide you through what makes Gran Turismo tick, how its philosophy differs from open world titles, and why ultimately it doesn‘t need an open world to provide an immersive track racing experience.

So What Exactly is Gran Turismo?

First, a quick introduction for those unfamiliar with the series. Gran Turismo (often abbreviated GT) is a long-running racing game franchise published by Sony. It‘s known for its incredibly realistic driving physics, deep mechanical customization, and staggering collection of over 500 precisely detailed cars.

Across over 150 million sales to date, Gran Turismo has established itself as one of the most acclaimed and best-selling racing franchises ever. It caters to everyone from casual players to hardcore motorsport enthusiasts.

The series emphasizes recreating the true feel of operating real-world vehicles. You have to respect each car‘s weight and handling rather than just fling it around corners unrealistically. This lends Gran Turismo a distinct technical driving challenge.

The Key Difference – Closed Circuits vs Open Worlds

So what sets Gran Turismo apart from many other major racing games?

The lack of an open world.

Unlike titles such as Forza Horizon and Need for Speed, you cannot freely roam around a massive open environment. Instead, Gran Turismo focuses entirely on closed circuit racing.

Every single race happens on a dedicated track layout. These are designed to mimic the experience of driving on real-life raceways with painstaking accuracy.

For example, classic tracks like Trial Mountain, Deep Forest, and High Speed Ring provide exhilarating tests of driving skill across multiple sweeping bends and challenging corners.

Let‘s contrast this with how racing works in the open world of Forza Horizon 5:

  • Forza Horizon – Freely explore at your own pace across a huge map of Mexico, with impromptu races and events
  • Gran Turismo – Individual circuits designed for organized, professional-style racing competitions

Neither approach is inherently superior. Open worlds trade realism for freedom, whereas Gran Turismo focuses on disciplined track racing.

According to most experts, this closed circuit structure has defined the essence of Gran Turismo since its inception in 1997. Let‘s explore what that means in more detail.

The Closed Circuit Experience of Gran Turismo 7

The latest entry in the series, Gran Turismo 7, rigidly adheres to the closed circuit racing model.

Across over 120 track layouts, you take part in structured events and competitions like Championships, License Tests, Missions, and Circuit Experiences.

Rather than offer free exploration, these formalized modes are specifically designed to test your driving ability and provide that authentic motorsports atmosphere.

Some examples of the game modes in GT7:

  • GT Campaign – Work through a branching map of races with over 300 events
  • Driving School – Earn licenses by mastering techniques like braking and cornering
  • Custom Races – Set up single races, drift trials or time attacks
  • Sport Mode – Face off against others in daily online racing championships

So while you can‘t just drive around freely, the structured nature of the events immerses you in the thrill of track racing competition. It‘s a more focused, skill-based experience.

How Gran Turismo‘s Philosophy Differs from Open World Games

The rigidly organized structure of the events and lack of free roaming exploration demonstrates a clear philosophical difference between Gran Turismo and open world racers.

Whereas open world games emphasize freedom and accessibility, Gran Turismo is laser focused on simulating the discipline of real competitive racing.

The handling physics, tire models, aerodynamics and vehicle data aim to replicate the feeling of driving actual cars on real tracks. This enables incredibly deep simulation, but requires more skill.

Let‘s break down some key contrasts:

  • Gran Turismo has meticulously realistic circuits and driving physics
  • Open worlds offer greater freedom but less simulation depth
  • GT demands practice and expertise to master vehicle control
  • Open racers have more accessible, forgiving driving for all
  • Limited assists in GT mean you can‘t just floor it around corners
  • Low stakes exploration is encouraged in open worlds

So in summary – Gran Turismo values authenticity and technical driving, whereas open racers prioritize player freedom and accessibility. Neither is objectively better – they just appeal to different tastes.

Could a Free Roam Mode Work in Gran Turismo?

Given the ubiquity of open worlds in modern racing games, it‘s natural for fans to ask – could Gran Turismo incorporate free roaming in future entries?

In theory, there are ways it could be implemented:

  • Retain circuit races as the core focus but add smaller interconnected free roam zones
  • Let players explore country road networks that connect between urban tracks
  • Spawn random races and events as you travel around for added spontaneity

This could appease the demand for freedom while maintaining Gran Turismo‘s structure.

However, there are also strong arguments that open world functionality could overly detract from the series‘ vision and stretch technical resources.

Potential downsides of adding free roam:

  • Maintaining simulation quality across larger open spaces may prove difficult
  • Significant dev work would shift away from specialized track physics and dynamics
  • Technical compromises might diminish Gran Turismo‘s signature realism
  • Open world could overly dilute the purity of its focused driving experience

As an expert player, I feel the core spirit of competitive track racing might be lost if free roaming took priority. But I‘d be open to a limited integration enhancing the connections between circuits.

Overall there‘s no right answer, and the developers must chart the best path forward. Gran Turismo‘s pedigree is deeply rooted in closed circuit racing, and a full open world overhaul seems unlikely. But some middle ground could pay dividends.

Helpful Tips for New Gran Turismo Players

If you‘re picking Gran Turismo 7 up as your first entry in the series, here are some tips to ease the transition from open world games:

Start Slow and Easy

  • Begin with lower power cars like hatchbacks before moving up to supercars
  • Initially use driving aids like traction control – then reduce them as you improve
  • Master control at lower speeds – don‘t just mash the accelerator!
  • Pass license tests to incrementally learn techniques like cornering and braking

Focus on Finesse

  • Unlike arcade racers, you can‘t aggressively chuck cars around corners
  • Subtlety modulate throttle and brake pressure based on car weight and grip
  • Find optimal racing lines that compromise straight speed for better exits
  • Perfect smoothness on the controls rather than fast reflexes

Appreciate the Nuance

  • Gran Turismo is about mastering the unique feel of each individual car
  • Tune gear ratios, suspension, aerodynamics etc. to match your driving style
  • Appreciate the subtle differences between vehicles and tracks
  • Immerse yourself in the tv broadcasts, replays and atmosphere

Have Patience

  • Accept that expertise requires practice and experience
  • Don‘t be discouraged by early setbacks or spin-outs
  • Embrace the rewarding journey of skill progression over time
  • Once it clicks, you‘ll be hooked on the incredible depth Gran Turismo offers

With the right mindset and approach, the technical challenge of Gran Turismo can become immensely fulfilling. Hopefully these tips will give you a head start!

The Bottom Line

While Gran Turismo doesn‘t offer free roaming exploration, its focused philosophy provides an incredible authenticity and depth as a racing simulator.

Appreciating the nuances of its meticulously crafted circuits can be just as rewarding as open world freedom. Once you attune yourself to its technical spirit, you‘ll discover an experience like no other franchise can deliver.

For die-hard gearheads and motorsport enthusiasts, Gran Turismo represents driving perfection in its purest form. Its structured approach to competitive racing has set the gold standard for over 25 years.

So while you cannot explore at your own pace, the level of detail and unmatched realism across every facet of Gran Turismo is astonishing. Fans of serious racing should find the lack of open world is no barrier to becoming immersed in this incredible virtual world.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.