The racing game genre has come a long way since the days of arcades, where players had to grip cheap plastic steering wheels and press down on faux gas pedals that had become sticky from gum and whatever other gunk you’d find at your local mall. Nowadays, racing game fans have a ton of options for what to play and how to play it.
Whether its classic arcade racing with a controller from the comfort of your home or a more realistic racing sim with an immersive steering wheel and pedal set-up, racing games are a great way to zone out and forget about the struggles of real world driving, like getting stuck in traffic or behind someone who drives like a turtle.
So here we’ve highlighted some of the best racing games to play in 2019. Make sure to check back as we’ll be updating this list with new titles in the future.
Assetto Corsa Competizione
When it comes to realistic racing sims, the Assetto Corsa games are among the very best. The latest entry in the series, puts players behind the wheel of iconic GT racing cars like Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and McLarens to name a few, all rendered to look as realistic and carefully-detailed as possible.
Aside from a roster of official drivers, teams, cars and circuits, Competizione utilizes Unreal Engine 4, which allows for photorealistic weather conditions. This same level of care is present in the game’s racing mechanics, which use sophisticated mathematical models in order to simulate realistic tire grip, suspension, and drivability based on how much damage a vehicle’s taken.
Next up is F1 2018, a realistic racing and sports management sim that has you exploring the world of Formula 1 both on and off the track. The game features every vehicle from F1 2017 in addition to six new classics from the 1970s-early 2000s.
If you’re looking for an immersive experience then F1 2018 has you covered as handling has been greatly improved since the last game and managing your ERS (Engine Recovery System) to fit the needs of any situation you encounter on the road is easier than ever. Aside from races, F1 2018 drops you into press interviews which force you to answer tough questions that can impact your career and the way other teams and drivers view you.
Forza Horizon 4
The Forza Horizon series may not be as dedicated to providing players with a 1:1 realistic racing experience as it’s Motorsport counterpart, however Forza Horizon 4 still manages to deliver an enjoyable open-world racing game thanks to its large and diverse roster of over 450 vehicles.
Horizon 4 features dynamic weather tech which allows for rotating seasons that dramatically affect driving conditions and unlock new events and paths. Additionally, the game includes the highly-requested Route Creator feature, allowing players to design and share their own custom racetracks online.
Now that we’ve gotten the more serious racers out of the way, prepare yourself for more arcade-style racing games. Distance is a futuristic racing platformer whose roads are packed with deadly obstacles at every turn.
The game blends driving with parkour elements that allow the player’s vehicle to jump, rotate, and fly through the air in order to survive any challenge standing in your way. Distance’s gravity-defying racing mechanics are complimented by the game’s neon-soaked visuals and atmospheric soundtrack which feel reminiscent of the Tron films.
Trackmania Turbo was designed with the perfectionist racer in mind, someone who’s obsessed with shaving off seconds from their racing time in order to get the best record possible. The game has you putting your skills to the test in over 200 tracks with the option to create your own courses or generate random ones.
Turbo comes with four different environments to explore, each adding a new element to gameplay. For example, Rollercoaster Lagoon has you racing on gravity-defying magnetic tracks while Canyon Grand has you drifting your way through narrow desert pathways.
Burnout fans have been itching for a new, more modern entry in the series for years. And although the chaotic arcade racer seems to have been shelved by EA for the time being, some of the creative talent behind the original Burnout games has taken matters into their own hands, developing the spiritual successor Dangerous Driving.
The game looks and feels just like a classic Burnout game from top to bottom. Races are fast-paced and require split-second reactions, especially at higher speeds. While Dangerous Driving is currently lacking in content, it provides some of the most satisfying and crunchy car collisions we’ve seen in years.
Burnout Paradise Remastered
If you’re looking for an official Burnout game that hasn’t aged badly, then check out Burnout Paradise Remastered, which brings the 2008 game up to 2019 standards with a range of technical enhancements and improved visuals. The game has you exploring Paradise City, a massive open-world filled with plenty of hidden shortcuts, ramps, and billboards to drive through.
Included is the original’s roster of 150 playable vehicles as well as eight DLC packs that add over 100 cars, 10 tracks, and extra challenges for players to take on at a fraction of the price. If you’re into thrilling races and wanton destruction, Paradise Remastered will feel like a stroll down memory lane.
Wreckfest is a demolition derby racing game focused on over-the-top destruction and whiplash-inducing driving. The game uses soft-body damage modeling that make collisions feel more realistic and impact vehicle performance.
Here you’ll find an expansive vehicle upgrade system that allows you to customize your death trap however you see fit, adding reinforced bumpers, roll cages, side protectors, etc. Aside from your typical high-speed circuit races, the game has a demolition derby arena mode that’s centered on completely wrecking your opponents’ vehicles.
Taking a break from all the car-based racing games, here we have Trials Rising, the latest entry in Ubisoft’s long-running, physics-bending motorcycle racing series. The game has you navigating challenging tracks set across the world, from the Great Wall of China to the Eiffel Tower in France to the pyramids of Egypt.
Rising features more player customization options, allowing you to change your character and bike’s appearance with new stickers and gear earned by competing in tournaments with AI and other players online. Lastly, the game includes a new local multiplayer mode called ‘Tandem Bike’, which has two players attempting to control the same motorcycle.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention arguably the best kart racer ever. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe may just be a port of the Wii U game bundled with the original’s DLC; however it looks and plays better than ever on Switch. The game includes 48 tracks and 41 characters pulled from various Nintendo properties ranging from The Legend of Zelda to Splatoon.
Aside from standard 4-player local co-op racing, MK 8 Deluxe also supports 8-player wireless and online multiplayer. With flexible control options like ‘smart steering’ which makes staying on track much easier, and challenging fast-paced racing modes like 200cc, MK 8 Deluxe has something to offer for every kind of player.
Team Sonic Racing
Team Sonic Racing is an upcoming kart racer that’s looking to shake up the formula of previous Sonic Racing games by making some major changes. This includes the addition of team-based maneuvers, such as Slingshot, which allows other characters to increase their speed by following a trail left behind by their teammates.
Players will be able to choose from a roster of 12 playable characters and compete on 21 different racetracks in the game’s four modes: Grand Prix, Team Adventure, Exhibition, and Time Trial. Team Sonic Racing will also feature more vehicle customization options, allowing you to alter your car’s appearance and performance with different paint jobs and parts.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is another upcoming kart racer looking to carve out a space for itself. Leaning heavily on the nostalgia many have for the classic PlayStation title, Nitro-Fueled is a remake of the original Crash Team Racing with completely redone assets and animations.
The game will include the original’s roster of characters, tracks, and karts fans remember along with some new bonus content. While Naughty Dog isn’t behind this new version, developer Beenox has stated their main goal with this game is authenticity.