Is Fanatec Worth It?!
Bringing The Arcade Experience Home
The arcade experience is hard to replicate at home. Huge machines with tethered guns like Time Crisis seem larger than living room life. The graphics are unique and the immersion you get with force feedback can be unmatched, especially with racing games. Hopping into a mock cockpit…a "mockpit", cruising around the world, and stomping the gas pedal to the floor was thrilling. The Mario Kart DX arcade cabinet is one of the best arcade racers most people have ever played. It brings all the fun of Mario Kart with the added fun of racing in a cockpit with a wheel and flashy buttons.
Consumer Racing Wheels Historically Suck
As a kid, racing games like Mario Kart 64 were the perfect equalizer between seasoned gamers and newcomers to the circuit. Just a few buttons to worry about and of course, trying to precisely maneuver your way around with a tiny joystick. It wasn't long before consumer racing wheels made their way onto shelves, but they rarely made the experience better and it definitely wasn't as immersive as being in an arcade. It was more frustrating than anything with wheels that didn't even spin a full 360 degrees and offered no feedback whatsoever in regards to what was happening on screen. Overall, it was more of a gimmick rather than a precise peripheral intended to immerse a player in the racing experience.
I've tried my fair share of racing wheels in the past and they never really hit the mark. They were either limited in functionality or lacked the proper feedback needed to make it worth the effort of setting up a wheel and pedals. I always ended up relegating myself back to the controller wishing the at-home racing experience was better. I just assumed that nothing would ever live up to my expectations of the "arcade experience" outside of a full game cabinet. Enter, the modern sim rig via Fanatec.
The Modern Racing Wheel
Before I continue, I feel it's important to mention that this isn't a sponsored post and is merely my experience with modern sim rigs. There are several companies out there right now producing top-notch racing peripherals including Fanatec, Thrustmaster, Logitech, and Moza. Logitech is a perfect entry-level racing setup to dip your toes in the world of sim racing without necessarily breaking the bank. Logitech peripherals can run anywhere from $200-300 making it the most affordable option at the moment. While the Logitech wheels are WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), the higher-end brands allow you to customize your experience from the ground up. The mid-level Thrustmaster systems have great options for a variety of budgets allowing you to upgrade and swap out parts like your steering wheel. If watching your budget isn't an issue, then look no further than Fanatec or Moza.
If budget isn't an issue, then look no further than Fanatec!
While I can't speak directly to the quality of Moza, as it is a newly re-branded company, they do offer a nice selection of peripherals and unique racing wheels with lots of flashy buttons and LED screens to entice their prospective customers. However, I decided to bite the bullet and drop some money on my dream setup through Fanatec. The officially licensed partner of F1, Fanatec is the premier racing rig peripheral option favored by professional eSports players and racers alike. Spend any time in one of the recent F1 title games and you're sure to see the Fanatec banner advertisements scattered around different circuits. Fanatec might be the pinnacle of racing peripherals, but it most definitely comes with a price tag.
Image: The Race
Is It Worth It?
So, is Fanatec worth the price? As an avid race fan, it's the best purchase I've ever made. It was worth every penny spent, which was roughly $1500. I went with the top-of-the-line pedals and mid-tier direct drive wheel base outfitted with a replica F1 steering wheel. Fanatec offers a wide variety of racing wheels suited for all styles of racing from open-wheel cars to drifting. For me, it was a no-brainer, but for the average gamer who might want to upgrade their gaming experience, $1500 is quite a bit to drop on a peripheral you can only use for a select number of games.
What makes it worth it though? Why is it the best? What about Logitech? These are all great questions and the answer lies in the feedback. The cheaper rigs from Logitech don't offer the same amount of feedback from the game and the overall quality of the wheel and pedals feel…cheap. That's not to say they aren't a great entry option for the budget-conscious gamer, but it can't hold a candle to the quality and experience provided by Fanatec. Feeling every bump of the track and the slipping of tyres as you push the edge of each corner, it's a visceral experience that is the closest experience to actually driving the real thing- and let's face it, most of us will never drive an F1 car. Fanatec also has a great lineup of steering wheels to cater to your style of racing. From smaller square-shaped karting wheels to d-shaped GT wheels, Fanatec has a wheel to satisfy every type of racer, including officially licensed replica wheels from BMW, McLaren, Porsche, F1, and NASCAR.
What About Logitech or Thrustmaster?
Do I need to buy Fanatec to have a good race experience? Simply put, no, and that's the beauty of modern-day racing rigs. Even the most affordable model will enhance your gaming experience with racing games tenfold. If you enjoy racing games or driving simulators and are stuck on the controller, do yourself a favor and upgrade to a proper rig. It doesn't have to be the top of the line, and you can often find used options on things like Facebook Marketplace from people who are selling their old racing wheel setups in lieu of an upgrade to something like Fanatec. This is partly the reason I decided to go ahead and purchase Fanatec from the start. Most people shared the same sentiment: After you see what is possible in modern race peripherals, you'll easily want to upgrade to a better system knowing you can receive more precision and feedback in the process.
Gaming peripherals have come so far since the days of cheap, knockoff, misshaped Mad Catz controllers or racing wheels with only 300 degrees of rotation. Each of these additions to your gaming setup will enhance your experience and overall enjoyment of the game. Every new racing simulator or arcade racer that's released is enticing simply because I know the experience will be enjoyable with my at-home arcade rig. Finally, the feeling of being at the arcade has been duplicated and improved upon in ways that I never thought possible. So, is it worth it? You better believe it.