If you haven’t given Forza Motorsport 6: Apex a shot yet, I don’t blame you. Intended to be a strange mashup between an elaborate tech demo and a genuine trial run for Turn 10 in bringing the critically acclaimed Forza Motorsport franchise to Windows-based operating systems, Apex is light on modes, features, and content – a game that won’t win any favors among the hardcore sim racing community. However, for those who have otherwise missed out on what has traditionally been quite an enjoyable line of games for Xbox owners dating back to 2005, many are obviously curious as to how the physics engine stacks up compared to well-established PC simulators powered by the isiMotor engine. Unfortunately, their efforts were initially hindered by a complete lack of toy steering wheel support when the game launched on Windows 10 a few short months ago, causing tin-foil hat conspiracy theorists such as myself to loudly proclaim the game was little more than a pathetic attempt to con users into installing an operating system that was both intrusive and configured to monitor your online behavior by default.
Turn 10 eventually threw the hardcore guys a bone; the latest update for Forza Motorsport 6: Apex patches in plastic wheel compatibility for a wide variety of Logitech and Thrustmaster products. Needless to say, many sim racers who once scoffed at the title are now at least giving it a genuine shot, as despite the lack of gameplay modes, progression elements, and content, they can finally experience Forza Motorsport from the comfort of their own unique sim racing setup.
And of course, they aren’t happy, because Turn 10 didn’t really try.
On the Forza Motorsport section of Reddit, sim racers are furious. To them, the wheel support feels like a last-minute addition tacked on to check a box on the list of planned upgrades for the game, rather than a genuine effort to get it right the first time. I’ve attached some of the most prominent posts in the picture above, but you can check out the full thread here if you’re one of those guys on the fence when it comes to upgrading to Windows 10. In short, wheel compatibility in Apex feels like you’re trying to play NASCAR 99 on a Nintendo 64 Emulator by mapping your wheel axis to the control stick – nowhere close to satisfactory by any means. Some even report that the game is flat out uncontrollable with a wheel, and while I’m usually against using iRacing as a base to judge the physics of another racing simulator, even I can wheel a car in the Xbox One version of Forza Motorsport 6 without much trouble.
Now a lot of people are probably wondering why this topic is being discussed at PRC.net, as many consider Forza to be beneath the status of superior PC-based simulators. The answer is actually quite simple; Forza is now a multi-platform franchise, and Apex was used basically as an open beta for future titles. While the series obviously has its roots on the original Xbox console, Turn 10 will be bringing Forza Horizon 3, and the inevitable Forza Motorsport 7, to the Windows 10 operating system very, very soon. Forza Horizon 3 launches in a mere twenty days, and given how good the previous two games have been in this newer, more radical spin-off series, there are a whole bunch of PC gamers who not only can’t wait to rip around the eastern coast of Australia in a huge number of exotic cars, they want their shit to work out of the box. Currently, wheel support in Apex doesn’t work. If Turn 10 can’t get it right during what was intended to be the testing phase with Apex, why should sim racers have any faith that they’ll figure it out in less than a month?
It’s worrying, to say the least.
Many will be quick to argue that Forza’s underlying driving physics are the root cause of the problem, and I think it’s important to state that I heavily disagree on the matter. Honestly, if we drop the dickwaving contest between PC simulators and console pseudo-simulators for just a minute of our time, Forza Motorsport 6 isn’t the complete piece of garbage you’ve been led to believe. A few weeks ago I was at my buddy’s house spending the night after a race, and early in the morning I fired up Forza 6 to dick around before he woke up. I stumbled into the showcase section and ended up running an Endurance race at Road Atlanta with the GT3-spec Audi R8. Aside from the mammoth input lag resulting from his admittedly crappy HDTV, I really struggled to see why many are so quick to talk down about this series. The AI put up a good fight on the difficulty level one notch below Unbeatable, tire wear seemed reasonable, and the little driving tricks you learn from PC sims still applied. So when I see people write on Reddit that Apex is unplayable with a wheel, I can definitely see a situation where Turn 10 simply fucked up wheel support, rather than having a poor base to begin with.
Horizon 3 comes out in a few weeks, and I personally loved the original, so maybe it’s time to let the NSA poke around my browsing history in exchange for a fairly enjoyable recreation of Australia. However, if wheel support in Apex is truly as broken as some are saying it to be, y’all are in for a hell of a ride when Horizon 3 drops.