NASCAR Heat 4 plays very well with a wheel, but it does need some tweaking to get the best experience when using the Thrustmaster TMX or T150. These wheels don't have the strongest force feedback motors and can lose information when the game sends too much force to the wheel, especially in corners. While this is easily corrected in game, a bigger problem is that of the steering angle.
There is no soft lock in this game, meaning that you can continue turning the wheel past the point you can in the real car. Nothing happens in game when you do this, the input is ignored entirely, but it makes it much harder to control a spin, for instance, when you can't tell when you've reached that maximum rotation angle.
In this guide, I will show how to correct both of these issues by setting the proper values in game and in the Thrustmaster Control Panel.
The big issue with NASCAR Heat 4 is setting the steering angle correctly. In some games, the lack of a Soft Lock feature isn't that big of a deal because you only very rarely reach that point. In NASCAR, however, the steering angle is very small and you will frequently hit the maximum rotation angle. When the wheel keeps turning past that point, the game just doesn't feel right and the cars are harder to control as a result.
We can correct this by changing the rotation angle in the Thrustmaster Control Panel, which will provide the rotation lock, and modifying the in-game settings to match this. Ordinarily, I don't like having to modify the driver-level rotation angle, as it is annoying to have to change it when you load up a different game. In this case, there simply is no other way to get this to work.
In the Thrustmaster Control Panel:
Set the rotation to 240°.
Under Gain Settings:
|Overall Strength of all forces||100%|
|Auto-Center||by the game|
By setting the rotation angle in the Thrustmaster Control Panel, we make it appear to the game that the wheel is only capable of a 240° rotation. The wheel itself will provide the soft lock when you try to rotate past that angle.
The Damper applies a constant dampening effect (on top of any in-game settings), making the wheel feel heavy. On lower-end wheels, there is plenty of natural dampening in the wheel mechanism itself. (Dampening is used on higher-end wheels to solve oscillation problems.)
The Spring force constantly pulls the wheel back to the center, but, unlike the Damper, it is completely controlled by the game, just like the Constant and Periodic forces. Most games don't use the Spring force at all (their native physics simulations do this already), so it actually doesn't matter what the value is set to in the Control Panel.
I leave the Spring force on in the Control Panel, making the in-game settings the only factor controlling the force feedback. This makes the settings consistent across all games and prevents confusion in the few games that use it about why a FFB setting seems to have no effect.
In NASCAR Heat 4:
In Options > Player 1 Controls:
|Input Device||Steering Wheel|
Despite the game telling you to put in the maximum rotation for your wheel, we need to match the value that we gave in the Thrustmaster Control Panel for this to work correctly.
The settings in this game don't have any numerical values, just a simple slider. The default value is usually the center, which I will refer to as 0 in the following settings. The sliders can go from -5, if fully to the left, all the way to +5, if all the way to the right.
There is not much to configure when it comes to the force feedback in this game. I like to turn the feedback down by 3 on oval and road courses. Otherwise it is simply too strong and you lose any subtle information in the corners. On dirt tracks, you can leave the force feedback strength higher since there is so little resistance on those tracks.
|Effect Strength||-3 (Tarmac) / 0 (Dirt)|
Make sure the deadzones are all the way down.
Turn the Steering Range all the way up. This tells the game to use the full 240° rotation we had set earlier. It is very important to keep the Steering Sensitivity at zero (centered). Anything else makes the wheel either way too sensitive in the middle or not nearly sensitive enough in the middle.
I also recommend turning the Brake and Throttle sensitivities down as both of these inputs are much more sensitive than other games I've played. You can check that everything is working by pressing the Test Sensitivity button. As you rotate the wheel towards full lock, the slider should reach the end just as you hit it.
The only thing that can't be fixed is that the steering wheel animation doesn't match your input exactly when in cockpit view. The animation only goes 90° left or right, and it scales this based on your wheel rotation. You just have to ignore it, which you will be when you are focusing out on the track anyway.
Let me know if you have any comments or questions.