By our definition, a racing game is any title that puts you in the driver's seat of a vehicle as you compete with other racers to see who gets to the finish line first.
So, this means that the game doesn't necessarily have to have hyper-realistic graphics. It doesn't even have to be realistic at all. It just has to have a vehicle and a race. That's it. But, even with such broad criteria, you'd be surprised that there aren't as many good racing games out there as you'd like to think, especially if you remove Gran Turismo from the equation.
The first-party PlayStation franchise is considered the gold-standard of racing games, and while it's had plenty of competition in recent years, it's the only one that's managed to outlive with them all as the next mainline title is expected to release within the next year or two.
With that said, join us as we rank the best racing games that are not named Gran Turismo.
Forza Horizon 4
Forza Horizon 4 recently went on to become a double Steam top seller. This isn't necessarily a regular thing, which is what makes it even more special. It seems that PC gamers just can't get enough of it, even though the game's already been ported over to the Xbox consoles, as well as made available for free previously via the Xbox Game Pass.
But what exactly is it that makes Forza Horizon 4 so much fun? Well, for starters, no racing game out there captures the fun of loving cars by giving you a comprehensive list of automobiles to play with and an open-world sandbox where you can freely drive each one.
The best part about it is that while Forza Horizon 4 looks realistic, it doesn't force realism into the gameplay too hard.
It's sort of like your automotive dreams in video game form. It's the sort of game that'll let you feel like how your favorite sports car handles. At the same, it'll also let you land a thousand-foot job on the same car and walk away from it unscathed.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario isn't your stereotypical racing icon. The Italian plumber isn't even a racer at all. He's a plumber for a living. But, as he's often done throughout the decades, Mario has molded himself successfully into pretty much any genre you can think of, including racing simulators. The result is one of the longest-running racing franchises in video game history.
The Mario Kart franchise spans 8 mainline titles, with the go-kart-style racing game being first introduced way back in 1992.
Since then, the Mario Kart games have been imitated by other studios. However, none of them have succeeded one comes close to offering the same gameplay, action, and execution that the franchise is known for.
The latest game, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, in particular, comes with arguably the best circuits that the franchise has ever had. Plus, because it's available on the Nintendo Switch, it's easy to find someone else to play with and against, even when you're on the go.
Assetto Corsa Competitizione
2014's Assetto Corsa is the perfect example of how you can release a game incomplete and build it from the ground up. Although, if we're being honest, it's not like it was a totally incomplete game. Rather, it just needed more content, as KUNOS-Simulazioni Srl made sure to nail the fundamentals and physics first while coating it with realistic graphics and physics.
Fast forward to nearly a decade later and Assetto Corsa has spawned a sequel in Assetto Corsa Competitiozone.
The sequel nails everything that the original did right while also adding its own flair. This meant that it had the same realism with full wheel support, as well as an even more robust competitive community that will keep you busy for hours if not days on end.
Complete with its Blancpain GT license, the ACC should tide you over until the release of Gran Turismo 7 and beyond.
Project Cars 3
One glaring issue with racing simulators is that they simulate realism a bit too much. Project Cars does away with this by making the cars drive less like that of a standard racing simulator. Instead, the gameplay is more akin to that of arcade-style racers, but still, the tracks, cars, and even the physics, all still feel very real.
As a bonus, the game might be more beginner-friendly than others, but it has a high skill ceiling with a competitive scene and developers known for providing long-term support.
DiRT 5 exchanges the asphalt with some off-road fun and gives racing fans plenty of different kinds of racing to try and tinker with.
Of course, as is expected with a next-gen title, the cars are a thing of beauty. Not only that, but the vehicles behave like how exactly you'd think they would when driving across some pretty rough roads. This results in a hell of a time, regardless of whether you're playing through the single-player campaign with the help of Donut Media or playing against others online.
There's also the playground mode where you can build a nightmare of a track that will constantly test the limits of your driving capabilities.
When it comes to learning curves, iRacing arguably has the steepest of them all. It's not just a racing simulator. It's pretty much the closest thing gamers have to competitive motorsport racing, complete with state-of-the-art car and track models, with regular online racing leagues that require scheduling, as well as subscription fees.
Oh, and before we forget, to play iRacing, you'll need a force feedback wheel. No, we're not joking. You can't race in the game unless you have one.
But, for the most hardcore racing simulator fans out there, nothing compares.
The thing is, iRacing attracts not just gamers and racing simulator fans, but also real-life professional racers, with numerous players having made themselves a lucrative career.
Raceroom doesn't separate itself from others by standing out. It's pretty much the same as other racing sims out there. But, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Although it does put realism above all else, it manages to accomplish its goal and is an excellent way to get a proper feel for racing simulators, all without paying for anything.
Yes. You read that right. Unlike other racing sims, Raceroom is completely free to play and it has an extensive selection of cars and tracks, as well as events for you to participate and race in.
Because it has licenses from WTCC, WTCR, and DTM, Raceroom has tons of content for you to play with for free before you start to get bored.
You know that a racing sim is good when it's the official game of an actual racing series.
F1 2020 is the official video game of the F1 World Championship and comes with everything that the real-life motor racing championship has. This includes everything from drivers to teams, circuits, and even liveries, as well as newer circuits such as Zandvoort and Hanoi.
The icing on the cake here is that F1 2020 lets you field your own team for the first time ever in the single-player mode.