Here in the UK, winter brings with it salty, dirty and wet roads – a nightmare for any car enthusiast. This usually leads to most of us tucking away our pride and joy safely for winter, where they might be improved on, fixed or modified further for next year’s show season. What about the rest of the time? How do we get our automotive fix without being able to go for a drive, go to a show or meet up with other enthusiasts?
Well, we’ve put together this list of ideas that we think should just about tide you over until spring. If none of this works, then maybe it’s time to move to a warmer climate…
If we can’t build, drive or race real cars, why not build, drive and race virtual cars?
If you’ve haven’t got one already, now’s the time to get yourself a console. Xbox’s new One X and Sony’s PS4 Pro are two of the best out there. Though you may want to take your game choice into account before purchasing. There are some excellent racing games and simulators out there, Forza Motorsport 7, GT Sport and Project Cars 2 being the favourites for 2018.
The Forza games are exclusive to Xbox and include the Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon series. The latest addition, Forza Motorsport 7 features over 700 cars offering an individual driving experience with each one. This game is targeted at those who want as close to a real-life racing experience as possible in the comfort of their own home. Drivers can adjust difficulty settings to suit their ability, making this racing simulator suitable for everyone from first time gamers to the most advanced and technical driver.
Forza’s Horizon series – Horizon 3 being the latest edition – features ‘open world’ driving as opposed to the on-track only racing found in the Motorsport series. Horizon 3 is set in Australia with a vast and well detailed map area featuring a multitude of terrain from sandy beaches to dense forests and everything in between. An ever-growing list of over 350 cars and various downloadable map expansion packs including a Hot Wheels add-on with orange tracks, loops and jumps ensures this game will just never get old.
Sony’s latest answer to the Xbox exclusive Forza Motorsport series is the PS4-only GT Sport – the seventh of the Gran Turismo games. This racing simulator offers a similar experience to that of Forza Motorsport 7, though it has a severe deficiency in the vehicle department with a little over 160 cars on offer, nothing compared to Forza’s 700+! Again, similar to Forza, GT Sport has numerous assist options to allow the most amateur driver to still race competitively and enjoy the gameplay. Certainly don’t let the lack of cars put you off, this racing simulator still offers an incredible racing experience that you definitely won’t tire of any time soon!
Last but by no means least, is Project Cars 2. Available for both Xbox and PS4 this racing simulator is targeted at more advanced drivers who appreciate the challenges that come with racing. It would be hard to describe Project Cars 2 as a ‘game’ – this is without any doubt a pure racing simulator and one you would be hard pushed to find another this realistic available for console. Unlike Forza and GT Sport, Project Cars does not feature as extensive a list of assist options, making it far less ‘playable’ for novices, even an experienced racer might take some time to get used to controlling the 180+ cars.
Though Project Cars has a lack of vehicles in comparison to Forza it features 60 tracks with 130 different layouts – almost double that of Forza Motorsport 7 and more than triple what GT Sport has to offer – it offers various types of track not found in other games, such as karting circuits and rally stages.
For some of us, the regular controller provided with the console just won’t be enough. We want to feel like we really are driving these cars and to do that, we’re going to need a steering wheel and some pedals – at the very least! A steering wheel and pedal set-up is the best way to experience any racing simulator in your own home without taking up the whole room! There are hundreds of different wheel & pedal set-ups out there with various price tags that range from under £100 to well over £10,000! We’ll take a look at different options that will give you the best bang for your buck!
If you’re looking for your first gaming wheel then this option from Thrustmaster may be a good choice for you:
The PS4 compatable T150 (left) and Xbox One/PC equivalent TMX (right) are both priced at £169.99 on Thrustmaster’s website. These are both an ideal option for anyone looking to start sim racing without breaking the bank. Complete with pedal set and true force feedback these are excellent value for money and being made by one of the best known brands in this market is of decent quality and is reliable. Though the quality and force feedback may not be quite on par with some of the more expensive models it is more than good enough for an entry level model – these are also expandable with various steering wheels and pedals offered by Thrustmaster.
Looking for a bit more quality from your racing experience but don’t want to fork out? Logitech’s G920 (Xbox One/PC) and G29 (PS4/PS3/PC) Driving Force models could be the perfect solution:
These wheel & pedal set-ups are priced at £329.99 on Logitech’s website – though we have often seen them both below £200 on various other sites so shop around. At this price you get all you would expect with high quality materials being used throughout including stainless steel pedals and paddle shifters and a hand stitched leather steering wheel. As well as high quality external features, the Logitech Driving Force wheels feature very high quality and well manufactured internals – solid steel ballbearings and ‘helical gearing’ (similar to automotive transmissions) mean these wheels are built to last for a long time. This is a serious wheel at a seriously reasonable price – one that will see you from beginner to professional sim-racer with no problem at all. – We could consider this our best buy.
It can be difficult to navigate the hundreds of options out there for sim-racing, just make sure that you’re having fun! Happy racing!