There’s nothing quite like the thrill of putting the pedal to the medal and speeding around your favorite track at high speeds. But with so many different options on the market, which one should you choose? Here are our favorite picks for the best sim racing games available today.
In no particular order, we have mentioned the 5 best sim racing games which are available on the market at the moment across console and PC.
1. F1 2021
F1 2021 is truly the complete racing package for massive fans of sim racing. Built on the solid foundation of its predecessors, this is one of the best F1 games to date. There are so many aspects of the game to praise. From the Two-player Career Mode, the new intriguing Braking Point mode, MyTeam, League, Social Play and many others. There is guaranteed hours of fun whether you are a Formula One fan, die-hard sim racing enthusiast or even just a causal racing game fan.
The marketing for F1 2021 has massive emphasis on the ‘Braking Point’ Story, which is a narrative-driven racing mode. It combines the high-stakes thrill of on-track competition with all the off-track drama that you would typically see in real life Formula One. Essentially, you are put at the epicenter of an engrossing story set within the modern day F1 era. It’s a very intriguing mode where you almost seem like you are playing a role in Drive to Survive (Netflix series). Personally, I think this is a great mode to jump into if you are interested in learning all the intrinsic details of Formula One and what happens behind the scenes. Would definitely recommend you try it out!
In terms of online play, there are multiple modes in which you can delve into. There is Ranked Play, Two-player Career mode, Leagues, Social Play and Ranked. With so many different online modes, you are guaranteed to have many hours of fun competing with other racers. There’s just no feeling like beating your rivals in a fair competitive race. However, the issue with online racing is that the races aren’t necessarily clean in terms of driving. You will occasionally experience some players who will do dirty tricks to get their way. This is why we recommend you find a good league to join, where people usually drive with etiquette. There are many discord servers available for you to join. With this link, you will be able to find various active leagues that are both competitive and fair.
The physics and vehicle handing in this game is something a sim racing fan can definitely appreciate. The car feels connected to the road and the on-track details can be felt throughout the whole vehicle. Whether you’re driving through the curbs, going off-track or facing a collision, your steering wheel will definitely feel the force feedback. Additionally, when you are driving without assists, you will need to be careful with your throttle application as your rear tires can lock up, causing your car to spin out. There are also multiple settings you can tamper with before you enter a race, through the car setup screen. In this screen you will be able to adjust multiple settings applied to your vehicle, including aerodynamics, suspension geometry, suspension, brakes, transmission and tires. Each setting you tweak will definitely change the feeling of your vehicle. You will also be able to adjust brake bias and differential during the race.
Sure the realism, gameplay and physics are something to praise F1 2021 about. However, where this game exceeds expectations is in the graphics department. You can tell that Codemasters really placed an emphasis in ensuring that the details of the cars and tracks are at the forefront of their priorities. Compared to its predecessors, F1 2021 runs the same engine but has further enhancements in advanced lighting effects which makes the immersion much greater. Codemasters F1 franchise certainly outdoes its rivals in the sim racing department when it comes to the graphical details.
2. Assetto Corsa Competizione
If you’re a fan of GT racing then you are definitely no stranger to Assetto Corsa Competizione, otherwise known as ACC. There are many aspects to praise about ACC, including the incredibly fun online racing, the realism of the physics and handling of the car, the authentic sound of GT vehicles and purchasable content to enhance your GT racing experience.
From the onset, what’s a racing sim without an enjoyable online experience? If you have played many sim racing games, then you will know how annoying it gets when opposing drivers have dirty tactics just to win or take you out from the race if you overtake them fairly. ACC does a fantastic job in this department as there are an abundance of available servers to race from online that have an authentic racing experience. Whether you’re looking to race in a GT3 or GT4 vehicle, there is definitely a lobby for you. Majority of these lobbies have perquisites to join including, track competence (TC), car control (CC), consistency (CN), pace (PC), race craft (RC) and safety rating (SA). This is a fantastic feature that was implemented by ACC as it ensures that lobbies are governed appropriately and that skilled drivers are competing at the highest level.
The realism of the physics and details of the control of the car is something many sim racers appreciate about ACC. The challenge of driving a GT car is evident and it will normally take hours of practice before you get up to speed and drive safely on track, especially if you are used to more arcade sim racing games like F1 2021. However, the reams of details coming through the wheel or controller is spectacular. ACC has made the game so realistic that the feeling of each car is different. Some vehicles are more nimble and easier to handle in corners, while others are more stiff and harder to hit the apex but are a lot faster on the straights. Furthermore, ACC also accommodates for a wealth of tuning adjustments that can be made to the vehicle, similar to F1 2021. This includes electronics, tires, brake pad, mechanical grip, anti-roll bar, suspension, damper and aerodynamics. An additional selling point about ACC is that the tracks are laser scanned. This makes all the cubs and finer details perfectly fit their real counterparts to grant a gaming experience as faithful to reality as possible. Overall, the driving experience in ACC is very authentic and outclasses many rival sim racing games.
Additionally, when it comes to purchasable content, there are definitely some purchases that can be made that will make your racing experience better. This includes vehicles and cars that can be purchased as part of a DLC pack. At the time of writing, there are currently 4 purchasable DLC packs for ACC. These are – Intercontinental GT Pack, GT4 Pack, 2020 GT World Challenge Pack and British GT Pack. While these aren’t required, I would definitely recommend you purchase the Intercontinental GT pack as this will provide you with access to 4 iconic international circuits, 45 new liveries, 30 new teams and 50 new drivers.
We can’t write an article on the best sim racing games and not include iRacing as it is no stranger to serious sim racers and for good reason. You might of already heard this sim racing game from many top drivers around the world including Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso, Tony Kanaan, William Byron and many more.
iRacing boasts the most realistic experience across vehicle and track, making it one of the best sim racing games available. The proprietary laser scanning system accurately recreates the intrinsic details of the track including cracks and pockmarks within the track’s surfaces. This technology makes it almost indistinguishable from driving a real life car on the same track. The details of the track extends beyond just the default surface as weather conditions also play a role in impacting the track during the race. For example, on a 100-degree day, portions of the track that the sun hasn’t penetrated can be utilized for a potential grip advantage. As for vehicles, the iRacing physics engine leverages a complex system of high-speed mathematical functions that replicate and deliver dynamic forces using data-driven calculations. As a result of this, the feeling of the vehicle in iRacing replicates the same physical dynamics that a driver would experience in the real world. For someone who drives regularly on iRacing and F1 2021, it’s definitely distinguishable as precision and accuracy of the vehicle handling is much more pronounced in iRacing.
iRacing is the pinnacle of online sim racing as it enables each driver to experience the having a virtual racing career. The game features different ranks which distinguishes racers from others, and allows each racer to compete with similar skillset rivals. Furthermore, this game also features a safety rating system which promotes safe driving by ensuring that safe drivers get further progression through obtaining better licenses. During races, you’ll either lose or gain points based on whether or not you are involved in incidents like getting into accidents or going off track. While this might sound quite similar to ACC in terms of the multiplayer experience, iRacing does a better in this department as the game fully specializes in multiplayer racing. This means that you won’t be able to practice against AIs or have AIs join the lobby. Personally, I feel that iRacing has a more competitive feel compared to ACC, purely because of the competitive ranking system.
An evident advantage of iRacing is that it offers various racing series including Nascar, IndyCar, Formula One, IMSA, Leman Series, etc. Contrary to ACC and F1 2021, this makes competitive racing in iRacing very dynamic as you can race across all your favorite series without being restricted to one.
Because iRacing is a subscription-based game, there are some evident advantages to this business model. You will be receiving the best in class support which can help improve your driving. This includes, being able to access all your racing statistics and exportable as a csv file.
4. Forza Horizon 5
The Forza franchise is the best bet if you are looking to play a racing game that will give you the luxury to race in all modern hyper cars. Forza Horizon 5 is no exception to this, as it’s arguably the best Forza game that is available on the market to date. Set in paradise of Mexico, Forza Horizon 5 is a huge open-world filled with tarmac, dirt and off-road areas. There are so many aspects of this game to love including the graphical showcase, unique expansive content, sublime driving experience and customization.
Forza Horizon 5 is simply one of the best sim racing games that offer a graphical showcase like no other. The exquisite attention to detail is spectacular, even more so when the setting of the game is in fictional Mexico. The realism in the graphics of the game is truly amplified when you ramp the settings to maximum. It’s difficult not to appreciate how the light reflects off the bonnet of the car or how spectacular the expansive world looks from the top of the volcano. The vibrant landscapes can be seen throughout the world, whether you’re driving on land, off-road or even by the beach. Overall, this game delivers impeccably detailed graphics that you just won’t get tired of no matter how many hours you invest into this game.
If you have already experienced a Forza franchise game, then you will know that Forza has the blueprint in creating a fun arcade sim racing experience. Forza Horizon 5 is no exception to this as you will feel the addictive and thrilling experience from the moment you embark on your first mission. Whether you want to experience a wreck fest by smashing through the destructible environment, drifting through the tight corners of the city street or going for a scenic drive up the volcanoes, this game stimulates a virtual driving experience like none other. There is so much customization offered in this game, to the extent where you can tweak each of your vehicles to your own liking. This includes tweaking the tires, gearing, alignment, antiroll bars, springs, damping, aero, brake and differential.
Have you ever dreamt of owning a garage with hundreds of cars? Look no further to Forza Horizon 5 as it offers you over 500 variety of vehicles. From hyper cars to JDM, there will definitely be a car that suits your taste. To unlock these vehicles, you’ll have several options to do so, including utilizing the auction house to buy and sell cars, spending skill points which you’ve earned through free-roam exploration or races and also leveling up and completing challenges such as expeditions. There’s so many methods of earning new cars, that you’ll always feel satisfied once you’ve unlocked a new vehicle of your liking.
With so much content available in Forza Horizon 5, rest assured you’ll have many hours of mesmerizing gameplay. There’s really not much to dislike about the game, making it one of the best sim racing games on PC and console.
5. Assetto Corsa
When speaking of the best racing games available, you’ll definitely need to mention the infamous sim racing game, Assetto Corsa. Released in 2014, Assetto Corsa by default is quite mediocre out of the box. There’s not much content to the game out of the box, including a lackluster career mode and a minor selection of vehicles and tracks. However, where the game shines is in the driving experience and the modding community.
The greatest asset about Assetto Corsa is the amount of mods supported by the game. You can tweak almost any aspect of the game, including downloading free custom tracks, vehicles, skins, sounds, interface, etc. When modded, this game offers a driving experience like none other. With the amount of mods supported by the game, you are able to play the game the way you want. Some websites that I definitely recommend are, RaceDepartment ; AssettoCorsa.Club and ACMods.
The force feedback in Assetto Corsa is precise, and you are able to feel almost every detail of the track. When paired with a wheel, the driving experience in Assetto Corsa is truly incredible. You will be able to feel the resistance as the tires bite, when the rear tires are reaching its limit as well as every rumble strip and gravel trap. We’ve reviewed many different steering wheels at The Downforce. If you’re looking at something serious, we suggest you checking out our articles here.
Depending on the type of sim racing games you enjoy, there are definitely many options available on the market for you. Our personal recommendations for F1 fans is definitely the Codemasters F1 franchise. If you are looking for a great online experience and don’t mind the monthly subscriptions and one off purchases, then definitely lean towards iRacing. If GT racing is your cup of tea, then Assetto Corsa Competizione is a fantastic choice. If you are looking for a fun arcade game with endless amounts of content with a broad selection of vehicles, then Forza Horizon 5 is the clear winner. Lastly, if you love modding your game and tweaking it to your own style, then no other game beats Assetto Corsa in that department. Hope this article has helped you picked your go to sim racing game!