The best racing games are the ones that you can buckle up and lose yourself in for hours, never getting bored of them as you go as fast as you possibly can.
Whether you’re looking for a simulation, a bombastic arcade racer or a family friendly karting game, the genre as a whole is a lot more complex than just putting pretty cars in pretty places.There’s a lot of nuance between the best racing games to make them all worthwhile, even if you’re already dedicated to one particular series and style.
You can always rely on a racing game whether you want a decent multiplayer experience, the ability to constantly try and do better than you did before, or just the chance to drive around some stunning vistas.
The best racing games
We’ve put together a list of the best racing games currently available. Whether you’re a racing sim enthusiast or prefer something with more of an arcade twist, there’s something here for everyone.
Gran Turismo Sport
Let’s start with a heavy hitter. Since the days of the original PlayStation, Gran Turismo has always been a big player in the racing space, and Gran Turismo Sport is no different. With a focus on real cars, real tracks, and a realistic feel, Gran Turismo Sport is a racing game for true motorsport fanatics. Despite some changes to the series formula, it’s still one of the best racing sims out there with stunning visuals and a comprehensive driving school for those who want to get serious about racing online.
Gran Turismo fans might currently be side-eyeing each new Gran Turismo 7 trailer, but with that game not out until March 2022, GT Sport is the go-to game in the series for PS4 and PS5 owners.
After more than a decade, Codemasters’ annual Formula 1 games have a rich pedigree. Recreating one of the fastest sports in the world, F1 2021 toes the line between accessibility for newcomers and depth for hardcore racing fans, and come with a deep career mode that you can lose dozens of hours to as well as plenty of options to take your racing online.
Truth be told, you could probably pick up F1 2020 or F1 2019 on the cheap and get an experience that’s pretty similar to F1 2021, but this year’s game comes with a fun new story mode that gives you a taste of the teammate drama you loved to watch (and mock) in Netflix’s Drive to Survive.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
It wouldn’t be a list about the best racing games without Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for Nintendo Switch. This is the series at its absolute pinnacle with more karts, characters, and customisation options than you can shake a blue shell at. It also has a huge list of tracks to choose from, different modes to mess around in, and multiplayer lobbies that are still chock full of racers wanting to throw down. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine how Nintendo can top Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
Forza Horizon 4
Forza Horizon 4 is perhaps the best open-world arcade racer ever made – at least until Forza Horizon 5 comes out. It has you exploring a huge open-world version of Britain, taking on races and different events as you participate in the Horizon festival, but you can also share this world with other players, diving into various online multiplayer modes.
Playground Games are masters of this form, filling the game with hundreds of sublimely rendered cars, all of which are fun to drive, but Forza Horizon 4 constantly changes thanks to the way it shifts through the seasons from week to week. Of course, the racing feels great too and there’s a crazy amount to see and collect as you tear it up across Blighty.
Dirt 5 steers the rally racing series in a more arcade style direction than its more serious sibling Dirt Rally 2.0. Developed by the team at Codemasters Cheshire (many of whom worked on Driveclub and Motorstorm) it fuses an extensive garage of licensed vehicles with a lighter, less serious tone when compared to rally sims. There’s a story-based campaign mode in Dirt 5 that has you rise through the ranks of the racing world, going from a speedy nobody to a titan of the dirt track. It’s a real look on PC and newer consoles, easy to pick up, and crammed with user-created tracks crafted in its Dirt Playground tools.
This is by far and away the most violent racing game on this list. Wreckfest is all about demolition derby. Your aim is to cross the finish line first, of course, but also to take out anybody who stands in your way. You’ll have to design your own car and figure out what performance stats are most important to you before sending your vehicle out onto the track and accepting the fact that it probably won’t make it back in one piece. Since launch, Wreckfest has been supported by a string of DLC releases and still enjoys an active online community who are waiting to rip your bumpers off.
Hot Wheels Unleashed
Hot Wheels Unleashed is a fresh new entry on our list, but a deserving one nonetheless. The game’s creator, Milestone, is no stranger when it comes to the genre, the studio’s recent releases including MotoGP 21 and RIDE 4. Hot Wheels Unleashed captures the magic of not only collecting cars but the sensation of building your own incredible courses, as if slotting together bright orange track pieces on a virtual living room carpet. The arcade racing is great fun with difficulty options catering for everyone.
Ones to watch
To conclude our list of the best racing games you should be playing, let’s take a quick look at the future of the genre! On the horizon, we have a number of upcoming titles including:
- KartRider: Drift
- Forza Horizon 5
- Gran Turismo 7
- Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown
- Grid Legends
- Need for Speed 2022