The best racing games on PC

The best racing games you can play on PC today, from hardcore sims to arcade racers.

1/11 ● PC Gamer
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Burnout Paradise Remastered

It's so much purer and more exciting than the games it inspired.



Release date: 2018 | Developer: Criterion

Racing games aren't often treated to remasters. The big franchises iterate so often that there rarely seems much point, but in the case of Burnout Paradise everybody was happy to see an exception to the rule.

In 10 years, there's been nothing quite like it.

And yet the original model still surpasses its imitators. It's so much purer and more exciting than the games it inspired. It doesn't have any licensed cars, so instead it features car-archetypes that crumple into gut-wrenchingly violent wrecks.

Compare those to the fender-benders that wipe you out in Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Criterion's attempt at topping themselves and where you get the sense that just depicting a shattered headlight would have entailed hundreds of meetings with Lamborghini's lawyers.

Driver: San Francisco

Radiates style and cool in a way that no other game on this list can match, despite its advancing years.



Release date: 2011 | Developer: Ubisoft Reflections

With a retro-chic ‘70s vibe, one of the best soundtracks in games, and a truly original twist on the open world racer, Driver: San Francisco just radiates style and cool in a way that no other game on this list can match, despite its advancing years.

With the ability to "shift" between NPC cars at-will, Driver:SF is one of the only post-Paradise open-world racers to think of something fresh and new to do with the freedom of the open world.

In truth the brilliance of its central idea does outweigh the feel of its handling, which aims for Need For Speed but doesn't quite excite in the same way.

It's still rough and ready enough to power a brilliantly odd story and bring San Francisco to life, though.

RaceRoom Racing Experience

The catalog of cars and tracks deep enough to really specialise in a certain series thanks to that free-to-play model.



Release date: 2013 | Developer: Sector3 Studios

This is the descendant of SimBin's once-mighty racing empire. Think of it as GTR Online: it's the ruthlessly-authentic car sim you remember, but retooled for online free-to-play.

The catalog of cars and tracks deep enough to really specialise in a certain series thanks to that free-to-play model.

...Which is also its weakness. Once you get the cars on the track, it's all terrific and familiar.

But off-track, RaceRoom is all about selling you bits and pieces of the game. Pick a series you want to race, and immerse yourself in it.

There's more than enough to learn about vintage touring cars to occupy you for months, if not years, before you need to go dribbling over the in-game store menu again.

GRID Autosport

My Summer Car

it’s as much a car mechanic game and a simulator of being a teenage layabout in 1990s rural Finland as a racing game per se....



Release date: 2016 | Developer: Amistech Games

At least half your time in My Summer Car is spent outside of a car.

It makes its way on this list, however, because for anyone with a passing interest in cars it’s an essential experience.

It all begins with a note from your parents telling you to rebuild the junked car in your garage.

From there you construct a driveable, moddable vehicle down to the most minute nuts and bolts, teaching you exactly what an exhaust manifold looks like and what happens when it rattles loose along a lakeside single lane road at 70mph. Car ownership has never felt more satisfying and personal in driving games than in this slightly janky but beautifully esoteric builder-meets-racer.

MotoGP 18

inherently exciting - the lean angles, suicidal overtakes and acceleration rates just make for a great spectator sport.



Release date: September 2018 |Developer: Milestone

Two wheels might be considered blasphemy in some corners of the racing community, but for all those willing to divide the usual wheelbase by half, Milestone’s licensed MotoGP sim offers quite a rush.

And Italian superbike specialists Milestone really nail that feeling of terror and bravery of being on a factory MotoGP bike.

The Codemasters F1 games are obviously a big inspiration, to put it politely, but the upshot for anyone playing it is a layer of career simulation on top of the racing.

Work your way up through slower categories, build a reputation, and hold out for that big team ride.

F1 2020

This is a brilliant, great-looking F1 sim and just keeps getting deeper the more you look into it.



Photo: Codemasters.

Release date: 2020| Developer: Codemasters

Codemasters’ F1 series has offered comparable depth in its career mode for a few years now, but creating and managing your own team really does make a difference to the emotional attachment you’ll feel.

From press interview answers to choosing the right teammate, you’re responsible for your results to the point where you can clearly trace any failure back to a poor decision that you made.

It’s very familiar, certainly, and still lacks the quality of car damage it had 10 years ago. It could also use a little more flair and personality in its p

Project CARS 2

This is the racing sim that attempts to do it all: ice racing , larting, rallycross...



Release date: 2017 | Developer: Slightly Mad Studios

This is the racing sim that attempts to do it all: ice racing on studded tires around Swedish snowdrifts. Karting in the Scottish highlands. Rallycross within Hockenheim’s infield section, mud splattering across everything and everyone.

LMP1s hurtling through Imola, Indycars defying gravity at Daytona Speedway - and when you really get bored, Honda Civics trying to make it up Eau Rouge without stalling.

A strong eSports scene is now solidified around Project CARS 2, and such is the depth of simulation that for young aspiring drivers, this might well be a fitting substitute for time on track.

Dirt Rally 2

An incredibly high-skill discipline, and Codemasters don’t ask any less of you than a real 4WD WRC vehicle would.



Release date: 2019 | Developer: Codemasters

The first Dirt Rally was a revelation when it arrived in 2015, departing from the snapback caps and energy drink ads that erstwhile came to define the Dirt series and renewing its focus on the staggering challenge of - well, just keeping a car on the track of a rally course.

Dirt Rally 2 does that too, and its’ better at it in every way.

Split / Second

Where fake sports cars will rocket through desolate, orange-filtered urban wastelands at blinding speed



Release date: 2010 | Developer: Black Rock Studio

Welcome to the Michael Bay Motorsports Hour, where fake sports cars will rocket through desolate, orange-filtered urban wastelands at blinding speed while drivers accumulate enough energy to trigger bomb-drops from overhead helicopters, vicious sweeps from out-of-control cranes, and even the odd explosion of an entire city block.

Nearly 10 years on, Split/Second remains the perfect chaser to a lot of open-world arcade racers: it's laser-focused on absurd automotive chaos and increasingly improbable tableaus of bloodless mechanical carnage.

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