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A lot of gamers first experience the thrill of playing racing games at the hands of a controller. PC gamers meanwhile played using a mouse and keyboard and sim racing since then have ramped up in terms of graphics and gameplay. If you haven’t tried playing with a racing wheel yet, then you’re definitely missing out as true enjoyment and immersion is truly felt when using a wheel.
Is sim racing easier with a wheel?
Playing sim racing games with a dedicated steering wheel is a whole different experience than using a control or a keyboard and mouse. It doesn’t necessarily make it easier but a racing wheel enhances your immersion while playing the game and provides an accurate range of motion like you’re driving a real car. You also have absolute control of the driving mechanics compared to using your fingers or thumbs on a controller or keyboard and mouse.
How much does racing wheels cost?
Racing wheel prices are highly varied and range from a few hundred to as high as a thousand dollars. Each brand and model offers different and unique features and sometimes may even be specific for the type of game like F1, Rally, NASCAR, and more. Racing wheels are typically bundled with pedal sets as using a wheel without them is virtually pointless.
The Force Feedback effects the wheel’s motor uses also play a factor in the overall cost of the peripheral. Force Feedback effects provide a more realistic experience when playing to make it more lifelike and not like an arcade in nature. Of course, a latest Force Feedback effect means a more expensive wheel but buying a cheaper one doesn’t mean the overall gameplay will be reduced as any racing games becomes infinitely better when playing with a wheel than a controller or mouse.
The construction of the wheel also needs to come from high-quality materials to ensure your racing wheel will last for a long time. The inputs and sensors have to be durable as playing with a racing wheel means you have a high chance of racing for hours. Holding onto a cheap plastic wheel is not fun so look for racing wheels with authentic leather covers for a realistic driving feel.
Is it easier to drive with a racing wheel than a controller?
A lot of our first time experience from playing racing video games usually happens with a controller. It’s a totally different feeling when playing with racing wheels as most manufacturers have perfected the art of driving at the comforts of your own home.
Beginner racers will find themselves crashing in a wall or gavel trap on their first outing which can sometimes be disheartening as playing with a wheel is initially harder than a controller. This is especially true on racing games that are arcade oriented like Need for Speed, or Forza Horizon. The two racing games have an easier learning curve that makes you considerably good with a controller in just a few minutes. Playing with a steering wheel meanwhile becomes an entirely different scenario which is why a lot of gamers are sometimes easily discouraged with using racing wheels.
Most racing wheels have a realistic 900-degrees turning to simulate the feel of driving a real car. Operating the wheel as well as the pedals are a daunting tasks even for actual drivers when playing for the first time but once the learning curve is over, playing with racing wheels is definitely a more fun experience.
With all this in mind, even with the fun factor, playing racing games with a controller is still easier on most racing games. All you have to do is press the directional buttons to change the direction and press a few buttons in order to accelerate and brake. However, for gamers who wish for a truly authentic experience, playing with a racing wheel will always be the way to go.
Is driving with a racing wheel faster compared to a controller or keyboard and mouse?
Because of the Force Feedback effects that you feel when playing with a racing wheel, you have a much better reaction time when driving your car. This means that you’ll have an advantage against gamers who play using controllers or a mouse and keyboard combo because using a wheel makes you a quicker and more precise driver to make decisions on the fly.
This doesn’t mean that you’re automatically better against other players just because you’re using a racing wheel. Not all gamers are good at using a racing wheel right of the bat and you need to put in more time before you start to see improvements on your game. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll even be surprised when you start climbing the leaderboards.
Are racing wheels worth it when games are already playable with a controller?
For gamers who are still not on the fence when considering a steering wheel for their sim racing games, this entirely depends on your preference, budget, and technical know-how. Popular 4-time Forza racing champion Aurelien Mallet prefers using the controller on Forza as he states the game is made around the device.
Based on the pro-racer’s years of experience, mistakes on a wheel are much more difficult to recover from compared to a controller. This is why he prefers a controller over a dedicated steering wheel for the game. However, Forza is the only racing game with that situation as the 4-time champion believes steering wheels are pretty much faster on all other titles.
A steering wheel gives gamers a lot of control of the car you’re driving during gameplay. A racing wheel with great Force Feedback effects are incredibly useful for games to provide you a sense of traction, control, and immersion as you play your sim racing games. Along with the wheels, the pedals that you use are more intuitive than pressing on the controller. Playing with a dedicated steering wheel adds another layer of challenge but it doesn’t necessarily make the game easier. For some people though, the fun level increases a notch which is why it’s always worth it to invest in a steering wheel for your favorite sim racing games.