Racing games have been the gold standard for graphical fidelity for over a decade. There are some sims out there that offer such stunning and immersive graphics you would be hard pressed to tell you were looking at a game. With this in mind, you may wonder what the best-looking sim racing games are.
The 6 best looking sim racing games are:
Assetto Corsa Competizione is definitely our pick for the best-looking sim racing game available right now. ACC’s environmental graphics, like the glistening sun reflected off the hood of your car, are especially highlighted in ACC’s graphics engine. Read on below to see our other top picks!
The 6 Best Looking Sim Racing Games
1. Assetto Corsa Competizione
Assetto Corsa Competizione was released with wide acclaim and has been the king of sim racing for almost 4 years now. ACC features a dynamic weather system that can authentically replicate various weather conditions that affect the track and how your vehicle behaves. Stormy conditions are visceral and intense. Realistic-looking raindrops batter the windscreen, obstructing visibility.
The wet track can make your vehicle lose grip more easily and, while the race may have started on a clear sunny day, by the end of the race you may be fighting to stay on the track. The reflections displayed on the wet, rain-soaked track are lifelike and make racing an incredibly immersive experience.
Clear sunny days are equally beautiful as the sun glistens off of your vehicle’s hood and every little detail of your car is put on full display. The vehicles themselves look incredibly lifelike and the environments that you drive them in are picturesque, to say the least.
Game Modes And Cost
Assetto Corsa Competizione offers three engaging game modes in the form of career, championship, and free play mode.
The multiplayer aspect of ACC also features a ranked matchmaking system that ensures you are matched against opponents with a similar skill level. Ensuring that you understand how your vehicle will operate under the different environmental weather and track conditions is a must if you plan on really getting into the multiplayer aspect of ACC.
In terms of cost, unlike iRacing, there is no recurring cost in order to play the game and all the content that it can provide. Simply pay the one-off price and you get access to all of the cars, tracks, and multiplayer features available in ACC. However, there are some great DLCs that are absolutely worth your time and money and I highly recommend checking them out.
Assetto Corsa Competizione is a great option for those looking for a sim racing game with hyper-realistic graphics and game mechanics to boot. Its dynamic weather and track conditions are punishing but immensely rewarding once you master driving in such conditions.
- Lifelike graphics
- Detailed dynamic weather conditions
- A large amount of content available with no recurring costs
- Framerates and performance can be inconsistent
- Realistic features like driver swaps are only available on PC
- Focus on endurance racing
2. Gran Turismo 7
Gran Turismo 7’s initial release date was back in March of 2022 and had many people absolutely blown away by its lighting conditions and stunning graphics. Just like ACC, Gran Turismo 7 features a stunning dynamic weather system.
Dynamic Weather System
While a race could start in ideal sunny conditions with a dry track to drive on, by the end of the race you may very well be fighting your car for control of the wheel on an unpredictable, rain-soaked track.
Gran Turismo 7 certainly does feature impressive and lifelike reflections that are beautifully highlighted on the vehicle’s body and on wet tracks in the rain, but it’s the lighting that astounded me the most. The sheer dynamic range that Gran Turismo 7 offers within its lighting system is incredible.
Deep shadows stretch across the track as the sun sets, and individual shadows are simulated for each grass blade in a field. Longer races really allow you to soak in the beautiful atmosphere that Gran Turismo 7 creates with its dynamic weather system. As day turns to night driving becomes more difficult as your view is obstructed by a deep and unnerving stretch of blackness that coats the track.
How Does It Feel To Play?
While being a little more “arcade” than a straight-up sim racer, its overall game mechanics are definitely realistic enough to entice even the most serious of sim racers. Its vehicles behave the way you expect them to and controlling them is neither too difficult nor too easy of a task.
Gran Turismo 7 is even playable on a standard gamepad controller with a surprising amount of success, which is not something I can say about most sim racing games. Using high-end racing peripherals is not an issue with this game, as force feedback is adjustable, and everything just seems to work as intended with little to no issues.
The vehicles in Gran Turismo 7 are fairly customizable and the gameplay loop of racing, earning currency, and upgrading your vehicle is one of the most enticing and in-depth gameplay loops that I’ve seen in a long time and it’s what always reels me back in.
- Gorgeous dynamic weather system
- Impressive dynamic range within the lighting system
- Engaging and rewarding gameplay loop
- Not as mechanically realistic as iRacing or ACC
- Only available on PlayStation
3. F1 2021
F1 2021 offers one of the most authentic F1 experiences on the market with uncompromisingly stunning graphical fidelity. F1 2021 features a dynamic weather system alongside a variety of other selectable weather conditions. The lighting and dynamic weather system is certainly not as impressive as ACCs or Gran Turismo 7’s, but its reflections are something to behold.
Vehicles are lifelike, tracks are authentic and akin to the tracks in real life, and reflections, especially on vehicles, are accurate. F1 2021 also features an impressive ray tracing technology that can give you realistic and authentic shadows and reflections. F1 2021 has a single-player story mode where you play as two protagonists Aidan Jackson and Casper Akkerman.
As opposed to recent sports games that feature often phoned-in single-player story modes, this story mode experience is rather absorbing and will only take you about 3 hours to complete. The acting within cut scenes is certainly not the best but by no means is it terrible and will still accomplish what it sets out to do by immersing you in the world that F1 2021 created.
How Does It Feel To Play?
Mechanically the game is very realistic. Physics and handling are authentic, and vehicles behave as you would expect them to. Tire temperature and tire degradation are something to be wary of while racing and forming a strategy around when to pit can be what ends up winning you the race. F1 2021 also features impressive damage physics.
Multiplayer is intense and rewarding as you battle it out against other real players. These multiplayer races are where real skill and hours upon hours of practice really gets to show itself. The racer with the better strategy and better understanding of their vehicle will almost always be the victor. That said, F1 2021 does a good job at teaching new players how to race and keep up with the pack.
- Impressive reflections and lifelike car models
- Mechanically very realistic
- Authentic tracks
- Dynamic weather system is not as detailed as the one in ACC or GT7
4. Automobilista 2
Automobilista 2, or AMS2, perfectly replicates the Brazilian motorsports scene and looks good while doing it. AMS2 features what they call “the most advanced dynamic weather and track conditions system”, offering barometric pressure modeling, 24-hour cycles, and varying wind speeds and temperatures.
AMS2 uses the same graphics engine as the one featured in Project Cars 2, so it’s no surprise that in regard to graphical fidelity AMS2 looks absolutely stunning.
The environments in particular that you race on are incredibly realistic, especially on tracks surrounded by lush green forests. The detail and immensity of the surrounding environment really shows a dedication to detail from Reiza studios. Similar to Project Cars 2, the lighting and reflections on the body of your car in particular look lifelike.
Dynamic Weather System
Stormy overcast conditions, as well as clear sunny conditions, are perfectly replicated within the MADNESS engine that is used in AMS2. Sunrays are visible peeking through the branches of trees and the purple haze of the sky during sunset sometimes just makes you want to stop and take it all in.
Equally the stormy conditions are beautiful in their own way. The rain battering your windscreen affects visibility as well as handling. This makes a seemingly calm and controllable race quickly turn into an intense fight for control of your wheel as the car slips from under you. The large variety of south American tracks are all authentic and look amazing.
Driving on these tracks feels great too as AMS2 has some of the best force feedback I have felt in a sim racer. The game also has some of the most detailed and sharp graphics of any VR sim racing game, making it a great choice for any VR sim racing enthusiasts out there at no extra cost.
- Best Brazilian motorsports sim racer out there
- Huge and beautifully rendered environments
- Impressive dynamic weather and track conditions system
- Not many concurrent players
5. Project Cars 2
Project Cars 2 still holds a higher number of concurrent players despite Project Cars 3 being released. The immense number of tracks and cars available to you when you first boot up the sim is impressive, to say the least. Its accurate simulation and large selection of tracks are what have kept me hooked after all these years.
Project Cars 2 has three modes on offer: A detailed career mode, an intense multiplayer mode that is both punishing and rewarding, and finally a free-play mode. In the latter, you can make custom races and race against AI opponents.
Dynamic Weather System
Project Cars 2 features an impressive dynamic weather and track conditions system. A seemingly calm and sunny day can turn into a brutal and unforgiving rain storm. Suddenly your slick tires aren’t cutting it and you need to think about your pit strategy or risk spinning out. Raindrops, dust, and puddles all look incredibly realistic and make the experience as a whole very immersive.
Project Cars 2 also features a detailed engine tuning menu that allows you to customize your vehicle to perform exactly how you, the racer, want it to perform. However, beginners can rest easy knowing there is a simplified tuning menu that is very simple and intuitive to use.
Gamepad Or Racing Wheel?
Project Cars 2 does not feel great when playing with a standard gamepad controller no matter how much you change the settings. However, using sim racing peripherals like a racing wheel and pedals feels excellent. Force feedback is delivered correctly with high frequencies coming through as you expect them to.
- Immense amount of content
- Intense and challenging dynamic weather system
- Detailed career mode adds lots of replay value
- May be too arcade-like for very serious sim racing enthusiasts
6. Dirt Rally 2.0
Dirt Rally 2.0 is the definitive simulator for rally motorsports enthusiasts. Dirt Rally 2.0 has the most graphically impressive tracks in the series. Reflections on vehicles and puddles on the tracks are beautifully rendered resulting in an extremely immersive experience. The vehicle models themselves are some of the best looking in the series and are authentic to the cars in real life.
As you drive through the tracks, twisting, turning, and drifting your way to the finish line, your car will get caked in realistic-looking mud, affecting visibility. As you drive behind other players, dust is kicked up in the midst of the chaos and it can be difficult to see where you are going, making for a visceral and intense race from start to finish. New players may struggle initially.
While the previous entries in the Dirt series featured lengthy tutorial videos and playable walkthroughs, Dirt Rally 2.0 has none of these and you will need to learn as you go. This can be sometimes overwhelming for anyone not already familiar with the series and will require patience to overcome the inevitable struggles of learning how to race in such conditions.
Playing Dirt Rally 2.0 with high-end racing peripherals is a fantastic experience, especially if you have a stick shifter at hand. Force feedback feels excellent, and you always feel like you are on the cusp of losing control of the car. As usual, the Dirt series of games, especially Dirt Rally 2.0, feel great with a standard gamepad controller and feels just right even on default settings.
The best way to experience Dirt Rally 2.0 however, is with a racing wheel and pedals so you can get fully immersed in the world. The environments themselves that surround the tracks you race on are stunning and very detailed. Whether you are racing through lush pine forests or drifting along a cliff edge on dust and gravel, the environments look incredibly realistic.
- Authentic tracks
- Impressive environments
- Life-like reflections
- Not very beginner friendly
All of these sim racing games offer supreme graphical fidelity, but it’s Assetto Corsa Competizione that is the best. With its impressively detailed dynamic weather system and lighting, it creates a truly immersive experience. However, each game looks amazing in its own right, and they’re all worth checking out.