If you're serious about racing games, a controller just won't cut it. That's where a racing wheel accessory comes in, which can make it feel more like you're driving a car. Now Logitech, a company that's known for making some of the best gaming wheels on the market, is giving you another reason to give up the controller. Its new G923 racing wheel ($400) for the Xbox One, PS4 and PC features TRUEFORCE, a "high definition" force feedback system that goes beyond mere rumbling. It can actually help you feel things like the surface of the road, or your tire traction, helping to further blur the line between virtual racing and reality.
Here's where I admit something shameful: Even though I've longed for a proper racing wheel over the years, I could never convince myself to buy one. They were always a bit too expensive, or too toy-like to justify the added cost. Instead, I settled for navigating the winding roads of every Forza Horizon game with a gamepad. But after testing the G923 for the past few weeks, I might finally be ready to make the jump. It's completely transformed the way I race.
Logitech didn't change much about the G923's design compared to its last models, the G920 and G29. The sturdy, leather-clad steering wheel is back, along with metal paddle shifters and all the buttons you need for your platform of choice (I tested the Xbox One model). The wheel itself feels substantial and comfortable to hold, almost like something you'd find in a high-level car trim. The G923's plastic base is its cheapest feeling component, but I'd imagine that also helps to keep it light and portable. It attaches to a table, or any flat surface, with two plastic clamps.
The G923 also features three metal pedals, for those of you who really want to shift manually. There's no gearbox like some of Logitech's earlier wheels though, you'll have to rely entirely on those paddles. The company clearly put plenty of thought into how its pedals feel, my only issue is that the plastic base they're attached to sometimes shifted whenever I braked hard (and you'll be doing that a lot, thanks to the brake's sturdy progressive spring). It's one area where I wished Logitech added more weight, or perhaps even an all metal base.
I knew the G923 was something special as soon as I launched GRID. The wheel turned a fairly average racing game into a thrilling experience. During the introductory races (which you're forced to play before unlocking the entire game), I could feel my tires slipping across the asphalt as I drifted into a turn too hard. The G923 also helped me feel my precarious connection to the the road during a rain-slicked race, allowing me to pass other cars easily without slamming into the side of the track.
The entire experience, which is powered by Logitech's TRUEFORCE force feedback, felt more like playing a racing game in a custom arcade cabinet where everything is finely tuned to recreate the sensation of high-speed driving. I'll admit, I was sweating after a few races, as if I was actually behind the wheel of an expensive super-charged vehicle. Logitech says TRUEFORCE processes game engine physics and audio over 4,000 times a second to deliver that sense of realism. That’s not a spec I can easily test, but my accelerated heart rate spoke volumes. Clearly, my body thought I was going through some sort of thrilling encounter in the real world.
Unfortunately, I couldn't get the G923 up and running on Forza Horizon 4, my current racing obsession, because it hasn't been updated to support TRUEFORCE. Setting things up was also finicky in GRID 2.0, since the game didn't automatically recognize all of the wheel's controls. I'm hoping some game updates can iron out these kinks, but just be aware that your title of choice may not fully be compatible with the G923 at launch.
Once again, Logitech seems to have another hit on its hands for racing enthusiasts. Anyone who really cares about playing driving games with any sense of realism likely wouldn't bat an eye at throwing down $400 for some immersive new force feedback. It's less clear if current Logitech wheel owners feel TRUEFORCE is enough of a reason to shell out that much money once again.
While I can't exactly compare the experience with Logitech's older products, I can say this: After testing the G923, I'll always know what I'm missing when I go back to playing Forza Horizon 4 with a gamepad.