As long as video games have existed, people have wanted racing games where they can get behind the wheel of cool cars and drive fast. Let’s face it — driving is a fun pastime even when you’re gaming. And no matter whether you prefer to get behind the wheel of a go-kart or an exotic supercar, there’s a racing simulator out there for you. The question you’re left to answer is which of these racing games is the most fun? Well, we reviewed a good number of them, from the popular Gran Turismo Sport to a platform for F1 racing, to help you decide which racing game is right for you.
16 Best Racing Games of 2021
No Matter Your Console, These Racing Games Answer Your Need for Speed
Forza Horizon 5
1. F1 2021
If you are a Formula 1 fan, then this is the best racing game for you. It features an authentic experience, ideal for anyone that follows this global motorsport. In the game, you have access to team management and PR work dealing with media, providing a rich and rewarding atmosphere both on and off the track.
This platform offers the latest tracks, cars, and drivers. In team mode, you can create a driver, choose a sponsor, an engine supplier, hire teammates, and then get down to the business of competing.
Considering this is the Officially Licensed game for the 2021 season, you gain access to the entire calendar of circuits and the full roster of drivers. Race for a little while, and you might just forget it’s a simulator.
2. Forza Horizon 5
The fifth edition of this popular racing series was released in early November 2021 and promises to live up to the previous editions as a fan favorite. The thrills promise to be endless as you lead breathtaking expeditions across the vibrant and ever-evolving open-world landscapes of Mexico. And then, of course, there’s the fun driving action in hundreds of the world’s greatest cars.
Following up on the success of Forza Horizon 4’s open world, the fifth installment features the largest, most diverse open world in a Forza Horizon game. This means nearly endless exploration and tons of cool challenges — not to mention the weather which promises to deliver a challenge of its own.
And not to be eclipsed by the scenery, the automotive stars of this racing game include showstoppers like the Mercedes-AMG Project ONE which translates real-world F1 hybrid technology into a deliciously detailed on-screen rendition — one that can also go over 200 mph.
3. Burnout Paradise Remastered
Ten years after the initial release of Burnout Paradise, Criterion Games unveiled a tribute to it. This says something about how popular the original was as one of the best racing games of its time.
Through this game, it’s easy to relive all the high-octane stunts and destruction from this arcade-style driving game. The sounds of the streets include scraping guard rails, squealing tires, and roaring engines set to a delightfully nostalgic and very appropriate soundtrack. Artists such as Guns N’ Roses, Jimmy Eat World, Depeche Mode, and Alice in Chains fill out the setlist while a nice touch of Mozart, Beethoven, and even Tchaikovsky is provided for the more cultured Burnout players among us.
Join in with open world events and team up with others to smash billboards. You can have fun all by yourself with 75 cars to unlock and tons of activities and collectibles spread across the map. Dial it up online and complete the hundreds of different challenges waiting for you to start the ignition.
4. Gran Turismo Sport
If you talk to anyone who enjoys racing games, chances are they’ve heard of Gran Turismo. That’s because it was one of the most popular games that ever existed. The Sport version is modern and updated. It focuses heavily on competing in a multi-player setting online. Of course, it’s still as satisfying regarding visual appeal as the previous titles.
The online championship has even been certified by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile. Through this software, you get to compete for a home country with your favorite manufacturer.
Choose from the Nations Cup or the Manufacturers Cup to race in. Pick a high-performance car from more than 140 options and enjoy the 19 real-world locations spanning 27 layouts. Gran Turismo is a Sony exclusive and therefore only available on PlayStation systems.
5. Horizon Chase Turbo
This retro-inspired arcade racer was released in May 2018 and is available for the Nintendo Switch and PS4, as well as Android and iOS devices. Drive some legendary vehicles and enjoy nostalgic low-poly graphics that remind you of the way things used to be.
Why not gather some of your friends and try your skills out in four-player mode? This thrilling arcade game was originally inspired by Lotus Turbo Challenger, Top Gear, and Outrun, but what’s most exciting about it is the soundtrack. In fact, Barry Leitch composed it. You might remember him as the man in charge of Top Gear’s music over 25 years ago.
OnRush isn’t your typical race car simulator; it’s a team combat racing challenge. It’s your mission to score points by making your way through the checkpoints and taking competitors down as ruthlessly as possible.
Your gameplay depends on what mode you select. Switch mode gives all the contenders a bike and a set number of lives. Each time your vehicle is destroyed, you get to change to another one until you don’t have any cars left. The last team still standing wins the game.
With Lockdown mode, you’ll notice similarities to Battlefield and Call of Duty. It’s a King-of-the-Hill style minigame that requires players to hold a point for as long as possible to rack up points.
Because OnRush was built by the same team who did Motorstorm and Driveclub, you can expect some stunning visuals and precision graphics. It’s also a thrilling multiplayer experience.
7. DiRT 4
Rally games are on their way back in style, and DiRT 4 is a great way to ease back into it. Luckily, off-road enthusiasts have more options when it comes to racing simulator games these days, but DiRT 4 comes as somewhat of an exception to the rule in a world of open-world, tons-to-do types like Forza Horizon 4.
Where past iterations of the DiRT franchise have featured Gymkhana and Demolition Derby style events, DiRT 4 strips away everything that isn’t pure, undiluted rally driving — and that’s exactly what this racing game is about.
Career mode allows players to manage their own team, enabling them to hire or fire their crew, sign up sponsors, and design their own experience. There’s also a nifty feature that allows you to randomly generate rally stages, so you could theoretically never drive the same course twice.
As for the vehicle selection, you can choose from a variety of stadium trucks, modern subcompacts, classic rally cars, and Group B legends donned in the liveries we all know and love. If you want to get serious about your gameplay, there’s a live ladder, tournaments, leagues, and cross-platform leaderboards to compete against.
It is worth noting that past iterations of this game have been very touchy with the controls which really brings out the nuanced characteristics of a proper rally vehicle. Where brute force and a ‘pedal to the metal’ mindset can get you far in other racing sims, you’ll likely notice that it’s the small adjustments and precise throttle control that ultimately get you the gold in DiRT 4.
8. Forza Motorsport 7
You won’t find many racing games that deliver what Forza Motorsport does. There are more than 700 cars to choose from, giving Forza Motorsport 7 a larger car list than any game of its generation. There are also endless customization features, 32 different tracks, and a completely redesigned career mode.
With this version, everyone can compete. Enjoy the Forza Racing Championship Esports league with spectating modes and split-screen play. Experience the best in 4K gaming with a proper racing wheel setup and you’ll forget you aren’t driving a real car in no time at all.
9. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Back when the original Mario Kart debuted for the Wii U, it was hailed as being the best kart racer ever. This version brings back all of the earlier thrills including Battle Mode. The gameplay is exceptionally smooth with 60 frames per second plus 1080p. It allows you to fully enjoy the track designs and challenge yourself with the 200cc mode.
Race with your friends locally in four-player mode and spot your favorite characters like King Boo, Bowser Jr., and Dry Bones. Just as can be expected from any Nintendo classic, this generation’s iteration is every bit as fun as its predecessors and has everything you’d expect plus a few new additions to liven up the experience.
While this might be the oldest game of its generation, it still has a lot of appeal. The multiplayer arcade racer showcases precise attention to detail and offers some amazing landscapes. It was inspired by some of the Need for Speed titles and reminds us slightly of the Project Gotham Racing platforms.
If Driveclub does anything right, it gets the basics down. You’ll experience real-life weather effects, amazing speeds, and superior handling models. You won’t find lots of advanced features on this game, but if you just care about getting out and racing, this is the way to go.
You can join in with one of the existing clubs or take the bull by the horns and create your own with up to 12 drivers. Varied challenges offer lots of unique gameplay to keep you entertained.
If you’re a fan of demolition derbies, then this racing game is for you. Get started by customizing your cars — just don’t forget the body armor as you’re going to need it.
Once you’ve got your ride set, you can get out to the races — either solo or in multiplayer mode if you want to take on your online friends. Either way, your goal is the same — demolition dominance!
In addition to the American muscle and sleek European models, the game also has some goofy challenges where you can have fun with crop harvesters, lawns mowers, school buses, three-wheelers, and more.
12. Project Cars 3
Project Cars 3 was developed by the same group of people that brought us the work of art that was the Need for Speed: Shift series. In this racing game, they offer a stronger focus on motorsports from a variety of disciplines.
You’ll have access to sports cars, classic tourers, and open-wheel racers as well. They also offer one of the widest selections of circuits on the market today with 140 tracks as well as over 200 race and road cars to choose from. While it’s not even in the ballpark of the ridiculously high bar set by Forza Motorsport 7 with its 700+ cars, it’s definitely got enough variety to provide hours upon hours of entertainment.
With the variable weather system, you can simulate your races through varying seasons. There’s also a single-player campaign mode which follows a real-life driver’s career. If you dream of turning your racing skills into a profession, you’ll find a lot of pleasure in Project Cars 3.
All-in-all, the game debuted as the title that it was meant to be in the first place — a solid, grounded, highly customizable racing simulator where the physics are rewarding and the cars feel so right you just want to keep driving them over and over again.
13. Fast RMX
Fans of the F-Zero franchise will love this game (shoutout to Captain Falcon, though). This technical masterpiece features stunning course design, hard-to-beat AI, and fast-track action.
Phase-Switching keeps players engaged, forcing them to switch between one of two phases, orange and blue, to match the color of a pad on the ground. Get it right for a speed boost or flub the phase switch and see yourself getting brake-checked. It may sound gimmicky, and it is, but it also can cause you to miss jumps or awkwardly bump into turn walls, which means it can actually impact the outcome of the race.
The advanced skill of this game forces you to learn all of the tracks like the back of your hand. Different vehicles suit different racing types and there actually is a certain level of strategy that can be deployed in this game where speed is everything. Fast RMX is quickly on its way to becoming a cult classic and will likely live on in the hearts and homes of dedicated enthusiasts for years to come.
14. Assetto Corsa
What’s interesting about Assetto Corsa is that this racing game wasn’t developed by a large team. In fact, Kunos Simulazioni is only a group of five people based out of Italy. Despite that, the game has received rave reviews for its attention to detail and accuracy.
From the makers of netKar Pro, a widely-appreciated and underrated racing simulator from 2006, Assetto Corsa is an improvement over its predecessor in almost every way imaginable.
netKar Pro was praised for its physics and visual realistic tire wear and vehicle damage. The game didn’t feature a single-player mode and had limited community support, so it never really got the reception it deserved. Also, only three of the vehicles were officially licensed.
Compare that to Assetto Corsa’s 120+ officially licensed cars, extensive single-player campaign, improved graphics, physics, and damage models, huge cult following, and mind-blowing attention to detail where every car feels unique and different, and you’ll see just how much Kunos Simulazioni have learned in the last decade.
It’s been several years since its release, but they still have one of the best handling games out there. Make sure you get a high-quality racing wheel because this simulator feels like the real thing. Though you don’t have access to as many cars as the monstrous volumes found in other games of its generation, that really just adds to the intimate authenticity in each one. If it’s authenticity you want, you won’t find a better option.
15. Forza Horizon 3
While we’ve already mentioned Horizon 5, this one deserved its own spot, too. It’s a full-blown automotive playground with an arcade experience set in the heart of Australia. It makes sense for every racing enthusiast to own both versions for unique gameplay.
Head into the Australian wilderness to test out some of the best cars ever produced. You’ll find an extensive selection of American muscle cars and their Australian counterparts, some particularly rowdy street-legal and stadium trucks, as well as a healthy dose of Euro hatches, Japanese imports, turbos, exotics, hypercars and more.
Roam the Australian outback in some of the fastest cars ever made then take things to the next level with Blizzard Mountain. This snow-rally wonderland offers some of the best weather effects in all of gaming. With the Hot Wheels Expansion, you can also bring some of your childhood fantasies into reality on some of the most insane tracks you’ve ever raced on, featuring the likeness of so many of the nostalgic sets we grew up with.
As expected, there’s also a healthy dose of DLC cars and more events than you can shake a stick at. Leveling up rewards the player with a prize wheelspin which can result in a free car or some cool cash. Bucket list challenges allow players to experience a collection of unique vehicles in environments they were designed to thrive in, or make you do the most ridiculous thing in the worst car for the job just for the sake of unnecessary difficulty and comic relief; it can honestly go either way.
Pick this racing game up today to enjoy hundreds of hours of driving your favorite cars on long, open roads, completely devoid of any apparent form of law enforcement or real consequences for going, like, 200 miles per hour in a Lamborghini Centenario.
16. Dirt Rally 2.0
If getting off the pavement is more your style, Dirt Rally 2.0 delivers all the fun of the best racing games with a rallycross twist. The official game of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, you’ll get to navigate through courses in New Zealand, Argentina, Spain, Poland, Australia, and the U.S.
The game features an iconic roster of over 50 historic and modern-day rally cars, and the Day One Edition adds three DLC cars (Porsche 911 RGT Rally Spec, Fiat 131 Abarth Rally, and the Alpine Renault A110 1600 S) to the stable. The improved handling, surfaces, and environments lend the feel of an authentic off-road experience.
Players can build a team, add to their garage and manage a roster of staff for the full World Rallycross experience.
The Best Racing Games: Take Your Pick
Choosing the absolute best game is ultimately impossible due to the subjective nature of racing games. Some people are looking for a specific experience in their racing that others don’t enjoy or appreciate. People are diverse; racing games are diverse. Luckily with these top racing games, you can drive really fast in some really nice cars, no matter which game you choose.