And the most recent best buy I did is Assetto Corsa! ("AC" for friends.)
Usually I buy games only on budget price after some times they got released (never forget that I'm poor! :D ). But with Assetto Corsa I wanted to trust, and so I even pre-ordered it in Early Access! And I never regretted that! Even if actually I didn't play so much as I wanted during those years. :'(
Lately I'm not so very active on simracing, for various motivations (or excuses?). Talking about online, I pratically don't play seriously racing games online (either arcade or simulators) from GTR 2002! Nordschleife period on Race07 was a totally selfish one. A private fight between myself, cars and that track! Also Assetto Corsa period it's analogous: me Vs car Vs track!
In Race07 period I didn't had "racing" friends anymore. My online friends team was all about shooters and similar. And I didnt' want to "cheat" them to go search for new "online racers" friends. ^_^ While in the last year I got married, and after that I pratically played no more at all online! Any kind of game! (And that time I cheated my online friends, sorry. :P ) While actually sometimes I play with my wife... but not racing games. :)
But talking in general, times are surely changed from GTR 2002! Now people seems to get surprised if somebody doesn't play a simulator online! "How can people have fun without online?! Inconceivable!". While back in GTR 2002 the main challenge was on ranking websites. And sometimes a community tried to arrange a championship for the lucky few with a good connection.
Competition with others is surely a big pushing aspect for playing modern simulators. But simulation it's not ALL about competition. Simulation it's not "competition or nothing". The main purpose of a simulator is NOT exclusively to compete with others people. Actually, personally, I don't get how can somebody be so close minded to show difficulties on understanding who doesn't play online.
Simulation essentials are: you, a car, and a track. That's the essence of simulation: the drive itself.
Mercedes Sauber C9 - Monza '66 Sopraelevata Nord - Assetto Corsa
So what are opponents (AI or online), weather, light conditions and other similar stuffs? Trappings. Their utility is just to add variety. To introduce new challenges in the base recipe. They're gladly welcome, but only if you can afford to get them.
For the moment, I cannot afford to have online challengese. It needs time and a good organization. And I often can't even succeed to have and organize time for offline, consequently I cannot surely do that for online sessions!
So, can I enjoy simulation without online? Yes I can. I have a good simulator, and it has good cars and good tracks. I have all essentials I need.
So how is Assetto Corsa? Well seems pratically designed for me! It has everything I need and even more. I don't strictly need rain or night to enjoy it. They would be gladly welcomed, but they're not so necessary or even essential for me. I don't even play multiplayer, even though in this second half year 2016 AC seems to be much more enjoyable online and it's full of AC championship outside there! With nobody complaining so much anymore about online experience quality.
Actually lately is becaming even a bit hard to manage for my skills. It's getting too realistic for me? Due to more and more rifined temperature systems to manage and keep care, it needs even more efforts. Expecially on tyres, but lately also on brakes on some cars. I suppose soon they'll introduce also engines overheating (for now there's only decay for "abuse"). But on hotlaps or short races, I can still collect my satisfactions... even with my weak skills. ^_^
Obviously, as every product, Assetto Corsa has its own flaws. Objective perfection doesn't exists. As said, no rain and night. If actually you really feel you need them. In my opinion everybody says he wants them, but nobody would use them at the end. Another defect is in the career mode: it lacks of immersion, it's just a sequence of unrelated events. While the AI it's still not perfect, anyway we must say it got sensitive improvements in last year. But facing AI it's still a matter of patience, in my opinion.
That talking about PC world. I could not actually talk about console world, as said I don't own consoles. But for what I read around, for now seems that AC on console lacks on menus' style (yes: on console people uses to care about menus' style), controls personalization and expecially about private online sessions (as to say: you cannot do a private session for now). BUT, we must also underline that Kunos is listening all criticism from community, and it's also working hard to fix them all.
But, in my opinion, the biggest lack on console is somehow the very purpose of the product itself. It's easily missed. Not by Kunos, but by some console community members. I'm talking about the essence of simulation which I already mentioned above. You, a car and a track. Some don't even get and feel differences on driving between AC and any other GT, or Forza, or even Project Cars (PjC). Let me give those people a (not polite) suggestion: Assetto Corsa is not for you. If in Assetto Corsa you just feel the lack of rain, night, immersive career mode and menus' style... while you don't feel the improvements on real essence of simulation... then it's simply not the product you're looking for.
Note: it's not a attempt of fan-war! I must underline I named GT, Forza and Project Cars just 'cause they're a different products than AC at the end. They're main purpose is to give players first of all FUN. And then simulation. Those games are "simulations for the fun". And if it's what you're looking for, those are perfect products for you. They're the best in what they do. But then it's not Assetto Corsa the game you're seeking for. AC is all about SIMULATION. Absolutely to uppercase. Physics of driving first of all. So it can became "fun" only for players whom get automatically fun from pure simulation.
You can notice: I didn't mention rFactor, iRacing or RaceRoom. Simply 'cause they're more like Assetto Corsa than like GT, Forza and PjC. Their marketing offer is different, but their purposes coincide on a detail: "simulation first".
So my present virtual racing experiences are for the most for Assetto Corsa, but I'm looking ahead for DiRT Rally, too!
Instead it's a no go for me on iRacing (too expensive and too much online oriented for me), rFactor 2 (not so cheap and too much mod oriented, while I love official contents) or RaceRoom (I don't like "fake-free" games, where actually there's almost nothing base, all main contents are to be bought apart and they aren't cheap neither).
Note again that I don't wanna start a fan-war. Simply those simulators point to different kind of market offer. Markets I don't feel being part of. (Same already said for consoles.) So the only market offer which actually fits my preferences is Assetto Corsa. And DiRT Rally soon. The matter is just there, in my case.
Well I think it's enough for now about myself. Actually it's too much already. ^_^ I wonder if actually somebody will read all this text. :D Let me know if you reach this greetings, I'm very curious! Bye! :)
Link to Part 3: drivetribe.com/p/WPVhcla2Sam8Ul2alua9UA/ZQupFp1fRp-WBdg7Gsma_w
Post scriptum: extra! Link to my lap scores on Nordschleife with Assetto Corsa! :)