EA Sports WRC is just a few weeks away, so it is time to prepare. Here is some sim racing hardware to enhance your rally game experience.
For many, sim racing is all about jumping behind the wheel of a race car and completing laps of a famous track whilst going wheel to wheel. But with EA Sports WRC, the next great rally game on its way, that vision will surely change in the next few weeks.
In fact, sim rallying is a totally different beast to sim racing. Sure, both disciplines allow players to jump behind the wheel of a virtual car and simulate the experience. But one is all about repetition, the other focuses on tackling an almost unknown section of track, adjusting to differing conditions.
As a result, virtual rallying requires a very different rig setup to track driving. With EA Sports WRC just a few weeks from release, it’s time to prepare one’s rig for the many hours they are about to spend going sideways on dirt. Here are some hardware tips to adjusting your rig for rally games.
Round Wheels for Rally Games
Due to the GT3 and open wheeler focus, many a modern sim racer owns nothing more than a square formula-style rim, be it Thrustmaster’s Ferrari-branded replicas, Fanatec’s collection of F1 and GT models or even third-party Logitech customisations. Of course, this is far from a bad thing, as every racer has their personal preference.
However, this is not the setup one should be running in a rally title. When it comes to not only enjoying EA Sports WRC but also surviving a stage with one’s wrists intact, the best idea is to get a round steering wheel.
Obviously, no rally car in the history of the sport features a rectangular wheel. The old-school design also helps mid-stage. Navigating hairpins often requires changing one’s hand position on the wheel. Turning and shifting gear also means holding the wheel in different places is beneficial. These are things that aren’t possible with formula rims.
But it is not just for the practicality of counter steer that one should not rally with a formula wheel. With stages sometimes becoming somewhat frantic, a wheel can easily flip from one end of the lock to the other. If this happens with a round wheel, it is easy to grab hold of at any point in the rotation range to get back on track. Try to catch a formula wheel that is flailing about during a spin and you will need a lot of luck to not break something painful.
Each wheel manufacturer has its own list of round wheels. Moza has a trio of options, compatible with all of its bases. Fanatec has a pair of official WRC rims. Thrustmaster features a mix of round wheel representations, most of which come as standard with its selection of bases. Finally, Logitech’s models feature a standard, round rim.
Invest in a shifter for EA Sports WRC
Getting a round steering wheel is important as one can often find themselves holding it in different positions whilst rallying. For the same reason, it is a good idea to invest in a shifter for rallying activities.
When your wheel is upside down and you do not have a separate shifter, it is very easy to mix up the paddles. Sending the car sideways, accidentally downshifting and blowing up the engine is not a rare occurrence for rally fans. Therefore, why not start on the right foot with EA Sports WRC and get a shifter?
Now, it is important to remember that not all shifters offer the same thing. Some are sequential, some are H-pattern layouts and some can transform from one to the other. It is important to think about one’s favourite cars when looking for a shifter as this will dictate what route you take.
Those that look to race the modern rally monsters in EA Sports WRC will be best getting a simple sequential. But if you want to make the most of the game’s vast classic car content, then an H-pattern will be the most immersive. Then again, most will certainly want to experience everything the game has to offer. In that case, look for a shifter that is easily transformed from sequential to H-pattern. You can find our guide to the best sim racing shifters in the article above.
Handbrakes can help
Is there anything more iconic in rallying that the handbrake turn on the Monte Carlo Rally? Perhaps being the driver to nail a perfect hairpin handbrake turn at Monte is the only thing.
With that in mind, getting a sim racing handbrake is the perfect hardware purchase in anticipation of the next rally game. Unlike the round steering wheel and shifter, this is certainly further down the list in terms of importance for rallying. In fact, most modern wheel bases have buttons on the base themselves which can act as a handbrake button.
The Thrustmaster T300RS for example has an excellent R3 button placement that works as a make-shift handbrake. But, if you do not have an off-wheel button or are looking for greater rallying immersion, a handbrake is a great addition.
There are many sim racing handbrake products on the market currently, from the main brands of Thrustmaster, Fanatec and Moza to more specialised creations by the likes of Heusinkveld and Aikeec. Just beware. The more rally game hardware you get, the more USB ports you will need on your PC.
More Rally Game Hardware
Aside from the obvious additions one can make to their simulator in anticipation for the next rally game, there are some pieces of equipment for the racer that has it all. If you already own a shifter, round wheel and handbrake, these are the bits and bobs you should be looking to get to best simulate rallying.
Typically racing on rough surfaces, rally cars bounce and bump far more than any road course racer. Furthermore, rallying is one of the few motorsport disciplines in which driving sideways can help gain time on the competition. So surely simulating these additional forces would be of interest to the most in-depth rally enthusiasts.
To do so, there are many solutions on the market to create motion rigs. In fact, most sim racing cockpit manufacturers produce motion platforms such as Next Level Racing or DOF Reality Motion. Some may worry about being sent tumbling around their living room à la Jordan Taylor. For that crowd, there are of course the more basic haptic feedback devices such as Buttkicker’s products that give one’s seat an impact on bumps and engine feedback. Great for immersion, this is one of the last steps to make when building a rallying rig.
Elsewhere, the new EA Sports WRC game will feature the Ford Puma’s Fanatec wheel and button box. If you are looking for the perfect immersive wheel, the rally button module is available on the hardware developer’s website. The wheel is also available to use in the title’s Builder Cars, allowing players to fit their own real life wheel into their personal R1 rally car.
What hardware do you have for rally games? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!