Playseat Forza review – The ultimate gaming chair for Forza lovers

Last week we reviewed the Thrustmaster TX Racing Wheel, the best steering wheel available for Xbox One at present. Racing wheel controllers are not meant to be used on the lap – just imagine if your car's steering wheel shifted about every time you turned or moved your legs. The TX Racing Wheel includes a clamp for attachment to a table or desk, but that's not especially sexy and might be tough for living rooms.

Thus your best wheel mounting options are a racing wheel stand or seat. Netherlands-based company Playseat has the gaming chair market cornered, offering more than 10 different gaming chairs for racing and flight games. Given that Forza Horizon 2 is one of my top Xbox One games of 2014, I jumped at the chance to try out the Playseat Evolution Forza Motorsport Edition. Read on for my full impressions, complete with exclusive video review and unboxing and assembly videos!

Assembling the Playseat Forza

As you would imagine, the Playseat comes packed in a large and hefty (53 pounds/24 kilograms) box. Inside are the seat itself, a cushion, and several metal framework pieces. The assembly only requires a few tools for assembly, including two hex wrenches and a regular wrench – all included in the box.

It should take about 30 minutes to put the Playseat together. The large, high quality instruction manual doesn't have actual text in its directions, but the pictures do a great job of showing you how everything goes together…

Playseat Forza review box contents

Except for page 11, the final step in the assembly process. This step involves installing a couple of parts referenced as M8 x20. They look like bolts with large rubber circles at the end. As described in our assembly video, I think the two M8s are meant to reach down to the floor and help stabilize the base of the "pedal holder."

However, the bolt/screw portion of the M8 is too short for that purpose. I got it to go through and fastened nuts on the end, but just barely. I could be misunderstanding the part's function, which would be the fault of the instructions. The diagram simply makes little sense and fails to provide proper guidance.

Xbox One Wheel

Mounting the racing wheel

Once you truck through that final step in the assembly process, you're ready to mount the steering wheel and pedals to the Playseat.

All four Xbox One wheels on the market include pedals, so nobody has to go without proper acceleration and brake controls on Microsoft's latest gaming system. Both Thrustmaster wheels have mounting holes in the base of the wheel and pedals; we can safely assume the Mad Catz and Hori wheels do as well.

To mount the wheel and pedals, just line up the part with the metal stand and insert the included mounting bolts. You'll want to keep your wheel and pedals attached pretty much all the time, since screwing and unscrewing bolts requires a tool and effort. Alternately, wheel and pedals can be mounted with the packed-in Velcro pads.

Playseat Forza review pedals

Adjusting for comfort

We all come in different sizes. The Playseat Forza is recommended for players up to 7.25 feet tall (in other words, most humans) and up to 270 pounds in weight, a requirement that excludes most Texans like me. I kid!

The seat offers several adjustments to accommodate different user sizes and preferences. The wheel stand itself can be raised or lowered by adjusting a knob. Twist the knob hard enough and the stand will stay firmly in place.

Playseat Forza review pedal stand

Further down, both the wheel and pedal stand attach to the framework of the seat by a long metal rail. The distance of both of those parts from the seat can be adjusted with two more knobs along the rail. In our video and photographs I had the wheel stand a little too close to the seat. Later I realized it feels better with a bit more distance.

Finally, the angle of the pedals can also be adjusted – just not as easily as the other components. The pedal stand attaches to its base with a couple of hex bolts. The stand part has a long, arced slot in which these bolts are placed. Simply choose an angle, insert the bolts, and the stand will keep the chosen angle.

Knowing which angle to pick before use is tricky. I picked the mid-way point along the slot and it feels fine so far. I wish we could adjust the angle with knobs as with the other adjustable components, but the bolt solution works fine.

Playseat Forza review folded closed

Storing the Playseat

The Playseat Forza has a fair but not unreasonable footprint during use. You are essentially creating a car's cockpit at home, after all. Most living rooms should be able to accommodate it, perhaps after moving a coffee table out of the way. Anyone who plays Kinect games knows the drill.

You probably don't want the Playseat occupying the middle of your room when you're done playing with it. Luckily, the seat folds up and compacts (to an extent) for storage.

The back of the seat itself has a large flap held in place by Velcro. Open it up and loosen to smaller flaps to reveal two metal rods that keep the seat in an upright position. Lift the rods and put them in an unlocked position. Now the seat will fold securely down.

You can also loosen the rods on the bottom rail I mentioned earlier to pull the wheel and pedal stands close to the seat, shrinking its footprint for storage. Then just tuck it away in a corner or large closet until such time as you feel the need for speed once more.

My one big criticism with the seat itself is that those rods that hold the seat in place can be very difficult to unlock. Mine just fit in too tightly and don't want to lift up to unlock. I've taken to using a hammer or other metal object to knock them into the unlocked position, but a spray of lubricant might be the best solution.

Racing with the Playseat and choosing the Playseat that's right for you

The Playseat Forza is a special Forza-branded version of the Playseat Evolution. Both seats are covered in leather-look black vinyl that feels smooth and comfortable to sit on. It's quality office chair material and should prove resistant to spills and stains.

The Forza branding brings white Forza Motorsport logos on the front, back, and sides of the seat. As a longtime Forza fan, I love the logos. But the Forza version of the seat adds about $30 to the price, so you could save a bit by going with a regular Playseat Evolution instead.

Whether we call it Forza or Evolution, this seat is the perfect companion to a quality racing wheel. Attach your wheel and pedals to it, boot up your favorite racing game, and you essentially have the arcade racing experience at home. A nearly-full sized driver's seat, right there in your living room.

Playseat Forza review side view (Image credit: Windows Central)

Depending on your room setup, screen location might possibly be an issue – but that has not been my experience. My primary 52-inch TV is wall-mounted (and slightly too high for a wall mount at that), but I still find it easy to see while using the Playseat. Alternately, playing with a smaller monitor on a table (as shown in the video review) works just as well. Playseat also sells an LCD screen stand, but it costs about half as much as the seat itself (ouch).

The Playseat Forza is a dream accessory for racing game enthusiasts, but it doesn't come cheap. The Forza version clocks in at $430 on Amazon (plus $38 shipping), or £349 from Amazon UK. The price makes sense for a lot of reasons. Racing wheels are a (wonderful) niche accessory, and not everyone who buys a wheel will get a gaming chair for it. Playseat can't make these in huge numbers that would drive down costs, nor does the company want to cut corners in production. Thus Playseats are a niche, luxury product.

The experience of using the Playseat is just so special though, I really must recommend it to true racing enthusiasts. If you love your driving games and racing wheels but can't justify spending $400 or so on a gaming chair, the Playseat Challenge might better fit your budget. The Challenge clocks in at $250. It doesn't look nearly as nice, but it still provides a great racing experience and actually compacts even better than the Forza/Evolution.

For more Playseat products and accessories, check out the Playseat Store, which lists prices in Euros.

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • I scrolled all the way down cause I was curious about the pricing.. And then posted this comment and exited the article..
  • It's a niche product with niche pricing.
  • Do you even need this chair? I mean I would be interested if it woukd move when you make a turn, brake or accelerate... But so its just an expensive chair
  • No, it doesn't move around. Wouldn't want it if it did!
  • At least it would explain the price though..
  • Would it not add to the realism of actually driving
  • Now thats taking niche to a whole new level
  • Does the seat in your car move around? Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • If price is the issue, you could always do something like this and use your couch to play it but, I would worry about it moving...  
  • I've got this stand for a Logitech G27. It's solid and heavy with big rubber feet. It's not moving anywhere at all.
  • If you loved racing racing games, and there are a lot of people who do, you would understand the need for chairs like this. Racing game wheels are one of the most awkward accessories to use. My personal set up involves a dining room chair, a folding table, and weights to keep things from moving around. It is functional, bit far from ideal, and looks ridiculous, and probably includes about $150 worth of materials at that. This is out of my price (and space) range for the moment, but would be something I consider in the future...
  • You could add transducers beneath the chair for added force feedback. :P
  • Those seats cost thousands of dollars.
  • Laughed more than a minute for your comment wael hasno
  • Why is he wearing a winter hat inside? 
  • Because it was cold inside, and also the hat is comfy.
  • I don't accept this answer
  • Just for that, I'm wearing two hats next time!
  • Who wears hates?
  • GamersGaters.
  • Not cold enough, judging by the raised sleeves. :P
  • Yet the jacket is *still on*.
  • He might got Bald head
  • Naw, I still have hair. See my profile picture.
  • You're a hipster!
  • The guy wrote such a indepth article and you are asking y is he wearing a hat inside ? lol
  • Welcome to my world!
  • Excellent article. Can you test again when RaceSim game is released in Spring?
  • Great article, I just started playing Forza Horizon 2. This game is so sick! No doubt the game would be 1000000x more fun with a racing wheel chair with clutch. I will buy one when I have enough money
  • Just out of curiosity ... if you're a Texan, why are the links for Amazon UK? Is there a larger WC audience there?
  • The links are for both US and UK, because we have a significant European audience.
  • Ah, ok. Yes, I notice all the links now. My bad. I wasn't trying to imply they shouldn't be there or anything like that. I'd love a good wheel and seat, but the costs are astronomical to me. I'll just read reviews and continue to wish, lol.
  • Amazon UK helps the rest of us who do not live or belong to planet USA..
  • Long live planet USA!
  • I am an enthusiast. I have the triple screen setup for Forza 2 - 4. The immersion is quite amazing. I always have wanted the seat but I don't really have room for it so I built my own wheel stand to hold the wheel. The playseat is very cool. Nice review.
  • Well...I can't afford a McLaren, so spending $1200 or so on the whole set-up (seat, Xbox One, steering wheel, game, etc) so I can pretend drive one, not bad...
  • Yep. :)
  • I race every night with Friends on Xbone
  • Yep, I recommend the Challenge at the end. How do you like it?
  • :)
  • How do the controls stack up versus a controller? Does one control better than the other? Put differently, if Satya Nadella approached you and said, "If you beat my Drivatar in Forza Horizon 2 I will name you as my successor, give you a $100 million cash prize, and a free Lumia 1520 in the color of your choice (as long as that choice is yellow). You have 6 months to train." Would you start training with the Playseat or the controller? Which would be the most likely to enable you to hit your best time?
  • Read the steering wheel review for more details. But if you've ever driven a car, you should be able to conceive of the different between that and using a controller with analog stick.
  • Your lap times will take an initial hit when you get a wheel, but will steadily improve after. You will never want to go back.... Unless you get shingles in your leg or something, and the ensuing nerve damage makes reaching with the wheel for more than 10 minutes extremely painful. True story.
  • Not for me. When I tried the Thrustmaster TX the first time, my lap times easily dropped 10 seconds almost instantly. I have just never gotten proficient at racing games and controllers. Then the Thrustmaster motor started smoking about 2 hours later and I haven't played Forza 5 since.
  • Did you return the wheel or seek warranty service? That obviously shouldn't happen. Like Funky said, there's a big learning curve with wheels. You pretty much have to play in first-person, and adjust the in-game wheel settings to match your preferences. I'm still not great with the wheel but I always enjoy using it.
  • I was able to return it to the Microsoft store the next day. Just mention, "It started smoking I thought it was gonna catch on fire" and any store will take it back no questions asked! I've been hesitant to try again though. It was much much more realistic than my Logitech G27 though. I can never seriously play a racing game without a FF steering wheel now. I just took to it really naturally I guess. When it started smoking, I was trying to drift an E63 AMG around Abu Dhabi. Lots of opposite lock so uh, maybe that's what did it in?
  • I can't seem to get the settings right. All I do is Spin out when driving fast. I have gone from 900 - 250 and still spin out. I am not sure how the other settings work since this is my first time getting a wheel. the dead zones stuff settings no clue how to set those right. So far I have played best around 420. I still have not found anything that explains or shows every setting for the wheel in Forza H2 that works best from them so I can tweak it a little from where they set theirs from.   
  • Wow...wish I had space and money for that. I'd be playing Forza everyday lol
  • aren't many good racing games available yet for me to get it, and if it's just for Forza then definitely no.! but I'll keep an eye on it.. then again I'm 6'5 and 260 lbs so I really don't think I'll fit comfortably in it lol :P
  • You can get a pair of real racing seats for that much money, cloth but decent quality.
  • Wouldn't hold your wheel or pedals, would it? You can't just plop a chair down on the floor and call it the same thing.
  • Very true. I didn't add that owning welding and metal fabrication tools I'd just fab something up to hold the controls. Granted buying this seat is much easier.
  • I have two of these and I enjoy the hell out of them with buddys over. They forgot to mention if you add the t8ha shifter you'll need the shifter plate pro which is another $100 after shipping but its worth it
  • Nice review and a great looking chair. But unfortunately it has a central column which I'm not keen on. Especially when you throw a three pedal set into the mix. Also nowhere to mount a shifter. I understand that these are niche products, but surely anyone looking for something like this will more than likely also be looking for, or planning to upgrade to such things. Personally, I have a GT Omega wheel stand pro and I've paired it up with an x-rocker Bluetooth chair which personally works rather well for me. You also then get the rumble feedback in the chair and paired together they cost the same and include a shifter mount and don't have the central column. I'm not trying to dis your review in any way. Just offering an equivalent alternative to anyone who may be interested.
  • Well they do offer a shifter plate as an add-on, among other things. I might have to add that to the review. What's bad about a central column?
  • The central column will hurt the boys in a crash, in spirit anyway.
  • If you have a clutch peddle set up, the column means you have to position the pedals accordingly off centre. It also could affect heel-toe braking, if you are into that sorta thing.
  • I have the Alcantara seat but no wheel compatible with my newly purchased Xbox one. I will have to stick with F1 and Gran Turismo for now. :|
  • The central column is not in the way..that much. You will forget it after a few laps :)
  • I have a dream. One day I will buy this
  • I have one with my old Microsoft 360 wheel. It's F'n killer..... you can buy accessories for it too. Shifter plate , also works great with Ace Combat or simular flight games. Can't tell from the pic but I bought the attachment that makes the seat slide frontwards and backwards. Not sure about the newer version but I had to buy a seat cushion because there's very little padding. When you in the middle of a race i really felt it. Hopefully the ONE will get a Nascar game in February and a wheel that you can use a headset with. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • Love Forza (Horizon 1 and 2 is the best), would love to have this setup.....Nice review, thanks. Just wondering, is this more of a real type of racing or arcade type. What I mean, if you owned one of the cars in the game (they have low and mid line cars in horizon just not $300K cars), would the driving feel the same (handling etc), as the real car ? Maybe in Forza 5 ? So we are talking about $800 US for the whole setup, very cool, maybe I will get one when I get a little bigger house, as this looks like it takes a lot of space. Will the wheel you have work(the higher end model) with 360,PS3, PS4 as well, or is it only for Xbox one and PC? I guess if I am going to invest this much on a controller of some type with a base, I would not mind the option to work on all my systems (yes, I have them all) as there are other racing game on other systems that this could work with. Thanks again for the review, very cool product...
  • Forza 5 has the most realistic in-game handling, but Forza Horizons 2 is still very sim-like in its handling. It's more the game design, such as being able to jump off-road, etc. that makes it arcadier. I think you can get the driving pretty close to real-car feel when combined with the nicer Thrustmaster or Mad Catz wheels. There are no multiplatform Xbox One controllers; they might support Windows too but that's it. The closest you can get to multiplatform would be getting a Titan One, but that device would require the use of a PC and a lot of PC setup to get one console's wheel working on another system. As far as space issues, maybe look into the Thrustmaster Challenge as it is way smaller and folds up thin like a portable chair. Happy you enjoyed the review!
  • I wish I could afford this! Oh well...
  • Isn't that an Audi..?? Paulo boy..??
  • Paul, those kicks....I need them in brown! And that's one expensive device. If I lived and breathed racing games, done. I'd buy it, but this way outta the casual realm! Send me an invite for Evolve Beta next weekend!
  • This seat looks like a whole lot of fun. I could see myself playing more car games with something like this. I'm sure you were in your element with this kind of a setup Paul.
  • For $400 (Xbox One / w Forza) + $450 (Playseat) + ($300 Ferrari wheel) I could literally buy a not-terrible car. 
  • No, it would be pretty terrible! You also couldn't race (under realistic circumstances) or play games with it. You could get a pretty good go-kart though.
  • That screen is shameful. Not immersive at all. My 65" on the other hand ;)
  • 27 inches with 1 ms refresh is quite good for a computer monitor! Agreed that a TV is more immersive, but I wasn't transporting that to do the photo shoot.
  • 3 meter projector screen here. :) Gaming is fun...
  • Must be nice!
  • The Forza developers released a game for Xbox one that is so cut back from previous versions it has become a joke, even today it is missing so many basic functions its loyalist users have simply given in and stopped playing, what had real potential is now just a smash and grab your money joke, just like the chair
  • Not really. Yes, Forza 5 is trimmed down, but it's still a great game. And Forza Horizons 2 is a much larger and better game - the best racer in existence IMO. Also, gaming chairs have an obvious purpose and are lots of fun to use, so maybe you're not a good judge of racing games and peripherals in general.
  • That carpet is awful lol. Just out of curiosity have you tried the wheel with first person GTA V cars?
  • I agree, I hate that carpet. But it's the only place available to me with enough room to shoot large items like the Playseat. I haven't tried the wheel with GTA. Does it actually support wheels? I'm not sure how it could since on-foot portions make up such a large part of the gameplay.
  • Thanks for the review Paul! I'm sold on the racing wheel and the chair and once I win the lottery I'll likely upgrade for the arcade feel. Eh, a man can dream. :) Price aside, though, it looks like a quality option.
  • and yet you drive with the view of the car from outside,,, that tells me you are not a racing fan
  • When I play with the wheel, I use first person. I just forgot to change the view when shooting the video. I'd love to see your perfect Playseat video review though!
  • OH MY GOD!!!
  • So these are not stick shifts ...
  • The Thrustmaster supports a stick add-on, and the Playseat has an add-on to hold sticks.
  • Not bad, I spent 600+ for an obbuto computer desk. This isnt bad even to kick back and play GTA V in hahaha. Cool article paul, not too many write on cockpits like these!
  • Even though I'm not fond of this particular product, I appreciate your reviews. They're very thorough. keep it up man!
  • Thanks very much, Jose! And everybody else - I really loved the comments on this review.
  • Hey thanks for the review but looking at the photo of you something is noticeable: you look like a giant driving a kid's car. Why the wheel so close to your body and so low? (yea I saw you mentioned that in the article) Your display is so far... the smaller the display, the closer to your wheel it should be, so your field of view is a bit more realistic. I mean, if you buy a rig to get a more realistic driving experience, do it right! (I like to bully you because love simracing and myself own a T500RS hehe.. oh btw, try it with Assetto Corsa.. you'll never go back to Forza..)
  • That's not my home setup - I just took everything into that room in order to shoot the photos and videos. It was a long day and I didn't optimize right (such as not switching to first-person view). But the body of the review does mention that having the wheel farther from my body would've been better.
  • I picked up a forza 3 playseat a year ago on Craigslist for $150... It really changes your Sim racing experience with a decent wheel. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android