Need For Speed Heat, while most certainly being an arcade racing game, actually plays very well with a wheel. The default settings aren't great for the Thrustmaster T248, but with a few setting adjustments, it can feel pretty good.
There is an unfortunate oscillation that isn't easy to get rid of without hurting the force feedback. The funny thing is, it's not a problem as long as you are holding the wheel. It only oscillates when you let go. Since it's easy to deal with, these settings lower the oscillation, but don't get rid of it entirely.
The force feedback is very basic, which is all that is needed in a game like this. You never have to worry about losing control of the car; the physics are much simpler than that. It's much more about creating an immersive experience than any kind of serious driving simulation. Taken for what it is, the game plays very well.
In this guide, I will show the settings I use that complement the game the best.
There is no way to set the steering angle in-game, so it must be done in the Thrustmaster Control Panel or on the wheel itself. Most arcade games play better with smaller steering angles. I found that 360° feels a little too sensitive and unnatural. 540° feels more natural, but can feel unresponsive in the center of the wheel. 480° is a good middle ground, though you can't set it on the wheel directly. Instead, you have to set it the Thrustmaster Control Panel.
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
|Overall Strength of all forces
|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. Usually I recommend changing these on the wheel and ignoring the values in the Thrustmaster Control Panel, but we can't set 480° on the wheel itself.
Spring is used by Need For Speed Heat for the Wheel Spring Force setting.
Damper is used by Need For Speed Heat for the Wheel Damper Force setting.
BOOST should always be turned off. For an in-depth look as to why, see my BOOST Force Feedback Analysis.
Need For Speed Heat Settings
In Options > Controls:
|Wheel Force Feedback
|Wheel Tire Force
|Wheel Spring Force
|Wheel Damper Force
|Wheel Surface Force
|Wheel Collision Force
Wheel Deadzone makes the game ignore the input in the center of the wheel. This helps the oscillation problem. Just a bit helps a lot, without being noticeable. If you raise this much higher, you will have less oscillation, but you will feel that the car doesn't respond to your inputs in the center of the wheel, which doesn't feel good.
Wheel Force Feedback controls the overall strength of the vibration effects.
Wheel Tire Force controls the actual force feedback. It's not very strong, so can set quite high.
Wheel Spring Force controls the Spring force, which constantly pulls the wheel to the center. A very small amount works well, but setting it too high overwhelms any other force.
Wheel Damper Force controls the Damper force, which adds weight to the wheel.
Wheel Surface Force controls the vibration effect you feel when you are on dirt. This is just a constant vibration and can get annoying if it's set too high. You may even want to turn this off, depending on your preference.
Wheel Collision Force shakes the wheel when you hit something. I like this fairly strong since it adds a nice bit of feedback when running down all those road signs and lampposts.
If the wheel isn't recognized, or the force feedback isn't working, try installing Logitech G HUB, even if you don't have any Logitech products. For some reason, having the Logitech drivers installed seems to help the game support other brands of wheels as well.
Need For Speed Heat is surprisingly fun with a wheel. I honestly wasn't expecting much as I had always thought of the Need For Speed series as meant to be played with a controller. I was completely wrong at least about this title in the series. It's not the most amazing force feedback I've ever felt, but it's still a lot of fun.
Let me know if you have any comments or questions.