As a gamer with a coordination disability, one of the gaming genres I struggle with most is racing games, particularly simulation heavy racers. I love the genre in theory, speeding fast around a track is deeply satisfying, but my fine motor control issues mean that a lot of games in the genre are difficult for me to engage with.
This past week I’ve been playing Gran Turismo 7 on PS5, and I wanted to take some time today to talk about the game from an accessibility perspective. The game is through and through a technical simulation focused racer, and I wanted to know if this would finally be the Gran Turismo game I found worked for me.
So today, on Access-Ability, we’re going to be talking about the accessibility settings in Gran Turismo 7. We’re going to talk about what the game offers as settings, what it lacks, and where its accessibility settings are inconsistently applied.
If you’ve played recent entries in the Gran Turismo series, such as Gran Turismo 6 and Gran Turismo Sport, you’re going to find a lot of what is on offer in Gran Turismo 7 disappointingly familiar in terms of accessibility. Compared to the rest of Sony’s first party output on PS5, this is easily the least improved accessibility support in a PS5 sequel to a PS4 game so far.
GT7 offers players preset options for how to control their car, which can be tweaked, ranging from a traditional L2 Brake, R2 Accelerate, Left stick steer approach, through to a motion controlled option with the right stick dedicated to acceleration and deceleration.
The game does feature full controller remapping, which can help further customise this control setup.
Then, players are offered three Simulation complexity presets, which can also be tweaked. These change a lot of minor aspects of car control behind the scenes, such as turning up levels of traction to keep you gripped to the road, but also changes a few more immediately obvious things, such as whether the game automates basic processes such as steering and braking for you.
Much like Forza Horizon 5, Gran Turismo 7 offers players a driving line on the road to show where they should optimally be positioned on the road, markings to show where you should hit the breaks, and options to either automate changing gears, or tell you which gear you should likely be in at that moment.
The game also features three difficulty settings, which dictate the speed that AI enemy drivers race around the track, but doesn’t tweak the difficulty of other challenges, which we will explain shortly.
While all of these tools do help to make this technical sim more manageable to play, they come with limitations and drawbacks, and even at their best do not make this as playable for disabled players as something like Forza Horizon 5.
Here are some examples of the areas where Gran Turismo 7’s approach to accessibility falls a little short.
In order to keep players better gripped to the road, the beginner control option turns up your vehicle’s traction. This does improve grip, but slows down your ability to take fast corners or accelerate back up to max speed. This is a trade off being made, and certain in-game challenges which involve travelling at speed do not adjust their completion times to account for this. This will make some challenges more difficult to complete, rather than easier.
While the game’s driving line inclusion is great, the fact that in-game weather effects, such as rain being sprayed up from the road by another car’s tires, can make this driving line impossible to see. If the driving line is there as an accessibility setting, it should always be able to be seen. Don’t hide accessibility settings that a player has chosen to switch on from them.
This is also the second Sony First Party game in a row to release without support for High Contrast Mode visuals, a disappointing omission. The setting had seemed like it was becoming somewhat of a standard, but it seems not. It’s a real shame.
The braking lines on the road tell you when to hit the brakes, but do not give you any further information. If you’re on the line, and hit the brakes, and still fail your turn, the game does not help to teach you whether you were meant to feather the brake, or slam it and drop the acceleration, or accelerate fully while also hitting the brakes. The game’s on road tips are not as clearly communicated to the player as they could be, or have been in other titles like Forza Horizon 5.
While the automated braking system is appreciated as an accessibility feature, it gets turned off during certain parts of the game, most notably the challenges to unlock new driving licence levels, and the associated gift vehicles they offer.
In-game driving licence tutorials, while not mandatory, have content locked behind them, do not scale in difficulty, and turn off all your accessibility support features without warning. I get that these are designed to teach you how to use features such as the brakes, but accessibility support options should never be turned off without warning, in a way that blocks access to some in-game content.
While navigating in game menus, the left stick can be used to move essentially a virtual mouse pointer, but players also have the option to use the D-Pad to snap between options.
Additionally of note, the game’s settings options are spread out between multiple different settings menus in a way that can make them hard to find. There are dedicated sound and visual editing menus for the overall game, but also car menus that only change car specific settings, as well as a separate control customisation menu too, all found in separate spaces.
Gran Turismo 7 also refuses to hold the player’s hand in regards to vehicle customisation. There is a fine tuning menu on offer that has no tutorial whatsoever, simply expecting players to already understand the changes on offer, or be too intimidated to engage with the mechanics.
For those players who struggle with randomised rewards, and microtransactions where you can pay to unlock content early, Gran Turismo 7 unfortunatel;y employs some tactics to push you toward additional spending. Every now and then the game will give players a randomised reward ticket, which offers in-game currency, or potentially new vehicles. If you earn in game currency, you will be prompted to purchase more currency with real money.
You can ignore these randomised reward tickets, but they will constantly have a notification on the home screen, making ignoring them hard for some disabled players.
This pushing for microtransaction spending also extends to other areas of the game. If you try to purchase a new in-game car that you lack the funds for, it will push you to buy the difference using real world money with a prompt.
While Gran turismo 7 has some accessibility settings available to lessen some of its difficulty when racing AI enemies, and to reduce some of its simulation elements, it’s still ultimately a technical sim at its core.
If you are looking for an accessible next gen racing game, GT7 has really not made much effort to improve its accessibility since the last game in the series, and compares poorly to titles such as Forza Horizon 5. I know I have brought that game up a lot during this review, but that’s because it feels so much more willing to let itself be truly accessible. It even lets players rewind gameplay for a few seconds if they screw up, allowing new players to take risks, remove some of the training wheels, and not feel so bad if they make mistakes while learning.
Gran Turismo 7 is an unforgiving title. The gulf between the experience with accessibility settings on, and off, is immense, and there is very little being done to help players cross that gap. There are settings on offer, but there are racing games out there doing a better job of easing disabled players into the world of fast cars.