Wheel and deal.
Racing wheel owners have not been pleased with the PlayStation 4 so far when it comes to the system's compatibility to their wheel of choice, and it hasn't been that much better on Microsoft's side. We're still waiting for the system either to provide drivers that will support the likes of the premium Logitech G25 or G27 driving wheels or to release new racing wheels by way of Thrustmaster, MadCatz, or other third-party peripheral manufacturers.
The Thrustmaster T80 RS Racing Wheel is among the first of the latter option, a $99.99 peripheral that's officially licensed by Sony for all PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 racing titles and specifically the upcoming Driveclub with a special Driveclub Edition of the T80. Since it's currently one of the only choices, those who swear by racing wheels as the only true experience for playing simulation racing titles might be caught between a rock and a hard place.
For hardcore racing fans, the T80 likely won't meet the grade. The wheel only has about 200 degrees of rotation, the internal spring is self-described as a "bungee-cord," and the petals are made of plastic instead of metal. It also lacks force feedback of any kind, a requirement at this point for any high-end, high-quality wheel.
But that's just it: The T80 isn't priced for this crowd; for them, the Thrustmaster T500RS priced at around $500 is the preferred choice. According to a developer named Rushy on the official RLLMUK forums, the T500RS will be compatible with Driveclub, bringing its ultra-precise peripheral with force feedback and three full turns of rotation to the table. The casual crowd who's interested in getting an entry-level wheel will likely be eyeing the T80 for its lower price point than another racing wheel that essentially doubles the cost of the PlayStation 4.
By that standard, the T80 does a satisfactory job at covering the bases. The central clamping system easily mounts the T80 to a thin table, while the two-pedal base is sturdy but needs either carpet or a heavy block to prevent it from sliding all over the floor. The main D-pad and face buttons found on a standard PlayStation controller are aligned across the center of the wheel, with the L2, L3, R2, and R3 buttons embedded high on the grooved rubber grips along the side. The Share, Options, and PS buttons neatly along the bottom, while two sequential shift paddles behind the wheel confidently shifts gears.
The resistance provided by the bungee-cord system takes a while to get used to, since turning the wheel doesn't feel exactly the same as a standard driving wheel. Testing the wheel with GRID Autosport on PlayStation 3 (there's a switch along the front that controls compatibility between PS3 and PS4), I found that it was a little difficult getting the wheel to register small shifts to the left or right, and that I had to tug the wheel hard for wide turns. The red light in the center can be searing too, which made me want to put some translucent tape over it. Over the course of two hours, though, I got accustomed to both the turning mechanics and the light.
In the desert of available racing wheels for the PlayStation 4, the Thrustmaster T80 might just be good by default and, on its own merit, befits its price point. It's not close to having the features that the hardcore crowd will want, but it's affordable and dependable for what it's worth.