VR Racing - Does it make a difference?
The classic way to race on a simulator is just to have a wheel and a TV. With the introduction of virtual reality, a whole new dimension is opened.
A few months ago I made the bold move of investing in a new piece of kit. I picked the Oculus Rift as my choice of weapon. For one, it was slightly cheaper than the HTC Vive. However, it could also do pretty much the same thing. In my opinion, the touch controls are also a bit more intuitive rather than holding two weird 'wands' as controllers.
With the purchase came the opportunity to try out new scenarios. With a standard static view on a TV or monitor, there is additional effort required as you would have to push a button to see either left, right or behind. You also don't get much of an indication where you can turn into the apex or when you can stomp back on the throttle coming out of the corner. A great example of that is the long right hander of Luffield at Silverstone. I could never get the corner right in terms of when I can go back on the throttle. I couldn't make the judgment call that easily.
How early can I put my foot down?
This where the advantage of VR comes in. I can now turn my head and I can see the end of the corner. I can make a better judgment call for when I can get back on the throttle. I can gauge how much to turn into the corner and how wide I can come out on the exit. I become totally immersed in the environment. I feel like I am actually in the car (minus the motion). This is where you can actually understand the difference. If you feel like you are in the car, you can push a lot harder. You can 'see' if the car is losing it. You can spot the smallest of things a lot earlier. It also makes you realise how much you actually need to look into the corner when you are turning.
How much do you actually look into the corner?
This is where the wonder of being able to film the experience comes in handy. Given that I haven't posted a video in a while, I have provided a treat below with two videos that give an indication on how much better racing in VR is.
First off, we will start with the 2017 Ford GT around the Nurburgring Nordschleife. I have wanted to drive this car on a decent simulator for a long time. I am glad that I finally get the chance to do this in Project CARS 2. The handling on this game is significantly better than the first. You can actually correct oversteer a lot easier than the first game.
Using the Nordschleife to demonstrate how much you actually look in the corner is a great example given the varied number of sections in the track, including the infamous Karussell. Combine in with the Ford GT, it was such a fun combination to try out. It can get a bit tail happy but it is still manageable. You can also feel the turbo kicking in when you put your foot down coming out of the corners. It is a great piece of engineering.
What about race scenarios?
This is the beauty of having a second video at hand. We remain at the Nurburgring but this time we will use the GP layout in a race format. We will also be using Assetto Corsa in this scenario to vary things up a bit. What becomes more interesting here is when there are other cars in the field fighting for position. Not only do you have to keep an eye on the apex that you are turning into, but you also have to make sure you mind your opponents and ensure that you don't crash into them!
The adrenaline does kick in and it makes you think as to whether you are able to give the other drivers space or whether they should end up yielding. Racing is not always as straightforward as it seems. Overall, VR is something that is definitely accelerating my improvement in racing.
I realise that this entry isn't as picture heavy as I normally do them. However, the videos should more than suffice to explain why VR is worth investing in; especially if you enjoy sim racing. I hope you guys have enjoyed this entry and feel free to check out the rest of the blog!