Following the government’s announcement that UK citizens must not leave the house unless absolutely necessary, gaming is going to become an essential way to help pass the time.
If you’re a car enthusiast looking for something new to play, here are some of the best racing games out right now.
If you’re really looking to make the most of your downtime with a serious driving simulation, iRacing could be the way to go. Introduced in 2008, it’s regarded as one of the most realistic driving games on the market, with professional racers using it to hone their skills between races. Formula 1’s Lando Norris and Max Verstappen are regulars.
All races are online against real people, and you can work your way up from rookie races to compete in teams in the fastest cars at iconic circuits. You might even go wheel-to-wheel with some household names.
It’s only available for PC and runs as a subscription service, which is currently half price for new customers. Prices vary depending on how long you sign up for, but expect to pay between £50 and £60 for 12 months of racing.
Assetto Corsa Competizione
Another game that puts an emphasis on realism is Assetto Corsa Competizione, which is the official game of the Blancpain GT Series. That means all the cars are GT3-homolgated, including race-prepped versions of the Porsche 911 and Ferrari 488.
It has incredible graphics and fierce competition online. It’s PC-only right now, but unlike iRacing, it’s also being made available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, going on sale on June 23.
Forza Horizon 4
At the complete opposite end of the spectrum is Forza Horizon 4 on Xbox One. The Forza Motorsport series gave Xbox gamers a Gran Turismo equivalent, with on-track racing and realism, but the Forza Horizon series offers more fun-focused racing in real-world locations.
Where Horizon stands out among other arcade racers is in its handling model, which still manages to be realistic despite seeing you drifting supercars through fields at times. The fourth iteration is set in the UK, with races taking places in northern England and Scotland. It’s available to buy online and in shops, but it’s also free to Xbox Game Pass subscribers.
Gran Turismo Sport
For many millennial car enthusiasts, Gran Turismo was the game that got them into cars in the first place. The latest iteration, which is still a PlayStation 4 exclusive, puts a focus on online gaming, with motorsport under the spotlight rather than road cars.
It includes real race cars and some fantasy ones as well, which help to keep the racing interesting and the fun element always involved. Drivers are given ratings based on how well and fair they drive, so you’re lumped in with people of a similar ability and attitude to the game.
The first #VirtualGP was a 𝘀𝗺𝗮𝘀𝗵 hit 💥
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 23, 2020
With the Formula 1 season on hold, why not get your open-wheel racing kicks with the officially licensed video game instead? It’s not up there with the hardcore simulators of this world, but it can still be a challenge by allowing you to turn off driving aids.
You can also chart your own career, working through seasons and helping to develop your car. Do you start with a backmarker and help them get to the front, or move to a quicker team at the first opportunity? You could even jump in a Mercedes to race alongside Lewis Hamilton from day one, if you want.
Dirt Rally 2.0
Road racing not your thing? Take up the challenge of Dirt Rally 2.0. And when we say challenge, we mean it. Rally driving is arguably the most difficult discipline in motorsport, and thus the realistic gaming equivalent is similarly tough.
Keeping control of a car while driving flat out on gravel mere metres from trees is exhilarating even when you know there are no consequences. It gives you an appreciation of what real rally drivers achieve.
Need For Speed Heat
The Need For Speed series has long been the go-to game for car modification enthusiasts, offering wild driving in the ‘real world’, and has been responsible for some of the most iconic racing games of all time.
The latest version is Heat, a city-based racer that allows you to compete in ‘sanctioned’ races by day before dodging the police in illegal street races by night. Its handling focuses heavily on being fun rather than realistic, and boasts some of the best visuals of any game on sale.
Euro Truck Simulator 2
And now for something completely different. Ever wanted to come in from a long shift at work and unwind by pretending to be a long-distance truck driver? No? Well now you can because Euro Truck Simulator offers exactly that.
It’s been on sale since 2012 and has proved a cult hit. Gamers take charge of an articulated lorry and haul cargo across a condensed version of Europe. You earn money as you do, building your trucking company so you can buy better trucks and even employ staff.
What’s more, there’s a huge and passionate modding community for the game, so you can download interesting new trailers, unlock new areas of the map and much more.