6 Best Xbox One Steering Wheels | December 2016
- easily programmable controls
- pedal shifters and thumb buttons
- no rumble or haptic feedback
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
- favored by real racers in simulation
- fully adjustable 3 pedal set
- much more expensive than average
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
- affordable mid-range choice
- driver controlled wheel sensitivity
- exact scaled replica
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
- pedals have a wide footrest
- brake has progressive resistance
- mixed pulley-gear feedback system
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
- has 29 programmable functions
- push and pull sequential shifters
- also works with playstations and pcs
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
- easy-access game controls
- anti-backlash hardware
- extremely responsive floor pedals
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
A Brief History of Racing Games
Before the days of Need for Speed and Euro Truck Simulator, and before Out Run took the lead in 1986 that won the coveted Golden Joystick Award, Atari's Gran Trak 10 crashed the arcades in 1974 with the world's first racing wheel controller, complete with a gearshift and pedals.
Refusing to take a back seat, Taito quickly released Speed Race, dazzling arcade-goers of all ages with its never-before-seen vertically scrolling graphics, audacious lack of a brake pedal, and sleek Formula One-style steering wheel. Not to be left in the dust, Atari developers deftly zoomed past their soon-to-be space-invading competitors by unleashing their own vertically scrolling racing game, Hi-Way, in the form of a full-blown cockpit cabinet; a veritable slap in the face considering the game itself left very little to brag about.
Now that players could sit, the race was on. The checkered flag was in sight, albeit years, if not decades away. The sprint to make the best racing game had reached maximum speed. New drivers were exiting the pit left and right: Namco with Pole Position in 1982, Sega with Out Run winning Game of the Year, and Nintendo with F-Zero in 1990 paving the way for Super Mario Kart. Then, in 1997, Polyphony Digital gave us Gran Turismo, the first of its kind--a full-fledged racing simulator designed to bring the bulky cockpit cabinet of the arcade to the comfort of your couch.
Released exclusively for the Sony PlayStation, Gran Turismo brought with it unparalleled realism and a subsequent demand for steering wheels. Thus fifth-generation consoles, including the Nintendo 64 and the Sega Saturn, became the first home consoles to feature racing wheels. Of course, the Mad Catz PlayStation Steering Wheel was two years behind the Thrustmaster Formula T1 for PC, but that's to be expected, I suppose.
Steering Wheels to Give You Real Feels
Right around the same time the Gran Turismo franchise began its grand tour as the best-selling PlayStation exclusive to date, Microsoft developed its own racing wheel, the Sidewinder Force Feedback Pro, using haptic technology patented by Immersion Corporation.
Named after the Greek verb for "touch," haptic technology uses mechanical stimulation to create virtual objects by generating forces (haptic feedback) characteristic of the virtual objects' physical counterparts. In other words, haptic, or force feedback makes you think what you're holding is the real deal when really it's not.
Without force feedback, every time you turn your racing wheel and encounter no resistance you feel like you're driving a hover car, or playing a videogame for that matter. But a small motor or two inside the steering column, exerting opposing forces based on how fast you are driving, where you are driving, and how hard you turn the wheel gives the illusion that you're actually driving a car.
Before You Steer, Know Where You Veer
Unlike XBox One controllers that come in various shapes and colors yet all perform the same basic functions, racing wheels drastically differ from one brand to the next, from one make or model to the next. Not only that, but they're far more expensive. A top-of-the-line racing wheel for the XBox One can easily cost just as much as the console itself, if not more.
Needless to say, knowing beforehand how and where you plan to use your new racing wheel is extremely important.
What kind of cars will you drive? A cockpit-mounted, full-scale replica of a Formula 1 steering wheel complete with all its meters, knobs and doohickeys will no doubt seem like overkill to fans of the rather comedic Table Top Racing or Obliteracers, but for fans of F1 2016 that same wheel will prove to be an asset.
Then again, die-hard fans of Assetto Corsa may find wheels with superior force feedback more beneficial than pound-for-pound replicas. Even the tiniest bit of realistic resistance while turning the wheel can mean the difference between gaining on the cars ahead or overcompensating and crashing into a circuit wall or tree.
Where will your driver's seat be? Some racing wheels are simply not designed to sit in your lap while you lean back on your sofa. You can always tell which ones are which by the way the company's marketing team expertly refrains from mentioning anything even remotely resembling thighs, as if no simulation racing enthusiast would dare entertain the idea that simulation racing can be relaxing.
In the end, what matters most is that your racing wheel suits your needs. Perhaps it's universal enough to work well with all types of cars. Or perhaps it's specifically designed to fill a particular niche. Either way, it's all about the gameplay.