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Having heard about various DiRT Rally 2.0 force feedback (FFB) issues, I decided to play DiRT Rally 2.0 using a Thrustmaster steering wheel to see what the issue is and whether it can be solved.

What I want to talk about today is one of DiRT Rally 2.0‘s biggest problems and that’s the lack of force feedback or FFB for short. Not to be confused with FAB, which was a term in Thunderbirds.

Enough about fictional television shows with puppets and a pink car, though. Let’s talk about the issue at hand. But first, the basics.

What is force feedback (FFB)?

Force feedback, also known as haptic feedback, is what steering wheel manufacturers use to make driving more immersive and realistic. The idea is that you can feel the vibrations of the road or if you crash into something.

It also provides force that makes the wheel return to the centre and will fight back against you at higher speeds when cornering, simulating the forces you would feel in real life.

Basically, force feedback goes beyond the rumble of a controller. It’s there to make driving more intensive and therefore like real life, but also help you feel the digital road and, potentially, let you drive faster or just more consistently.

What is the force feedback problem in DiRT Rally 2.0?

Obviously the issue may well be fixed in the future. Hopefully by the time you watch this it is a thing of the past, because it’s undoing quite a lot of DiRT Rally 2.0‘s rally simulation potential.

Basically, the issue is that for some, maybe even all Logitech and Thrustmaster steering wheels, DiRT Rally 2.0 is not providing much or any force feedback. At least, not with the default settings.

Having played the game since the 12th of February, I can attest this is true. The default settings for my Thrustmaster are incredibly heavy, which makes it very difficult to steer. But in terms of actual feedback, there is barely any, which means that for instance you have little warning you are about to lose control.

In fact, when using my Thrustmaster TS-XW Sparco P310 the only force feedback I’m getting beyond vibration from crashing is vibration when you land after a jump, if you drive through someone else’s tracks on a rally stage (hello, course degradation) and when you go over a cattle grid. That’s after tweaking the settings.

There’s just no real indication as to what surface you are driving on and when you are about to lose grip, which makes it hard to drive some cars and courses without getting somewhat frustrated. Even if you dial up certain settings such as ‘suspension’.

Not only that, some settings are greyed out in DiRT Rally 2.0‘s menu, which means certain adjustments are impossible. Surely if these are greyed out, Codemasters has some idea what’s going on?

Interestingly, the original DiRT Rally launched with some force feedback issues so it wouldn’t be the first time. Luckily, the issue was resolved with a patch.

Why are people so annoyed, then?

Well, DiRT Rally 2.0‘s strongest suit is that it’s a rally simulator and has an especially impressive physics engine behind it. Except, that is, when you are on tarmac roads – it’s all kinds of odd at this point (although RallyCross is, bizarelly, fine).

But it seems some players have decided to up the force feedback really high to compensate, which has, allegedly, lead to some steering wheels burning out. I have no proof of this as I have only read this on forums. Maybe there’s some truth to it.

For starters, the default settings when I plugged my Thrustmaster steering wheel in were really high, which means if you fail to change them it will obviously mean a lot more strain on the motor.

Those of you with a Logitech steering wheel, it appears DiRT Rally 2.0 defaults to barely any force at all, which would cause some people to rectify that by cranking the settings up. With the option to set really high, that could also do some damage.

As for those with a Fanatec, I have a CSL Elite base with the McLaren GT3 steering wheel. Yes, that’s not a great wheel for rally, but what matters is that the default setting for this wheel and presumably other Fanatecs also lack the same feel and no amount of tweaking seems to improve things.

I am merely theorising at this point as my steering wheel coped with the initial settings, although I very quickly changed them because it felt completely wrong. No wheel should make steering so heavy and such a chore because it inhibits your ability to save a drift.

The best DiRT Rally 2.0 Thrustmaster steering wheel settings?

DiRT Rally 2.0: Steering wheel calibrate option

So what if you have a steering wheel, what are the best settings for DiRT Rally 2.0? I wish I could tell you for every specific wheel, but that would mean owning all of them and I’m a poor motoring journalist so that’s impossible.

What I will say is that I suspect the Thrustmasters have similar or the same defaults, but the likes of the range-topping TS-XW will probably feel stronger than the rest because it has a higher rotational torque figure. So maybe cheaper Thrustmasters will need a slightly higher number than I’m using.

My settings are everything set to 65 except collisions, which is at 70. Soft lock is off, but you can have it on if you want the wheel to mimic a car’s actual steering degree amount. I’ll post my exact settings here when I have them figured out. But 65 seems to be quite a common choice based on the forums and comments I’ve read.

I have also used DiRT Rally 2.0 to calibrate the centre, which can be done within the input options menu. This is a quick process and will ensure that when the wheel is in the middle the car will be travelling straight. If this is slightly out, it won’t feel right.

Using the calibrate tool in DiRT Rally 2.0, you can actually twist the wheel in such a way that you go from 1,080 degrees of rotation or 900 to 540. This means every degree you steer, the wheel rotates two degrees in the game. Steering saturation does the same thing.

A bonus of this is that you never need to cross your arms, which is good if you go off the track and need lock-to-lock to get out of the forest or a ditch. It also means you can catch a moment of oversteer far quicker.

Downsides, meanwhile, include having less accurate steering and that could make you more prone to over-steering for corners. It could also make you less smooth until you learn to be more subtle with your inputs.

540 degrees will, of course, also be less realistic, which may or may not bother you. As a simulator, I rather like the full motion. But then it’s what appeals to you so consider trying both.

So how do I fix DiRT Rally 2.0’s FFB issue?

As far as I know, you are unable to fix the issue entirely. I have approached Codemasters for comment on whether a fix is coming, but I have read the developer has acknowledged its existence.

If you have a steering wheel, what I would say to do is ensure you have the latest firmware and drivers (Thrustmaster recently updated theirs). For Xbox and PC gamers, just hook up your wheel to PC and run the relevant software. For PS4, I’d imagine it’s the same thing.

Then make sure you have calibrated your steering wheel within DiRT Rally 2.0, as mentioned before. It’s a very quick process and could make a big difference.

Lastly, dial back the force feedback to a level where your steering wheel isn’t too heavy. While you lack much in the way of road surface information, it makes sense to ensure you can steer easily and quickly. But not so easily and quickly it feels disjointed.

Some users are suggesting you edit the game files (PC version only) to increase the FFB_FORCE and FFB_FRICTION values manually, but this really only increases the difficulty in turning the wheel as far as I can tell. Which isn’t the problem.

DiRT Rally 2.0: The FFB bottom line

Right now, there is a lot of complaining going on on the Codemasters, GTPlanet and Reddit forums about the DiRT Rally 2.0 force feedback issue. As such, given that it came to light before the game’s official release it would be in Codemasters’ best interests to fix it.

After all, making a steering wheel less satisfying to use in a rally simulator really does make the game less tempting to buy, although I have found you can still get a really satisfying experience and set fast times.

Or perhaps Codemasters just needs to go one by one through every steering wheel and suggest the best settings, which players can then fine-tune, if things are supposedly working as intended. I’d certainly appreciate some help from the developers, who will have tested this stuff before the game’s launch. In theory, anyway.

In fact, I had this same issue (and still do) with Forza Horizon 4. Why can’t developers suggest settings based on all the testing they have done and, in DiRT Rally 2.0‘s case, the actual rally driver expertise that has helped along the way? It would save a lot of guesswork on our part.

Anyway enough from me, what do you guys think about the whole DiRT Rally 2.0 debacle? Let me know in the comments and be sure to subscribe. Or maybe tell people the settings you are using to help others out. Take care, bye!

Force feedback issue forum links

GT Planet | Reddit | Codemasters