Hands-on First Impressions – GTPlanet

Gran Turismo 7The February 2023 Update includes the public debut of GT Sophy: a new AI that you can compete with in a free special event called “Race Together”.

I had a chance to preview Sophy’s new races at PlayStation’s North American headquarters last week, and it was the most I’ve ever had racing against the computer.

Sophy is great, and she could change the way racing games like Gran Turismo are designed and developed from now on. But you don’t have to take my word for it: You can try it out for yourself, for free, at Gran Turismo 7 on PlayStation 5.

Let’s talk about how the special event works, and why this new technology is such a big deal.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

Special event “Race Together”

Sophy is available in a new special event called “Race Together” available in the PS5 version of Gran Turismo 7 Until the end of March 2023.

It includes races on four different tracks: Tsukuba, Alsace Village, Mountain Trail and Suzuka. Each track has four races available in beginner, intermediate and expert difficulty levels along with a 1 vs 1 mode.

During the hands-on demo, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Michael Spranger, COO of Sony AI, and Dr. Peter Wermann, Director of Sony AI America and Project Leader for Gran Turismo Sophy. They showed me exactly how the different difficulty levels were implemented to keep Sophy fun – while challenging – for everyone attempting this special event.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

Multi-car racing

In the first three races at each track, you compete against four Sophy competitors, each represented by a different colour. All Sophy drivers have the same skill level, but are held back by the type of vehicle they drive.

Green will always be the slowest opponent in your race, and the purple/purple car will be the fastest. The difficulty of each race is determined by the vehicle You They drive, so in easier modes you’re given a faster car than Sophy drivers, and in Expert mode you’re on a more level playing field.

In all races, as the human driver, you’ll start fourth, with the slightly slower green Sophy Verte in front of you, and the fastest Sophy Violette behind you.

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Sony Interactive Entertainment

As the Sony AI team explained to me, this is designed so that when races begin, you’ll usually attack the car in front of you while simultaneously defending your position.

There’s one thing I haven’t talked about yet – but I’m sure you’ve noticed – the expressive reactions coming from Sophy drivers. The feature needs a bit more polishing, as facial expressions don’t always make sense and it updates often, but I think it will draw a lot of interest and help give these AI engines more personality.

1 vs 1 races

The most difficult challenge on each track comes in the 1 vs 1 mode, which pits you head-to-head against a single Sophy opponent in the exact same car. Your goal is to win this two-lap race from a standing start side by side.

It can be done, but – believe me – it’s not easy!

The video at the top of this article includes footage of Gran Turismo World Champion Igor Fraga having a wheel fight with Sophie, and as you can see, he’s sparring with one of the best Gran Turismo players ever.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

my impressions

I’m not bad In Gran Turismo, but I’m definitely not an Igor Fraga or a GT World Tour driver. I assumed Sophie would totally embarrass me during the demo. It was a very humbling experience – but I eventually managed to beat her in a 1v1 race in Tsukuba.

I wasn’t able to record the racing during the demo, but I can tell you that it was one of the most exciting challenges I’ve faced in my 25 years of playing Gran Turismo.

Sophy is incredibly fast, so the key to defeating her is to beat her into the first corner and get that position early. He is an aggressive driver but very clean. During more than half an hour of intense gameplay, I don’t recall any crashes or connection initiated by Sophy; All mistakes were my fault.

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When I’m being attacked by a car behind me, I tend to get nervous and brake earlier than usual – and earlier than my opponent might expect. This leads to me getting chased frequently in braking areas or having my opponent think I checked my brakes, which isn’t really flattering for anyone.

However, Sophie was able to anticipate this, as a highly skilled and experienced driver. He never called me, didn’t panic or lose control when I went to brake early.

Sony Interactive Entertainment

It made the race so exhilarating, because it was a door-to-door, bumper-to-bumper, start-to-finish battle. I was doing everything I could to keep Sophie behind me, and she would stick her nose in the door every time I made a mistake.

It all came down to the last lap and the long and final corner in Tsukuba. I walked in a little too long and left the door open for Sophie to take the inside line.

In this situation, it is easy for the attacking driver to become too aggressive and understeer at the car in front, pushing them away in something that might look like an ugly move. I fully expected the race to end at that moment, but Sophie held her own. We swept the corner and dragged it to the finish.

it was amazing; It was the kind of race you might only encounter once in an online lobby, and it certainly wasn’t a battle you’d have with the game’s standard AI.

That’s what makes Sophy so special: It’s like having your best human competitor, online, all the time, ready to race whenever you are, and for as long as you want. This is a lot of fun, and there has probably never been – in video games, nor in the real world – a better way to practice your racing career.

Sophy is the ultimate sparring partner, and it only gets better from here.

Dr. Peter Wermann, Director of Sony AI America and Head of the Gran Turismo Sophy Project. Image by Sony AI.

the future

The only problem with Sophy is that she’s so good, she spoils you.

It reminds you how boring and lifeless standard AI is in the rest of the world Gran Turismo 7Single player mode, and how aggressive and inconsistent other humans can be when playing online. This special “Race Together” event is great, but it’s just a little teaser.

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If you’re anything like me, you’re going to desperately want to race Sophie on more tracks with different cars, but the truth is that this is still just a limited technical preview and there’s a lot of work to be done.

“There are still some technical challenges that need to be overcome to make it available to everyone [game]Dr. Springer explained. “Another big factor is a lot of work put into designing that interaction. I think we all want to see how it goes and hear what players think and learn from that experience, to design the best way to launch it in the whole game.”

Dr. Michael Spranger, COO, Sony AI. Photo by Roger Siber.

“It’s a big step,” added Dr. Werman. “We want to make sure we get it right and get enough feedback to really understand how this can enhance player experiences.”

Player notes

The Sony AI team is eager to get feedback on Sophy, and they’re actively encouraging players to help them develop the system further.

“I hope people share what they like, share their experiences, and also share things they don’t like. We want to hear those two things,” said Dr. Wuerman.[We hope] They’re sharing videos online so we can really understand how people feel about it, how it makes them race better, or worse, or helps them learn, etc.”

Once again, the free special event Race Together will be presented at Gran Turismo 7 Update 1.29, available from February 22nd until March 31st, 2023. Presumably, the special event will be available to players using the PlayStation 5 version of the game, due to the processing power required.

Of course, Sophy is going to be a very hot topic in the GTPlanet forums: visit the comments link below to jump right into the latest discussion!

Also, stay tuned: we’ll continue to cover Sophy as she develops in the future.

See more articles about Gran Turismo Sophy and Sony AI.

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