People love cars. Who doesn’t want to cruise the beautiful countryside in a Lamborghini? Or get behind the wheel of a Baja Truck and go hill-hopping? Alas, you usually don’t have the opportunity to rip around the track at blistering speeds in the car of your dreams.
That’s where driving and racing games come in.
In light of how advanced gaming technology is getting, the time has never been better to give these games a try. They let you drive the cars you dream about with life-like graphics and realistic handling that makes you feel as if you’re really driving.
There are so many great driving and racing simulations out there that it would take quite a while to even list our favorites. So let’s limit our focus to the best of the best: the top five driving and racing games on the market today.
Best All-Around Driving Game
Forza Horizon 4
Forza Horizon 4 is an open-world driving and racing game that combines breathtaking scenery and graphics with smooth controls and unlimited things to do. You can spend hours and hours racing other players, completing various storylines, or simply driving around the massive map and taking in the beauty of the game.
The best features of Forza Horizon 4 are the many cars available to you and the open-world nature of the game. You can purchase, find, or unlock seemingly any major car built in the past half-century, and you can customize it to your heart’s content. Fill your garage with Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and Aston Martins, or recreate that special car you owned back in the day. No another game enables you to customize and drive almost any car you can think of.
Take your cars for a spin around the map. Explore snow-covered mountains, rolling hills and countrysides, sandy beaches, towns and cities. The possibilities are endless, and there is always something new to do. The game cycles through the seasons of the year as well as the hours of the day, so it is constantly fresh. Every time you drive, the experience is a little different.
Forza Horizon 4 is available for both Xbox and PC gamers.
Best Rally and Off-Road Racing
DiRT Rally 2.0
Although Forza has a bigger open world and more racing opportunities than other games, the game that’s best at rally and off-road racing is DiRT Rally 2.0. This game is not backed by gaming studios that can pay the best of the best to create massive open-world gaming experiences. But its virtues more than compensate for this deficiency.
The developers of DiRT Rally 2 created the perfect combination of the physics and controls required to effectively simulate dirt racing. Add realistic graphics—dirt flying up from the tires and mud slinging in all directions as you power through turns—and you feel as if you’re really out there tearing it up.
Build your dream rally car and tackle all the courses and tracks that DiRT Rally 2 has to offer. Battle the computer or other racers online through different stages to see how far you can really go in the world of dirt racing. You can also improve your gameplay and add many hours of fun-filled dirt-slinging to your off-road experience with optional downloadable content that provides remastered versions of some of the tracks and courses from the first DiRT Rallygame.
DiRT Rally 2 is available on all three of the major platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, and PC. So anyone can play.
Best Casual Arcade Racer
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo Switch)
Mario Kart is one of the most iconic racing games of all time. Many versions have been released over the years. Our personal favorite is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which is played on the Nintendo Switch.
In the world of casual arcade racing, Mario Kart has long reigned supreme, and the version created for the Switch in 2017 is no exception. This game provides light-hearted racing fun that is perfect for either a solo player or a group of friends and family. Grab your favorite character from the popular Mario gaming franchise and hop in your go-kart to take on other heroes and villains from the series. Drive around colorful and interactive tracks as you pick up items that you can use against opponents.
As in all the classic Mario Kart games, you can toss turtle shells at your friends. Or try one of the four brand-new items released in this version of the game. Take on the computer or your friends and family as you race along some of the most intriguing and visually appealing tracks in franchise history. With the Nintendo Switch, it takes only seconds to jump from handheld single-player mode to full-scale TV mode so that you can play against others. If you’re just looking for a bit of racing fun, this is the game for you.
Best for More Serious Circuit Racing
Project CARS 2
Although some of the games on this list are great for light-hearted fun or a quick race on your mobile device, Project CARS 2 is the best choice for more serious gamers, regardless of platform. One of the top racing games in the world, it is played regularly in major gaming leagues around the world. If you want to get into some serious gaming, this is the game for you. If you are just a casual player, this is also the game for you; you can have endless fun with it.
The nearly 200 cars at your disposal and hyperrealistic physics and controls immerse you in the experience and keep the play exciting. Like Forza, Project CARS 2 also incorporates the seasons so that gameplay is even more realistic and variable; the driving experience changes as the weather changes.
Travel to 60 different global locations and take on nearly 150 tracks as you play against the computer or other players online. If you have access to a virtual reality headset and controls, Project CARS 2 puts you right in the middle of the action, and you feel as if you are actually driving the cars of your dreams. It’s a surreal simulation, one that we hope all driving gamers get to experience at some point.
Best Mobile Racing Game
Real Racing 2
Although most of the other games on this list are primarily for consoles, we didn’t want to neglect the best game for those who love being able to play at a moment’s notice on the smartphone in their pocket: Real Racing 2.
Explore fifteen different locations with over 40 miles of race tracks as you take your mobile gaming up a notch. With Real Racing 2 and the accessibility that comes with mobile gaming, it’s easy to race your friends or someone on the other side of the world in the online multiplayer mode. Or work your way through the career mode to become a true mobile racing champion.
Regardless of genre, Real Racing 2 is one of the most in-depth mobile games out there. And in the realm of racing and driving games, it’s the best option in the app store, no matter what type of smartphone you have. You use your phone as the steering wheel while you play, so it’s as if you’re really there, tearing up the track. Grab your phone and give it a try.
Driving and racing games have a special place in the hearts of gamers who love all things automotive. They’re just as fun for the average gamer who wants to play something a little different from a strategy game or a first-person shooter game.
Here at Car Digest, we’re a motley crew. Some of us are dedicated console gamers; some of us are just looking for light-hearted racing fun; some of us are mobile gamers. But if we had to pick our favorite driving and racing game of all time, we’d go with Forza Horizon 4. There’s just something special about that game, and many of us play it regularly.
Try every game on this list and see which one is your own favorite. Happy gaming!