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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

A friendly reminder that racing wheels remain one of the best PC gaming buys

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I’m not usually one to go for a drive just for the sake of going for a drive. Perhaps that’s down to my choice of real-life car, a compact Peugeot 107 with just enough go to get up a hill without holding up traffic. I love that car, though, mostly because it costs next to nothing to run. Yet it’s no Sunday drive stallion.

Instead I find my interest in fast cars that I can’t afford intersects wonderfully with my other overwhelming passion, the thing I’ve dedicate a great deal of my time to for both work and pleasure: videogames. And there’s truly no better way to experience the joy of a racing game than with a decent force feedback wheel.

With Forza Horizon 4 headed to Steam today, it felt like a fitting time to jot down my experience racing the rolling hills of Albion as I test out the Logitech G923 Trueforce sim racing wheel for review. 

Because if you haven’t heard by now, a racing wheel is a complete gamechanger.

Forza Horizon 4 is a superb game through and through, even sans wheel. Featuring a compact playground of winding roads, high-speed motorways, and off-road tracks that traipse past famous landmark after famous landmark. What’s not to love? It makes for an excellent reminder of why it’d be enjoyable to once again be able to go for a long drive and set up camp somewhere for the night. 

But I’m getting waylaid. Even beyond Horizon 4’s excellence, the inclusion of a racing wheel has been the immersion maker for me. It’s kept me glued once again to this game over a year since its initial release on the Microsoft Store.

The game and wheel integrate seamlessly together. You need only plug the G923 into your machine, let it spin its wheel aggressively a handful of times as it likes to do, and away you go. For the most part the default controls work wonders, but there’s more granularity in the settings menu if you want to tweak a little further. In my case, there’s also the option for manual gearbox with clutch, which there’s no way in hell I’m not suffering through in the name of realism and immersion. 

It’s a perfect fit for the tri-pedal set included with the Logitech wheel, too.

Flappy panels, manual gears, and a clutch that you actually need to depress to get the cars rolling, and you’ve got a combination that has been so engaging that I’ve spent hours just driving around picking up whichever event or speed trap on the map I happen to roll upon. 

Feeling the traction on turns and the weight of the wheel at high-speed has made me a better racer. Period. That moment you lose grip around a tight turn, admittedly going way too fast, becomes a learning experience in how to thread the needle for perfect cornering.

Race on

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A decent wheel will offer that minute feedback and near-instantaneous response for a more reflexive driving style to kick in. If your rear is slipping after cutting a corner a little too close, you can correct before it’s too late where I found it much more difficult with a regular gaming pad.

It’s not just Forza. I’ve set up that wheel for optimal snappy steering in F1 2019 (using these settings for the G29 over on Reddit), and picked up Dirt 5 on Games Pass and had equally excellent times in both.

Dirt 5 is especially well-suited to showing you what that force feedback can do. My phone and a glass of water have been thrown off my desk after some aggressive off-road driving in that game.

And just as much there are a heap of other superb racing wheels too, from the cheaper Thrustmaster T300 RS set to the more professional Fanatec mix-and-match kit. This is more so a reminder that, yes, racing wheels in general are immensely entertaining and remain a sound investment in 2021.

I’m decades late to the party with this one, sure, but if you are considering investing in a racing wheel or just getting into racing games, I can tell you from experience that I’ve loved every second with this one so far.

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