How many times watching a video on the net, or strolling during the major trade fairs of the sector, have you come across a Sim Racing station, so to speak, those "pussies" with racing seat, triple monitor, flying like in reality and underneath you have craved one day to become a Sim Racer too?
Most of the time, however, all of these wonders are perceived as a mountain to climb, in terms of economic expense, expertise and the hassle to get something that comes close to the setup of your dreams.
Well, we're here for you, drafting a "Vademecum" of the novice pilot (or first turns if you prefer). Just follow the guide and the fantastic world of car racing will finally be within your reach.
"To be the first you must first cross the finish line."Stirling moss
What is Sim Racing
Let's start with the basics: Sim Racing is the virtually parallel world of real racing. Sim racers from all over the world compete in real virtual races, organized by specialized portals, or websites that deal with the management of the various championships, whether they are 4fun (amateur) or belonging to official circuits.
Through special hardware and specialized equipment, we try to simulate as closely as possible the driving experience that you would have while driving on a circuit behind the wheel of a real racing car.
Sim, Simcade, Arcade
In the world of virtual racing, it is essential to make a distinction between the various styles of play, in order to identify the one we most want to recreate comfortably at home. Do we want to faithfully reproduce the behavior of real racing cars? Or do we have the desire to jump like in the old Hazzard TV series at the wheel of General Lee? Nothing could be simpler, just choose the game that suits our needs:
If we opt for the Yes we will be faced with a punitive, straightforward, uncompromising game, full of parameters to evaluate, from telemetry, aerodynamics, temperatures and much more. In short, the game will make us perceive the progress of the car on the circuit as faithfully as possible also with the help of Force Feedback.
Feeling good Leclerc is okay, but if we don't have the time, desire and skills to keep up with the above, the best choice could be the titles Simcade, that is the right compromise between the real world of racing and that of racing videogames more within everyone's reach. In this way we will have the feeling of living a realistic and satisfying experience, without however the frustrations deriving from the deep mechanics of the Sims.
Finally, for those who love "plug & play", breathtaking chases, races in fantastic settings, there will be nothing else to do but opt for the Racing sector. Arcade, or those games, in which aesthetics, fun and immediacy count more than substance.
Steering wheel and pedal set
The first fundamental step to become “expert pilots” is to abandon the pad or mouse + keyboard and grab the steering wheel and pedal board.
Heaven open: the world of peripherals in the racing field is vast and for all budgets. But first of all let's try to dispel some doubts and some false myths that circulate in this world:
"The more you spend, the harder you go".
Absolutely false! The "handle" is something innate, personal, you can see E-Sports champions with the Chicco steering wheel (almost!), Or dubbing virtual drivers on the track with hardware worth thousands of euros.
"So why spend so much money if I go the same as before?"
The answer to this question applies to every single piece of hardware that will make up our workstation.
"The best peripherals in terms of construction and materials, they will (greatly) improve our feedback with the cars we will drive, even the perception of the asphalt of the circuits that will see us turn ”. This is thanks to the use of the technology called "Force Feedback", which will allow us to perceive the friction of the tires on the asphalt, or its roughness and imperfections.
Not only that, they will allow us to be more constant on the lap, more precise curve after curve, thus limiting errors due to the "lightness" of our equipment to a minimum. Clearly it must be said that increasing the quality corresponds to an increase in price.
“Ok! Shut up and take my money !! But what exactly do I have to buy to be a Sim Racer too? "
Let's name a few, without the slightest "parochialism": The entry level par excellence is undoubtedly the Logitech G923, the latest reinterpretation of the most famous, and now cheaper, G29. Easily available online both new and used, perhaps some previous model (which the writer would recommend for a much higher quality / price ratio). Logitech's competitor for low price range is definitely Thrustmaster, with several good options more or less inexpensive like the Thrustmaster T300S.
Leader of the medium-high range, speaking of commercial products, it is definitely Fanatec: the American company allows, provided you open your wallet, to significantly raise the bar in terms of product quality, materials and driving feedback. Being very popular products, it will not be difficult to find excellent opportunities in the various flea markets, but if we are among those who really do not want to spare no expense, we can aim for the bundle Podium Wheel F1, combined with a pedal board Clubsport V3. A little game that will cost you "only" 2000,00 euros, cent plus cent less.
Finally, know that if you want, once you have become skilled racers and profound connoisseurs of the world of Sim Racing, if you want, you can focus on more niche products, such as Direct Drive, which will require a hardware of the highest level (and a substantial expense), in order to compose a final setup of the Enthusiast range!
In order to recreate a cabin as faithful to reality as possible, an equally fundamental role is played by the driving position.
Nobody forbids playing with the steering wheel fixed to the desk, sitting on the office chair, but from the point of view of the level of comfort and enjoyment it is quite another thing to create an ad hoc station, complete with a racing seat. Here too the choices are many:
Il DIY (do it yourself, ed) is always present, especially if we are talking about racing stations. It often saves money, but it requires you to be skilled manually and to have tools in order to create your own ideal seat. To this end, you can consult numerous online videos and the so-called “profiles” or modular structures suitable for the purpose will come to your aid.
If, on the other hand, you belong to those who make a hole through the wall to hang a picture, you can safely rely on the retailers in the sector. The most common and inexpensive racing stations are the Playseat, as long as you are satisfied with some material that is not exactly at the top and strength within the limits; among the recommended there is this personalized WRC Playseat but obviously usable for all kinds of sim racing.
If you want to aim for "definitive" solutions, the products of RSeat o Trak Racer, just to name some known ones, will be for you. The outlay will be double at least, but everything will be returned to you in the quality of the materials and the incredible robustness of the station.
Our virtual windshield cannot be outdone by the other components. Below is a lineup of proportions that 3/4 of experienced racers would consider most suitable for their station:
- Triple monitor: this is the non plus ultra for the seasoned racer. FOV (field of view for the layman) greater than all other configurations; very generous dimensions and maximum likelihood with real cars. You can indulge yourself, going from a trio of 24 "/ 27" in full HD, up to larger sizes and higher resolutions.
- Ultrawide monitor: to date, the UW 32: 9 49 ″ leads the ranking of ideal formats, which almost manages to equal the width of field of view of the triple monitor, with a much smaller footprint, and greater ease of configuration / use. Best buy for those who want to get a nice place is the classic Samsung G9, but if you do not aspire to solutions that are too bulky, expensive or complicated, you could aim for the previous version of the Samsung Odyssey, with lower resolution and update (your GPU will thank you ).
- TV: this third option will turn up their noses a bit to pro-traditionalist gamers, but with the advent of the new LG TV, C9 and CX series, even racing is no longer a taboo. 4k, HDR, 120Hz, OLED, G-Sync / Freesync, low input lag and large diagonals, do not make this option the best option for a racing position, but provide a valid alternative for more “casual” style riders. Here and here you will find two interesting articles in which we give you some advice on TVs to use as a monitor.
Ideally, virtual reality viewers are the ones that best guarantee immersion, a sense of speed and greater FOV than any type of monitor. If you find the viewer that's right for you (to date the best buy in terms of quality / price ratio if you are new to VR is certainly the Oculus Quest 2), if you direct your desire for racing to the games that most support VR , then you have found "Eldorado".
Much more often, however, the theory clashes with practice: in addition to having a good performing PC, this also applies equally to the most expensive monitors in terms of technical specifications, you could run into motion sickness (nausea, ed), difficulty in the setting if you wear glasses, games not optimized properly and other small difficulties.
The VR in racing is a bit the same in the videogames industry in general: probably one of the changes, for technology, breaking with the past, but to date still a bit immature and not fully developed.
If you want to know more, we advise you to start from this article with all the most common terms used in VR and from there start exploring AlternativeReality, the Soultricks.com spin-off dedicated entirely to VR.
Choice of platform and videogames
The natural habitat of Sim Racing, to date, is undoubtedly the PC. The most powerful hardware, the ability to "mod" any aspect of the game, through the help of specialized websites (Race Department uber alles) make the PC undoubtedly the most suitable platform for having the top.
Lately, with the advent of NEXT GEN consoles, these platforms are also increasingly opening up to Sim Racing, although their best use is today with Simcade and Arcade titles.
Here is a short list of titles divided by genre so as to facilitate your choice:
|Assetto Corsa / AC Competition||SIMs.|
|Motorist 2||SIM / SIMCADE|
|Gran Turismo 6||SIMCADE|
|Forza Motorsport 7||SIMCADE|
|Project Cars 3||SIMCADE|
|Forza Horizon 4||ARCADE|
|Need for Speed||ARCADE|
E-Sports, Sim Racing online
Once your station is finished and firmly established, after hours of hard practice to learn the driving dynamics, the feeling with the hardware to the sound of laps and laps on the track, a way will open up for you, or the galaxy of Sim Racing online.
Green lights, inside first… and down the gas!
The multiplayer component with other real players is undoubtedly the sublimation of this genre of games. You can choose the level of interaction, from IRacing, a title that offers, at the cost of a monthly subscription, probably the most organized online racing circuit, to so-called “for fun” events together with a few trusted friends.
Whatever your choice, fun is 100% guaranteed!
This guide, written by those who, precisely, is not a PRO SIM RACER, does not have the ambition to act as the Bible of sim racing, but rather to offer a first 360 ° look at the world of virtual racing, sharing experiences and frustrations lived in first person, and above all offer advice to all those who intend to approach the wonderful world of simulation for the first time.