Drifting is one of the best ways to have fun in both a real car and in a racing simulator. When it comes to sim racing though, the car physics makes a huge difference in how much you will enjoy the drifting. So, you might be wondering what the best drifting games are.
The 7 best drifting games are:
Each of these games is unique and we tried to include both arcade and simulation games in our list to cater to everyone’s preferences. Whether you’re after a more realistic experience or just pure fun, one of the games below will be perfect for you.
1. Assetto Corsa
Assetto Corsa is the best drifting game overall. That’s because it’s also one of the most realistic sim racing games on the market (excluding the likes of iRacing and rFactor 2), and it’s available on PC as well as console. This is one of the key elements that makes a good racing game, because you don’t want to miss out on the game if you’re a console player (and vice versa).
We love Assetto Corsa largely for its excellent force feedback and modding community (PC only), but it’s also incredible for drifting. One of the game’s main focus points is on physics and simulation, which means that the drifting that you’ll get in the game is relatively realistic. Drifting in Assetto Corsa is therefore challenging for beginners, but it’s a lot of fun once you master it!
Assetto Corsa features 170+ cars, including road cars, race cars, and even some classic cars. Each car also has a unique handling model, which makes it a fun challenge trying to master each car and learn how to nail those drifts. If you’re playing the game on PC you’ll also be able to leverage the huge range of mods out there.
The game also features 19 official tracks, but they all have different layouts you can choose from. This gives you several different combinations to use, some of which are excellent for drifting! Again, if you’re using PC to enjoy this game, you can use mods to add more drift-specific tracks of your choice, which helps set this game apart from the rest on this list.
2. Forza Horizon 5
The Forza Horizon series kicked off in 2012, and it arrived with a bang. The games feature incredible graphics, sound, and an entertaining storyline that follows a “racing festival.” The open world sandbox is one of the biggest attractions of the Forza Horizon series, as you can take just about any road car and drive it around the streets for fun or join different types of races.
Forza Horizon 5 uses arcade style mechanics because the aim is to attract more casual players (compared to Forza Motorsport and other simcade or simulator titles). However, this makes the drifting mechanics incredibly fun and easy to master. Whether you’re driving a dune buggy or a Lamborghini Huracan, you can have a ton of fun drifting in FH5.
Forza Horizon 5 also gives players the freedom to drive just about anywhere they want to. You can go off-road, through the streets of Mexico, or even through a jungle! With an eye-watering 534 cars to choose from and a map size over 100 square kilometers (39 square miles) to explore, Forza Horizon 5 is a firm favorite. The only drawback is that it’s not available on PlayStation.
3. Gran Turismo 7
From a Microsoft exclusive to a Sony exclusive, we have the latest Gran Turismo game. Even from the PlayStation 1 days the series has been going strong and is not showing any signs of slowing down. Although it’s not the most realistic game in terms of handling, it’s still a lot of fun to play on, especially if you have a proper sim rig.\
Gran Turismo 7 has a whopping 400+ cars to choose from, and a list of 30+ beautiful race tracks. If you want to use the cars to drift, the best thing to do is to tinker with the car setup. Because of the mechanics and physics used in Gran Turismo, it can be quite tricky to get your car drifting properly, especially for beginners.
Overall, Gran Turismo loses out to Forza Horizon 5 because it lacks the fun factor that you get from drifting your car through an open world. Cars are also much easier to drift in Forza, so Gran Turismo’s mechanics also hurt it’s competitiveness against its rival series on this list.
However, GT7 does have a dedicated drift trial mode, in which you drift for points and try to beat your high scores. This mode is a lot of fun, but it takes a bit of time to master. But it makes it an ideal choice for those that want a challenge on PS4/PS5.
4. Dirt Rally 2.0
The Dirt Rally series has been around for years, and it has gone through different versions over the years too. It’s brought to you by Codemasters, the same studio that has been responsible for making the F1 games. Dirt Rally 2.0 is of course a rally game, so it’s not strictly drifting, but you can definitely do a lot of sideways driving in this one!
Don’t expect to go around corners without the back end sliding out in this game, because it’s clear that these cars are simply built for drifting. It’s more of a rally simulator than an arcade title, with a lot of realism in the driving physics. This can make it a bit difficult to get to grips with, but it’s super satisfying when you do!
There is also a more arcade-style version of the Dirt series, with Dirt 5 being the latest addition. This may be the one to go for if you’re looking for an easier experience.
You can find more than 50 of the most iconic off-road cars in history with six real life rally locations to choose from, including New Zealand, Argentina, and Spain. In terms of having a ton of fun rallying your car around, this is one of the best games you can find. It’s another game that’s best enjoyed with a sim racing setup.
BeamNG.Drive is a vehicle simulation game that gives the player complete freedom and control. You can drive around aimlessly, hit top speeds, or even drift your car through the streets. You’re completely in control of the game, and that’s what many people love about this game. It might not be a true ‘racing’ game, but drifting in BeamNG is a lot of fun.
Drifting on the game is difficult to get right, especially if you’re a beginner. But once you get the hang of it, it’s very rewarding. It’s difficult to catch onto because of the realistic physics and car models that the game has. The game also has soft-body physics, which makes the feel of the cars and the collision physics much more realistic.
BeamNG.Drive has 500+ different terrains and maps, 800+ different vehicles, and over 10,000 creations from Automation, which is a program that allows players to build custom cars and import them into the game. With so much to choose from, you can drift around in this vehicle simulation sandbox for hours!
6. Live For Speed
Live for Speed is a free racing simulator that was designed for gamers who want a realistic racing experience. This game was not designed for casual players by any means. It was designed to be as realistic as possible (although the 2002 game seems a little dated now), and that makes it quite difficult to get used to. If you’re a beginner to sim racing, you might struggle with this game at first.
You can play online against other drivers (there is still an active community), or you can race single player against AI cars. Drifting in this game is extremely difficult, but once you get the hang of it, it can be incredibly fun. You’ll definitely need a wheel and pedals if you want to master this game.
Live for Speed is a relatively old game, and it was created by a team of just three people. All things considered, the end product is excellent. However, because of the age of the game and the small team, there are only 20 cars to choose from and seven fictional race tracks, and most of the content and features require a paid license.
Originally released as a mobile game, CarX is now a popular choice for drifters thanks to its fun handling model and various multiplayer modes. This makes it a good option for those that like to drift with friends and nail those tandem slides! It’s also cross play compatible, allowing you to play with friends on PC, Xbox, PlayStation and even Nintendo Switch.
You earn money in the game to unlock cars and tracks (70+ car models and 30+ track layouts), and makes the game feel a bit more like a CaRPG, which may or may not suit your playstyle, but it doesn’t feel like a grind. The cars all feel unique, meaning you can really change up your experience as you try out the different models.
You can also customize the cars both inside and out, and the various tuning options provide plenty of room for you to tweak how they handle as well. There isn’t a tutorial here, so it will take some time to get used to things if you’re an absolute beginner. But there is no doubt that there’s a lot of fun to be had with CarX once you get into the swing of things!
Summary Of The Best Drifting Sim Racing Games
|Assetto Corsa||The most realistic handling model|
Great modding community for PC players
|Forza Horizon 5||Incredible graphics|
Huge free roam map and lots of cars
|Gran Turismo 7||Plenty of cars and tracks to race|
Dedicated drift trial mode
|Dirt Rally 2.0||Primarily for rally racers|
Also tough but very rewarding
|BeamNG.Drive||Drifting is fun but hard|
Realistic damage model
|Live For Speed||Oldie but goldie|
Another one that’s tough but fun when you get it right
|CarX||Fun CaRPG style game|
Cross platform support
The first consideration is whether you want a realistic drifting simulator or more of an arcade style game. Each of these different types of games has its fans, and everyone wants something different in terms of gameplay. So, at the end of the day, you need to make the choice of which one you prefer.
If you prefer a game where the focus is on having fun rather than simulating the physics of a car and tire models etc, then you should focus on more of an arcade style game. There’s nothing wrong with arcade drifting games, they’re a lot of fun! However, you can’t expect the car in the game to react in a way that a real car would.
On the other hand, realistic drifting games can be much more difficult to master, but they can be super fun and satisfying when you get things right. Many people (more casual sim racers) often get bored of realistic racing games, especially when it comes to drifting. So, unless you’re serious about your drifting, you might be better off sticking with an arcade style game.
One of the most important factors for most people is the graphics. Modern games’ graphics have come a long way from the graphics that used to be used in older games such as old Need For Speed titles on the PlayStation 2. Most games have decent graphics these days, but some are far better than others.
If graphics is a top priority for you, then you might be leaning more towards an arcade style game. Arcade racers tend to have brighter colors and more reflective surfaces as this is one of the elements that makes the game more attractive, with a bit less focus on the realism of the handling model.
Realistic sim racing games have also come a long way in terms of graphics, but it’s still not a priority for most of them. In terms of graphics, most sim racing games will prefer to reduce the quality to increase the framerate or focus on other areas where the game needs to stand out above others.
The physics model will determine how realistic the handling of the car is. However, there’s a lot more to than just how the car feels when drifting through corners. A physics model will take a bunch of different factors into account, including the type of car you’re driving, the track surface, the weather conditions, the tires, and much more.
Other elements like the damage on the car and the wear on the tires will also determine how the car handles in the game. These are all important factors to pay attention to if you’re looking for a truly immersive experience from your drifting game.
If you’re looking for a physics model that’s going to replicate real life, you’re going to need to invest in a sim that closely models real life driving conditions. These include games like Assetto Corsa and to an extent Gran Turismo 7 (we’re not here to argue about the realism/simcade debate!). These games have vastly different handling models to Forza Horizon 5 and CarX.
One of the most important things to consider when choosing a drifting game is how much fun you’ll have on it. However, the fun factor is an incredibly personal experience. If you read reviews of drifting games online, you’ll notice that everyone has a different opinion. There’s never a game that scores a perfect ten and is loved by everyone!
That’s because everyone has their own definition of fun. For some sim racers, it’s tinkering with the setups and tire pressures to find the perfect balance that suits their driving style. For others, it’s choosing a car and racing it around rural streets without having to worry about finicky settings and adjustments.
As far as racing games go, sound is one of the most important factors for many sim racing enthusiasts. Most sim racing games have decent audio these days, but it’s still something to keep in mind when reading through reviews or watching gameplay videos online. Poor audio can taint your entire racing experience, while good audio can vastly enhance it.
It goes beyond just the engine sounds. You can also consider the ambient sounds in the game. Can you hear the tires squeal when you drift through the corners? If you’re racing on a track, can you faintly hear the crowd and the air horns over the sound of the engines? All of these different sounds help to bring the game to life and make it more immersive.
Arcade games are likely to have more artificial sounds. Although these might sound great at times, they’re often not realistic. Simulator titles on the other hand often try to replicate real life sounds more closely. Some developers even record engine sounds specifically for the development of their games, which is key when a large portion of your time spent drifting has you hitting the top of the RPM range!
If you’re going for a storyline and linear gameplay and customization, an arcade style game is likely your best bet. These games focus on entertainment and delivering a polished final product that appeals to the mass market and casual gamers. They may also have dedicated drifting game modes too – a big plus!
More realistic sim racers might have fewer options to choose from, with many not having dedicated drift modes (although GT7 does). If you want to do more than just drifting though, the other game modes on offer are obviously worth taking into account as well.
Everyone enjoys trying out different cars, especially if the game is great at separating the physics models and making each car feel unique. There’s something exciting about trying out different cars to find the one that suits your driving style best, or trying to nail a drift in a car that was never built to be driven sideways!
Games like Forza Horizon 5 allow you to customize your car to a further extent with custom livery designs and stickers that you can add to your car. Other games will simply have bodywork that you can change or windows you can tint. The extent of customization that you want will affect the drifting game that you want to get.
You should also consider performance customization when choosing a drifting game. Realistic sim racers will focus more on this element as the slightest change in aftermarket parts will influence the way the car handles out on track. Many games offer extensive tuning options, which may or may not be what you’re after.
Finally, if you’re buying a drifting game, you need to look at the track list too. It’s great having fun drifting mechanics, great visuals, and realistic audio, but if you don’t have the perfect place to send your car sideways, then you could be left disappointed. What you’re looking for here will be down to personal preference.
You may want real world circuits to drift around, or you might prefer the endless custom circuits available on games like Assetto Corsa thanks to the massive modding community. On the other hand, you can also get games that have an open sandbox playground that you can endlessly drift around, such as Forza Horizon 5, or full on rally courses like those in Dirt Rally 2.0.
KEY POINTS• You’ll need to choose between arcade and simulator style games, as this can affect the handling of the cars and how easy it is to drift
• Graphics and sound quality are also key when choosing a drift game
• Car and track selection also varies a lot across drifting titles
Sim Racing Gear You Need For Drifting
While you can have a lot of fun drifting in games with a controller, it’s not the ideal way to immerse yourself in the experience. Controllers are easy and convenient to use, especially with arcade style racing games, but they don’t offer the optimal experience. However, there are still some great controller options out there for sim racing games.
If you want a truly immersive and fun experience with a drifting game, you might want to invest in a proper sim racing setup. Having a comfortable seat is a good start. If you’re in a driving position that’s comfortable and feels more like a car, you’re going to have a much more immersive experience as you drift around the track.
You also want to get a proper steering wheel and dedicated drifting rim. There are lots of different wheels to choose from. There are some great quality wheels from the likes of Fanatec that are perfect for a drifting experience, and ideally you want to find one that replicates a drifting car set up.
Finally, you want to invest in a decent set of pedals, a handbrake, and a sequential gear shifter too. These are all essential for the perfect drifting experience. It’s all about your gear changes, handbrake turns, and how you use the clutch pedal in drifting. You don’t need all of this to get started, but it can definitely improve your experience!
Assetto Corsa is the best drifting game overall thanks to its realistic handling model and huge modding community. Forza Horizon 5 is also an excellent choice if you prefer a more arcade style game that offers endless hours of entertainment.
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