NASCAR Heat 5 plays great with a wheel, but it does need some tweaking to get the best experience when using the Thrustmaster T248. The default force feedback is set way too strong on these wheels. This is easy enough to fix by simply lowering some settings. A bigger problem is that of the steering angle.
There is no soft lock feature 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 when you can't tell when you've reached that maximum rotation angle.
In this guide, I will show how to correct these issues by setting the proper values in-game, on the wheel and in the Thrustmaster Control Panel, when playing on PC.
It's important to set the steering angle correctly. In some games, the lack of a Soft Lock feature is a minor issue because you only very rarely reach that point. In NASCAR, with its small steering angle, 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 on the wheel itself, which will provide the rotation lock, and modifying the in-game settings to match this.
FORCE at 4 bars with FFB at 1 creates a perfectly linear force feedback response with no clipping, which is the ideal for any racing game.
|TM Control Panel Setting||Value|
|Overall Strength of all forces||65%|
|Auto-Center||by the game|
Rotation and Overall Strength are identical to the ROT and FORCE wheel settings, respectively. Changing it in one place overwrites the other. I recommend changing these on the wheel and ignoring the values in the Thrustmaster Control Panel.
Spring and Damper are not used by NASCAR Heat 5, so the value actually doesn't matter. Some games require these to be on for their force feedback to work, so I keep them at 100% as a general rule.
BOOST should always be turned off. For an in-depth look as to why, see my BOOST Force Feedback Analysis.
NASCAR Heat 5 Settings
In Options > Input Mapping:
You will need to manually bind all the buttons on the wheel as the default bindings are all wrong. In particular, you will want to bind Accept, Cancel, Alt 1, Alt 2, Start, Next Page and Prev Page actions so you can navigate the menus easily, but also consider the buttons you will need for changing cameras and showing race information.
In Options > Player 1 Controls:
|Input Device||Steering Wheel|
Despite the game telling you to put in the maximum rotation for your wheel, you need to match the value that is set on the wheel for this to work correctly.
The settings 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.
|Effect Strength||-2 (Tarmac) / 0 (Dirt)|
Effect Strength controls the resistance to turning based on the tire grip. Setting this too high will make the wheel too heavy and lifeless. There is much less resistance on dirt tracks, so the force feedback can be turned up for them.
Impact Effects shakes the wheel when you hit other cars or the wall. On dirt tracks, this can cause a lot of chatter that can be irritating.
Make sure the deadzones are all the way to the left.
Steering Range should be all the way up. This tells the game to use the full 270° rotation we had set earlier.
Steering Sensitivity should be left at 0. Raising this will make the in-game wheel reach full lock before the actual wheel does. Lowering it will prevent the in-game wheel from being able to reach full lock.
Brake Sensitivity and Throttle Sensitivity are personal preference, but I recommend turning them all the way down to get a more linear response.
In Options > Gameplay:
|Hide Cockpit Wheel||On|
I recommend turning on "Hide Cockpit Wheel." The wheel doesn't accurately display your real turning angle. It only turns 90° and has an odd sensitivity around the center. I find it more distracting than anything and I'm glad they added the option to turn it off.
NASCAR Heat 5 isn't the most serious simulation game, but I have a lot of fun with it. With the wheel set up correctly, you can really feel the weight shift in the car. If you're a fan of NASCAR, this does a great job of letting you easily run some races with all the modern rules without requiring a great deal of practice. If you have a VR headset, you may be interested to know that NASCAR Heat 5 works surprisingly well in VR using VorpX.
Let me know if you have any comments or questions.