Racing video games seemed to be a genre on the decline around ten years ago. Arcade racers like Blur and Split/Second weren’t selling, brilliant companies were shutting, and even popular series like Need for Speed were having trouble regaining their former popularity. It seemed that, save from Mario Kart or Gran Turismo, the era of the expensive racing game and the genre as an engaging attraction for the general public finished.
Thankfully, things are considerably better today for racing enthusiasts. Indie studios have revived the joys of the 90s-style arcade racer, the PC simulation racing scene is more competitive than it has ever been, and Codemasters rode a successful stint on the Formula One license all the way to an incredible $1.2 billion acquisition by EA, which shows just how highly racing games valued right now. All of these developments can be attributed to Forza Horizon, which made driving games cool once again.
Here, we provide our selections for the top racing games available right now. These games are largely contemporary since technology tends to advance this genre, but there still a few timeless classics sprinkled throughout. We’re concentrating, as always, on games that accessible and playable on current hardware. We’ve broken down the list into four sub-genres to help you sort through the options: open-world racing games, which combine racing and exploration across a sizable map; arcade racing games, which focus more on fun and immediacy than realism; motorsport games based on officially licensed real-world sports; and sim racing games, which emphasize the authenticity of the driving experience.
THE BEST WORLD-WIDE RACE GAMES
Forza Horizon 5
Forza Horizon originally began as a spin-off from the Forza Motorsport circuit-racing series, but it has now emerged as the star of the show: a stunning, uplifting collection of racing games for all players set on vast, real-world-inspired settings. Horizon 5 takes the concept to Mexico in a loving package that contains the expansive narrative, rambunctious multiplayer, moreish vehicle collection, and festival-friendly ambiance we anticipate from Horizon games. It also appears on our lists of the greatest Game Pass games and the top Xbox Series X/S games. Beyond the fantastic co-op option, Horizon Tour, Horizon 5 doesn’t really add anything new, but it does improve everything the previous game accomplished and has a far better campaign structure for navigating the absurd number of things to do. Additionally, the aesthetics are just stunning.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered
Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, PC, and Switch
It’s easy to overlook the fact that, for a short while with Criterion in charge, the Need for Speed games offered some of the greatest driving experiences available given that the franchise would soon revert to its typical rut. Everything that makes Need for Speed great pounded into Hot Pursuit’s gritty combat and wide-open highways, and this game’s remaster further strengthens the idea that this was a high point for the franchise. We anxiously anticipate Criterion’s return to leadership.
Burnout Paradise Remastered
PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC
Prior to Criterion taking over Need for Speed, it developed the renowned arcade racing franchise Burnout, which took the graceful boosting and drifting of 90s classics like Ridge Racer and Daytona and reframed them for the 2000s as a grimy contact sport – all screen shake, sideswipes, and twisted metal. Burnout Paradise from 2008 was even more of a pioneer because to its open-world environment and totally flexible gameplay structure. It’s hardly shocking that a game this daringly contemporary has aged so well in this wonderful remake. (Please also remaster Burnouts 2 and 3)
THE BEST ARCADE RACING APPLICATIONS
Deluxe Mario Kart 8
Any Mario Kart game, dating all the way back to the 1992 Super Nintendo original, is certain to be fun when played with friends. Each game in the series has expert arcade controls, challenging levels, a charming cast of characters, and an unpredictable nasty streak that can make every race unpredictable. It makes sense why they are the most popular racing games ever. The most recent Mario Kart, Mario Kart 8, may be the best Mario Kart since the very first one thanks to its outstanding local and online multiplayer, rewarding solo mode, extensive customizability, gorgeous visuals, and rousing live-band soundtrack. The Deluxe version of this game included in our list of the best Switch games. This is even more crucial with the continued Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC support provided by the unexpected but appreciative Course Packs.
Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled
When one of the most skilled companies in the world, Naughty Dog, creates a bandwagon-jumping, off-brand cover version of a purportedly unrivaled phenomenon – Mario Kart, of course – it results in Crash Team Racing. It doesn’t go very far from the original material, but it accomplishes everything well, and the result is really enjoyable. The same things apply to Beenox’s flawless recreation, which much better than you remember it to be. Nitro-Fueled is the best local multiplayer game if you don’t have a Switch or simply like Crash.
PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC
While Inertial Drift does pull numerous pages out of Ridge Racer Type 4’s book, it emerges as wholly its own thing. Some contemporary arcade racers may be a touch too wedded to their renowned forebears. You can thank the game’s special twin-stick drift hunters feature for that. It takes a little getting used to, but once you do, there’s nothing quite like it.
Art of Rally
There several vintage racers out there that sound like cover versions of old favorites, but Art of Rally is a little more subdued and unique than that. With its unauthorized, toy-like vehicle designs and odd top-down perspective, it pays homage to a bygone era of racing games like Micro Machines as well as the golden period of rallying. Undoubtedly, it has an aesthetic, and a very fashionable one at that. However, the game’s shockingly complex handling model, which makes it a better reproduction of the sport than you have any right to anticipate, is what makes it so entertaining. Originally released for the PC, the game is now accessible on Xbox and Switch.
Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, and PS5.
This fantastic banger-racer, which, like Art of Rally, has several legendary and unauthorized automobiles (shh, don’t tell the makers), is reminiscent of both the venerable Destruction Derby and Flatout. Given that it created by the original Flatout studio Bugbear, this is hardly shocking. It’s a simple premise, but it has everything you could possibly want: aged vehicles with heavy, wallowing handling that authentically lurch, crush, and dink each other’s bodywork due to an excellent physics engine. easy joys
If you’re looking for an arcade racer, how about one taken from the real arcades of today? Yes, such things do exist, and certain firms have remained steadfast in the industry. One such company Raw Thrills, led by Eugene Jarvis, the creator of the Robotron and an all-around icon. Cruis’n Blast combines the eye-searing 90s gaudiness with the 80s arcade classic’s exuberance for a fantastically fun combo. The Switch port is also very useful. Arcade ideal? Perhaps, but there’s also a case to be made for Cruis’n Blast, which arcade racing refined in its own outrageous manner.
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