NEWS

Everything you should know before buying a racing wheel

Racing wheels are often looked upon as a luxury gaming expense for enthusiasts, but that’s not the case anymore.

By THE OMEN NEWSROOM TEAM | April 20, 2022

Racing wheels have always been one of those peripherals that most gamers consider as a cool, but unnecessary expense. After all, the most obvious use for the wheel is to play racing games, and those are perfectly playable with keyboards and controllers as well. In fact, it can be argued that arcade racers are better tuned for controllers than racing wheels. While that may be true, there’s an obvious connect and a sense of engagement that players can get with a racing wheel that’s well beyond what a controller can offer. The question is, is it the right purchase for you? That’s exactly what we aim to answer in this feature.

The expense

Let’s get the big one out of the way. If you’re going to buy a racing wheel, don’t skimp on quality – and quality doesn’t come cheap. There are several budget options in the market, but none of them offer the immersion or the feedback that a high-end racing wheel will give you. The advantage with a high-end racing wheel is that most racing and simulation games come with customised presets that work directly with the wheel, giving you accurate control that will improve your game. With a cheaper option, you’ll be spending more time tweaking the wheel in game menus than enjoying them. 

Get a good wheel with pedals and you can connect it to your gaming laptop or PC right on your desk to get your gaming fix. In case you don’t have a good desk or want to play on your TV, then read on. 

The add-ons

Racing wheels are largely considered gateway peripherals that lead to bigger expenditures like expensive racing chairs or rigs. While those definitely come with their merits, they’re in no way a necessity. A sturdy desk works just fine with racing wheels, but in case you want something more permanent, there are a lot of great budget options out there.

A quick search through your favourite online retail site will show you some great budget racing stands. These offer a minimalistic, foldable solution to keep your racing wheel, gear shift (if your wheel has one) and pedals attached and ready to use them at your convenience. Many of them are priced at around Rs 10,000, which is a fraction of what a racing rig would set you back by.

What other add-ons you pick up depend on you. Do you need a separate gear shifter or do the paddle shifters on the wheel work well enough for you? Do you need an F1 steering attachment? These are all things you may consider well down the line, since they’re not essential for most gamers. 

Simulation racing

Ever thought that simulation racing games are hard to control and difficult to master? That’s because the best way to enjoy them is with a racing wheel, where the controls feel a lot more natural, giving you a better sense of a vehicle’s behaviour than what a controller can offer. Here are some brilliant racing sims that really open up for players with racing wheels.

  • Assetto Corsa: Don’t go by its age or no-frills presentation, Assetto Corsa – Italian for “race prepared” – is still one of the most realistic racing simulators out there. Incredible controls, a good roster of performance cars and faithful track recreations – it’s all here.
  • Project Cars 2: While the third game in the series opted for a more arcade route, Project Cars 2 remains a solid simulation and comes with VR support.
  • iRacing: If you’re serious about sim racing to the point of esports, then the iRacing subscription is totally worth it. Played by real race drivers, iRacing is a near perfect simulation of an actual track experience, complete with competition from talented racing enthusiasts from around the world.
  • F1 2021: For Formula 1 fans, there’s no better racing simulation than this. Though it’s an esports-grade racer, F1 2021 comes with enough assists to make racing fun for even the most inexperienced driver.
  • WRC 10: Track racing is one thing, but watch your wheel come to life in this excellent but challenging rally simulator. With each terrain giving you different feedback and changing the way your car responds, this is a masterful representation of what rally racing is all about.

Arcade racing

If you’re not too serious about racing and want a wheel just to have fun, there’s a lot of support in that genre as well. Though it’s debatable how much a racing wheel really improves the experience, if you do have a wheel, then might as well use it!

  • Forza Horizon 5: This is a fantastic game no matter how you play it, though a wheel does add a lot of great feedback when you wreck the Mexican landscape in a sportscar. With its simulation control settings options, it’s up to you how much realism you add to this fun racing experience.
  • Wreckfest: A spiritual successor to the FlatOut series, Wreckfest has some amazing modes like demolition derby, lawn mower battles, and more that play extremely well with a wheel.
  • Need for Speed: Heat: Get the cops vs robbers experience in the high-speed chases offered in true NFS style.

More than racing games

While racing games represent the most obvious use of a racing wheel, the gaming landscape has evolved far beyond. Driving itself is a genre these days and there are several ways to enjoy your wheel without the breakneck speeds and defeating opponents. Here are a few examples –

  • Euro Truck Simulator: With its huge community supportm Euro Truck Simulator is an amazing game that has you driving through the European countryside and cities for deliveries. One of the most relaxing games you can play with a racing wheel.
  • SnowRunner: While Euro Truck Simulator is geared towards relaxation, if you’re looking at making your deliveries truly challenging, this is the game for you. Traverse through unforgiving terrain in massive rigs that test not only your driving, but also your ability to use the tools at your disposal to get out of anything nature throws your way.
  • Bus Simulator 21: Live the life of an American bus driver, making stops and getting passengers to their destinations without breaking traffic rules.
  • Farm Simulator 2022: Ever wanted to use some state-of-the-art farming-grade heavy machinery? This is the safest way to do that.

Whichever way you use it, a racing wheel can be a fun peripheral to have if you enjoy racing or driving simulations. What has your experience been like with racing wheels? Share with the OMEN Playground in the comments.

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