What are the best racing games on PC? Whether mastering muddy tracks in Dirt Rally or embracing Forza Horizon 5’s magnificent Mexico, here are the best racers around.
The Best Racing Games on PC
FORZA HORIZON 5
Playground Games’ latest open-world arcade racer leaves the British Isles behind and brings the party to Mexico. Forza Horizon 5’s map is 50% larger than Horizon 4’s UK, and it’s filled with open desert roads, quaint Mexican towns, and breathtaking canyons. Building on the previous games’ stunning seasonal effects that bring the environment to life, in Horizon 5 you contend with storms that can whip up ferocious winds at a moment’s notice.
DIRT RALLY 2
If you don’t know your pacenotes from your driveshaft, Dirty Rally 2.0 is not the racing game for you. If you’re looking for a casual driving experience, just getting from A to B a bit faster than you would normally be able to on your daily commute, try Dirt 4, instead. In Rally 2.0 your co-driver will launch instructions, numbers, and directions at you thick and fast and, if you can’t handle the varied terrains and hairpin bends then you’ll be smashing into a tree before you know it.
Shift 2 might be the best compromise between realism and accessibility of any game on this list. It’s not just the ways the car handle – menacing, but capable – but the way it consistently thinks about what players need to perform at a high level. Rather than lock your view gazing out over the hood, or ask you to spring for TrackIR to let you turn your head, Shift 2 has a dynamic view that subtly changes based on context.
PROJECT CARS 2
Real cars, you might have noticed, rarely cartwheel into the verge the moment you dare to mix steering and acceleration inputs. In fact, they’re quite good at going round corners – it is almost like an engineer has given the problem some thought during the design process. Performance cars in Project Cars 2, while certainly more liable to bite back, are even better at the whole turning thing. Throw a Ferrari or Lamborghini around the track (as we have done on a number of occasions) and you’ll probably spend more time having fun than fretting about the absence of a rewind button in real life.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered
Given that the series would soon return to its familiar slump, it’s easy to forget that, for a brief period with Criterion at the reins, the Need for Speed games served up some of the best driving experiences around. Hot Pursuit’s crunchy combat and wide-open roads drilled into everything that makes Need for Speed great, and this remaster only reinforces the impression that this was a high watermark for the series. We await Criterion’s fresh stint at the helm with baited breath.
Burnout Paradise Remastered
Before Criterion took over Need for Speed, it created the legendary arcade racing series Burnout, which took the elegant boosting and drifting of 90s classics like Ridge Racer and Daytona and reframed them for the 00s as a grimy contact sport – all screen shake, sideswipes and twisted metal. 2008’s Burnout Paradise was even more of a trailblazer, with its open-world map and completely open gameplay framework. It’s not surprising that such a daringly modern game should age so well, as it has in this lovely remaster. (Now remaster Burnouts 2 and 3 as well please!)
Daytona USA HD
Still on ‘best racing game’ lists after almost three decades, Daytona USA is simply one of the best arcade racing games ever made. With exquisite and deep car handling that takes years to truly master, three unforgettable and beautifully-designed tracks and one of gaming’s most idiosyncratic yet awesome soundtracks, this is as fun to play as it ever was. You might have a little trouble getting it on your console, mind. It came out on PS3 and Xbox 360, but you can play it with PSNow. And while it runs in 4K on Xbox One X and above, you can’t buy it on that machine or online, at least in the UK. Instead, sign into an Xbox 360, buy it from the store, and then redownload it on your new machine. Blue sky gaming awaits. Daytonaaaaaaa!
Dirt Rally 2.0
There have been a disproportionately high number of good rally titles released over the past few years, but it’s Codemasters’ Dirt Rally that’s risen to the top, despite not having the official WRC license (at least, not yet – it will do from 2023). In the meantime, while the official WRC games are decent simulations of this most daredevil of motorsports, Dirt Rally 2.0 nails the feeling of driving at both low and high speed. It’s ultra-smooth, ultra-realistic and every surface feels just right. Best played with a wheel and pedals (and a handbrake if you can get one), this is still lots of fun on a pad. Just be warned – there’s a reason not everybody goes rallying at the weekends. It’s very, very difficult.
This re-imagining of the 2007 classic Race Driver GRID is a showcase for modern graphics tech, looking absolutely superb on the more advanced consoles. The tracks are memorable, the weather effects are superb, and the handling is brilliantly forgiving, making this the perfect way to get into serious racing gaming without getting into “I can’t even keep it on the track” territory. Just don’t expect the amazing damage tech of the original, or even that of the Switch’s GRID Autosport we just talked about; this one’s a bit ‘toned down’. Still, a solid racer, no question.
It’s entirely possible that the upcoming Forza 7 will take its place as the best car racing game ever made, but until then, it’s safe to say that Forza Motorsport 4 reigns supreme.
By sheer numbers, Forza Horizon 5 beats Gran Turismo 7 by having over 100 more. That being, Gran Turismo 7 has 420 Cars & Forza Horizon 5 has 520. You would think that Forza Horizon 5 beats Gran Turismo 7 here but that’s not the case.
On the day of release, the game broke records for its publisher, Xbox Game Studios, becoming the most successful launch day for any of its properties. Beating out the likes of Halo and Gears of War, it’s no surprise that Forza Horizon 5 is being hailed as one of the best racing games of the modern generation.
If you compare the overall performance of both games then asphalt 9 is slightly better as compared to asphalt 8. It is because it is the latest version of the game with plenty of improvements. It offers overall smooth gameplay and there are plenty of bug fixes that provide it with an edge over asphalt 8.
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