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Starting with iRacing: My First Impressions

Starting with iRacing: My First Impressions

I've been a fan of racing games for as long as I can remember. I've played a lot of different racing games over the years, but I've never played anything like iRacing. Finally I understand what everybody has been going on about …

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iRacing is a subscription-based racing simulator that is known for its realistic physics and online racing. I decided to give it a try recently, and I'm really glad I did. After playing ACC, Project Cars and various F1 series for years, I figured it was time for a more 'serious' approach to racing.

My first impression of iRacing

Everything is very different from other racing games I've played. From the menu to the car settings.

The car feel and refinement are simply amazing. The cars feel like they have weight and momentum, and they respond to your inputs in a very realistic way. The basics don't feel all too different to ACC in fact. But overall tyre and physics are obviously different.

The graphics aren't bad by any means either. To my enjoyment, iRacing is VR compatible and the immersion is simply fantastic. The position in the car, along with overall dimensions are more realistic and on point. Overall graphics are not as detailed as some other racing games, but they're still very crisp and clear. I was also impressed by the variety of tracks and cars available. There are tracks all over the world, and there are cars from all different eras. That compares nicely to older games like Assetto Corsa and Project Cars.

I've only been playing iRacing for a short time, but I'm already hooked. The online racing is some of the best I've ever experienced. The drivers are all very respectful, and the races are always close and competitive.

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Things I don't like about iRacing (so far)

However, there are a few things about iRacing that I'm not so fond of. First, it's quite expensive. The subscription price is reasonable, but the in-game features are very expensive. If you want to have a comprehensive list of cars and tracks, you're going to have to spend a lot of money. Even if you want to start your own race that comes at the small fee of $0.5. Surely, nothing outrageous, but if you add everything up and run multiple races you'll want to pay attention to your bank balance.

Second, it's not very easy to play with friends. You can't just join a friend's race against AI or in a practice session. You have to create a private league or session, and then invite your friends to join. This can be a bit of a hassle ... and above all, not for free!

I feel that iRacing is clearly focused more on a sole mission to success, than sharing it with friends and easily training together. Most hosted sessions are locked, which means you're limited to available servers. Additionally, most (rookie?) servers include tracks that aren't offered in the initial membership, meaning you'll have to invest in other tracks in order to compete properly online.

And third, ... the cars. Especially the ones you start out with. Yes, the MX5 drives very nice. A lot of people have hailed the realism in its handling. But that doesn't take away that most of the beginner cars don't have sequential gearboxes. I had hoped to leave the days of thottle blipping and clutch-work behind, but I find myself fighting with the characteristics of a manuel gearbox, although I can only shift sequential with my setup. This just feels out-dated. It makes me hesistant to spend much time in it, because I now have to re-learn a skill I gladly trashed years ago. 

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iRacing is a great racing simulator with a lot to offer. The realistic physics, online racing, and variety of tracks and cars are all top-notch. However, it's also quite expensive, and not focused for novices and players new to sim racing.

However … If you're looking for a realistic racing simulator that will challenge you and help you improve your skills, then iRacing is a great option. If you're on a budget or you're looking for a game that's easy to play with friends, then you might want to look elsewhere like ACC or F1. But iRacing will give you a racing experience with significantly more complex car dynamics which are more realistic.

I'm going to keep at it for a while and see where it leads! Although, I do hope the other cars have more modern gearboxes than the default cars have ...

Here are some tips for starting with iRacing:

  • Start with the Mazda MX-5. It's a great car to learn the ropes of iRacing.
  • Join a rookie series. This is a great way to learn how to race online and avoid getting punted off the track.
  • Be patient. It takes time to get good at iRacing. Don't get discouraged if you don't win your first race.
  • Have fun! iRacing is a great game, so enjoy it.

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