Oculus Rift Review : iRacing vs Assetto Corsa vs Project Cars vs rFactor 2

A while back I picked up an Oculus Rift. This first consumer generation device (tagged CV1) is pretty outstanding. VR is still in the early going but we have come a long way since Virtual Boy. The immersion levels are out of this world. If you get the chance to play around with a Oculus or Vive, give it a go.

When auto racing is life but you don't have a race car you have multiple sim games at the ready. I've tried out the Rift setup for iRacing, Assetto Corsa, Project Cars, and rFactor 2. Three of them have a cockpit view with head tracking in rift. All of them have a very immersive experience. Here are the differences.

Project Cars*
This is a beautiful game. The sound effects, the tracks, the cars, even the menus. This game has it all. In Oculus it continues to be awesome. Project Cars is the only one out of the three that has a total in VR experience. This means from when you click play, you are in game. Menus and all. This makes your total game experience a bit more enjoyable. I hope that the others will take this step eventually. Once you get in the sim things are pretty great. The amount of detail in the cars are amazing. I really feel like I'm one with the car. The scenery is quite good. All around it is a glorious experience. I also enjoy they added a position adjuster for VR so you can move yourself into the perfect position given your setup. I found I have to do this every time the game starts as things tend to move around. If you are one that just enjoys playing against the AI, this is the game for you. The AI is actually quite good and enjoyable once you find a difficulty level that is a good fit for you. They have a ton of cars and tracks to select from and if you get bored you can get car and track packs for pretty cheap. The one area that Project Cars is bad at is the net code (online play). The drivers are okay for the most part, however you often see cars jumping all around or driving down the straight in a drifting manner. Even with everyone's pings well below 100 you still get this. It causes for confusion and makes it impossible to have a good online experience. Project Cars is probably the most casual of the four. It has a very "Need for Speed" feel, but with a realistic side to it. I'd give it a solid 4 out of 5 for a single player Oculus experience, 1.5 out of 5 for online play.

Assetto Corsa*
This is also a beautiful game. The attention to detail from this Italian development group is outstanding, especially if you enjoy Ferrari. Assetto Corsa is an all around fun game to play. The base set of cars/tracks are quite full, but their are quite a few left to DLC expansions which the menu constantly reminds you of. The menu is all on the computer, so you have to lift the rift off while making your selections. This is obviously not wonderful, but okay. Once you get into the sim the sounds, the sights, are all amazing. The level of detail in the cockpit are very good. One thing that stands out to me for this game is the amount of widgets you can add to your view. It works quite well, but once you get going I found them more distracting than anything. The single player game is quite fun, and the online experience is mixed. I've had good and bad experiences with Assetto Corsa online play. Again, the lag makes it challenging to be close to another car. Makes for a bad first lap experience. Overall I would recommend this for the racer that wants a simulator that doesn't want to pay the monthly fee of iRacing. The community is quite good for this as well. For single player this gets a 4.5/5 where online play gets 3/5.

There is something about iRacing that gets me, I love it. iRacing's model is very different than the two above. Instead of a big up front cost they do a monthly subscription model. If you google search for a coupon you will find a lot of them. I found a 3 month subscription for $5. The menu for this game is just a website. Its kind of odd, but it works. The selection of included cars/tracks are quite low, but I didn't seem to mind much. I jumped into the rookie car and carried on. This game is just online, or practice on your own. No AI, none. That being said this dominates the online experience. The competition is really good. If your ping is below 150, you are good. I have noticed a little jumping around with people across the world, but nothing to crazy. If it gets too bad, iRacing disconnects that user. They have a set schedule for when races begin. I found this excellent. A half hour before a race is set to begin you can sign up and practice until its time to qualify. You get 2 laps to qualify. If you go off track, the lap doesn't count. If you speed in pit lane, you get the black flag. If you crash, well, you get the point. After qualifying is set, you do a pace lap and away you go. The game here focused less on prettiness, and more on functionality. The cars, even though its online racers, are smooth as butter. You can have really close racing with no incident. Also, people are respectable in this game, a huge plus. This is highly due to the points setup where if you cause crashes you get demerits. Too many demerits and you are disqualified for that race and your iracing score goes down. People can also report you for various rule breaking where the regulating body can warn or even ban the offending user. Unlike the other two, iRacing doesn't have a way to adjust the view once you are in car. I found I have to adjust my sensor to fit the view. This is rather annoying, but it works. Hopefully they will come out with something in the near future (update: correction, you can set your view with CTRL+F12, thanks for the info!). The downside of iRacing is the cost. $13/month is high, but it is super fun and I think totally worth it. If you think about it, $110 per year really isn't that bad in the long view of things. Much cheaper than actual racing. The cost of additional cars and tracks is also quite high ($15/car or track). If you like a wide selection of cars for cheep, stick to Project Cars. My suggestion is play the crap out of the included content. Find a race series you enjoy, and find a league for that race series. Buy the required tracks/cars in bulk to get the discount. Overall this title gets a 5/5 for online play, 0/5 for single player.

rFactor 2
This is an interesting title that I was really excited to try. They have a really big online following. I downloaded the demo, tried to get it to work with rift with no success. Maybe the real game has rift support but I couldn't find anything. I suggest one of the 3 above if you don't want to tinker around.

Final Thoughts
If you want a game you can just jump into from time to time and love single player, get Project Cars. If you want to spend a little more time getting good, and want to play online from time to time, get Assetto Corsa. If you are online bound and have dreams of becoming the World Champion of online players and have a lot of time to master your skills, get an iRacing subscription.

* : I post links out to Amazon and I may earn a small commission though your purchase if you choose to buy these games.


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