If you're like me, you are absolutely itching to get out there on the racetrack and run some laps.
But given the state of the world right now, staying at home is probably the safer way to go.
I've been getting my fixed with PC based driving simulators.
But if you're more in the force in the granturismo side of the equation, seem racing can seem pretty intimidating.
But don't worry, I'm here to show you the way with my five favorite PC based driving games they'll not only make you a better driver, ISO scratch that racing itch.
So put down your helmets, get on your headsets.
Let's go for a drive.
Now these games don't require virtual reality, but if you're like me, you're probably getting a little bit sick of looking at the incentive your room.
So hopping into a different world is a pretty desirable thing right now.
Beyond that, as I'll detail later, VR raises the immersion factor by a mile.
First up is Assetto Corsa, which is probably the most polished game that we're going to be playing today.
By that I mean it has the prettiest introductory cinema, the nicest and easiest to navigate menus and overall it just feels like the most comprehensive.
Now if you're just the sort who wants to get in there and drive then all of this fluff is unimportant.
But if you're stepping up from a game like Gran Turismo or Forza, then this will probably feel the most familiar to you.
There's a straight forward career mode here that you can roll through to get a feel for the game.
Or you can just dive in and pick any car you want and go for a drive.
There are a lot of cars been given.
This is an Italian game.
I figure picking something, red makes sense.
And here you can see that Polish again.
If I click into Nikki louder three 12 T, for example, you get a bit of history, and then you can get a closer look, to really show off the detail of all these car models.
But for my students, I'm going to choose something, a little bit more modern, the Ferrari 488 GT three, not too different from the one, that I was lucky enough to drive to the Ferrari coarser racing school a few days back.
For a track again, we want something fast and Italian.
And for that you can't do much better than Magento.
All right, let's get in the game and see what I said.
Of course it is like to actually dry.
Now as soon as you load into the game it actually drops you right in the cockpit and this is one of the reasons why I love playing these games in virtual reality.
Because it makes it so much more significant as you move from one car to the next, because you have all this beautiful cockpit, all detail all around you.
Sure if you're playing in a fixed view the cockpits changed as well.
But when you can look around and see the roll bar above you and all the controls in the right, I wanna reach out here and touch, and of course I can't.
It just makes everything feel a little bit more significant and a little bit more real.
Realistic, then if you're just playing through a fixed monitor and I know that not everybody can play in virtual reality, but if you have the opportunity, for me it just makes things so much more engrossing.
So of course it does a nice job of bringing the menu into virtual reality here with me, so I can bring up here and get all my telemetry, in front of me if I want to, suspension settings and everything else are available here as well.
You can go as deep as you want to in here changing everything from gear ratios to tire compounds.
Dampers, everything else is available in here just as you would expect, you can of course save and load your favorite setups.
Me I'm just gonna go with a default setup for now because we're just going to go have some fun.
Now let's get out of the pits here and we'll take a few laps in Magento.
[SOUND] The first thing that you'll notice in a set of course is Just how good everything looks.
A lot of racing games particularly simulators will kind of prune out a lot of the details going on outside of the track limits in the interest of saving you frame rates.
Let's remember that I'm on cool tires here.
But not in Assetto Corsa.
You can see we've got a lot of beautiful trees around, all the track details or backgrounds are all there on the grass.
Cold tires to them.
It's all there and it makes the game look better.
But it also adds some benefit when you're trying to get used to Sims because one of the most difficult things when you're driving on these virtual racetracks is getting a real good sensation for all the elevation changes.
Elevation changes can have a significant impact on how you take a given corner.
With all those fields in the background, I can tell very easily that as I make this right hander, I'm going steeply downhill now and so I need to brag a little bit earlier from this fast left hander, as I come around it.
And as you're learning racing, as those are some things that you'll start to pick up on some of the visual cues that you'll start to learn.
To feel for what these tracks do the car since you can't actually physically feel what they think they're doing to the car.
Another thing that I said of course it does to help you if you're a bit of a newbie is enable you to boost the force feedback setup and feedback for your cars under steering like it is right here.
One of the most important and one of the most difficult things in driving simulators is feeling what the car is doing.
And force feedback wheels help a lot.
But in the cell of course, you can, Put an option that basically drops the force feedback.
Whenever your car starts to understeer, you immediately get a strong force feedback response that says, hey, the front end is overloaded.
Unwind the wheel, get off the throttle until you get a bit more grip and you can get back on it again.
That's one of the things is gonna help you get the feeling for how to drive a car in a race simulator.
And soon you'll start to pick up other cues as well.
Using your eyes is very important because if the car is not responding, if you don't see the change in orientation that you're expecting to turn the wheel, that of course is a very important thing.
But using your ears is important to them.
That's actually another area where virtual reality helps because as I turned my head I can see here the different tires acting differently as I go through the corner like with tight turn one here.
So as I overload the front or if I get a little bit of oversteer, I can tell that based on what I'm doing and those are some things that make us out of course.
A good game to get started But probably the most important thing when the main reasons why I think this is a really great driving sim to get started in, is because it's just fun to play.
The tire dynamics, the physics of this game are a little bit more engaging than a lot of the other games that we're gonna be playing later on.
A little bit more forgiving, so you can kind of use the course.
Bringing in you can slide it around a little bit, you can ride the curbs without getting punted off into the gravel trap at every opportunity.
And so that I think makes it set of course, one of the more enjoyable driving simulators out there is certainly realistic enough that you can definitely hone your skills in this game and get a feel for what's going on in the real world certainly have a lot of fun, but fun is what this game is most about.
Some of the other games we're going to talk about well, a little bit more punishing.
To wrap up AC, it's a great game and a lot of fun to play which makes it nice and easy to pick up if you're coming from the console world.
It's also gorgeous to behold, but it does leave a bit to be desired on the realism.
[UNKNOWN] Next up is Project cars two and much like I said of course so we have a selection of beautiful cinematic leading into a polished and easy to use menu.
You can create your driver and go through a basic career mode again like AC.
But again, you can just dive in and pick anything you'd like from the hundreds of cars here.
To this time, we're going for something a little bit smaller the BBC model and since it's a British car, it would make sense to go with the British track.
Among the best and my personal favorites is Donington Park, but let's skip the loop.
We'll just go with a national layout.
Now starting off in the pits like before, and here we can go through a really detailed setup just like before, the interface here is nice and clean, and easy to use.
Also one of the things that I really like about project car two is that they actually made it really easy if you don't want to deal with all the individual settings for damper speed and alignment, everything else.
You can come in here and just have real easy and quick sliders and easy things to go through.
They even provided multiple setups one called loose one called stable, and then the standard setup Once again just makes it really easy if you don't wanna spend a lot of time mucking around the garage.
This is a pretty good, easy way to go.
I'm gonna pick the loose setup because I don't want to have some fun out there.
And let's head out on the track.
First thing I don't like about project cars to drive out of the pits I can do anything I want to hear in the car is going to drive perfectly straight, exactly the pitch speed limit.
[SOUND] And not much of a simulator.
They don't trust me to drive out of the pits.
But anyway, here we go to the end of pit lane.
Now I'm in the BC Moto, which is a car that I have always wanted to drive and we are here at Donington Park, which is attracted.
I've always wanted to drive so that's a good thing.
And we're in a car that is incredibly low.
So I feel like my **** is dragging on the track if I can be so bold to say so I've never been to Donington before but this is definitely an interesting perspective.
Not a lot of you through and over the apex as we sit in this low.
Now there's graphics and Project CARS two are certainly not disappointing.
Like they're very good.
You can see all the detailing around me if I look left and right.
example I can see this individual stitching on the Alcantara bolsters here next to me all the details of my gloves and of course this incredibly detailed steering wheel and also doubles as my dashboard.
All the controls are there rendered in all the individual elements of display all work so I can see my oil temperature for example RPM, everything else Pretty Pretty cool stuff to see So what's not so realistic but Project CARS?
Well, I've never really connected with a physics engine in this game for whatever reason.
I just never feel like I am actually experiencing the car like I'm driving the car.
It's all a little bit loose.
It's all a little bit disconnected.
Yes, I know.
I did pick the loosen up here.
You're in this car.
But that's not it just doesn't feel like I am directly connected to the racetrack.
And that is a bit of a symptom of what I think is something of a simplified physics engine compared to some of the other games that we're going to be playing a little bit later on.
Part of the problem might be the Project CARS has so many cars and so many tracks everything From his BAC mono, the classic open cockpit cars, classic Formula cars, modern stuff, rally cars, dirt, racing, ice racing, all sorts of stuff.
That's like completely below the chicane there.
All sorta things all integrated into this one game.
I feel like it's maybe trying to do a little bit too much and because of that, the overall feel of the game suffer.
First, but certainly the experience that you get here, the career option is the number of tracks and number of cars are really exemplary.
So if you're looking for one game that's got a little bit of everything.
And we're going to have some fun drifting in.
Maybe this is your one.
But for me, I'm more into games that specialize a little bit.
And the next thing we're going to talk about Is definitely going to specializes in one of my favorite driving disciplines.
So Project CARS is again a great looking game that's easy to pick up and play with a huge selection of car types and tracks, but it's a little too light on the realism front from it.
[INAUDIBLE] While many of these games offer some sort of off road driving, none do it quite as well as this one.
Dirt Rally 2.0 is from Codemasters, and it can trace its roots all the way back to the late 90s and the iconic Colin McRae Rally.
But a lot has changed since then.
And the realism has been cranked way up.
Yes, we still have a flashy video intros and an easy menu system here.
And a quite comprehensive set of career and other driving experiences to help you through the various styles of low grip racing.
[UNKNOWN] There are dozens and dozens of locations to choose from, including both rally style circuits and point to point stages.
I find the New Zealand stages to be the most fun and as for cars, there's a huge selection of historic and modern round machines on offer.
If you know me, you know I'm a Subaru guy.
So you might expect me to pick an appraiser and I'm sorry to disappoint but that's actually exactly what I'm going to choose.
This lovely GCWRC crew.
All right, let's get in the game and take a Subaru for spin.
Dirt gives you a comprehensive set of vehicle tuning options here as you'd expect alignment brakes and differential tunings, which are very important in around the game to make sure you got the right amount of grip, basic conditions running gravel storage right now I'm gonna leave everything in the default settings.
We've also got tire selection here and this is a pretty short gravel stage so soft is exactly what we want.
There to point out this is kind of a neat thing where it gives you a flat, 2D view and then it pops you into the cockpit and virtual reality.
Now I can look around and take a full view around me Which again is to go from car to car is a pretty neat experience.
I can look over to my right.
And I've got my co driver there but not just any co driver.
That's Phil Mills.
Normally Phil will be calling me through the corners telling me what's coming up how sharp the corners are, but I've actually had to mute fuel because having him talking in me talking was just a little bit too much.
Sorry about that, Phil.
All right, let's pull the handbrake.
Let's get going.
[SOUND] Now some purists out there may have noticed that I am using paddle shifters on my steering wheel here whereas this car actually did not have paddle shifters.
It has an H pattern box.
I'm sorry to say that I don't have an H pattern shifter for the steering wheel.
So I'm having to make do with my pedals.
But the bigger missing piece actually is that I don't have a physical hand brake, which would be really nice on a type twist of course like this to make do with just a button on my steering wheel.
Now I know I've talked a lot about virtual reality and how it works in driving games and I know it has some significant compromises.
Particularly resolution which is too low.
It really makes it hard to read gauges and things like that on the dashboard here.
Also the comfort of VR headsets is not that great particularly if you're talking about doing a long driving stint or something like that.
But for me in rally games like this virtual reality is a bit of a game changer The first time I played one of these games with a VR headset on I knew that that changed absolutely everything.
Because when you're doing low grip driving particularly in a tight twisty course like this, being fixed in your perspective of just looking straight ahead and right down the hood is definitely sub optimal.
As you're driving through a tight course like this, you really need to be looking Through the corner and into the next corner, and that means you're looking left you're looking right sometimes on a tight twisty chorus like you might find a Monte Carlo.
You'll even be looking at the side glasses spot through the hairpin and into the next corner ahead, keeping your head looking in the direction that you want to go is a big part of getting a feel for a car.
If you can't do that, if you're always stuck looking straight ahead.
That's just not optimal for the style of driving.
So particularly for virtual reality games.
I think VR makes a huge difference.
But if you are prone to VR sickness, I will say, I know that a lot of people have issues playing this game in VR.
So your mileage may vary, but for me Is an absolute game changer.
Now of all the games that I've been walking you through.
This is the one that I definitely enjoyed just picking up and playing the most.
A robust career mode it just added a lot of content including a call McCrae career mode, historic cars, modern cars But overall I just does a nice job of giving you a feel of what this style of driving is all about with the CO driver.
different terrain types gravel, asphalt, ice, snow.
Everything's pretty nicely balanced.
It's a good challenge.
Maybe not the most hardcore sim in the market, but.
As again I really enjoy and if you are into logo driving if you like this quarter rallying and you want to see what it's like, this will give you a pretty good taste.
DiRT Rally is absolutely one of my favorites for its comprehensive set of career modes and playable yet challenging gameplay.
However its system demands are quite high.
It's focused on low grip driving means this won't be a game for everyone.
Next up is our factor to one of the most storied games in sim racing and certainly one of my all time favorites.
And if you're wondering why I kept talking about menus in the earlier games, it's because when you get to a game like r factor, you realize there really isn't much of a menu but really, all you need to do is pick a car and pick a track.
And then go driving.
There are lots of cars and lots of tracks each with all the configurations that you'd expect.
I'm going to go with my local favorite Lime Rock Park.
And let's pick a car that's way too fast like the McLaren Senna GTR.
You can race against the AI and they are very challenging, but I'm going to just do a quick session solo here.
All right, it's time to get a little bit more serious, it's time to jump into our factor two.
Now in here, you get the normal things you'd expect to be able to go into the garage, change the settings, all the settings, you can change the real car, you can change here.
But what's different is you've got a weather forecast down there, and I'm going to talk about that in just a moment.
But first, let's jump out on track.
Let's get rolling.
Right along rock Park, one of my favorite local tracks.
They've got everything model impeccable.
You can even look at the gift shop over there.
If I wanna go buy a logo t shirt or something for whatever reason, the way they model it, you kind of have to go all the way down to the beat paddock here to get on the track.
See if I can make this turn without having to use reverse.
Here we go on the track, Lime Rock Park.
Now one of the first things you'll probably notice about rFactor 2, is that it doesn't quite look as good as some of the other games that we were playing earlier.
It's partly because this is actually a bit of an overgame.
It first came out in 2013, it's been extended and updated quite extensively since then But it is an older game, and that's actually not necessarily a bad thing, yes it doesn't quite have that final look and shine, cold tires here, of the other games that we were going to play, but it also means that the system requirements are a little bit lower this thing will run better on older PC's and some of the other games we were looking at earlier Particularly dirt too, which my system has been struggling a little bit with running.
But trust me, this game has got it where it counts the core physics engine that runs beneath our factor two.
It's actually something that a lot of Formula One team has used or at least have used to develop their own in house simulator.
So when you see that footage of professional drivers driving those outrageously expensive looking full motion rigs with With spherical screens and virtual cockpits and stuff, a lot of those things are actually running the same basic software that I'm playing right now heavily modified, of course based on their internal data, but still, it's pretty neat to think this is the same kind of training that the pros do.
And back in Project CARS, I was drifting around a sliding that's not really what this game is about.
This game is about chasing your lap times, finding those Sometimes 100 and just trying to ultimately get quicker and quicker and quicker.
You can do artificial intelligence races if you want to.
But really online competition is where this game is really all about.
Now I mentioned the weather before our factor to some pretty advanced ways of dealing with things like.
Track temperature, track build up.
There's a system in here called real road which basically monitors the status of the track as it rubbers in.
You can simulate an entire race, weekend from practice through qualifying warm up the race itself.
And as you go through those different modes, the track will actually rubber up just like a real one giving you more and more grip.
Through the course of the different sessions, but when weather comes to play when it starts to rain, that can actually then work against you so that you need to run a racing line, for example to get away from all those lines that have been laid down by everybody.
To try and find more grip.
A factor of tweezing, one of the fast driving seems to add really proper dynamic weather into the mix, and still one of the most advanced when it comes to that sort of hailing.
You can be doing a race in this game, and it starts raining midway through Go back to sun again.
now are factoring me, we go way, way back the original our factor came out in 2005.
And back in 2005.
I played the heck out of that game.
Although it wasn't really a game.
I was competing in online championships and leagues, doing all sorts of stuff.
And interestingly back then the original r factor was largely based on mods or user based content.
Really creative people around the world would basically design their favorite cars and tracks and upload them into the game.
And that was the heart of our factor.
With our factor two.
It's kinda got a new home at this point and it's getting some active development bringing more premium content like this McLaren Senna GTR them and running right now in the game so you don't have to worry about modding and as much as before you can just jump in the game and [LAUGH] And have fun in a real car if you want to.
But the monster port for our factor two is still absolutely stellar.
There's an amazing amount of content out there for downloading But it's good to know you don't necessarily have to do that if you don't want to go trawling through shady forums and downloading random files off of random foreign servers, you can just go on Steam and download some new cards if you want to.
So our factor two yeah, it's a little bit Old Navy showing us age in some ways.
But man, it's still a great game and still feels incredibly good to play.
R factor then is a real deal racing simulator used by the professionals with world class physics and weather processing.
However, there are no concessions made here for newbies and if graphics are important to you, some aspects of our factor to do fall just a little bit flat.
Finally, it's iracing.
This is the racing simulator that's been getting the most buzz And rightfully so with partnerships with major racing series like INSA and NASCAR, you can actually catch pro iRacing events on broadcast television.
That's something I never thought I'd see when I started, sim racing over 20 years ago.
The interface for iRacing is totally bare bones just like.
Factor focused entirely on racing series.
Yes, there are a lot of cars here but keep in mind you'll have to buy most of them, a cost of $12 a pop.
The same goes for the tracks all laser scanned and impeccably rendered but costing upwards of $15 each, and that's on top of the monthly fee you had to pay to join.
I'm running the MC sports.
And since it's Road America this week, let's run there in the big BMW ma GT.
Now like in all the other games, we've got this great Virtual Cockpit I can look around and see everything that the virtual rearview mirror and everything else just like before, but what's really immersive doubly sure abought iracing than any of the games we've played so far Is how good the audio is, especially in the most recent cars that I racing has added to the service.
As I pull out of the pits just listen to the cacophony of noises this thing makes.
Here the cold brakes complaining the tire squeaking on the asphalt.
And of course we've got all sorts of lovely induction noises going on underneath the hood, too.
That is just part of the experience of this game that really helps you to get in the car.
This car sounds as angry [LAUGH] as overwhelming as I would fully expect it to in the real world.
We're actually in the cockpit now I'm on a really cold tire.
It's just I'm going to take it easy.
We're coming up to speed on Road America, one of the quickest fastest tracks in the US.
But it's not just a big dumb horsepower track.
There are some really compelling and challenging corners on this track have taken me a long time to figure out, and I'm sure you'll let me know in comments that I still got some more work to do.
But remember I'm doing this while talking.
It's definitely [LAUGH] as an extra bit of a challenge to the next.
Right now I'm in a private offline practice session where I'm just coming up to speed and I don't have to worry about anybody else on track or running into me or me running into anybody else.
And if you are new to iracing, it's really I think, a good idea to spend a little bit of time offline and just doing a test session on your own to get a feel for exactly How this game works, before you jump online and worry about trying to catch up with anybody else, but really, the only reason you would subscribe to iracing is if you want to get online and race with other people.
Yes, you can do offline races against AI if you want to.
But if you're gonna pay a monthly fee and you're gonna be buying all these cars, which can get pretty expensive You should be definitely, I think intending to go online and actually do some racing because the racing online is really, really good.
When you first get into iracing, you have a low license, which means you only have a couple of cars available to you to drive.
It's like maybe a spec Miata, a spec SCCA racer, maybe a late model if you're more into oval racing.
That kind of thing.
But as you get better and better you're willing to work your way up to new cars.
That sounds similar to Gran Turismo or force or something like that.
Trust me, it's so much more rewarding in a game like iracing when you are actually competing against Real people.
And not just driving around a parking lot swerving around cones to unlock the next car.
And it's that only competition that makes racing so good regardless of which series you're in.
Regardless of what country you live in, there's probably a race going on within every couple of hours.
And each eye racing series runs through a series of 12 weeks.
And there's a different track every week and basically it's almost like [SOUND].
It's definitely the least game like if any, as we've been talking about.
It's almost like work and that you really need to put your time in practice every track, figure out your setup and get to the point where you are competitive.
And then when you feel like you're ready to race, pick a race and jump in and see how good you can do.
And depending on how you're doing your races, you will earn more or less points.
And then you'll either at the end of the series, maybe you'll get upgraded to next licence level and then you can next series, raise something a little bit more quick if you want to.
But there's certainly no shame and no harm in just doing spec meander through for a while if you want to.
That's certainly one of the more fun cars in the game.
[SOUND] But eventually maybe we can move up something like this ma that I'm driving here, which is a lot of fun.
Or even Formula One cars if you're into that kind of thing.
So again, it's the online competition that makes our racing as special as it is.
The base physics engine is really good.
The graphics are solid.
The car selection is really good.
The track selection is really good.
But this has got to be something that you want to go online and compete to do.
And if you do want to go online compete if you really want to see how you stack up against even the pros, there's nothing like racing.
There's just nothing like this.
It's a huge challenge.
It's not fun all the time.
But man, is it rewarding when you have a good race against some good competitors [UNKNOWN] good laptops.
So that's iracing it has easily the biggest, most comprehensive set of online events for those who want to get serious about racing.
There is nowhere better if you're hoping to make the jump to the professional ranks.
However, it is a bit punishing To get started, and it's certainly not cheap.
Alright, that's my take on my favorite driving games, but I want to know which racing In simulators are you playing are these too hardcore for you do something a little bit more fun?
Let me know in the comments.
Make sure you like and subscribe and check out the roadshow comm for our take on all these racing games and all that more,