I’ve been busy over the last week ‘testing’ the new F1 2017 game on PS4, the latest racing game in my return to gaming alongside Assetto Corsa and Project CARS. And also had the pleasure of reviewing the Playseat F1 and Playseat Challenge.

The new F1 2017 game encouraged me further to invest in a wheel and pedals to match the realism of the new game, but there was still something missing – sitting at a table, even if you’re down low at a coffee table just does not work. It’s not right so it was time to look into so-called gaming chairs.

I went with Playseat, I recognise the brand from all the F1 sim setups you see at events and drivers such as Max Verstappen also use them, so you can’t argue with that. And thanks to the lovely folks at Playseat I’ve been able to get my hands on and use 2 of their models – the budget ‘Playseat Challenge’ and the flagship ‘Playseat F1’ setup.

A Racing Chair – Really?

Firstly, I’m not a professional gamer type and I first laughed at the idea of a special seat for driving games, but when you start reading up and even try one out, the benefit and difference they make is simply incredible.

The F1 Playseat is not a throwaway purchase, it’s quite an investment at around £800, but when you see it, it’s clear why – it’s solid, heavy (in a good way) is well engineered and is completely adjustable so that you can quickly switch it around for shorter and taller players drivers. The chair looks awesome and it creates a true Formula 1 style seating position with your feet almost as high as your shoulders and just enough room to get your legs under the wheel.

Unique Racing Feeling 

As gaming seats go, it’s pretty unique and it is the best way to get a proper F1 feeling for the new game. I still laugh at myself for having one in the office, but even those that doubt the chair or question the point of it are quickly converted after lowering themselves into it and completing a few laps. Even my better half kept asking for ‘just one more lap’ and her previous gaming experience is Sonic on the Megadrive. She’s not a huge F1 fan either, more a passing interest, but Playseat F1 completely won her over in minutes. She claims it’s mindful too – you’re so immersed in the game that your mind switches off from everything else. I get it too – being in an unusual but realistic seating position just drives your focus in the game. 

If I’ve lost you, just make sure that next time you see a similar setup available to have a go on that you take advantage and you’ll see why having a Playseat F1 really is not quite such a ridiculous purchase, it’s a fantastic bit of kit.

Building the Playseat

And if you’re tempted, check out the official Playseat store, they deliver worldwide within 2 days at no extra cost and the service was excellent for ordering ours. The setup arrives in 2 boxes, some 30kg in weight and then there’s the slight matter of putting it all together. Takes 30mins or so and they provide all the bolts and tools to do it, so it’s more like fun than a chore. 

Playseat F1 – delivered in 2 boxes and built in less than an hour.

And then you’re good to bolt on your pedals and wheel – it’s compatible with pretty much all makes and models and they even include the screws you’re likely to need too. I’ve gone for the TM300RS wheel and pedals with the F1 wheel add-on and this whole setup really does take some beating. Yes I’m sure that some gaming aficionados will tell me that there are better pedals and wheels out there and that I should be using a PC with triple screen, but I purposefully kept it all nice and simple and this setup is glorious to use. Cannot recommend it enough, except for one little thing… the Playseat Challenge chair is also available. 

The Playseat Challenge

Now, before the Playseat F1 came along I was trying out the “Playseat Challenge” seat. Firstly, this chair is relatively cheap at around £150 or thereabouts, so definitely much easier on the wallet. But that’s not the reason why it causes a problem for me over the F1 seat. 

It arrives and takes around 30s to build. If you look around at comments online you’ll see mentions of it being an overpriced camping chair and while yes I can see what these people are thinking, but they clearly haven’t actually tried or seen one because it’s a far cry from the crappy camping chairs we all know and hate. 

Genius Product

The Challenge is simply a genius product. Yes it’s lightweight, made of metal tubing, but it’s also pretty solid and because the main structure of the seat section is based on the same principle of a camping chair it is ridiculously comfortable, an absolute joy to sit in. The top section of the seat is modelled on a proper race seat so it still creates the race car feeling, while also being comfy. Clever.

Like the F1 seat, it’s adjustable too with the massive velcro arm sections allowing plenty of movement for different heights and the pedals section is also adjustable so you can move them forward and back as needed too. 

My Verdict

I’m a fan of the Playseat Challenge because as well as being comfy, it’s also massively practical – simply unplug your wheel from the Playstation and fold the chair up, complete with the wheel and pedals still attached, then stow it out of the way. If you fancy a quick race then you can oh so quickly get it out and you’re racing by the time the game has loaded. You can also adjust it far enough to get it close to being in an F1 style position and so if you can raise the pedals up you’re getting close to a proper setup. 

But that’s where the Challenge loses out, it doesn’t quite deliver the same level of immersion that the Playseat F1 does – racing cars shouldn’t be comfortable and you should be virtually lying down with little room for your knees. But for me as a casual gamer who’s just getting into the whole racing sim idea, the Challenge is ideal and so much fun. I’m sold.

But then, if you know you’re going to be spending hours, days or more playing the F1 game and want to feel as much a part of the game as possible, then you really should consider the Playseat F1. It’s an expense that won’t go unnoticed, but the results it delivers are unrivalled.

If I could I’d keep both and if I had the space I would have the Playseat F1 setup and ready for a proper racing session. I did get more out of it in terms of immersion and realism – it shouldn’t make that much difference, but it is a great product and if you have the opportunity to try one or buy one, you should – you will not be disappointed.

If you’re interested to know more contact or browse the official Playseat Store. Ivo and Tim are very helpful.

Bonus Material

The Playseat Challenge was reviewed by a well-known sim racing site by these 2 interesting characters. I’m not endorsing their style here, but it’s a good way to see what the Playseat Challenge is like. If you can get past the camping chair likeness you’ll see how I arrived at the ‘genius product’ statement – it is so well thought out, even the way you get into it is clever. 

And then by comparison here’s Max Verstappen using the Playseat F1

More images from the Badger GP home office setup with the Playseat F1

 

Disclaimer: Playseat did provide the seats at a discount in exchange for a review, but the review is a true reflection on my experience of Playseat and if I wasn’t impressed I’d have cancelled the deal!

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