With the release candidate of Assetto Corsa available on Steam Early Access, DK2 support heading to iRacing in the next week or two, and Project Cars (again with DK2 support) due in late November, Christmas is arriving early for sim racers. Read on for our impressions of Assetto Corsa with the Oculus Rift DK2 after putting in a few laps of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in the P4/5 Competizione.
I've long since believed that racing would be the first subset of life to be simulated at a life-like fidelity. Tire simulations are mature and continually being improved on, helmets and race suits are far easier to render than human faces, and there's a cottage industry of makers turning out exquisite controllers like wheels and shifters with the same components you'd see in an actual race car.
My experiences last night validated that belief. Not only is the Oculus two thirds the price of my very basic triple monitor setup, it's infinitely more immersive… but we're not quite there yet. You've probably heard the term uncanny valley – and it doesn't just apply to 3D rendering of humanoids. I kept feeling as if I was just on the cusp of believing I was actually in the car before my brain insisted on reminding me otherwise. The continual cognitive gymnastics ended up being quite unpleasant and I'm not sure if this will ease with a bit more practice.
Even with 960 x 1080 per eye, resolution is still the Achilles heel of the DK2. Les Combes became an even trickier corner with my usual braking cue being too far in the blurred distance to pick accurately. Obviously I'll be able to adjust with a bit of practice, but perhaps the 1440p resolution consumer version of the Oculus due next year will solve this.
The Oculus remains one of the most exciting pieces of hardware I've seen during my time at Gizmag. If you've got the discretionary budget, it's well worth the purchase, if only for the joy of showing people how far VR has come since Dactyl Nightmare.
And while iRacing will be my primary sim at least until I can evaluate Project Cars, Assetto Corsa has come a long way since its Early Access debut and at US$40 is astounding value, with a wide range of cars out now and DLC featuring the first laser-scanned Nürburgring Nordschleife (on a PC title) along with the McLaren P1 due in December.