If there’s one feather that Microsoft can place in its hat of next-gen exclusives, it is undeniably Forza Motorsport 5. Besides the fact that the series has become arguably the best racing simulation on the market, the development team at Turn 10 has played an integral role in shaping the Xbox One for developers.
That’s resulted in some of the most stunning graphics and promising cloud-based programming, but for true simulation fans, a great racer is only as good as its best racing wheel peripheral. To show what the next-gen can bring to the console’s peripherals, Microsoft’s Larry Hryb sits down with Branden Powell, master of accessories to take a look at the early offerings.
There’s no question that Forza 5 will be seen as a next-gen showpiece when launched alongside the Xbox One itself, so it stands to reason that the peripherals and accessories – if designed as well – can help the system gain momentum. With that in mind, it seems that Powell’s team has focused not only on improving the look and quality of the top-tier racing wheels, but the tools they make available to developers.
The current generation of consoles saw developers embrace the added dimension of rumble support and force feedback; so with Xbox One’s controller reinventing the concept to give developers more control, it makes sense that they would seek to do the same with their third-party racing wheels.
Powell does a good job explaining the prior use of force feedback seen in the Xbox 360’s racing wheels; developers may have had lofty goals, but the ultimate result was simply resistance added to the steering wheel. To be fair, that did add a new dimension to the experience, but for next-gen, there is serious room for improvement.
By refining the kind of resistance and feedback developers have at their disposal, it seems Microsoft is doing their part.
The Ferrari-branded Thrustmaster 458 Italia racing wheel doesn’t look to be too radically different from its Xbox 360 version, but is still likely to attract attention based solely on its supercar inspiration. However, the more racing-inspired Mad Catz wheel may end up being the more likely choice for early adopters. Aside from the ability to swap wheels in and out of the base, the range of motion and customization available in the foot pedals is a wise move.
In addition to the wheels, the video also gives a brief look at the N1 Gaming Sound Bar from Polk, designed specifically to get the most out of Microsoft’s soundscapes. The collaboration between Xbox Game Studios and Polk extends to more than just the Sound Bar, but it’s good to know that the team is already thinking of ways to make racing experiences more immersive.
How long it will take for the designers to get the most out of the new programming and precision available to them remains to be seen – as do the pricing details. Of course, the upgrades in both hardware and software mean that Xbox 360 wheels will not be compatible with the Xbox One. At this point that’s been somewhat expected, but it’s still a bit of a disappointment to enthusiasts who have nailed down their preferred setups.
What do you think of the next-gen racing wheels shown off in the video? Are your hopes high for what new hardware can make possible, or have racing wheels never been your cup of tea? Share your thoughts in the comments.
The Xbox One releases alongside Forza Motorsport 5 on November 22, 2013.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.